Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here are a few more photos from Mid-Ohio all taken by David Stanoszek/M5 racing and courtesy of the AMA.
In the garage with my arch nemeses: from my left Stu Carter, Francis Ganance, and Jason Roberts
With my 1970 350 ERTT H-D Sprint

"It was nothing"
On the AJS 7R3 that won the '54 Junior TT
On the Dondolino in what I think is turn#6

I'm thinking this is the last turn onto the front straight
On the GP350 podium with Stu  Carter and Jason Roberts

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Here's a link to a video made by 'busapilot1300' at Mid-Ohio.  He followed me out in the first practice on Sat. morning when I'm on the Dondolino.  I believe he was on a CB350 Honda.  It gives you an idea of how treacherous it was.
Last weekend was the annual pilgrimage to Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio.  I arrived early Fri. afternoon with my Moto Guzzi Dondolino and 350 H-D Sprint.  My garage mates, Stu Carter and Francis Ganance were all set up and had both practiced.
Stu Carter's Seeley 7R 
But, then the rain started and practice stopped.  Mid-Ohio isn't like most racetracks; when it's wet, it's incredibly slippery.  In the dry, the traction is fine and it's a great layout, one of my favorite tracks with lots of elevation change, and good mix of fast and slow and a couple of challenging blind turns.
While it's an AMA event, WERA actually runs the roadrace portion of the event and they do an excellent job with clear, concise riders meetings, an excellent starter who's quick and predictable, and sensible decisions about the weather at this uniquely demanding track.  They made a couple of attempts to get the practice going again Fri. afternoon but, each time they did, it would start raining again.  Jason Roberts had volunteered to get my Sprint fairing repaired after my Road America crash and took it with him from Grattan.  His friend Andy Runge did an excellent job repairing and repainting it.  After mounting it, my ERTT looked half way respectable again.
My ERTT with the freshly repaired and repainted fairing by Andy Runge

