Sunday, May 8, 2016

AHRMA Sonoma raceway

From Willow Springs, I rode up to Sacramento with Karl and Monday got working on the bike.  Mike determined that the swing arm pivot failure that we experienced at Willow was from a D shaped retainer, which the spindle socketed into, had broken free, allowing the spindle to back out of the retaining bolt on the other side.
 Mike started to work on repairing the fairing.
I discovered a broken spoke in the rear wheel.  Mike had another wheel with a broken spoke and I harvested two spokes from a third wheel to repair the two.
harvesting spokes

Tuesday, we took the bike over to Karl's and he came up with a plan to fix it.  This involved Mike and me finding some 2" diameter steel bar stock.  This took us to a neat old welding supply store in Auburn in a building that dated back to 1865.  We dropped the bar stock off with Karl, then drove to Davis to pick up some supplies from Mike's storage facility.  Back at Mike's house, I started cobbling a bench to put the bike on, because at my age I don't want to work on my knees.  After dinner, we drove over to Karl's and put both bikes in his pickup and took them back to Mike's.  In the morning, we finished the bike (except for the final paint on the fairing), organized the tools and spares, loaded everything up and headed for Sonoma.  There we rented a garage and unloaded the pickup and waited for the track day to finish to move in.
Garage mates Don Lange arrived from Seattle and and his old musician buddy Kenny Cummings arrived from NYC via SFO.  Several years ago, Don had become intrigued with Kenny's hobby of racing vintage bikes and started coming to the races and filming.  After a year or so, Don bought a street bike, a Honda CBR300F.  After another year or so, Don bought a race bike, a CB 175 Honda.  The weekend before the AHRMA Sonoma race, Don took a race school and made his race debut at Pacific Raceway in Kent, Washington.  This allowed Don to race at Sonoma and he invited Kenny to share his bike, racing it in 250GP, while Don rode it in the CB160 class and 200GP.
Kenny Cummings on left and Don Lange or right with Don's CB175.  Don's made a brilliant start to his RR career.  photo by Stacie B. London

