Tuesday, June 21, 2011
6/21/11 the Summer Solstice The AHRMA event at Grattan, Mi., near Grand Rapids, on 18-19 June, had markedly mixed results for me. I started practice on the '46 Moto GuzziDondolino and it seemed good right off the bat, although I made a mental note to try reducing the rear tire pressure to reduce the rear end hop, which I promptly forgot. My '70ERTT H-D Sprint wouldn't start. The last time the motor had run was sliding on it's side down a very wet Summit Point in April. Now it had no spark. I removed the points and cleaned them and it was better than new. Points maybe crude, but perhaps easier to diagnose and fix than a mysterious black box.
In the Class 'C' race on the Dondo, I got the hole shot and led the first lap, then Alex Mclean came by on the front straight and pulled steadily ahead. I finished 2nd with Dave Dunfey on his beautiful '50 Vincent 3rd.
In the 350 GP race, Bruce Yoximer, on his Seeley AJS 7R got the hole shot and I tucked into his draft, pulling out just before turn #1 and out braking him. I led the rest of the race to the checkered flag, but Bruce was right there the whole race and, in fact, turned the fastest lap of the race.
For Sunday's practice, I did remember to reduce the rear tire pressure on the Dondo and it did feel better. When the green flag dropped for the Class 'C' race the Dondo stalled and KenMertz, the starter, saw that the plug lead had fallen off. We shoved it back on and I took off well behind the pack. Coming out of turn #2, the lead fell off again and I stopped and put it back on and bumped it down the hill. Then, coming out of turn #5, it fell off again and I routed it through the frame before putting it back on this time. I bumped it off again and took off. When I finished the 2nd lap, I got the 'meatball' flag and pulled into the hot pit lane at the end of the 3rd lap where I was informed I was disqualified for starting a dead engine on the track. I said I started it on the grass, not the track, and the referee told me he'd let me go, then review it with the corner workers. So I took off again, but as I finished the 4th lap accelerating out of the last corner in 3rd gear, I had 'magneto failure' as when the broken connecting rod punches through the crankcases and knocks the magneto off. The rear wheel locked instantly while I was well leaned over, and the Dondo and I went sliding down the track. The cycle parts aren't too bad: bent handlebars, small ding in the fuel tank, bent footrest and left rear shock, and the seat is well torn up. I haven't taken the motor apart yet, so I don't know how bad it is yet but, potentially, it could all be scrap. At minimum, I need a rod, a cyl. liner, an armature for the mag, and lots of welding on the cases. I'm hoping the gearbox and head are OK.
The pain of this disaster was tempered somewhat by the 350gp race that followed after one race in between. Again Yoximer got the hole shot and again I outbraked him into turn #1 and led the first lap. But, Bruce passed me down the straight starting the second lap and a scrap ensued. He had a little motor on me and I had the advantage on the brakes. We swapped the lead many times. While he was leading, he missed a shift and I was able to get ahead. Then, a lap later, I overshifted from 2nd to 4th, but he wasn't able to capitalize on that because he almost ran in the back of me and had to check up. I may have had an advantage in traffic and I held him off for the win but, again, Bruce had the fastest lap of the race. It was the best race I've had in a couple of years.
Photo by Kenny Cummings, NYC Norton.