It rained Sat. morning and I just tip toed around and managed to keep it upright.  Both Francis and Stu had minor tip overs and both were able to straighten out their bikes and make their races.  It stopped raining but was still wet and very slippery for the GP250/70's GP125/Class 'C' race.  Jim Varnes on a 250 Ducati ran away from everyone with a fastest lap almost 8 sec.s faster than anyone else in the race and finished more than a minute ahead.  Jason Roberts was second on his 250 Drixton Aermacchi and Francis Ganance was third.  I was next, first Class C, though my fastest lap was 2.8 sec.s faster then Francis' and almost a sec. slower than Neil Pooler, who finished behind me on a 175 CanAm.
Next up for me was the GP350/Euro-American Twins/ Original Superbike Middleweight.  The 350 were gridded in front for some reason, but Doug MacRae immediately shot by on his 750 Norton Commando and not long after Jeff Uher went by both of us on his 550 GPZ Kawasaki.  As the race went on and I got a better sense of where it was slippery, I closed on Doug and finished1.5 sec. behind him and 0.017 sec.s ahead of Sam Williams on another 550 GPZ Kaw.
Sunday morning dawned dry and Mid-Ohio was a normal racetrack again with good traction.  I went out in the 1st practice on the Dondolino and got less than half a lap when it sputtered to a stop.  It was out of gas and I was lucky to have finished Sat.  I got a ride back to the pits and was able to get out on The ERTT and get re-accustomed to a dry Mid-O.
During the lunch break, after Dick Burleson lead riders around the track, I did three parade laps on the Team Obsolete 1954 AJS 7R3 that won the Junior TT at the Isle of Man, piloted by Rod Coleman.  We're taking this bike back to the IOM in one month and I'll do a Lap of Honor on the Mountain Circuit and do laps at the Jurby Festival, so this was a chance to make sure the bike was in good nick.  It ran great, though the ancient tires felt squirrelly, so we're putting fresh rubber on it.
Ready to take some parade laps on Team Obsolete's 1954 AJS 7R3 that won the '54 Jr. TT.  Photo by Francis Ganance
The original plywood number plate from 1954 when Rod Coleman won the Jr. TT
Sunday GP250/70's GP125/Class 'C' was quite different than Sat. with Jason Roberts running away with Francis Ganance 2nd.
Jason Robert beautiful and fast 250 Drixton Sprint.
Neil Pooler was clearly feeling more confident in the dry and he finished 3rd overall.  Keith Hamilton 'bumped up' on his 175 Honda and I couldn't hang with him.  Jim Varnes, who won Sat., seemed to miss the rain.  He passed me on the last lap and I tried to go around him in the  carousel but almost lost it and he beat me to the line by just over 0.1 sec.s
Doug Macrea didn't make Sunday's GP350/Euro-Am twins/ O SB MW race as he blew up his Norton in practice.  So, I finished behind Jeff Uher's 550 GPZ 2nd overall, !st in class.
Mid-Ohio continued the trend of light entries we've seen this year, but there were still plenty of spectators and a huge swap meet.
A swap meet find.  $800 for a 100cc Ducati and it ran fine.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Here's a link to the first lap and a quarter of Sun. 1st vintage race at The Ridge, 14 July, 2013.  After I made the pass at the end of the video, I didn't see anyone else and got the overall win on Mike Bungay's fabulous 350 H-D Sprint.
Don Lange is responsible for setting up the Gopro camera and editing the video.
Here's a link to an 11 minute documentary on the beginnings of  CB160 racing  featuring Tim Fowler.
Last year I raced at Portland and had a great time.  While I was there I heard a number of rave reports about a new track in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington west of Seattle.  This year, when I found that the local club, WMRRA, was holding their vintage weekend at The Ridge over my 65th birthday, I decided I had to go.
My friend Mike Bungay, who's 350 H-D Sprint I'd raced many times, was game for the trip as long as he could find someone else to haul the bike from his home in Sacramento to the Seattle area.  After some scrambling, we did find that person.  And, one of WMRRA club members said they'd try to find me a 175 Honda to race.
I flew to Seattle on Wed., and Don Lange picked me up and put me up.  Don is a film maker who I met through our mutual friend, Kenny Cummings.  Don had become intrigued by Kenny's hobby, vintage M/C roadracing, and started to make a film about it.  He had come to Sears Point and Road America with a couple of his colleagues and started filming.  Don was able to take Thurs. off and we visited several area motorcyclist and checked out their piles.
First was Tim Fowler, one of the founders of the CB 160 racing movement, a M/C missionary out to save old bikes, and a prolific artist.  His garage had in it a NSU Max, a Zundapp SuperSabre, a 250 DKW twin, an AJS 500 single, a Triumph 500 twin, a Norton 16H flathead, and a relatively modern Suzuki DRZ 400 dual sport bike.  But this was just the tip of the iceberg, as tucked away in various sheds and basements were a Bultaco Mecurio, more N S U's both 2 & 4 stroke, an Adler, scads of CB160 Hondas and many more bikes I'm forgetting.  Virtually all the bikes were runners and Tim tries to exercise them regularly with his friends, but he's finding it increasingly hard to keep up and is slowing thinning the herd.  In addition to the bikes, Tim has several old cars and trucks.
Tim Fowler's 500 AJS on left and 500 Triumph on right
Then there's the art, beginning with a mosaic wall rivaling Gaudi in Barcalona and reminiscent of the Watts Towers in L.A.  
the gate

The wall
There re many mosaic and wooden sculptures in the yard or mounted on walls or adorning roofs. 
A shed Tim build w/gargoyle.  Note the sculpture lurking in the bushes on right.
 Inside, Tim showed us woodcut prints, paintings, and beautiful wood carvings of Deco trucks from the 30's/40's.  tim is amazingly prolific and a delightful character and it was a real treat to visit what he calls 'The Museum of the Mundane', which is anything but mundane.
Tim Fowler's '49 Chevy 'El Camino' race transporter
Tim did the conversion after a truck hit the back end.

Next, we took the ferry over to Vashon Island to visit Dick Casey.  I know Dick through the Velocette Owners Club of N.A. and have run into him at the I.O.M.  He's also a former Moto Guzzi Airone owner.  When we got to Dicks place, a beautiful early '60's 250 Aermacchi was out front.  
Dick Casey's Aermacchi
This was a bike he had gotten from Tim Fowler as a total seized roach.  Back when the Dr. Ben Casey show was on T.V., Dick got dubbed 'Dr. Casey'.  So, on the side covers, Dick had attached laser cut 'il Dottore' emblems and had removed any reference to Harley Davidson.