On the first lap of my first practice Thurs., the gas cap flew off when I braked for turn #9.  I came right into the pits and we were able to bodge a solution with tape and an aerosol spray can top and a zip tie and I was able to get one for one or two more laps.  A couple of laps into the 2nd practice, I saw my teammate Walt Fulton III on a sister bike had crashed at turn #2, but was up and looked OK.  A couple of laps later, I was given the black flag at start/finish, and I pulled off at the next corner worker in turn #2.  I couldn't see anything wrong with "my" bike, while Walt's was a bit rough, and we both came back on the crash truck.
Always could be worse, but bad enough to put it out of commission for the event 
I found the black flag was for exceeding the 103db noise level.  I was told that track policy was three strikes and you're out: exceed 103db three time and you could no longer put the bike on the race track.
Mike and Karl, with the help of Andrew Cowell, fabricated a crude deflector to try to direct the exhaust away from the noise meter.  It was decided that "Walt's" bike was too badly damaged to fix up and that he and I would share "my" bike.  Therefore, I changed my entry from 350GP to Sounds of Singles 3, the single cylinder class for the smallest bikes, so Walt could race in 350GP.  SOS3 was gridded last behind Sound of Thunder 2 and Vintage Superbike Heavyweight in the first wave, and Triumph Thruxton TransAtlantic Cup and Electric bike class.  The other bikes in SOS3 were Mick Hart on a RS125 Honda, Mark Hunter on a Morwaki 250, Kurt Hipp on a pretty standard RC390 KTM, and Austin McCabe on a tricked out RC390 with reprogrammed ECU, special twin exhaust, special yokes, etc.  Austin led from the start with me second, but Mick came by in turn #5 on the 1st lap.  Mick got by Austin at some point , but they were well ahead of me and I finished a mere 0.008 seconds ahead of Mark.  We had passed one of the SOT2 bikes, two of the Vintage Superbikes, three of the Thruxtons and all of the e-bikes.  Good fun, but when I came in, I was informed that I had again exceeded the noise limit.  Strike Two.  
So it was decided that I would sit out the 500 Premiere race that I was entered in to ensure that Walt would get to ride in the 350GP.  Walt's significant other, Nancy, rode her bike to an auto parts store in Novato and got some radiator hose with elbows and some hose clamps and Karl and Mike made a better deflector for the exhaust.  The 350GP was also a second wave start and Walt, focused on a new to him starter, screwed up and launched with the first wave.  He immediately realized what he had done and stopped and waited until the entire second wave had left to start himself.  He consistently closed on the 350GP leader, Jim Neuenberg on Fred Mork's short stroke H-D Sprint, and came up less than 3 seconds short, but with a fastest lap more than 2 seconds quicker than Jim.  When Walt came in after the cool off lap, the radiator hose deflector was missing having fallen off sometime during the race, but he never tripped the noise meter.
At Willow Springs, I felt that the Grimeca front brake didn't make that much difference, but one doesn't brake much at Willow.  At Sonoma there are many hard braking areas and the Grimeca was definitely better but both Walt and I felt that the weight of it made it much harder to heave the bike from side to side through the esses.
This big Grimeca 4LS front brake definitely stopped better than the previous A1R, but it's weight also made it harder to change direction.  There's no free lunch
Karl took the exhaust pipe home with him and made a more secure connection for another radiator hose elbow.
Mike drills while Karl directs to attach radiator hose deflector to exhaust
Friday, I figured we had the noise problem licked, but in practice I short shifted by the noise meter to be safe and didn't have any problem.  In Friday's SOS3 race Austin McCabe didn't start, nor did Ari Henning, who showed up with his well developed KTM RC390, but both of them raced SOS1 and SOS2.  This may have to do with their bikes being of at least questionable legality for SOS3.  The rules say:"Single-cylinder machines with production chassis (with street-legal VIN) must retain stock bore and stroke, stock frame, forks and wheels.  Eligible machines include KTM 390RC and Duke."  Austin had told me that he bought the race version of the RC390, which may well have not had a 'street-legal VIN'.  Ari started with a street-legal RC390, but I don't know if it had stock forks and wheels and, in any case, he never entered SOS3.
So, in Friday's race, I was running 2nd to Mick Hart when, starting the 7th lap, I got the 'meatball' flag.  I assumed it was for noise again and wondered if I should pull off.  But, a couple of corners later, Zack Courts lapped me on his SOT2 FZ-O7 Yamaha, so I knew I would get the checkered flag the next time around and something in the back of my mind told me that I had a couple of laps to respond to a Meatball flag (as opposed to a black flag).  So, I didn't pull off and took the checker, finishing 2nd in class to Mick Hart and 15th overall of the 27 finishers and ahead of one of the SOT2 bikes, two of the Vintage Superbikes, two of the Thruxtons, and all of the e-bikes.  But, when I came in off the cool off lap, I was told to report to tech.  Cal Lewis, the AHRMA referee, told me that I had indeed gone over the sound limit again.  I told him that in practice I had short shifted by the sound meter and had been alright.  He told me that until the track said that I couldn't go out again, he would interpret the 3 strikes rule as per day.
So in the 500 Premiere race, I led off the line from pole position, but Ari Henning and Jon Munns came by me between turns #2 & 3 on their 500 Sportsman 350 Hondas.  I had a big slide on the exit of turn #5 which cooled my jets a bit, and then I really short shifted by the noise meter and lost touch with the two of them, but stayed close enough that I was able to watch a really good battle between them.  My fastest lap was more than 1.6 seconds slower than in the SOS3 race, largely because of short shifting for the noise meter, and I finished 3rd overall and 1st in class.
Walt got the start right this time for the 350GP, though he follow Jim Neuenberg for a few laps as he had ridden at all Fri. up until then.  He passed Jim and won by just under a second.  Walt didn't short shift by the noise meter and never exceeded the limit.  Did we take different lines, sit on the bike differently, shift at different points?  Who knows, but I tripped the meter 4 times over the 2 days and Walt not once.  Life isn't fair.  My best lap time this year was 2:02.434; last year I did a 1:58.490, almost 4 seconds faster, and that was on a frame that turned out to be significantly bent from the crash the previous week at Willow Springs, and was subsequently straightened.  It's not entirely valid to compare times year to year as a lot of things change, but 4 secs.  The brake might have been a bit of that and maybe the tires were getting a bit old, but 4 secs?  It can't be because I'm getting old, can it?
Lenora Cox, editor of the Velocette Owners Club newsletter, rode this MAC to the track
Lenora let me ride it around the paddock and it's badass
Jeff Scott fettled the MAC and made this exh. clamp
An interesting character assembled this tableau outside our garage

Saturday, I did a 85 mile road ride with my good friend Parra and three other Roadoilers.
With my old friend Parra in what could be mistaken for his native Ireland.  Great photo by Robert Bleeker
 Last year,  I rode Parra's TR5T Triumph, but it played up with a leaking fuel line, so I road his Dick Mann Special TT500 Yamaha.
With the Dick Mann Specialties TT 500 Yamaha (despite what the tank says) Robert Bleeker photo
Dick made nearly 200 frame kits for the XT/TT500 between '76 and '81.  Parra had initially cow trailed the bike but later converted it to road use.  It has Betor forks with Marzocchi yokes, Kosman front wheel with a Lockheed caliper and a Yamaha MX rear wheel and fuel tank, and Works Performance rear shocks.  Gus rode his '58 BSA Goldstar,  Robert rode his '83 Honda VF 750 Interceptor, Parra rode his FT500 Honda Ascot, and Jim rode his 2011 XT250 Yamaha, which may have been the smallest bike, but it was also the newest and Jim is an old roadracer and he led and set a great pace.
L to R Parra, me, Jim and Gus.  Robert Bleeker photo
 Parra, Robert and I left Parra's house in Forest Knolls and met Jim and Gus in Pt. Reyes Station.  From there we headed north through Marshall, then headed inland through Fallon, Valley Ford, Two Rocks, Dillon Beach and stopped in Tomales.
I critique the DMS TT500 for Parra.  Robert Bleeker photo
Robert headed back to the East Bay and Gus, Parra and I left Jim there and headed back to Forest Knolls with Gus peeling off at the end.  It was a gorgeous day and Marin was quite green after some recent rain.  The roads were fabulous and what an eclectic collection of bikes.

1 comment:

  1. Industrial Equipment Pampanga also offer welding supplies but in the Philippines. Anyway thanks for the nice article. I hope you are doing well.