Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 Fall Moto Giro

My art director, Bill Burke, arranged this portrait.  Bill Burke photo
This past weekend I went to the USCRA's Fall Giro, based in Tannersville, Pa. in the Poconos.  I ran my '53 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport which, once again, seemed to be the oldest bike in the event.  My friend Laurence Deguillme came with me an rode a Honda CA77 Dream.
We had a spot of bother getting there when my van died 11 miles short of the Delaware Water Gap in N.J.  It seemed like the same symptoms as 5 days and 235 miles before when the van fuel pump failed on the way back from NJMP.  We had the van towed to a service station in Bartonville, Pa., the town next to Tannersville and my brother and sister-in-law came and picked us up.
Sat. morning after the rider's meeting, I rode to the service station to meet the proprietor and explained the history of the van and get them started.  I got back to HQ a little after my start time and started incurring penalty points.  It was a beautiful day and combined quite brilliant fall colors with warm temperatures and a clear sky.  What's not to like?  We had a very good ride to the first check point where I called the service station and found that the fuel pump hadn't died this time, but a hose was kinked which presumable cause the pressure to rise and blow off another hose in the tank.  They were replacing the kinked hose and putting the other hose back on and should have it done before they closed at 1p.
Lunch stop was back at the base hotel and, after checking in and running the agility test, I rode the 6.5 miles down to the service station, loaded the bike in the van and headed back to the hotel to start the afternoon section.  However, I only got a couple of miles when the van died again.  I called the service station back and luckily they hadn't left yet.  The sent a flat bed and towed it back to the shop where the pulled the gas tank out again and found the hose had blown off again.  This time they clamped the press fit hose on, but said they couldn't guarantee it.
All this meant the I didn't ride the afternoon section.  Laurence had bike trouble almost immediately in the morning section and returned to the hotel  He got it fixed enough that he was able to do the afternoon section so, between the two of us, we got the whole day's ride in.
Triumph Cub
Sunday proved to be even warmer (in the 80's), but it seemed like it took longer to warm up.  We had a very good route in the morning, although we took a wrong turn and added 14 miles to the 83 mile morning section.  This mistake was on a really nice road, at least.  I found the afternoon section a bit tedious as in was mostly on State Highways with a lot of traffic and little opportunity for passing.  But, apparently this was because the route had to be changed at the last minute because of police activity in the manhunt for the accuse cop killer.  The Airone didn't miss a beat over the event, though it did spew quite a lot of oil.  Laurence's Ca77 however died again and he came in on the 'sag wagon'.  We loaded  up and headed home with our fingers crossed, but the hose clamp fix seemed to work and we made it back no problem.
Sunday morning pit stop with Bill Burke's NSU Max Special and my Moto Guzzi Airone Sport and Scott Rikert on the right.
Another view of the pit stop with Gino's Cl175 Sloper and Scott's 250 Jawa California
A Yetman CB77, a pretty rare item
A Puch Twingle
John Cooper's trick 250 Motobi with Ceriani road race forks and a 210mm Fontana 4LS front brake
This was the overall winners mount.  Each year he comes with a different tank badge.  It's been Matchless and Ariel, and this year it was Puch.
A 250 Benelli Barracuda 
A mid '60s Moto Morini 150
A beautiful 98cc Gilera

