Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bonneville Vintage GP

I flew back from the IOM Wed. Around 7pm, coming down with a cold on the plane, and flew to SLC Fri. at 11:30a.  I rode my M/C to the airport for the first time.  I used my '68 TC 200 Suzuki as it has a great rack that's useful for carrying big loads.

The M/C parking at JFK is free as is the AirTrain to the terminals.  It worked really well.
M/C parking at JFK
And, when I returned on the 'red eye' Sun.night, the bike was still there at dawn Mon. morn
Walt Fulton and Nancy Foote picked me up at the Airport and we drove to the track and got there just before Karl Engellenner arrived with the bikes, driving from Roseville, Ca.  We got everything unloaded and took the bikes through tech.
Mike Bungay had repaired and painted the fairing and Karl had mounted a new windscreen after my Sears Point indiscretion
Dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Tooele, then early to bed, as I was on a time zone probably somewhere in the mid-Atlantic.  
First practice Sat. went well, though we had to re adjust the front brake and clutch and Karl went to a bigger main jet.  After the bike's last outing at Sonoma in April, Karl discovered that one of the four front brake shoes was worn almost completely away, so he sent that shoe off to Vintage Brake and had it re-lined, then arced it himself.  So, things were still bedding in, but already the brake seemed better than before.  The second practice went better and I thought we were ready to race.
My first race was the bump-up class: 500 Premiere.  There were only three of us in the class, but my two competitors were formidable:  Helmi Niederer on the NYC Norton prepared Seeley G-50 replica and Andy Mauk on Keith Leighty's CB 450 Honda based racer.  We had Classic 60's and 500 Sportsman gridded behind us.  Andy got the holeshot and I followed him into turn #1.  I was able to pass Andy halfway through the second lap and led overall for about a lap.  But Andy came back by and then started to gap me and I thought that it was probably over.  But, after a couple of laps, Andy started to come back towards me and pretty soon, I thought that this maybe possible.  I passed him shortly before the the last lap flag.  We both put in our fastest lap on the last lap and in fact Andy's was about 2 seconds faster that he had gone up until then and fastest of the race.  He got the drive out of the last corner and came up along side me as we took the checker flag  and it was virtually a photo finish.  I thought I had the win, but couldn't be sure.  Turns out that I did win, by one hundredth of a second.  A great race.  Andy told me after that they were going to change the gearing (shorter) and move his transponder further forward on the bike.
My second race was the 350 GP and the seven of us in the class were gridded in front of the 350 Sportsman in the first wave and Novice Historic Production Heavyweight in the second wave.  Again, it was a formidable field: my teammate Walt Fulton on Karl's near identical sister bike, Jim Neuenberg on Fred Mark's short stroke 350 Aermacchi and Paul Germain on his DT-1 Yamaha, with which he had easily won the 250GP race run earlier.  I got the holeshot and led flag to flag, but starting the 2nd or third lap, Walt stuck a wheel in on me going into turn #1.  Being the gentleman he is, he didn't stuff me and it snapped me out of my stupor and I wasn't challenged again.  Walt finished a close 2nd, well ahead of Paul in 3rd.  A great day and the bikes seemed ready for Sunday.  
I had a problem charging my transponder..  I had charged it partially before leaving, but Fri. night it wouldn't charge more.  Sat., I borrowed a charging cradle from Ralph Wessel and, with much fiddling with the leads, it would charge, but the slightest bump and it would stop charging.  So, after dinner, J. Braun, a old friend from Connecticut who now lives in Tooele, helped me diagnose the problem and come up with a solution.  We checked the continuity and output of all components, and the problem seemed to be the plug between the transformer and charger cradle.  J came up with the idea of charging the transponder directly from a Battery Tender, but it wouldn't 'recognize' the transponder.  He surmised that there wasn't a strong enough signal from the transponder for the sensor in the Tender to recognize, but if we wired it in parallel to a motorcycle battery that was on the Tender, then it would charge.  But, J didn't have the equipment to make the parallel connection, so we took a trip to Home Depot and bought some alligator clips and wire, went back to his house and made up some connectors and it worked.  The transponder was fully charged in the morning.
