Tuesday, June 20, 2017

AHRMA Gingerman 2017

June means the annual back to back AHRMA races in the Midwest, first Gingerman in southwest Michigan, then Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.  My friend, arch nemesis, and problem child, Stu Carter talked me into helping him sort out some of his race bikes in the Friday practice.  Some time before, Stu had sent me a link to an Ebay auction for an early Aermacchi street bike that he was interested in.  It was in Manhattan and I noticed that the seller was probably somebody I knew.  I told Stu about this VanTech framed Motobi that I had seen at a show the seller had put on, that I thought was interesting.  Long story short, Stu bought the Motobi in addition to the  Aermacchi.  While the Motobi was built as a race bike, it's history was very uncertain.  Then there was Stu's 200 Honda that I had tried to race at Carolina Motorsports Park, but had been stopped by a leaking fuel tank.  Stu had fixed the tank and gotten more appropriate jetting for the carbs.  Finally, there was his Framecrafters framed KTM 450 Sounds of Singles bike for which he had gotten new carbon fiber wheels and new front brake rotor and pads.
Stu Carter's bikes from right to left: Honda 200, VanTech Motobi 250, and Framecrafter KTM 450
I rode the Motobi and Honda.  Stu hadn't been able to get the ignition timing as advance as we thought it should be because to the nature of the bracket holding the pickup for the Dyna S ignition, and we had little idea about the jetting.  We never got the motor running correctly, though after playing with the jetting, it did show some potential at moments.  While the chassis is light, there is some question if it's too spindly, as it did chatter some in a couple of corners.  Or, was that a function of little dampening in the front Ceriani 35mm forks?  In the end, the magnet flew out of the ignition rotor, and the bike was parked for the weekend.
Likewise, the Honda never ran right, one cylinder cutting in a out.  We played with the jetting but ultimately had no spark on one side and it was parked for the weekend.
Stu had better luck with his KTM single which seemed to work well, though he didn't get a lot of time on it and gearing seemed marginally short.
Saturday in my first practice, I took it steady as I had new tire on the rear and a 'take-off' on the front that someone had given to me at Barber last year.  The bike seemed to work fine, but when I came into the pits, it was spewing gas.  Stu had offered me a practice session on his KTM single and I went out on that immediately without determining the source of the gas leak on my bike.  The KTM was alien to me with slicks and tirewarmers, disc brakes, fuel injection and modern suspension.  I had trouble being smooth, esp. with the brakes, but after three laps I started to appreciate it.  The bike is fast and has a very broad power band.  However, I wanted to get back to the pits to figure out why my bike was spewing gas.  It didn't take long to see that the banjo bolt on top of the remote float had come loose and simply re-tightening it ended the crisis.
In the second practice, the motor died after a couple of laps and I look down to see that the ground lead had pulled out of crimped connector.  after a long push across the infield grass back to the pits, Stu and John Stephens gave me a tutorial on proper crimping techniques and that crisis was over.
Stu was in race #3, Sound of Singles 1, and, after getting a terrible start, was making up ground, then pulled off after a couple of laps.  He reported that his front brake went away with the lever coming to the grip, but when I squeezed it, the lever felt fine.  He thought maybe something was wrong with the master cylinder or it needed bleeding, but that didn't make sense to me because that would be constant, not happening all of a sudden.  After futzing with it a while, Stu went out for his primary class, SoS 2 and it was the same deal: terrible start, making up ground, then brake goes away and he retires.  My theory was that the brake fluid was boiling.  Maybe his new carbon fiber front wheel wasn't conducting the heat away from the rotor as well as a metal wheel and he had a new rotor and pads, which seemed very aggressive.
My first race was my 'bump-up' class, 500 Premiere, which was gridded in the front of the 2nd wave with Vintage Superbike Middleweight and Novice Historic Production Heavyweight in the first wave and 500GP, Sportsman 500 and Formula 250 behind us in the second wave.  Andrew Mauk, on Keith Leighty's CB450 based bike, and Wes Orloff, on Dale Coffman's CB450 based bike, took off and apparently had a ding dong with much passing back and forth and Andy finishing less than 0.2 seconds ahead of Wes.  I was able to track down Helmi Niederer on his Seeley G-50 and, after some back and forth, finished 3rd in class and 12th overall.
Keith Leighty's CB450 based racer which Andrew Mauk rode to two wins
My second race was the 350GP and again we started at the front of the 2nd wave with Formula 750 and Sportsman 750 in the first wave and Vintage Superbike Lightweight and Formula 500 behind us. I lead my class from the start, but on the second lap Paul Germain came by on his DT-1 Yamaha in turn #1(fresh from winning the 250GP on the same bike in the race immediately proceeding).  I passed Paul back on the 3rd lap.  On the 5th lap, Paul drafted me down the back straight and tried to outbrake me going into the last turn on the inside.  I had started to tip it into the right hand corner when Paul decided he was in too deep and wasn't going to make the corner.  He went straight across my bow and off the track, me barely missing him.  It was breathtaking, but Paul probably did the right thing, for if he had tried to make the corner, he probably would have taken both of us out.  Right after this near collision, the red flag came out when Brian Filo crashed from apparent brake failure and suffered serious injuries.  Results were scored to the previous lap when I was leading, I won the class and was 10th overall behind two F-750 and 7 Sportsman 750 bikes.