Thursday, September 25, 2014

NJMP Lightning

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2014 Quebec GP

5 September, I drove up to Autodrome St. Eustache just west  of Montreal to once again race the '72 TR3 Yamaha of Len Fitch.  Len brought his stable of three solos and a sidecar to sponsor a bunch of us.  Showers started in the afternoon, so the 1/8 mile drag races were canceled Fri. night.  As promised, we awoke Sat. morning to rain.  I don't recall ever riding the St. Eustache road race course in the wet and I spent the two practice session feeling out the traction.  It seemed quite rideable to me and I was surprised by the number of riders who elected not to ride in the Saturday heat races.  Sunday was forecast to be fine, but still, why pass up another chance to crash one's bike?
My first 8 lap heat was for the Period 2 Heavyweight/Middleweight Production race.  I motored past early leader Bill Quail on his SR 500 Yamaha on the back straight and led over all.  On the 3rd or 4th lap, I had quite a slide out of the last corner and that cooled my jets a good deal.  On the last lap, Brian Henderson came by on his CB 500 Honda.  I motored by him on the back straight, but Brian rode around the outside in the last corner and took the overall win with me 2nd O.A. and 1st P2 HW.  Brian rode really well, especially considering that he had started from the pit lane having arrived late for the warmup lap.
Brian Henderson's CB 500 Honda
By the time of my second heat, the 2nd to last race of the day, it had stopped raining a the track had largely dried, though there were still puddles around.  This was the GP race for factory built two stroke race bikes.  It's divided into Modern GP Lightweight (125) and Middleweight (250) and Vintage GP, up to 1989 Lightweight (125 watercooled & 250 aircooled), Middleweight (350), and Heavyweight (351 and above).  Eddy Burnett on his 2002 Honda RS 250 disappeared.  I motored by the modern 125 on the first lap but a couple of laps into it, Paul Gagnon on his '89 RS 125 Honda came by and that's how we finished, the first three winning their respective classes.
Sat. eve, Joe Bar Team, local Quebecois racers and friends, provided food, beer and musical entertainment while the stock car races went on on the oval, which the road race course uses part of.
Sunday was a beautiful day.  The TR3 wouldn't start for the first practice.  Apparently, the fuel tap leaks and the crankcases loaded up with gas over night.  By the time we got it cleared out and new spark plugs installed, we missed the practice session.  I made a point of being first out for the second round of practice and had a good session.
Pregrid for the P2 HW/MW Prod with Bill Quail #711 on my left and Brian Henderson #93 behind me.  Michel Martin Photo

In the P2 HW/MW Prod final, I got a great start and led flag to flag and turned the fastest lap of the race.
Leading in Turn #1 with #560 Peter Hurst Rickman Triumph and #95 Brad Monk XS 650/750 Yamaha following. Michel Martin Photo

The 10 lap GP final was the last race of the day.  Again, Eddy Burnett disappeared.  Chris Hurst, who didn't run the heat race, came by on his Nikko Baker framed TZ 350 Yamaha.  Then, Patrick Gagnon on his RS 125 came by pursuing Chris.  On the penultimate lap, Chris' TZ died and on the last lap, Eddy Burnett lapped me and Patrick, i.e. the whole field.  Eddy is a superb ride with a very fast bike.  His fastest lap was just over 7 seconds faster than my fastest, this with a lap time of under 50 seconds.  I'm not used to getting lapped in a race where I win my class.
Eddy Burnett changing the tires on his 2002 Rs 250 Honda.
Tucking in on Len Fitch's 1972 TR3 Yamaha.  Michel Martin Photo
I love this Michel Martin Photo of the last turn with the sparks coming off the washers that I 'Shoe-Goo' onto my boots.
Some bike one doesn't see too ofter at the races:
A Ural sidecar outfit
A Honda NS 400R three cylinder 2 stroke
A nice original 250 Bultaco Metrella

Another fun and successful weekend in Quebec.  My thanks to Len for letting me ride his well fettled, fast TR3.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bonneville Vintage GP

I had three races in a row later in the day.  Race #8 was my 'bump-up' race of 500 Premiere; race #9 was the Class C foot shift race for the Velo, and race #10 the 350GP.  The six entries in the 500 Premiere Class were gridded in front of the 500GP class in the first wave, with Sportsman 750, Heavyweight novice Production and Sound of Singles 3 in the second wave.  In addition to Walt and myself, were two Minovation Seeley G-50s fetteled by NYC Norton with class point leader Helmi Niederer on one and his friend and mentor Lee Acree on the other.  Lee was a top AMA pro in the late '90s and '00s and is an instructor at the Kevin Schwantz School, which is where he and Helmi met.  This was Lee's first race on a vintage bike.  Ron Melton was on a 500 Manx Norton and Jeff Elings was on a light weight G-50 Matchless.  Ron got the holeshot from the front row with Lee getting to Turn #1 from the second row in front of me.  Lee made a pass on Ron before the end of the first lap and I started dogging Ron.  Ron's bike seemed to be all over the place and, on the third lap, we made contact as I went around him on the outside.  Once I got by him, I'm told that Ron dropped back quickly, clearly dealing with a problem.  Lee pulled steadily ahead and I finished a distant 2nd.  Walt had stopped on the side of the track with a broken shift linkage.  At the end of the cool off lap, I had trouble down shifting, and I mentioned this to Mike as I asked him to check the tire pressures and we moved the transponder to the Velo. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Classic TT addendum

Perhaps the most interesting and certainly the most beautiful race bike I saw the the Classic TT was the Eldee 250cc Velo.

