Saturday, September 17, 2011

The long, lost Roper cousins: Gary and David

Gary and me with my friend and near neighbor Gary Dipietro lurking in the backround.
Labor Day weekend, I flew out to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, just west of Salt Lake City. The plan was to race Gary Roper's '51 Velocette MAC in Class 'C' and Mike Bungay's 350 Aermacchi in 350gp. Mike called me Thurs. eve when I arrived at SLC to tell me they had had some problems on the dyno with the top end lubrication and the intake valve on one of the two bikes they were preparing had mushroomed. They decided to blow off Fri. practice, fix the motor, and arrive Sat. morning.
So, Fri. I just did a half day's practice on the Velo. Gary had put an electronic tachometer on it since I last rode it at Willow Springs in April in addition to rebuilding the clutch and resetting the ignition timing. With the tach, I was able to dial in the gearing a little better, and we added a tooth to the back compared to last year.
Gary and his son Colin adjusting the chain after changing the rear sprocket.

After having a great dinner with some new friends at the Red Iguana restaurant in SLC, Mike called me again to tell me that they had put the bikes back on the dyno and had more problems, run late, and the owner of the Sprinter they were coming in had knock his glasses off a shelf and broken both lens', and so they weren't coming at all. This was quite disappointing as there was a good 350gp field with Jim Neuenburg on Fred Mork's short stroke Aermacchi, Bruce Yoximer on his short stroke Seeley 7R, Paul Germain on his DT1 Yamaha, and Tim Sheedy on his Honda 350 four. I suspect it was, at least in part, a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.
So, I changed my entry from 350gp to Classic 60's and bumped up to that class with the Velo.
The two races were back to back with the Class 'C' foot shift first in the second wave behind the 250gp. There were only three other bikes in the class: Fred Mork on his pre-war ridge 500 cammy Norton, and Dave Dunfey and Ken Genecco both on 500 Vincent singles. I pulled away from them and passed 14 of the 250s from the first wave to finish 11th overall. The Classic 60's race was also second wave, behind Formula-250 and Sportman 350. I finished third in class behind the Lighthouse family, Rodd (son) on a Velocette Venom and Ken (dad) on a 500 Goldstar, and ahead of the G-50 Matchless's of Janiec and Mork, 13th overall. Sunday's results were the same in class and virtually the same over all. My best lap was over two seconds quicker than last year so I guess we're making progress with the MAC.
Finishing ahead of Dave Janiec's G-50 powered AJS 7R on the little 350 MAC

Sunday morning, Scott Jennings talked me into practicing on his '85 Suzuki RG 500 Gamma. He's the second owner of the bike, buying it off the original owner 7 months after he purchase it. It's been extensively reworked with an R6 front end, different wheels and port work. Slicks and tire warmers make quite a contrast to a bike with a rigid frame and 21" ribbed front tire. It was good fun and I managed not to hurt myself or the bike.
There was a TTXGP electric bike race held on the west course while AHRMA was on the east. Shane Turpin on Michael Czysz' electric bike was turning lap times equivalent to 600 Supersport expert. Also in the electric bike race was Ely Schless, and old friend and competitor from Battle of the Twins days in the mid 80's when he raced a Triumph and then went on to race a Honda Hawk. I remember him having an electric pit bike back then and he's still one of the pioneers. It was good to catch up with him after 20 or so years.
Several people who had run in the previous few day on the Bonneville salt flats came to the roadraces at Miller, among them Stuart Hooper. Stuart had confirmed he has the fastest Velocette in the know universe, having upped his 136mph speed from Lake Gardiner in South Australia to 147mph at Bonneville. Stuart took some interest in the MAC and gave Gary some tips. As it turned out, Don Lamkin and I went back to the Red Iguana Sun. eve and who were we seated next to but Stuart and his mate. We move over to their table and had a good long session of tales of the salt. Stuart was disappointed to not break the 150 mph barrier but, having become the world's fastest Velo, is now shooting to be the world's fastest single. We're not sure what is the world's fastest single and if anyone knows, let me know.

The world's fastest Velo, fresh from doing 147mph at Bonneville.

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