Sun. morning, both Walt and I were thinking that we'd skip the first practice session as the bikes were ready and we were dialed in.  But, while checking over my bike, I found a broken spoke in the rear wheel.  Karl had spare spokes, as this is not the first time this has happened.  The spokes were too long it get into an assembled wheel, so I borrowed a Drehmel tool and cut the spoke shorter until it would go into the hole in the rim with a little bending.  This required letting most of the air out of the tire and pushing the nipple in.  Then we couldn't get the spoke to drop into the nipple so that it would pop out enough to turn it.  So, we had to dismount the tire and Art Kowitz in the adjacent garage had all the facilities to do this--his 'Tire Shop', a 35 gallon drum, bead breaker, tire irons, tire lube, valve core removers, etc., etc.  we soon had it all back together, Karl using a spoke nipple torque wench to tighten it.
Art Kowitz' Tire Shop
Karl torquing the spoke nipple
ready to receive the repaired wheel
So Walt and I went out for the second round of practice, and I only did three or four laps as everything felt good.  However, Walt did one more and, on his last lap, the bike started to vibrate a lot.  He and Karl found two broken motor mounts when he came in, and we jumped into yanking the engine out of the frame to see if we could get it welded.  After much searching, Walt finally found a track maintenance guy who said he could weld it.  When they started to reinstall the motor they found it wouldn't quite fit and we had to borrow that Dremel tool again and relieve the rewelded mount. I had to break off at this point to get ready for the 500 Premiere race.
Karl's bike coming apart to repair the frame
Karl (left) and Walt (right) deal with the shift linkage
Own an Sprint and you live under it.  Kenny Cummings photo
With the chassis off being welded, this was all that was left
The motor going back in being persuaded with a ratcheting tie-down
I had no confidence that I could beat Andy again as I figured he'd have his bike more dialed and he had turned the fastest lap of Saturday's race.  Andy got a great start and gapped me substantially by the third lap.  But, then again, he started coming back to me.  I caught him and passed him on the second last lap.  Somewhere in here my tach stopped working.  Andy passed me back and I passed him back in the corner onto the back straight.  At the end of the straight, he passed me back, but he got in too deep and off line and had to run off the track.  I took the last lap flag thinking that I had a fairly decent lead, but then my motor started misfiring and cutting out.  I started short shifting and was able to to nurse the bike to the finish.  After Andy recovered, he again turned the fastest lap of the race, but it wasn't quite enough and I won by less than half a second.
I never seem to be able to get a clean picture of Keith Leighty's 450 based Honda as he works on it in his trailer.  Keith on the left and half of Andy Mark on the right
Karl founded a bunch of trash in the fuel line between the fuel tap and and fuel filter and the line would barely flow any fuel.  This seemed to explain the misfiring and, after clearing the line, all seemed well.  Walt did a scrub lap on Karl's bike and he pronounced the bike ready.
Again, I got the holeshot in the 350 GP race and again I led from flag to flag and this time, no one put a wheel in on me, but apparently the jackals were not far behind.  I still had some misfire at part throttle and my fastest lap was the slowest of the four races, but it didn't effect performance too much and every else seem slightly slower.  Apparently, Walt tried to make a move on me on the first lap but ran out of room and had to check up and Jon Munns on his Sportsman CB 350 Honda and Jim Neuenberg got by him.  Walt got back by Jim after he watch him almost highside after he caught a bike slide and then got by Jon too, to finish 2nd again.
This makes 15 consecutive 1st in class (and more than half of them 1st overall) in the races I've been in on my own bikes. And, hats off to Karl who has built a couple of fabulous bikes on the foundation that Mike Bungay laid.
Motorcycle Classics again had a show/concours.  Here a rigid Matchless G-80
A mid '60's Triumph TRW.  I never knew they were made that late
There were three serious K models
Straight from Bonneville?
The BMW section
The only two Japanese bikes in the show: a Yamaha CS1 and a CX 500 Honda
In the middle, a beautiful Clubman Goldstar
There were not one, but two Suter MMX 500's at the event
This one was being rebuilt after a track day crash
Adrian Jasso's Suter had run on Fri., but had a clutch problem
The motor is a 576cc V-4, twin crank, fuel injected two stroke
Hold on tight
There always seems to be some interesting bike haulers at the Bonneville VintageGP
This was event organizer Tom Cullen's 1954 Flxible bus with a much newer motor
A work in progress

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