  He had made a scoop for the front brake backing plate that looked like the original casting. 
A home made scoop on an original backing plate

 In his very well equipped shop, we saw his latest project, a Seeley AJS.  The motor was a 500 pushrod, but Dick had added to, and cut away finning to the the head and barrel, and was making a dummy chain case to make the motor look like a AJS 7 R/ Matchless G-50.  Dick prided himself with doing everything the hardest way possible, and rather then buy a brake cable splitter for the four shoe brake he was putting on the Seeley, he made a beautiful one out of thin air.  He had seen an elaborate oil tank cap latch on an early M.G. and decided the Seeley should have something like that, so again he fabricated one out of thin air and was working on a larger version for the gas cap.  With Dick was Jody Heintzman, editor of the Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiast news letter and he gave us back newsletters and Tee shirts.  Jody couldn't make it to the race at The Ridge as he was going to an AHRMA vintage motocross that weekend and Dick couldn't make it because he was off to the Velo club annual 5 day rally, this year in Volcano, Ca., on his beautiful Thruxton.
Then, it was back on the ferry to Seattle to meet Steve Arnett and his son and  girlfriend for dinner.  I've known Steve for years through AHRMA racing where he and our late friend, Bob Sinclair, would race their near identical 750 SS bevel Ducatis.  Afterdinner, we went over to Steve's house and saw part of his collection: a 125 ohc Ducati that he'd done a couple of Giro ' d Italias on, a 250 Ducati single, a 900 SS bevel, a 750 Sport and a 900 SS belt drive.  He also had a '55 Porche 356 Spyder project nearing completion.  Steve would be racing his 750 SS at The Ridge on Sun.
Three very different collections, but all three passionate motorcyclist.
Friday morning, Don dropped me off at the airport where I met Mike Bungay.  He picked up a rental pickup, and we headed to Tacoma where the race bike had been delivered. 
Mike Bungay's killer 350 H-D Sprint

 From there, we checked into a motel in Lacey, then continued on to the track in Shelton.  We unloaded the bike and  Rod, the track owner, drove me around for three laps in his truck.  The track definitely lived up to it's reputation with lots of elevation change, blind corners, and a great mix of fast and slow turns.
Sat. morning, we were a little late getting out for the first practice and I only got in 3 laps, which is not nearly enough to learn this 16 turn track.  Luckily, we had made the right guess on the gearing (tall, as it's got a long straight), and the bike was working great.  I got out for the start of the second practice and it was starting to come together, but I could see there was more to be had.  Michael Bateman had brought his 175 Honda for me to ride, and they let me do a couple of laps on it during their lunch time track tour.
Michael Bateman's 175 Honda