'Eldee' stands for Les Diener, who built a 250cc, twin overhead cam Velocette in Australia in the '50s.
After racing for years, Les quit and sold the bike.  With the birth of Classic racing and with Diener's retirement, he decided to recreate that racer.  I happened to meet Les and see the bike when I was on my way from Adelaide to a race at Winton in Victoria in 1985.  We (Graham Besson and Bill Horsman and I) stopped by McNamara Park in Mt. Gambier where another Classic event was taking place.  Now, some New Zealanders have made a replica of the bike and brought it to the Isle of Man for Bill Swallow to race in the 350 Classic TT, which had a prize for the first 250.
Twin cams driven by a train of gears
Bill told me the bike was slow and somewhat heavy for a 250, but I think the fairing and fuel tank are beautiful

Unfortunately, it stripped and mag gear in the race and didn't finish.  You can read the whole story of the bike here:

When the Monday's racing and parade was postponed to Tuesday, we hit a few museums. We saw this Maico roadbike outside the Mannin Museum in Peel.

 We then went to Murray's Motorcycle Museum, which used to be on Mt. Snafell at the Bungalow but move to Santon a few years ago.  While much of the collection was sold off for the move, there are still plenty of interesting bikes and tons of photos and memorabilia.  They had examples of four of the bike I own: a 250 and 350 Aermacchi and an earlier version of the Moto Guzzi Airone with hydraulic rear shocks

 and a Moto Guzzi Dondolino, this one with full lighting equipment and silencer and 19" wheels.  Mine has 21", front and rear.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Classic TT 2014

I'm on my way back from the Isle of Man ClassicTT.  Team Obsolete shipped the 1959 Matchless G-50 1709 that we used to win the 1984 Senior Historic TT back to the IOM to participate in the Classic Racer Magazine Lap of Honour.  I went over a week before my ride to watch some practice and racing and hang out with friends.  There was a considerable American contingent, some newcomers, some with experience; some who I knew, some I didn't.  Ron Halem from San Jose, Ca., brought his 500 BSA Goldstar.  The bike had raced at the IOM at least four times before and this year was being rider by Paul Owen, an experienced and enthusiastic Brit.  Wade Boyd had raced at the IOM many times on both solo and sidecar and had a Classic F-1 Suzuki.  Bill Blythe is an old friend from Ct., who raced the Mountain Circuit for the first time last year after coming to the Island a couple of times previously to learn the circuit.  He was racing a Kawasaki ER-6 in the modern Supertwins/lightweight Manx Grand Prix.  Andrew Mauk, from Milwaukee, was riding his friend Keith's CB 450 Honda in the 500 Classic TT.
And, Jon Munds, from Portland, Or., was racing his 239cc CB 175 Honda in the 350 Classic TT.  Jon had Jared, Courtney and Tim helping him, all of whom I had met previously in Portland.  There was no separate 250 race this year, but there was a prize for the first 250.  
Andrew grenaded Keith's 450 pretty spectacularly early in the practice week when it broke a rod and punched a hole through the front and back of the motor. 

