Sunday, May 8, 2016

Corsa Moto Classica

Busy day at Willow Springs today.  I took Mike Bungay's 350 H-D Sprint out in the first Group 3 practice and eased into it as it had a fresh liner and rings, though it had spent some time on the dyno. It also had the front brake changed from an A1R Kawasaki to a 230mm Grimeca.  The Grimeca is much heavier, but is much more powerful than the A1R ever was. Exiting turn#3 on the 4th lap, while still getting up to speed, I rolled on the throttle and promptly spun the bike out.  I was dumbfounded as I didn't think that I was anywhere the limit.  It was a nice gentle low side and I wasn't hurt at all, and the bike wasn't that bad: broken windscreen, hole in the fairing, bent rear brake pedal, and lots of dirt around, but none in the carb.
While Mike was finishing up kicking it straight, I took Gary Roper's beautiful Velocette MAC out.  Gary had had trouble with it when it wet sumped when he was testing it and it severely overheated.  He thinks there was an obstruction in the oil return line, but he also found a cyl. stud insert pulling out of the case and excessive end float in the crankshaft.  The piston and liner were scored a bit.  Gary worked insane hours to get this all fixed in time to make the drive from Medford, Or.  His plan was to take the AHRMA rider's school on Fri., get his license, and race the Velo himself over the weekend.  But, he ran out of time and didn't make it to Willow until Fri. afternoon, missing the school and his chance to race.
So, he offered the bike for me to race, but he wasn't totally confident that it would survive.  I decided to just take it out in practice on Sat., and if it was OK, race it on Sun.  But, at the end of my first lap on it, it started to vibrate badly and I pulled off.  Another of the cyl. stud inserts had pulled out and the head was loose.  So, the Velo was parked for the weekend.
I went out for the second round of practice on the Sprint and it felt good, though I was taking turn #3 gingerly.  In fact, I thought we'd have to gear it up as I was hitting redline easily.  But then, on the 4th lap, it seemed to slow or loose power.  I backed out of it, but the motor still seemed free and I gradually wicked it up and it accelerated briskly down the back straight.  Then, in turn #8, it seemed to lose power and slow again and I pulled into the pits.
We went over the bike quite throughly and didn't find anything wrong.  Was I imaging it?  So, we just gassed up the bike for my first race, race #7, 500 Premiere, 500GP, and Vintage Superbike Middleweight in the first wave and 500 Sportsman and Historic Production Heavyweight in the second wave.  I was on the pole, with Jeff Elings next to me on a G-50 Matchless, and Andrew Mauk on his right with a 450 Honda racer.  From the start, Ed Milich on a Cagiva Allazurra based racer shot into the lead and Mauk out dragging me to turn #1.  I got by Andy braking into turn #3, but then had a bit of a slide in the corner, and another in the left hand, downhill turn #5.  Now I was thinking there was something wrong with the left side of my tire.  Andy motored by me on the back straight, I was able to get by him in the last turn and he came by on the front straight.  I got by again and led for several laps.  But, as I suspected, Andy was going to school on me (he had only been to Willow once, three years before) and he passed me just before the last lap flag and I followed him, making a big effort in the last corner and pulling out of his draft but coming up 0.640 sec. short. A very good race.
I was immediately up for the next race, the 350GP, 350 Sportsman, Classic 60's and F-125 race.  My teammate on Karl Engellenner's sister bike, Walt Fulton III, had a fastest lap over two seconds faster than mine in practice.  He had geared his bike up, which I didn't do because of my perceived mysterious slowing, and he thought it helped.  I got in the lead from pole at the start, but Walt stuck a wheel in on me on the second lap, then passed me on the back straight.  I tucked right into his draft coming out of turn # 9, but he slowly crept away up the front straight.  I got by him again going into the Omega and he decided to follow for a while.  Then he passed me before the last lap and, as in the previous race, I made a big effort in the last corner and got in his draft but he crept away to take the checker first, by 0.345 second.  another very good race.  There was a good race behind us, too.  Tim Mings recovered from a poor start on his CB 77 Honda to close down on Jim Neuenberg on Fred Mork's short stroke 350 H-D Sprint to finish 0.792 sec.s behind in fourth.
