Sunday, October 6, 2013

One week after racing in Utah, I was racing near Montreal at the VRRA's Quebec GP at Autodrome St. Eustache on September 7th  & 8th.  It's always a fun event, with 1/8th mile drag racing Fri. night, and Stock Car racing on the 7/16th mile oval Sat. night.  When I raced there last year, I met Len Fitch and admired his two stroke Yamahas.  He suggested that I should race one sometime, so I got in touch with him before this year's event and he said he thought he could get something together for me to ride.  That  something turned out to be a 1972 TR3 Yamaha.
In the foreground, Len Fitch's TR3 Yamaha
The bike was quite original with the exception of front forks and brake from a TX500 Yamaha, a common period modification, swapping the four leading shoe drum brake for a single disc.  The bike also had a lengthened swing arm and Koni shocks, also common period mods.  I put many miles on the TD3 250 Yam back in the day ('73-'75), but never rode the 350cc TR3, though I raced a hot-rodded R5C, the road bike the TR3 was derived from, from '76-'78.  So, it was like old home week, though I did have some trouble shifting it initially.  I was convinced I wasn't able to select 6th gear, though statically it shifted into all the gears fine.  I finally realize that I was going through the slowest corner in 2nd, not 1st, and I was indeed getting 6th gear but the bike was gear too short.
Len geared it up once, but it was still a little short.  Len told me not to worry about it and just let it rev past 11,000 rpm.
Len's TZ 350 D on the right, TR3 on the left
Len brought four bikes: a '77 TZ350 D and two RS125 Hondas, in addition to the TR3.  One of my 'teammates', on the RS 125, was Stacey Nesbitt.  Stacey is a senior in high school and she has already won the Canadian CBR125 Honda National Championship (2011) and the CBR 250R National  Championship(2012).  While she was on a newer bike than me with slicks and tire warmers, she was also on a much smaller bike with a little over 1/3 the displacement of what I was riding, yet she passed me in both practice sessions.  I was very impressed.  She was there with her parents, who are extremely supportive of her racing.  The whole family came from Northern Ireland, Stacey when she was 15  months old.  Her dad grew up 6 miles from the Dundrod circuit, home of the Ulster GP.  They moved to Quebec to take jobs at Bombardier in the Aerospace industry.
I was entered in Middleweight Period 2 and in Saturdays heat, I was able to track down early leader Mick Vaclavik who was racing a XS 650 based Yamaha in a custom, one off chassis, and motor by for the win.  He apparently had a slipping clutch which he thought he would be able to fix.
Mick Vaclavik's XS 650 based 750 in a Dennis Curtis frame
Sunday morning, I tried to put on taller gearing, but ultimately realized that we couldn't do it with the sprockets and chain we had and returned to the sprockets we had used Sat.  The short gearing meant I got a good start in the Period 2 Heavyweight final and was never headed.  It turned out that Mick wasn't able to cure his slipping clutch.
I was also entered in the 12 lap Vintage GP, the last race of the weekend.  This is a class for bikes sold as race bikes, as opposed to converted street bikes.  I was expecting to race the TR3 in this race too but, at the last minute, Len asked me if I want to ride the '77 TZ 350 D that Steve Humphrey's had been racing.  Steve was racing his RS 125 in the Vintage GP, so the TZ was available.  The TZ was  newer and with monoshock rear suspension, and Len figured it was faster.  I was able to get one 'scrub' lap in during the warmup lap for the previous race, which was a bit of a help, but I wasn't exactly 'one' with the bike at the start.
There are three divisions in the Vintage GP class, Light, Middle and Heavy weight, and the TZ 350 is considered Middle, as is the TR3.  But, there were no Heavyweight entries, so I was gridded  on the second row of the first group, with the 125s behind us.  I quickly got into 4th place behind David Percival on an RS 250 Honda, Chris Hurst on a TZ350 Yamaha and Joe Soles on an RS 250 Honda.  It became apparent, as I started to get comfortable on the TZ, that it was geared too short, also.  On the 5th lap, I got by Joe Soles, with Percival and Hurst long gone.  What I didn't realize was that, after a bad start, Stacey got by Patrick Gagnon, to lead the 125s.  A lap later, she got by Joe Soles and got right on my rear wheel, with Joe right on her's.  Gagnon and Humphrey were following closely and swapping back and forth, too.  But, she couldn't get by and at the finish there was less than one second between me, Stacey, Soles and Gagnon.  Stacey's best lap was 0.852 seconds faster than my best, and I was probably holding her up as my best lap (as well as Joe's and Patrick's) was the last one, where as Stacey's was the 5th before she caught up to us.  In fact, Joe, Patrick and Steve all had a faster best lap than mine, they just didn't have enough of them.  Patrick Gagnon made an entertaining video of the race which can be seen here:
Nev Miller raced a Velo MAC and we compared notes with the Gary Roper MAC I race out West.
Not something you see everyday: a Ural roadracer; it wasn't last!
The Ural final drive
Another unusual road racer: Rick Yates' Kawasaki F7 175

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