 Luckily, the motor didn't lock up and their oil pan seemed to collect all the oil and most of the debris, though Jon got hit by some shrapnel while following.  Keith had wisely brought a spare motor.  
Jon Munns had clutch slip problems in practice and had to replace the plates.
The Team Obsolete G-50 arrived in it's crate Friday and we attracted quite a crowd uncrating it.
The first race of the fortnight was the 500 Classic TT on Sat.  We watched from Gorse Lea, a very fast bend just before Ballacraine, with Paul Barrett, the fellow who first arranged a ride for me at the TT and taught me the way around in 1982, and who now lives on the Isle of Man.  John McGuinness led early, but his front master cylinder failed.  Ryan Farquhar led until his Paton broke.  Michael Rutter led for awhile until his G-50 stopped.  Ian Lougher eventually won on a Paton, despite incurring a 30 sec. penalty for speeding in the pit lane.  Ian had finished 2nd to me in the '84 Senior Historic TT which was only his second race on the TT course.  He went on to win ten TTs.  I ran into him in the paddock earlier in the week and, having never chatted with him before, we traded Ray Cowels stories, a legendary Welsh tuner and Ian's sponsor in that Historic TT.  2nd to Ian in the 500 Classic TT was Dan Cooper on a four valve Molnar Manx and third was Kiwi Bruce Ansty on Ken McIntosh's Manx.  Bruce won the the Hailwood trophy for the first single cylinder finisher as the Molnar four valve Manxes run by special dispensation in the multi cyl. class.  Maria Costello finished 5th on a Paton and was over the moon with that result.  There continues to be much debate about what is a legitimate Classic bike and what is an accurate replica and what is a modern bike mascarading as a Classic.  The replica MVs were the focus of much attention.  Andy Mauk broke a chain on the first lap and Paul Owens blew a head gasket on Ron Halem's Goldstar on the 3 rd lap.
Sunday was the Jurby Festival at an old WWII airfield in the north of the Island where a short circuit has been laid out.  There's club racing there during the season but, for the Jurby Festival, it's just lapping in different groups.  In the Lap of Honour group, there was a Sete Gibernau Desmodiceci Ducati, a RC 45 and RC 30 Hondas, YZR 500 Yamahas, a RR 250 Aermacchi in a biota chassis, an MV 3, a Benelli four, a Paton, several TZ 250 and 350 Yamahas.  As last year on the AJS 3 valve 7R, I was on the oldest bike in the group.  I did a couple of laps and the clutch started slipping, so I return to the pits and we cranked in more free play in the cable.  I went back out, but it was still slipping, so I came in and we, Rob Iannucci, Seth Rosko and I, took the clutch apart, cleaned the plates with solvent and roughed them up with sand paper.  This cured the clutch slip for the second session but, when I started the 2nd lap, I had a big slide and almost crashed in turn #1.  A rider came by pointing frantically at my bike and I looked down to see the union on the fuel line at the float bowl had come off and was dumping fuel on the rear tire.  I pulled off the track immediately and shut off the fuel.  I started pushing the bike back to the pits through the grass thinking the session would end before I got back, but then there was a red flag.  My first thought was that someone had crashed on my gas, but it turn out to be totally unrelated, with the Paton crashing on the other side of the circuit.  This gave me time to get the bike back to the pits and tighten up the fuel line union and I was able to go out when they re-started the session and confirm that the clutch was good now.  This was all very useful, as it's much better to find this stuff out on an open short circuit than on the TT course.
Sunday evening was the TT Heroes Dinner with former World Superbike Champion and IOM resident Neil Hodgson the M.C.  Neil acknowledged all the TT winners present individually.  We sat at a table with three Scotish TT winners: Bill Simpson and his son Ian (one of five father/son duos to win TTs) and Brian Morrison.  Hodgson conducted a 'chat show' with John McGuinness, Graeme Crosby, Carl Forgarty, an Rob McElnea, all riders who had raced at the TT with and against Joey Dunlop, the most successful TT racer ever.  They all seemed to agree that Joey didn't let many into his inner circle and that he was a bit of an enigma, but had great respect and affection for him.