Taking the checker flag on my ERTT.  Artful photo by Judy Ganance
Sat. evening, Kevin Calloway arrived and brought with him some different brake pads for Stu to try, and Stu installed them and completely bleed the system of the old brake fluid.  We had some violent wind and rain over night and I was awakened to the sound of my E-Zup banging against the side of my van.  I couldn't will myself to go out and deal with it and figured that I'd just throw the scrap in the garbage in the morning.  But, in the morning, I found that some kind and noble fellow racer had lowered and re-secured my pop-up, and everything was in good shape.
I didn't go out for the first practice as the track was well wet and the forecast was good for the afternoon.  I went out in the second practice on a drying track just to check that the bike was OK, and on the second lap the motor died again at almost the same spot it had on Saturday's practice.  This time the positive lead to the battery had come off and I again had a long push through the infield grass  back to the pits.
The change of brake pads and fluid had cured Stu's problem and, while the brake was less aggressive, it was consistent and he got a 3rd in SOS 1 and 2nd is SOS 2.
In Sunday's 500 Premiere race, Helmi quite blatantly jumped the start and though he led for a while, I figured that he was going to be docked a lap.  At the end of the first lap, Wes Orloff got into that last corner too deep and ran off the track, so I was running 2nd to Andy Mauk in class.  Then Alex McLean came by on his 500GP Norton Manx and I couldn't let that go unanswered, could I?  I had a couple of front end slides and told myself to be smooth, but on the second to last corner of the race the downhill, off camber right, I lost the front and low sided into the grass.  I made out quite well, just banging the tip of my right middle finger, and the bike wasn't too bad either and didn't even break the windscreen.  But, it had broken the short brake cable between the lever and the splitter box for the two cables that go to each backing plate.  They weren't able to pick me up immediately and I watched race #7 from the cornerworker stand.  My consolation was that I was still scored as 2nd as Helmi was indeed docked a lap and Wes Orloff and Ron Melton didn't finish before I didn't finish.
Dale Coffman's CB450 based bikes which Wes Orloff rode
I had race #8 & 9 to fix the bike and get it re-teched and thought it was a long shot, but I discovered that I did have another short brake cable in my spares.  It was a bit shorter that the broken one and I had to change the perch and lever as I had lost the adjuster to the original one.  This meant that I had to remove the ferrule between the adjuster and the splitter box, but it looked like it would work alright.
I got the bike re-teched and went out for the warm-up lap of the 350GP.  At first it seemed OK, but before the lap was over, something changed and the front brake lever went to the grip.  I pulled into pit lane while the grid formed up and waved frantically to get someone's attention.  Eventually, Stu came over and I tried to explain through my helmet and the noise that I thought some safety wire would fix the problem of the splitter box cocking sideways.  Stu ran to my tool box, as he had already put his away and couldn't find the wire pliers but eventually came up with some wire and regular pliers and did a quick repair.  I started from the pit lane well after everyone else had left and, again, at first the brake worked fine and I got by one rider in my class.  But then the splitter box cocked again and the lever came back to the grip.  I still had a little front brake, but I had to brake really early and the leaders came by me.  Then a red flag came out, and it was back to the pit lane where I got another fellow's attention and he put more safety wire on the adjuster to keep the cable from popping out.  We had a three lap restart and again the brake worked fine initially but then went away.  I got into a cut throat duel with Francis Ganance on his 250 Ducati, with which he had just finished 3rd in the previous 250GP race.  I had lot of power on Francis, but he had lots of brakes on me and we went back and forth.  I barely held him off to the finish line and thought that I had ended up 2nd in class, despite it all.  But, the results had Francis in 2nd and me in 3rd, and when I went to indignantly complain, it was pointed out to me that I had been lapped and was down a lap on the re-start.  So, I was indeed 3rd, but still a gift as I thought there was little hope of even starting the race.  Never say die.
The safety wire on the adjuster was a futile attempt to keep the cable from coming out of the slot and allowing the splitter box to cock sideways

Stu Carter and Kevin Calloway look on as Francis and I debrief after our cut throat duel.  Judy Ganance photo

Stu, Francis and myself.  Judy Ganance photo
Helmi Neiderer's Seeley G-50s prepared by NYC Norton

Ron Melton's Manx Norton
Paul Germain's beautiful DT-1 Yamaha
Paul seems to consider the improbable

Juan Bulto broke on his 250 Bultaco Saturday, but won the 250GP Sunday
Art Kowitz's pristine Combat Wombat Hodaka

No comments:

Post a Comment