Sunday, April 8, 2012
Doug Whitbeck recently sent me this copy of an article he wrote for the Motorcyclist Post in the Summer of 1982. It's hard to read, but the article tells of the first time I raced at the Isle of Man. My friend Paul Barrett set me up on a 350 Aermacchi, much like he was racing himself, and taught me the course. This was the TT F-3 race, which was run concurrently with TT F-2. The TT class was for bikes with a street based engine, but the chassis could be one-off. At that time TT F-1 was 750 four stroke, 500 two stroke; F-2 was 600 four stroke, 350 two stroke; and F-3 was 400 four stroke and 250 two stroke. The F-3 race ran from 1977-1982 and people ran Yamahas, Hondas and Aermacchis mostly.
After a little drama with the throttle cable coming adrift from the slide during warm-up, I got off OK and was having a good ride. It was a four lap race and no one would be stopping for fuel. But, as the race wore on, the bike started vibrating more and more, and I wondered if I would finish. On the last lap, as I started to leave Ramsey, the chain came off the sprocket; the front sprocket. The nut holding the gearbox sprocket on the main shaft had come adrift, allowing the sprocket to dance back and forth. The motor had a full sprocket cover, so I had to lean the bike against a wall and look for a stick. When I found a suitable stick, I was able to lift the chain up in the case and after several tries, got it on the sprocket while rolling the bike a bit. The Marshall at the corner kept coming over and asking me if I was retiring and I kept telling him 'No'. There was a little lot/driveway that I was able to bump start the bike and re-enter the race. All the vibration had cause the windscreen screws to loosen and the screen to dance around, wearing the holes in the screen bigger until they were bigger than the heads of the screws. As I left the Gooseneck, the screen flew off, except we had a vent tube from the fuel tank coiled and taped to the windscreen and this held. So, the screen was flapping around my head at the end of this vent tube. I yanked the tube off the fuel tank and let the screen go. I finished late and with no windscreen and people thought I had crashed. But, I had finished my first TT and, though the chain incident had dropped me from 5th to 12 (but not last), I was chuffed.