So, I went out in the group 2 practice and tip toed around. In turn #10, there was a tar patch that looked very slick and I made sure I stayed inboard of it. But, I focused so intently on the slick tar patch that I failed to notice how wet the track was around it and on the 3rd lap, I slapped it down. I was unhurt, but the bike got torn up a bit.
|The ERTT after I crashed it and before starting to work on it.|
There was mud and grass everywhere.When I got it back in the pits John Stevens dove in and was a huge help kicking the bike back into shape. We cleaned it a bit before we got the fairing and fuel tank off and found dirt in the carburetor. The first order of business was finding a replacement handlebar and Mark Morrow came to the rescue on that front. But this required pulling off the top yoke to slip the one piece 'clip-on' over the fork tube. I dug through my spares and found a different perch and clutch lever as the perch is integral on the broken handlebar.
|The replacement clip-on was much longer, but didn't pose a problem|
|ready to get re-teched|
My first race was the bump-up class 500 Premiere, which was gridded first in front of 500GP and BEARS in the first wave and Sportsman 500 and Formula 500 in the second wave. My arch nemesis and good friend Helmi Neiderer on his Seeley G-50, prepared by NYC Norton, got the hole shot, but a couple of the bears bikes came by before we even got to turn one. Brad Phillips and Dan May on their BMWs and Stan Keys on his Norton Commando were pulling away as I was dicing with Helmi. Then Dan Mays bike seized and left a long rubber trail on the track. I saw a big cloud of smoke ahead, but then realized that it was steam from the hot motor flopping over into the wet grass outside turn #8. Then Alex McLean came by on the 500 Manx Norton. I got ahead of Helmi and chased Alex and finished just over half a second behind him in 4th over all, 1st in class.
My second race was the 350GP which was gridded first in front of Sportsman 350, Vintage Superbike lightweight, and Novice Production Heavyweight. I was first off the line but Rich Midgely quickly came by on his CB 350 Honda and steadily pulled away. And that's the way it ended with Midge about just over 7 seconds ahead of me, so I was 2nd overall and 1st in class.
Sat. evening, I spotted a bunch of vintage twins cylinder bike outside the condos at NJMP and I knew that they must be the Retro Tours group. Sure enough, I saw Joel Samick in the on site restaurant and told him that I'd stop by after dinner. I had a good smooze with the group, which were mostly return customers. They had a good ride from Kennett Square, Pa., to the track and were headed to Delaware the next day.
Sunday, I had one good practice and then lined up on pole for the 500 Premiere, 500GP, BEARS, Sportsman 500, and Formula 500 race. Again, Brad Phillips and Stan Keys on their BEARS bike came by before turn #1, but no Dan May because of his bike failure Sat. Helmi and I went back a forth a bit and then Rob Hall came by on his 650 Triumph Bonneville. Rob and I went at it and left Helmi. Our bikes were evenly matched overall, though each had an advantage in different places, and we passed each other many times while closing on Stan Keys. On the last lap, with me ahead of Rob, Stan had a slide out of turn #9 and ran off the track and I got by him and Rob had to check up when Stan came back on the track, so I finished 2nd overall, 1st in class. Great fun.
In the 350GP, Sportsman 350, VSL, Novice Prod. H.W. race, Rich Midgely didn't start as he had crashed on a flat tire in a previous race. Ake Smith, on his CB350 Honda, passed me going into turn #1 from the start, but I got him back in turn #4 and was never headed again, winning overall.
Four class wins and a first, 2 seconds and a 4th overall finish was a satisfying come back from crashing first thing.
One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing Art Kowitz' Kawasaki Bighorn road racer from the early '70s. I have a soft spot for Bighorns as that was the first bike I road raced. Art said he built the bike before he knew what he couldn't/shouldn't do and therefore came up with some innovative solutions. The bike was raced by Ted Henter as a Junior with some success before Art raced it himself as a Novice. He quickly advanced to Junior and won his first race as a Junior, which advanced him to Expert. So, the Bighorn was sold. The new owner put a headlight and kickstarter on the bike and took the fairing off and rode it on the street a few times, then put it away in a storage locker for 45 or so years. He recently contacted Art out of the blue and said that Art should have it. Art picked it up just a few days before coming to NJMP and displayed it how he found it.
|Art hadn't decided yet what he would do with the bike--restore it or leave it as is--a time capsule|