Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sat. I raced at Summit Point, W. Va., at a WERA vintage event.  I had planned to race the Dondolino there but, when I broke it at Loudon three weeks ago, I put out the call.  Joe Traino answered the call and offered me a ride on his XL350 Honda in a CB350 chassis.

This is a bike built by Stan Lipert back in 1995, a vintage vintage bike.  Stan is someone I have great respect for both as a rider and tuner,  so I gratefully accepted the offer.   The motor is from 1974 and is derived from the '72 XL250, which was Honda's first 4 valve per cyl. production motor.

Being a singles kind of guy, I was curious to see how it would compare to a CB350 with the twin cyl. CB350 motor.
There was quite a light turnout of modern bikes (maybe there were scared off by the mid 90's heat), but a decent vintage entry.  Only two of the vintage bikes were not Japanese: a 750 Triumph and Steve D'Angelo's 250 Ducati.  The vast majority of the bikes were CB350/360 Hondas, with a few RD/RZ 350/400 Yamahas, a XT500 Yam, and an H2 Kawasaki.
The XL 350 bump started very easily and I went out in the first practice to get familiar and check out the older Avon tires on the bike.   I wasn't too impressed by the front brake (450 Honda), but other wise the bike was good with decent handling, tons of ground clearance, and a torquey motor.  The broad power band and relatively wide gearbox ratios meant I didn't shift it much.
This must be practice. I'm followed by Rich Midgely (461))and Steve D'Angelo(507), or could Rich and I be lapping Steve's 250 Ducati?  Photo by George Roulson
The first practice was red flagged after 3 laps, so I was just starting to get the feel for the bike.  I got more laps in the 2nd practice and started to gain confidence in the tires, which were of an indeterminate age.  But, we checked the tire pressure when I got back in and there was 17psi. in the rear.  Did Joe just misread the gauge when he set it or did we have a leak?  We pumped it up and kept checking it before my first race, #7 which was actually the 5th race of the day because of combined/canceled races due to the light modern turnout.  It seems we did have a slow leak, but not something that would be a problem for an 8 lap race and pumped it up to 33psi.
I was on the pole in V2 with 500gp and 250gp gridded behind me.  I didn't do the best start, letting out the clutch too quickly and bogging and wheelie-ing slightly.  Rich Oldakowski shot by on his XT 500 Yamaha and I chased him the first lap.  But, just starting the 2nd lap, he raised his hand and pulled off.  He suspected his coil died.  It's doubtful that I would have been able to keep up with Rich but, with him gone, I took the win overall.
George Roulson photo
We checked the tire again when I came in and it was 35psi.  I have to confess that I didn't really feel any difference between 17 and 35psi.
There was one race before the last race.  Formula 500 was gridded first; I was on the 5th row in V1 with 350gp gridded behind.  I got a better start this time and followed Richard Lucas on his RD 400 Yamaha down to turn #1.  I out braked his disc brake with my drum brake and slipped underneath him into the corner.  I had discovered that my brake wasn't too bad with more use and squeezing really hard.  I figured that Richard would come back by down the straight with his bigger two stroke engine, but I didn't see him again and I was overall winner once more.
leading Richard Lucas #345, RD 400 Yamaha.  George Roulson photo
WERA does almost all of their vintage races on Sat., with only the newest/biggest 'vintage' race on Sun.  So, Sun. was a day off for me and I took a bicycle ride with my friend Ellen in the morning.  First, we checked out all the facilities at the track.  There are now four circuits there.  In addition to the one I've always raced on (since 1972), there is the Jefferson and Shenandoah circuits, which both had auto track days going on, and a go-kart circuit.  I was impressed that they had refurbished the old restroom and brought it up to the excellent standard of the newer restroom/shower.  The track gets used a lot and hard and has had a reputation of being slippery and bumpy, but I found it in very good repair.
We left the circuit and bicycled many miles away and I was impressed by how far away one could hear the bikes practicing.  We chatted with a local fellow in 'downtown' Summit Point who had worked for the State Department training drivers at the circuit.  I asked him if the community 'got along' with the race track and he said it did.  The race track was there first and treated the community well and people accepted it.  This was reassuring as the houses have definitely moved closer and closer over the years.  It's a big operation and clearly a big part of the local economy.


  1. Nice write up Dave and nice riding too!

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  3. Thank you Dave, for a nice set of photo's and speal. Hope the Dondolino can be fixed.
    My regards, Bill.

  4. Yo David - In the early eighties I raced an XL350 cum full-race 402 (my pit chief was rowdy early-teenster, Peter Booth). Yet all this might was in vain as the Cambridge Hot Rod XL proved no match for Ianucci's 350 7R Matchless Boy Racer. But to be fair to the XL, there were those few who proffered that 'I was no match for you'. Doubtful, wouldn't you agree? All best - Jack

    - am hoping that I and my Honda 305 Super Ubiquitous can make it to Doug and Amy's TT.

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