Sunday, June 23, 2013

I recently got back from my annual pilgrimage to Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wi. and Grattan, Mi. with a stay with friends in Chicago in between.  While my Moto Guzzi Dondolino had broken at Loudon in May, the parts to fix it arrived just before I left for Rd. Am., so I threw it in the van with my 350 H-D Sprint.  I wasn't actually planning to race the Dondo at Rd. Am. as Keith Martin at Big D Cycles had asked me if I'd like to ride his Class C Triumph there.  Of course I would, as the bike had been impressively fast last year in the hands of Ryan Ambrose.  Ryan is pursuing a modern bike championship on a 675 Triumph in the CRMA this year, so the Class C bike was available.  The Triumph is a pre-unit 500 with telescopic forks and rigid rear end from 1951.

I went out for practice on it first and was just starting to get used to it when it stopped.  A bolt that secures the stator had backed out and Keith had to re-tap the hole in the case bigger.
While he was doing that, I went out on ERTT.  On the fourth lap I was following a Suzuki four Vintage Superbike.  Exiting the carousel, I saw a huge cloud of smoke come out of it when the #2 conrod came through the front of the motor and I was down instantly on the oil it threw out.  I tumbled some but it seemed my bike just slid on it's right side.  I was a bit beat up, but not too bad, though I did go to the Aid station to have a gash in my left hand cleaned up.  The bike wasn't too bad either: broken windscreen, puncture in the fuel tank, broken front brake cable, and broken shift lever, and a little dirt in the carb.  It had slid on the tach drive and that was wiped out.  Fortunately, my friend Phyllis had come to the event and we set about cleaning and patching it up to get it ready for the race, one of the later ones.  

Darleen Drehmel photos
I went out on the Big D Triumph for the 2nd round of practice and was getting into it when it stopped shifting after a few laps.  A pin had fallen out of the selector and it was a pretty easy fix for Keith and we were ready for the race.  I got a decent start as was quickly building a good lead as the bike is really fast.  Keith warned me that the brake weren't so hot, but I thought they were good.  The bike jumps around a bit when you wind on the power, but it was predictable. The lead was for naught as on the 3rd lap we got a red flag.
Saturday's Class C race was red flagged and we're exiting the track at turn #5  Darleen Drehmel photo
We restarted, but on the warm-up lap, the Triumph died again.  When Keith replaced the stator bolt, he hadn't realize there was supposed to be a spacer between the stator and crankcase. So the stator was cocked and the rotor was hitting it and it finally gave up.
Back to work on the ERTT. Randy Illg of Framecrafters welded the shifter.  We patched the fuel tank with epoxy putty, cleaned the carb, and re-soldered the front brake cable.  I started the race with no windscreen and no tachometer.
Darleen Drehmel photo

This is the warm-up lap of the F750/750 Sportsman/350gp race.  I'm following Kenny Cummings' Seeley 750 Norton probably out of the chicane.  Kenny had a mechanical DNF in the race.  Fred Sahms photo
I went back and forth with Jack Parker on his DT-1 Yamaha a bit before I was able to pull away and win the 350gp and finish 6th overall behind one Formula 750 and four 750 Sportsman bikes.  Keith Martin's son Jerrett was third over all, 2nd in class, and had the fastest lap in the race, but was just beat out by Jeff Hargis in a photo finish.
For Sunday, Keith took the old school magneto off another of his Triumphs and got rid of that new fangled electronic hocus pocus and the bike ran just as well in practice.  There was a shower in the morning, but it stopped before the first race.  On the warm-up lap, I saw the track was still damp.  In turn #6, while trying to take a big sweeping arc to not load the tires too much, I ran too wide at the exit and just caught the painted rumble strip and the bike snapped sideways and spit me over the highside.  I felt like a complete idiot, crashing on the warm-up lap on a bike that should have won after Keith had put in so much work on it.  It banged up the fuel tank and right exhaust, shift lever and throttle.

Sorry Keith
The crash didn't do me any good either, esp. my chronic right ankle but, as I always say, the best thing for what ever ails you, is to get on a race bike.
Jason Roberts gave me one of his old cracked windscreens and we fitted it to the ERTT.  

The bike had misfired a few times in practice so I checked the points and valve clearance and charged the battery.
Again, I had a bit of a tussle with Jack Parker's quick starting DT-1 Yamaha before I was able to clear off with my bike running well.  But, as the race wore on, I again had a bit of misfire.  Then, on the last lap, the motor cut right out and Pete Beyer, on his XS 650 Yamaha came by.  The motor started running again then cut out again.  I was wondering if I was going to finish.  It cut out a third time and I crossed the finish line with a dead engine, but won the 350gp again and again 6th overall behind the 750s.  The motor came back again, then cut out for good on the cool off lap.  When I got back to the pits, I found my fuel tank was empty.
So, it was a weekend of ups and downs with two wins and two crashes, in one of which I was an innocent victim, the other was completely pilot error .  I was feeling pretty beat up but I had plenty of work to do to get ready for Grattan the next weekend.

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