Friday, May 4, 2012

Last weekend I attended the Corsa Motoclassica at Willow Springs, something I have done for the last 8 years.  My prospects there dimmed steadily over the month or so preceding it.  Initially, I had three rides lined up: a '51 Velo MAC for Class'C;, a 350 Aermacchi for 350gp, and a '66 Suzuki X-6 for 350gp and/or F-250.  First, the owner of the Velo informed me that things were tight and he had an opportunity to work that weekend and he wouldn't be able to make it.  The Aermacchi needed a frame,which was under construction.  The frame builder promised delivery first 3 weeks before the event, than 2 weeks before the event, then one week before and, finally, two weeks after the event.

Susan Isenman photos
That left the Suzuki and last Mon. I told it's owner, my old friend Kerry Beriont, that now I was really depending on him.  He said not to worry; it would definitely be there for Fri. practice, though the fresh top end wasn't on the motor yet.  Fri. morning at the track, I got a call saying the bike was being loaded into Rob North's trailer (behind his bus) and they be starting the 3.5 hr. drive shortly.  They ended up arriving shortly after practice had ended Fri. afternoon.  Kerry put some fuel in it and we tried to start it, to no avail.  After searching for for some time, Kerry found the broken wire and repaired it.   We tried to start it  again, to no avail.  After more searching, Jason spotted the disconnected wire and, once connected, the motor finally started.  Things were looking up; now can we go eat?
In Sat. morning's practice, I take it easy, breaking in the fresh pistons and rings, but I can already tell the bike is pretty fast, but doesn't handle well and I'm dragging the pipes.  It wobbled pretty badly and I figured the suspension was too stiff.  But, checking it out with Pierre Vailancourt, from Works Performance shocks, we found it not far off and made only minor preload adjustments to the rear shocks.  In the last practice, I noticed it didn't wobble so much if I stayed tucked behind the bubble,  I decided there wasn't enough weight on the front end and maybe the wind was initiating the wobble.
Susan Isenman photo

So, for the 350gp race, I made a big effort to stay down and get as forward forward as the long tank would allow.  Like magic, the bike was transformed and now the bike felt quite stable.  Being on the pole, as I'm the reigning class champion, I got a good start and led the first couple of laps.  Then, Paul Germain, on his extremely well developed (and well ridden) DT-1 Yamaha, came by.  I got back by him and led again for a lap or so.  Then, Bruce Yoximer, on his beautiful Seeley, short stroke 7R, came by.  I followed him for a lap or so, then drafted by at the end of the straight into turn #1, but he immediately came back by.  Approaching turn #3, Bruce threw his hand up and slowed and I thought his motor had blown and I swept by, only to see the red flag.  I immediately slowed and Germain came flying by before he saw the red flag.  Lorraine Crussell had crashed and was in the impact zone of the 'Omega' and our fun was over with.  Yoximer was scored 1st, me 2nd, and Germain 3rd, Tim Sheedy on a Honda four was 4th and Rusty Lowry on a short stroke 350 Aermacchi was 5th, all very different bikes.Susan Isenman photo
Two races later, I went out on the same bike for the bump-up race, F-250.  But, on the warm up lap, the motor didn't feel right, surging, sometimes pulling strong, sometimes weak.  I pulled into pit lane and, after a quick consult with Kerry, we found nothing obviously wrong and I started from the pit lane after the grid had left.  It started strong but, by the time I got to 4th gear, it started fading and misfiring.  I putted around slowly and pulled off at the end of the lap.
It seemed like ignition, but all Kerry found was a fouled plug; cause or effect?  Sun. morning, I went out for practice with nothing changed except new, hotter plugs.  It ran great, but now we had clutch slip.  Kerry put in new clutch springs and it was better in the second practice, but  still slipped a bit when I shifted from 5th to 6th.
In Sun. 350gp race, I blew the start when I shifted to 2nd too soon and bogged and had to go back to down to 1st.  Four bikes passed me before turn #1.  I got one back in turn #2 , two more on the back straight and the last one just before the last turn on the first lap.  I didn't see anyone other than lapees until the last corner of the last lap when Jeff Elings came by on his 500 Paton, riding in the F-500 class.
But, Yoximer and Germain had been close the whole time until Yox dropped out when he drive pulley came adrift and Germain finished close behind.  Yox had the fastest lap in the class, with me second fastest, and Germain third.
It ended up being a very thin field in the F-250 race, as Elings and Ralph Hudson both had bike problems and I finished 2nd in the two bike class, to Dave Crussell on his quick Kawasaki 350 Bighorn.  I did keep Dave in sight and my lap times were almost as quick as in the 350gp.
I think a lot of people were surprised by the performance of Kerry's Suzuki as some thought it looked fairly ordinary.  But, Kerry has put together a very quick, if simple racer.  My thanks to Kerry for what turned out to be a fine ride.
Entries were quite healthy and there was a good turn out for the bike show on Sat., so maybe the slump in AHRMA racing, and bike racing in general, is reversing.
Here are some bike show photos:
I forget if this was a 650, 700, or 750cc RG Suzuki allegedly ridden by Virginio Ferrari.  It had amazingly bulbous expansion chambers.
photos by Susan Isenman

I had seen Motobecane two strokes before, but never a four stroke.  It must be really undersquare as it has an extremely tall engine for a 175.  Love the logoPhotos by Nancy Beriont

Susan Isenman photo
Me talking to the owner of a 73cc Moto Guzzi CardalinoSusan Isenman photo

This is a '39 Moto Guzzi Egretta, a for runner to my beloved 250 Airone Sport.  Exposed valve gear, girder forks, rigid rear, and hand shift.  It could be yours as it's for sale.  But, act fast as I'm tempted

photos by Susan Isenman

A beautiful 150 Gilera
A Van Tech with an Ace 100 Hodaka motor

Nancy Beriont photo
A Benelli Leonchino 175, I believe
Susan Isenman photo

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