 Everyone at the track and in WMRRA was extremely accommodating.
The first race after lunch was the Sounds of the Past 160/250 race.  Mick Hart and Daric Cheshire took off and gapped us and I got into a dice with Tim O'Mahony.  We went back and forth a few times, then Mica  Grohn came past.  She then got into the Corkscrew too hot and ran out of track and crashed unharmed.  Though I out braked him at the the top of the Corkscrew, Tim came around me In the last corner and out dragged me to the finish line.  Daric's selector spring broke after he had got around Mick on the last lap, and Mick passed him back, so it was Mick, Daric,Tim, then me.
With a race in between, I then went out on the H-D Sprint for the SOPT vintage 500/750/Lwt. classic SBK race.  Again, Mick Hart jumped into the lead, this time on his 750 Triumph. 
Mick Hart's 750 Triumph
 I eventually got past Duncan Craic in his 750 Seeley Westlake and John Nilsson on his 750 Honda four.  Just before the white flag, Gary Ryder came by on his 850 Norton Commando.  Gary pulled away and closed on Mick, but didn't catch him, despite turning the fastest lap of the race.  It seems that Gary was getting used to a new close ratio four speed gearbox and was slow off the line then had to learn to cope with some front end chatter before getting really rolling. 
Gary Ryder's 850 Commando (I'm a terrible photographer)
 So I was 1st 500 and 3rd overall.
Next came the 160 (175) LeMans race. I was gridded 8th of 9 and I hobbled across the track and jumped on the bike and waddled.  Although the bike had started very easily several times before in the pits, it didn't this time and I was last away.  I caught up to Tim O'Mahony and we started at it again.  We got the white flag and I chased Tim on the last lap when we got the white flag again which Tim and I both mistook for the checker, and we but pitted on what we thought was the cool off  lap, but was actually the last lap.  Oh well.
Next for me was the SOTP 500/750/ Lwt. classic SBK on the 350 Sprint.  I made a big effort from the start as I thought Gary Ryder would be coming on his slow starting Commando.  What I didn't know was that his clutch cable broke just as he was going out, and he didn't start.  So, I didn't need to make that somewhat rude pass on John Nilsson on his 750 Honda in the blind turn#3 and ended up 2nd to Mick Hart's 750 Triumph.  The day ended with the 2nd 160/250 race.  Tim O'Mahoney didn't start this one as he had an oil leak.  Again, Mick Hart and Daric Cheshire went at it in the lead and again Mica Grohn blew by me on the straight.  I got by her to get back into 3rd.  On the last lap, Mick ran out of track in the Corkscrew and crashed, so I inherited 2nd to Daric.  Mica crashed again, further down the Corkscrew behind me, but again wasn't really hurt.
There were an unusually large number of crashes during the day, which no one had a convincing explanation for and which caused lots of delays.  But, the track has no curfew, and they ran all the laps of all the races and we finished near 7p.
Sun., the 160/250s ran with the 500/750/ Lwt. Classic SBK, so I only planned to run the Sprint.  Mick Hart had left Sat. night, but others had showed up and beyond Gary Ryder, I didn't know who would be the competition.  I got a good start and was learning how deep I could send in in turn #1.  I went around Duncan Craic in # 2 and underneath Paul Brodie on his amazing Excelsior in#3. 
Paul Brodie's homebuilt 1919 1000cc Excelsior in his own chassis.  The story on this bike can be found at:
It uses a Triumph gearbox

Bevel drive to the single overhead cams with exposed coil valve springs.
 I went around John Nilsson on his 750 Honda on the outside of turn #6 carousel for the overall lead.  John came back by me down the straight but I was able to go underneath him in #4, and led the rest of the race.  Gary Ryder inherited 2nd when John crashed in, you guess it, the Corkscrew on the last lap.
After the race, Mike discovered that one of the screws holding the stator plate to the crankcase had stripped out of the crankcase and the other screw was held on by half a thread.  The stator had been hitting the rotors and it was decided we couldn't run it in the second race.  
After the stator had got loose and was rubbing the rotor
So I went back to Michael Bateman's 175 Honda for the 250 Class.  I ended up having a great race with Daric Cheshire and Dana Clark on their 175 Hondas and Steve Arnett on his 750 SS Ducati.  Steve hadn't raced for a couple of years and was still learning his way around The Ridge.  He had motor on all of us, but we could make it back on corner speed and late braking.  Daric and Dana had motor on me too, but I could dive bomb them in a couple of places.  The four of us swapped back and forth a million times.  Steve's power prevailed, as the finish line is a fair distance from the last corner, with Dana, then Daric then me.  It was a ball.  Duncan, on his Seeley Westlke won the overall.
Rod, the track owner, asked me Sat., after I had run a couple of races, how many tracks I had raced at and how did The Ridge ranked.  I made a wild guess of forty racetracks I had ridden.  Before coming to The Ridge, I would have said the north circuit at V.I.R., Barber, Mid-Ohio, maybe Oulton Park were my favorites.  Now, I'm thinking The Ridge maybe my favorite race track in the universe.  Of course, one tends to think that the last track they were at is their favorite, so maybe we'll have to give it some time, but The Ridge is right up there.  Unfortunately, the original partners in the track had a falling out and the long term development plan isn't proceeding until lawsuits are settled.  So, the track lacks the infrastructure for big time events at this time.  It needs a pedestrian bridge to gain access to infield viewing and showers at a minimum.  Hopefully, the legal disputes will get settled and they can proceed with their master plan.  In the meantime, if you're willing to rough it a bit, it's a fabulous track.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Last Sat. we had the 5th annual Roper Tiddler Tour hosted by my brother Doug and his wife Amy.  It set new benchmarks for attendance, route quality and after ride food.  By someone's count, there were 48 riders.
McCallister's Ducati Monza, the only Ducati on the ride
This may indicate we're going to have to get more serious about shaming the riders of the bigger and more modern bikes into getting something old and small--a Tiddler.

