Monday, November 2, 2015

USCRA NJMP Lightning

Rob Iannucci decided that Team Obsolete should race a couple of bikes at the United States Classic Racing Assoc.'s mid Sept. race at New Jersey Motorsports Park's Lightning circuit, run in conjuncture with the vintage car racing group, the SRA.  It was decided that we would take the ex-Don Vesco BSA A50R and a AJS 7R in a lightweight frame.  The BSA had never been raced by T/O, only paraded by Don Emde at Mid-Ohio years ago.  I had raced the 7R many times, but not since 2002 when it had a G-50 motor in it; the 7R motor had last run in 2001.
The AJS 7R on the left and BSA A50R on the right with my new van on it's inaugural race in the backround.
We got a little practice Fri. afternoon.  I went out on the 7R first, but there was a red flag on the first lap when someone fell on cold tires.  I went back out on the 7R when the track was green, not realizing that they had moved on to the second practice group.  So I didn't get out on the BSA.  The 7R was like an old friend and I had guessed right on the gearing.  This bike has a frame designed by Dick Mann, Ceriani 35mm road race forks, 210mm Fontana front brake and a 6 speed gearbox, and 1 1/2' GP carb, up from the original 1 3/8'.
The Team Obsolete AJS 7R LW#1/4830A
Sat. morning practice revealed that the belly pan that we had made for the BSA didn't give nearly enough ground clearance and the gearing was well short.  With the new tires scrubbed, I was really getting into it with the 7R.  I raised the belly pan on the BSA as much as I could and discovered that the rear sprocket that I had brought, while they looked the same as what was on the 'knock off' spool hub, didn't actually fit.
T/O's ex- Don Vesco BSA A50R
500GP was in the combined first race and I quickly discovered that I still had a ground clearance problem with the belly pan and, as I tried to ride faster, the short gearing became more of a problem, as I had to roll back the throttle very early on the front straight.  So I circulated slowly to avoid hurting the bike.
The 350GP was the last race of the day.  As I went to start the bike, after pulling it back on compression, when I pulled in the clutch, the barrel came off the end of the clutch cable.  I figured that I was done as we were already on third call and, even if I had a spare cable, there was no time to install it.  
But, Erik Green came up with an idea: bump start the bike in the hot pit lane and ride without a clutch.  I was game, so they pushed me and I kicked it in gear and rode down to pit out while the bikes were forming up on the grid, having completed their warm-up lap.  I tried to ride as slow as possible so that I wouldn't have to stop before they threw the green flag and I could just motor out the pit lane onto the track.  But, no; they were taking too long to form up and I had to kill the motor.  When they finally dropped the flag and everyone took off, I pushed the 7R as hard as I could in neutral, jumped on it, and kicked it in gear.  It was slightly uphill and the motor just barely fired but I was able to enter the track after everyone was long gone.  I got to chase down a bunch of bikes despite having some problems downshifting and often exiting corners a gear high, and ended up 3rd 350 behind Rich Midgely on Frank Giannini's CB77 Honda with a GS 400 Suzuki head on it, and Jim Jower's Seeley 7R.
Jim Jowers' Seeley short stroke 7R
Midge let us use his solder pot to repair the clutch cable that evening and we were able to enjoy a great pot luck dinner in the pits after.
I decided not to race the BSA Sunday, as it was pointless with the gearing we had.  So, I raced the 7R in 500GP race, again in race one.  I won the 500GP class and got well up among the Lightweight Supervintage and EuroCup bikes.
I lined up for the 350GP in race #5 pretty confident.  But, on the first lap I had a big slide, which I initially attributed to cold tires, but then my foot started slipping on the shift lever.  Towards the end of the second lap, I took a good look and saw that my boot was covered with oil.  The 'D' shaped cover that gives access to the magneto vernier on the timing cover had fallen off and I pulled off immediately. We found that the threads in the magnesium cover had failed and the 2BA bolts pulled out.  But, Jim Jowers had seen something fall off my bike and described approximately where so, after the racing was over, we were able to go out on the track and look for it.  After a fair amount of looking and starting to think that we were beyond where Jim had described, I spotted it, on the track with the gold painted side up.
Jim Jowers' 250 Ducati
Randy Hoffman's KTT Velocette in a featherbed frame
Randy's Vincent Gray Flash
Louie Saif and Ralph Stechow arranged for the 7th annual Ducati TT & F1 symposium to be at NJMP
Ralph's TZ750
The ex-Jimmy Adamo/Reno Leone Cagiva GP bike
An odd couple of spectators 
A Sunbeam S-8 from the late '40s or early '50s
The well used H-D.  Note the 2X4 shimming the battery.
Looks quite original to my untrained eye.
Historic indeed!
Me with my new van, a Ram Promaster 1500 short wheelbase, low roof, the first new four wheeler I've owned.


  1. Nice report on the race and a nice new van! Did that Vincent Grey Flash used to be Carlton Palmer's or is an entirely different one? There can't be too many floating around on this side of the pond

    1. Jon, the Gray Flash used to belong to Dave Dunfey who campaigned it a few years in AHRMA before he sold it to Randy.

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