Mon. was to be the the 350 Classic TT, the Lap of Honour, and the the Formula 1 and Formula 2 Classic TT races, but they were postponed until Tues. because of bad weather and lack of visibility on the mountain. At first it was announced that the Lap of Honour would be scrapped entirely due to a limited amount of time there was to close the roads, but then it was decided to shorten the two races to 3 laps (from 4) and run the Parade.  So, after some lunch in Peel with the Portland crew, we spent the day at museums.  First was the Mannin Museum which tells the history of the Island from it's first know human habitation 2000 years ago to the present.  Next was the tiny Peel Transport Museum which features, among other things, the Peel P-50 and Trident microcars, powered by a 50cc motor and built in the '60s. Finally, we went to Murray's Motorcyle Museum.  It's packed with road bikes and racers and tons of photos and other memorabilia.  It had examples of four bikes that I own: a 250 and 350 Aermacchi, a Moto Guzzi Airone, and a Moto Guzzi Dondolino, which had road trim of full lighting and silencer and 19" rims (mine has 21" front and rear).
The decision to postpone the races and parade turned out to be the right one as Tues. was sunny and warm, if a bit windy.  The 350 Classic was won by Lee Johnston from N. Ireland on a replica MV three cyl. by quite a margin.  Second was Alan Oversby on a Honda with Roy Richards third on a Dick Linton 350 Aermacchi.  Jon Munns wasn't sure he could go three laps on one tank of fuel and, having broken a spoke in practice, wanted to check the spokes in the race, so he pitted after the first lap.  The stop took long enough that the leaders overtook him and he wasn't allowed to start his third lap, but was still considered a finisher.  Maria Costello finished 26th overall and 2nd 250 on a T-20 Suzuki.
I was scheduled to started the Parade #7 behind John McGuinness, Chas Mortimer, Brian Reid, and Mick Grant.  #5, Steve Plater, was on a 500 Honda four bobber with Firestone tires and I passed him on the way down Bray Hill.  I had assured Rob Iannucci that I wasn't worried about the 14 year old tires on the bike, but maybe we should have put new tires on as I had a little slide at Quarter Bridge. So, I took it dead steady through Bradden Bridge and Graeme Crosby  came by me on the straight towards Union Mills.  Graeme was on a 1300cc?Suzuki XR69, so had plenty of power, but was going very conservatively through the bends.  I tucked in right behind him and got a tow up to Glen Vine and then, appropriately, through Crosby.  He shut off early at the Highlander and I went by him into Greeba Castle.  He came back by be on the straight between Gorse Lea and Ballacraine.  Around Doran's Bend, Con Law came by the both of us on a RS 500 3 cyl. Honda.  Not long after that, Brian Morrison came by on a Kawasaki ZXR 750 and I followed the three of them through Glen Helen.  Morrison and Law gradually pulled away and I followed Croz all the way onto the Sulby Straight.  Again, he braked really early for Sulby Bridge and I went by him.  Somewhere in there Steve Linsdell came by on his 500 Royal Enfield, which his son Olie was entered on in the 500 Classic race.  Also somewhere in there, Gary Carswell came by on a Kawasaki ZXR 750.  When I crashed the Team Obsolete Benelli 350 four in the '93 Junior Classic MGP, I ended up in Nobles Hospital with Gary as my roommate.  Gary had crashed his bike testing at Jurby and we listened to the race he should have been a top runner in on the radio together in the Hospital.  Gary went on to win a MGP and race in many TTs and is now a traveling marshall. Croz came back by me after Glentramman.  Again, a little slide in Parliment Square.  I wondered if the clutch would hold up slipping it out of Ramsey Hairpin, but it worked fine.  The G-50 had race gearing on it, which was perhaps a little tall for a parade as I only used 6th gear a little bit, but it pulled fine in 5th up the Mountain Mile.  Coming down the mountain, Croz really checked up for the 33rd and I passed him again as we approached Keppel Gate.  He stuffed it underneath me at Creg-na-ba.  This was the first time I had done Brandish since they opened it up and I checked up way early.  On through Hillberry, Cronk-ny-Mona, Signpost, steady through Governor's Bridge, and finishing up on Glencrutchery Rd.  The bike ran perfectly and the conditions were near perfect; heaven.
I didn't get to watch the following F-1 and F-2 Classic as we had to drain the oil and gas and crate the bike and all the tools and spares and my riding gear up.  But, Bruce Ansty dominated on a '92? YZR 500 Yamaha GP bike.  Many thought it couldn't last or would be unrideable, but he broke the lap record on his way to the win.  Ian Lougher won the F-2 class on a TZ 250 Yamaha for his second Classic TT win.
Dinner with David Cretney, Minister of Tourism and Leisure and former MGP competitor, Mike Nicks, founding editor of Classic Bike and Classic Racer magazines, and Mike Braid, owner of a fabulous collection of solos and side cars and long time friend and aide to Team Obsolete, capped off a great Classic TT.
 A Greeves 32 Sport seen on the Douglas Prom.

A 350 Aermacchi that Joey Dunlop race in a Junior Classic MGP, displayed with many of his other bikes raced at the IOM.

The KR 750 Kawasaki that Mick Grant raced.

The Renault Trafic six speed diesel van we had use of on the Island.  Why can't we get these in the USA?