Thursday, May 2, 2013

Last weekend was another successful one, but not without a lot of mechanical drama. In addition to having my semi-regular ride on Mike Bungay's 350 Aermacchi, Sam Yamazaki asked if I'd like to race his DT-1 Yamaha in 250gp at Willow Springs.

I was expecting to do a half day practice Fri. largely to get familiar with this new ride, but Sam didn't show up, and having raced Mike's Aermacchi many times at Willow, it didn't seem worth it to pay for extra practice.

the windscreen got broken loading the bike and we had to make a repair
We did run the bike around the pits and discovered we had a shifting problem, as it didn't want to downshift. We found the pedal was binding on it's pivot some, that the head of a clevis bolt was hitting something, and that the angle of the arm on the shift shaft wasn't ideal. Those items attended to, all seemed to be good.
Sam showed up with the DT-1 early Sat. morning and said the bike had a 'street' pattern shift at the moment, but he could change it over to a 'race' pattern (up fo 1st) if I'd like and I told him to do that. But on the 2nd lap of the first practice, the clevis pin fell out of the linkage and I pulled off. The Aermacchi seemed good except for some front end chatter which might have been caused by the tire having a bit of a bump in it which we tried to tone down with an angle grinder. Sam fixed the shift linkage on the Yamaha and I did 5 or 6 laps. I started to have some shifting problems with it and it seemed to want to pump out of 5th gear. I did a plug chop and coasted to a stop and then found it wouldn't shift at all in either direction. Sam dove into the motor and found there was almost no oil in the transmission. He took the motor out of the frame and totally disassembled it and saw the gearbox was fried. He thought we were done for the day but that he would go back to his home in L.A. and fix it. I suggested we first talk to my old buddy Jason Lindquist, who was also racing a DT-1. Sure enough, Jason had a complete spare lower end he was willing to loan us. But, Sam had to split those cases and put Jason's transmission in his case which were modified fir his frame. It was doubtful Sam could do all this before the 250gp race(race 5), but he'd try.
 I went out again on the Aermacchi and there seemed to be less chatter, but it was still there.
Sam modified the cases to eliminate the kickstart to get the gearbox sprocket as close as possible to the swingarm pivot

Working out in the sun on his knees, Sam pluged away and got the bike back together minutes before the race. Jason's gearbox was wider ratio and had a 'taller' 5th gear so we didn't know where we'd end upon the overall gearing. I got a good start and got in front of the 21 250gp entries and only Ari Henning, from the 2nd wave 350 sportsman class came by. But,the race seemed to go on forever and, two corners after I got the white flag indicating the last lap, the motor died--out of gas. When the crash truck came to pick me up, Jason Lindquist an his DT-1 were already in it. He had been given the 'meatball' flag while not far behind me. He mistook it for the Black flag, and pulled off I turn one. They told him he was in the wrong race, but he wasn't and a mistake had been made. A while later, when I checked the results, I found another mistake hade been made. The white flag had been thrown on the 8th lap when the checkered should have been thrown, and I had run out of gas on the cool-off lap, not the last lap, and I had won the race.
The 350gp race was the last off the day and was guided behind Battle of the Twins F-3 (SV 650s and the like), Formula Vintage (the biggest,fastest vintage bikes, and Motards (modern singles of any displacement), but all in a one wave start. I got a great start and the bike was working great and I was leading my class and well up into the bigger bikes. I started to have shifting issues and at about the half way point the gearbox got stuck in 3rd gear. I had such a big lead that it was only just before the last lap that the next 350gp bike came by and I ended up second despite having done about help the race stuck in 3rd (of 5) gear.
 The tach had also stopped working during the race and we found the battery that powers it had fallen off. Mike took the clutch and primary/timing cover off and found a screw had come out of the selector mechanism, causing it to stop selecting, but causing no further damage. He was able to get it back together and relocate a spare battery for the tach, and we were in business for Sun. I just did a short practice on the Yamaha Sun. morning. The tach stopped working on the Aermacchi again, but it shifted fine. We found the spare battery was dead, so charged it up for the 2nd practice. But again, it stopped working and Mike decided it was shot and found a newer and bigger one for the race.
 Again, I got in the lead of the 250gp race, it on the 2nd lap, Jason Lindquist in his DT-1 stuck a wheel in on me . A lap later, Steven Gillen, on a 200 Honda came by. I got Steve back, but both he an Jason drafted by me on the straight. The three of us swapped back and forth going through a couple of corners three abreast. The bikes were quite evenly matched and Jason and Steven both riding excellently. I managed to gap them a little bit a couple of laps from the end but Jason made a big effort on the last lap, turning the fastest lap of the race, and close to within a bike length (0.149 sec.), but a little too late and I won again.
the DT-1 has a Japanese aftermarket 4LS brake

but only used one backing plate for this very light bike
I blew the start in the 350gp race when I tried to put the bike in gear with the rear brake pedal (the Yamaha shifts on the other side), but quickly got in the lead and started picking off the bigger bikes. The Aermacchi was working great and I thought it could have pulled even taller gearing. I ended up 5th overall with two SV 650s and a Vintage Superbike Heavyweight bike ahead of me. I'm not sure what the overall winner rode, but apparently it was very fast. So, it was the Year Of The Gearbox, but never say die, and it all work out well in the end. On to Sears Point tomorrow.

Paul Montgomery's Moto Guzzi Dingo Corsa in the show

a Royal Enfield V-Twin also in the show

A Lilac? that a spectator rode to the event


  1. The Japanese horizontally opposed bike in the show was made by Marusho, the model name was Lilac. Relatively rare in US.

  2. Great saga of racing drama. Off-track repair issues (Clevis bolt 350)
    Clevis pin (250) and Sam Yamazaki splitting cases to install loaned
    lower end (DT-1)!!! And...on-track GOOD RACING!!!

  3. SO SO SO???
    DID you get the WIN in the race in which they mixed up the flags? (white instead of checkered)Seems you won it fair and square.
    Never a dull moment at the race track.

  4. Yes, I was awarded the win. There were some who were unhappy with that as they tell you in the riders meeting to race to the checker flag and I did never receive the checkered flag. But, apparently the computer is only programed to record the number of laps the race is scheduled to run. And, it wouldn't be very fair to lengthen a race in the middle of it when one's already put fuel in for the originally scheduled length.