Sunday, October 28, 2012

13-15 Oct. 2012 was the Barber Vintage Festival, clearly the biggest vintage event in the country.  I entered Class 'C' foot shift with my 1946 Moto Guzzi Dondolino and 350GP, for which I brought my '70 ERTT H-D Sprint and Mike Bungay brought his 350 Aermacchi.  We had some problems with Mike's bike stopping in practice, but that turned out to be just a clogged fuel filter.  I geared Mike's bike taller and mine shorter and, in the end, I went a little faster on Mike's bike so that's the one I raced, with mine ready if back up was needed.  When I last ran my Dondolino at St. Eustache, the magneto failed.  So, I installed the magneto from my Airone road bike.  The Airone has a smaller mag gear and to use the Dondolino gear on the Airone mag, required making a plate to raise the mag 5mm.  The other problem was that the original Magneti Marrelli MLA mag has a manual advance while the Airone MRC-4E 15 degree magneto has a centrifugal advance.  I couldn't see any way to fix the mag at full advance to time it, so I assumed the '15 degree' cast on the body indicated that's how much the ignition advances.  When I initially checked the timing statically, it was 20 degrees so, I assumed it would be 35 degrees at fully advance.  I figured this was close enough to the 38-39 degrees I had been using, to test it.  I tried to check it with a timing light, but couldn't see any marks with my toy light.  However, the bike started easily and seemed to run well, as much as I could tell in the tight confines of my secret test site.  On the track in practice at Barber, the bike seemed to run great and the spark plug looked near perfect, so I didn't change anything on it.
This year, all practice was on Thurs. and Fri., with no practice on the race days on Sat. and Sun.  So, on Sat., I was first up on the Dondolino in the Class 'C' foot shift.  The competition was Ryan Ambrose on Big D's pre-unit 500 rigid Triumph twin

Alex McLean on Bob McKeever's 500 rigid cammy Norton
and Jake and Rob Hall sharing this BSA
That BSA was idling next to me at pit out, but when we gridded up after the warmup lap, it wasn't there.  Turns out that there was a problem with the petcock and when he gave it throttle, it died.  Ryan was away like a shot, I stayed ahead of Alex briefly before he came by and I finished third of the 6 Class 'C' foot shift, ahead of the ten Class 'C' hand shift and ahead of half the of the 18 350 Sportsman bikes that started in the wave ahead of us.
Bill Doll photo
There was a fair wait until the 750 Sportsman, 500 Sportsman, 350 GP race, but I occupied some of this with spectating in the Century Race, a race for bikes at least one hundred years old.  Dale Walksler won it (again) on his 1912 1000cc Indian in great style, chomping on his cigar with his open face helmet. Joe Gardella was a close 2nd on his 1912 H-D on which he had recently finished the Cannonball run.  Many of the Cannonball bikes were there and they got to do a parade lap, too.
A 1909 Excelsior single that competed in the Century Race
 I got it the lead of the 350GP class quickly and any threat to that lead ended when Paul Germain's exhaust pipe broke on his DT-1 Yamaha.  I set about seeing how many of the rest of the field I could get through.  I ended up 7th overall of the 39 entries after starting in the 3rd wave.  Only 4 of the 750s and none of the 500s had a faster fastest lap than me.

Vic Moore photo
Sunday went much the same as Sat.  The Hall BSA did start the Class 'C' race, but didn't finish.  It looked like the race was going to be a barnburner between the BSA and the Big D Triumph.  Coming out of the last corner on the first lap, Hall was leading, but Ryan was pushing hard and, when Hall missed a shift, Ryan collided with him, knocking off his exhaust pipe.  So, Hall had to retire and once again I was gifted 3rd after McLean got by me.  My fasted lap was almost one and a half seconds faster than Sat., 10th overall, and Alex and I both finished closer to Ryan, so I was pleased.

Alex McLean (122) and I (7) check each other out on the grid.  Jerrett Martin photo.
Sunday's 750 Sportsman/500 Sportsman/350GP race went much the same as Saturday's except that Germain had the exhaust fixed on his Yamaha.  He finished 2nd in the class, but was almost 24 sec. behind.  I find this very interesting as at Miller I beat him by less the 3/4 of a sec.  I don't see a reason why Mike's bike should be faster of Paul's slower than then.  Is one bike or rider better suited to this track than that?   Or, does one rider happen to be 'on' or the other 'off' that particular day?  It's fascinating and the unpredictability of it keeps me coming back.  My fastest lap was only about 0.1 sec faster Sun. than Sat., but it seems most of the field was slower and only Jerrett Martin on the Big D Triumph 750 had a faster fastest lap and I finished 5th overall starting from the 3rd wave.
Roger Cox photo.  He has more Barber photos on his website in addition to some of industrial decay
But, it could have been very different.  On the cool off lap as I went through the chicane on the back straight, I thought I missed a shift and tried it again.  And again. But, I had no drive and I look down to see that the chain had come off.  Inspection after I coasted and pushed in showed that the axle adjuster was broken, but which was the chicken and which the egg?  Luckily, it didn't jam in anything and lock the rear wheel and luckily it didn't happen a lap earlier.
The broken axle adjuster after we had put the chain back on.
Right to left: Mike Bungay, his son and pit crew Brennen Bungay, and me with Mike's beautiful 350 Aermacchi.  Rich Hosley photo

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