Sunday, November 15, 2015

AHRMA Daytona 2015

From Barber, I drove the back roads to Phenix City, Al., and spent the night.  The next morning, I drove to Pasaquan, near Buena Vista, Ga.  Pasaquan was the home of of Eddie Martin, a mystic visionary folk artist with a psychedelic bent.  I had stopped there last year on my way from Barber and was blown away.  The site is being restored by the Kohler Foundation and is not officially open yet, but the workers seem totally comfortable with visitors wandering around.  Much progress had been made in the year and they hope to officially open the site by May 2016.  If you're in west central Georgia, I highly recommend a visit.
Pasaquan 10/14
Pasaquan 10/15
From Pasaquan, I drove through rural, central Georgia to Savannah where I spent a few days with good friends in an enchanting city, filled with history and architecture.
Thurs., I drove down to Daytona and got set up in 'Sprint Central' with the Hollingsworths and John Basore and Jim Dillard.  I changed the gearing from Barber and checked everything over.
You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a H-D Sprint, the  Hollingsworth's 350GP, 250GP and 200GP bikes in the foreground, with my ERTT behind, and Jim Dillard's 250GP and 200GP CRTTs in the backround  with Frank Dittomaso's Historic Production LW 350 Sprint.
AHRMA shares the track with the modern bike organization, ASRA, and races on Fri. and Sat.  Again, I was racing the Dennis Latimer tuned CT-1 Yamaha and my ERTT. 
The two Latimer CT-1 Yamahas.   Jason Roberts was going to race X65, but the gearbox failed in practice.
 Practice went well with both bikes, though I ended up gearing my H-D taller than I had the past several years.  In fact, checking my race records, I had only once turned a faster lap in all the years we had been using transponders than I did Fri. morning, despite missing more shifts and even having it pop out of gear.
But, the problem was that the 350GP and 200GP were scheduled in the same race.  I talked to Cindy Cowell, the race director, to see if she could change that, but she didn't see a way to.  Because of the limited track time that AHRMA has sharing the track with ASRA and the pathetically small entry, many classes have to be combined in each race.  So, I raced the Latimer CT-1 and was scored in both classes, as 350GP is a legal 'bump-up' for the CT-1.
I led about 85% of the 200GP race, but never led across the start/finish line.  Each lap, Denny Poneleit on his amazing 200 Honda would motor by me on Nascar #4 onto the front straight.  I would pass him in turn#1 or #2 and lead through the infield and onto the banking.  It seemed that I had acceleration on him, but he had top end on me.  So I was 2nd 200GP less than a second behind, even though I had a slightly faster fastest lap than Denny, but also 2nd 350GP, as only Jack Parker was ahead of us.  BTW, Denny won the 1971 AMA Junior race at Daytona and has raced there since the mid '60s.  He knows how to build a bike for Daytona.
Rick Remy, Dennis Latimer's nephew, gets ready to put the stand on the CT-1.  Don Hollingsworth photo
For Sat., I decided to race my Sprint in the 350GP race and race the CT-1 in the 250GP race.  In practice, I was missing shifts more regularly and it jumped out of gear several time, with the revs going to the moon.  And, twice on the front straight, the motor started misfiring and cutting out, but then would run fine on the infield.  When I looked at the spark plug after the first round of practice, I found the gap was about 0.002"and I could see a mark on the piston from where it had touched.  I wondered if my big end bearing was going south, but turning the motor with the outside flywheel, it felt alright, as much as I could tell without taking down the top end.  So, I put two washers on a new spark plug, installed it, and went out for the second round of practice.  Again, the motor ran fine through the infield but would misfire and cut out on the banking after a while at full throttle.  Now, I thought the big end must be going and I decided to pull in.  But, exiting the chicane, the motor cut out completely and I had to push the bike in.  I removed the spark plug, expecting to see the gap closed again, but it hadn't changed a bit.  I started looking for another problem and when I barely touched the ground lead from the battery, it fell off.  Oh, that was my problem.  So, I repaired the lead putting new, redundant eyelets on the cable, and was ready for the 350GP race.
Al Hollingsworth puts the stand on my ERTT while Rick works on the CT-1.  Don Hollingsworth photo
But, the 250GP race was first.  I ended up a distant 2nd to Jack Parker on his 250 DT-1 Yamaha in the 250GP, which was probably as good as I could expect, but my fastest lap on the 175 CT-1 Yamaha was 2.225 seconds slower than I had gone the day before as it seemed the motor was losing it's edge. 
Right from the start of the 350GP race, I realized that the ground lead was only one of my problems, as the motor was still cutting out on the front and back straights.  Again, it would run fine in the infield, but ran so badly on the banking that my fastest lap was slower than I had gone earlier in the 250GP on the CT-1.  Now I decided that it must be fuel starvation as it seemed to be a matter of how long I held the throttle open.  The entry was light enough that I still finished 2nd to Jack Parker again. That 2nd and the one for the day before, was enough to cinch the AHRMA 350GP championship for the umpteenth time.
After the race, I took the fuel taps out of the tank expecting to see their filters clogged, but they were clean.  I took the top off the float bowl and that filter was clean, too, and the float seemed to be working fine.  So, I'm at a loss to explain what the problem was.  Don Hollingsworth had a somewhat similar problem Fri., and after brother Al had completely gone through the carb, changed the coil in desperation and that seemed to cure it.  So, maybe I have a coil problem, but that doesn't sound right to me.  And maybe I had a plugged fuel tank vent, which I haven't gotten around to checking yet.  After all my increasing shifting problems, I half expected to see some gear dogs come out when I drained the oil, but the oil was quite clean.  I got in touch with Bill Himmelsbach and he agreed to look at the gearbox again and I stopped at his house on my way home and pulled the motor out and left it with him.
AHRMA announced their schedule for 2016, and Daytona isn't on it.  They've finally come to the realization that Daytona in the fall has become an anticlimax after the huge Barber event.  There's some talk that it may be back in the spring in 2017,  but I may have raced there for the last time.

Jack Parker's DT-1 Yamaha
Jack's front tire.  If it's dry, they work fine as they become more like a slick
Doc Batsleer's Garden Gate Manx
Paul Allender came from England to race his TZ750 Yamaha at Daytona
The TZ has a frame and fuel tank made in Canada by Dennis Curtis
The workmanship on the chassis is superb.
A line up of Yamaha twins that came from Texas

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