Mike and Karl took a tooth off the rear sprocket and went up one jet size on "my" bike after Saturday's racing.  In Sunday mornings 1st practice, the electronic tach didn't work so I wasn't able to get a definitive fix on the gearing, but it felt good and I went faster than I had in Saturday's practice.  In the second practice, I had a working tach again, but there was a red flag immediately when Andy Mauk, my arch nemesis in Saturday's 500 premiere race, crashed in turn #6.  In the Saturday race, I noticed his bike was smoking a good deal, from the fairing rather than out of the exhaust pipes, and I thought he must be leaking oil.  I mentioned this to him after the race, but he said no, he didn't see any evidence of an oil leak and the bike was running great, but he'd look it over well.  After the Sun. morning crash, I went to check on him and he was basically OK, but expected that he was going to feel pretty sore from his tumbling.  I said "so your bike was leaking oil", but Andy said no, that he had just lost the rear end and the the oil they were cleaning up on the track was deposited after the bike hit the pavement.  But, when I went back a couple of hours later to see if, against all odds, they had gotten the bike fit to race, a chagrined Andy said that they had found a crack in the oil cooler fitting, and it had been leaking.
This meant that I had no real competition in Sunday's 500 Premiere race and I finished about 18 seconds ahead of the next bike, Stephen Hipp on a Sportsman bike from the 2nd wave and about 35 seconds ahead of the other 500 Premiere bike, Jeff Elings on a G-50 Matchless.  The clutch had grabbed at the start and the bike was a little squirrelly, but I just put that down to the wind.  Coming off the track, I couldn't find neutral, the clutch feeling funny, though there was plenty of free play in the cable. Mike gassed it up for the immediately following 350GP race, but when I went to back it up onto compression, it seemed like something was binding.  It started right up and I started out for the warm-up lap.  But, the bike definitely felt squirrelly, and I stopped before leaving the pit lane to see if the rear axle was loose.  No sign of that, so I carried on, but now there was no question that something was definitely wrong and I just slowly putted back to the pits.  There we saw that the swing arm spindle had backed out of the bushing on the drive side, allowing the chain tension to vary radically and maybe even the tire to hit the chain as the swing arm flopped around.
Walt Fulton III lead from the start, but Jim Neurenberg had found something and was right on Walt's tail.  Walt didn't realize this and wasn't pushing too hard thinking he had a good lead with me out of the race.  It wasn't until the 350 Sportsman bikes of Rick Carmody and Stephen Hipp caught up and one of them passed Walt just before the last lap, that Walt put his head down and won overall.
So Team Bungay/Engellenner had a pretty good weekend with three wins and two seconds, and Walt riding the best he has since the early Seventies.  Great to see.
As usual, Corsa Moto Classica had a great concours.
a 150? Gilera
This AT-1? pitbike really spoke to me
Hans Mellberg has restored the legendary 250 Parilla Gaget
Frank Scurria, who raced Gaget in the 60's was there, too
This pit bike was used constantly all weekend
an absolutely stunning restoration of a 250 Bultaco Metralla

A Velo Scrambler
I thought this was a very nice tribute to a Matchless G-45 made out of a Kawasaki W-1


  1. You looked busy at Willow so I didn't want to bug you but you looked fast out there! The bike Hans Mellberg brought was actually Gadget 2 - not the original Gadget. Gadget 2 was built as an extra bike to run along side Gadget. The original Gadget used the earlier tube frame whereas Gadget 2 utilized the newer triangulated frame with stamped steel rear section. Old timers say the older tube frame handles much better than the later frame, which had a slightly shorter wheelbase as well........see you at Louden in June?

  2. You're quite right, Gaget 2. In addition to Frank Scurria, I believe the daughter (Carol?)of the builder, Orin Hall, raced the bike.

  3. Yep that's what I heard - she raced it to and maybe a much more standard "off the shelf" Parilla spare bike that is sometimes seen in photos