A very nice GB 500 Honda, but pushing the definition of a Tiddler

Ken Richardson's CL 90 Honda with custom flyscreen, a true Tiddler

 Douglas laid out a superb route with 85 miles to the East in the morning and 54 miles to the West in the afternoon.  While there were a few roadside adjustments, everyone came in under their own power.
I got my beloved Moto Guzzi Airone running the previous weekend, after it had been apart for 13 months.  A lot of this time was tracking down a rebuilt crankshaft assy. and having the crankcases 'trued up' and the bearings re-sleeved.  I went for a shake down run the previous Sun., and the bike seemed good after tightening up several things I had forgotten to tighten.  But, at the end of our run, I had the front brake cable pull through it's nipple while coming down a very steep hill to a 'T' intersection.  I just barely sneaked between the pickup truck and the stone wall, but then slid out on the grass and dirt and ended up in the middle of Rt. 82 on my side.  Luckily, no cement trucks were coming and I was able to pick the bike up and get it out of the road.  We were able to straighten the footrest enough to be able to shift it and I was able to ride it back to my brother's very slowly with no front brake.  This was the same front brake cable I've had on the bike since I got it almost 9 years and 14K kilometers ago.  Possibly I had never squeezed the brake lever so hard.  Inspection revealed that the cable hadn't broken, but rather pulled through the nipple, which was literally a spoke nipple, not a proper brass cable nipple.  It was very sobering as it could have been very ugly.  As it was, I made out fine with only a jammed thumb.  It re-enforced my belief in the motto 'wear all the gear all the time'.  I had on a one piece Aerostich Roadcrafter, Arai Corsair, a back protector, thick leather gloves and boots.
The crash created a lot of work to be done to get the bike ready for the following Sat.: straightening the shift lever, straightening and welding the footrest, repairing the fishtail and baffle in the exhaust,  and straightening and welding the speedo drive.  But, I did get it all done and was able to take it for a quick spin Fri. to check it out.
I rode the morning loop with Mike Peavey on his '54 Airone Sport which seemed to have the legs on mine.
Mike Peavey's '54 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport
The route went through Salem, Lyme, Old Lyme and Hadlyme with absolutely great roads with very little traffic.  We picked up lunch at the end of the loop and returned to Doug and Amy's house to eat.  There was a bit of wrenching going on including Douglas replacing the baffle in the muffler on his 250 Benelli, which had fallen out and been picked up by Henry Syphers, who was riding his CL 350 Honda.  Mitch Sheitelman had the splines on the shift shaft of his Cl 72 Honda fail and I welded the shift lever to the shaft with Doug's MIG welder so Mitch didn't have to do the afternoon loop in 4th gear as he had finished the morning.
The shift lever welded on the shift shaft of Mitch Sheitelman's CL 72 Honda
I rode with Mitch in the afternoon, and his bike shifted fine.  Gordon Pulis on his CB 175 Honda rode with us and we picked up a fellow on a 250 Benelli like my brother's (Mark Turkington rode a third one) and Peter Davidson on his C-15 BSA.
Peter Davidson C-15 BSA
The afternoon route went west through Killingworth and Durham.
Some weeks before, when I was puttering on the Horex Resident project I have at my brother's house, I discovered the frame was broken on the right bottom tube between the center stand mount and the rear motor mount.  So, I took the engine out, jacked the frame apart, and made a slug to fit in the frame tube,  then pulled the frame together again and welded it.  After we got back from the afternoon loop, I organized a work party to put the engine back in the Horex.
Then we got into an excellent feast, followed by fireworks and carbide cannon after it got dark.  Several people stayed overnight and the final stragglers left mid morning Sun.  That's going to be a tough TT to top.