Wednesday, September 19, 2018

2018 Rossi Tiddler tour

This year's tour had a somewhat light turnout as the USCRA was holding their Spring Giro in Vt. the same weekend.  And, the weather wasn't brilliant with some light drizzle after lunch.  But, it was a great route on the theme of Nathan Hale.  Hale taught school in East Haddam, the town where we started from Steve Rossi's house.  The ride took us by Hale's homestead and into Coventry, where he grew up.  There were 10-12 of us on the ride.  I was still recovering from a serious knee injury 4 weeks before and I couldn't bend my right knee much.  So, I rigged up a 'Highway Peg' on my '68 TC200 Suzuki.
This meant that I couldn't really use the rear brake and, as there's no brake light switch on the front brake, Bob Bendix had no warning when I suddenly pulled over and stopped thinking that I had missed a turn.  He lightly contacted me, but neither of us went down.  Sorry Bob.
Mike Peavey starting his Airone Sport

Craig Pedimonte's YM-1 Yamaha, brought back from the dead

Bill Burke's badass 300cc, 5 spd. 'Squint'
John Harris' V-65 outfit

Monday, August 13, 2018

Museum tour

My drive to California this past spring was based around the AHRMA races at Hallett, Ok., and Willow Springs, Ca., but they were really an excuse for a museum tour.  The first day of the trip, I drove just short of Columbus, Oh., and the next morning I visited the AMA Hall of Fame Museum at their headquarters in Pickerington.  Free if you're an AMA member.
a '61 250 Honda four
Some of the motorcycle art
This beautiful NSU Super Max was stuffed in the back with an LE Velo, an Cleveland, and a Suzuki Rotary.  Clearly they need more space.
From there, I drove to the USAF museum at Wright Patterson AFB near Dayton, Oh., a huge, chronologically arranged museum which I didn't have time to get all the way through.  Free.

a B-24.  The B-29 was even more impressive
After spending the night with fellow vintage racer Jason Roberts and his family in Pawnee, Ill., I headed to Donelson Cycles in St. Louis, Mo., which has a great in house museum of mostly flat trackers.  They claim to have the BSA Rocket 3 flat tracker that Jim Rice crash in 'On Any Sunday'.  I was surprised that it had a road race style seat.  Free.
the Jim Rice Rocket 3 mile dirt tracker

a BSA Beagle

From there, I rode across town to the Mungenast  Motorcycle Museum.  Dave Mungenast was an enduro/ISDT rider of some renown who was also a very successful car dealer.  He established a museum in a great old building, which is oriented towards dirt bikes, but has interesting road, road race and drag bikes too.  Free.
An overview of part of the Mungenast Museum
An Ace
A MotoGuzzi Falcone
From there, I drove to the race at Hallett, Ok., and after stayed with my high school classmate in Oklahoma City, then on to Sandia Park, N.M.  The next morning, I visited Craig Murray in nearby Cedar Crest.  I mentioned that I thought I'd check out the Petroglyph National Monument just west of Albuquerque.  Craig thought that was OK, but highly recommend Acoma Sky City, a mesa that has be continuously occupied for 1100 years.  Doing that made it too late to drive through the Painted Desert in Az., and Meteor Crater was also closed, but I drove down to it from I-40 anyway.  I spent the night in Flagstaff and in the morning drove north to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and walked around the ancient lava fields.  I continued north to the Grand Canyon, stopping at a few turn outs, then parking and pulling out my bicycle and riding along the south rim a ways and walking down into the Canyon a little ways.  Spectacular.
I spent the night in Kingman and drove to the Hoover Dam the next morning and took the tour down to the generators.
Hoover Dam
Looking down at the outflow
The massive generators
From there I drove to Red Rock Harley Davidson in Las Vegas.  They have a great collection of race bikes, mostly non H-D including Sheene Suzukis and Steve Baker Yamahas.
The Don Castro H-2 dirt tracker, Nixon's KR750, Steve Baker's TZ750 dirt tracker and road racer
Two Sheene  TR750 Suzukis, Dale Singleton's TZ 750 and Lawson's YSR Yamaha
A Pasolini XRTT, a Springsteen XR,  Rayborn KRTT, Nixon '70 high boy Trident
I drove on to Willow Springs, where I had a big crash on the Sunday and took a ambulance ride to the Hospital in Lancaster.  The next day, I drove up to Lompoc to my dear old friend, Mary.  Because of my injury, I didn't go to Virgil Elings excellent Motorcycle Museum in nearby Solvang, which I had been to twice before.  Mary and I drove up to Pacific Grove to visit our friends Peter and Marsha.  Peter arranged a visit to Jameson Classic Motorcycle Museum in Pacific Grove.  It's small but had a couple of interesting, rare bikes.
A H-D with a fore/aft opposed twin ala Douglas

a stylish Heinkel moped
a tank shift Rudge Special
Peter and I then went to the Moto Talbot Motorcycle Museum in Carmel Valley.  It has a lot of Italian Moto Giro type bikes but also some ex Roberts (father and son) and Rainey 500 GP and MotoGP bikes.  An excellent museum.
never heard of a MAS before

nor a Devil
Ron Halem's Goldstar, which I raced once
The Kenny Roberts Proton MotoGP bike
an early BMW racer in the workshop 
a center port Bultaco motor in a modified side port frame.
Then we had lunch in the Baja Cantina, also in Carmel Valley, which had motorcycles and race car motors on display.
never heard of this one either
a Scott with high exhaust
On the Sat., we went to the Quail Motorcycle Gathering, also in Carmel Valley.  This is decidedly not free, but you get a superb feed and a huge display of vintage and custom bikes in a beautiful setting.
I'm a sucker for the horizontal single.  It's the sacred architecture

carbs and float bowls on a Yamaha YDS1? 
There were plenty of bikes like this--modernized, customized vintage bikes
I headed back via I-80 stopping in Wendover, Ut., Kimball, Ne., then visiting vintage race bike owner, builder and sponsor, Dale Coffman in Eldon, Ia.  Dale took me to the American Gothic House Center.  This is the house in the iconic painting 'American Gothic' by Grant Wood and Dale's late wife was instrumental in preserving the house and establishing an interpretive center.  From Eldon, I drove to to the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Ia., which is extensive and cover all disciplines and eras.  The museum has an excellent website with extensive photo of the bikes:1962-victoria-155
There were quite a few Bonneville and drag bikes including this Dennis Manning H-D streamliner ridden by Cal Rayborn and also featured in 'On Any Sunday'
A '30s Husky V-twin
An '09 Thor in the board track display
There is a lot of attention to the art in motorcycles as exemplified by this Benelli Toronado by Felix Predko
Another type of motorcycle art: a '62 Victoria 155
From Anamosa, I spent the night in Chicago with friends, then on to Sharron, Pa., then back to Hicksville.  It was a wonderful trip, other than repeatedly crashing.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Corsa Motoclassica 2018

I went from Oklahoma City to just short of Albuquerque and visited an old friend, Hurley Wilvert, a factory Kawasaki and Suzuki rider from the 70's.  Hurley and I got to talking about injuries, as old racers do, and he mentioned breaking his ribs with his elbow.  The light bulb went off in my head.  I couldn't understand how I had hurt my back when I fell at Hallett, but the elbow made perfect sense.  When I tucked the front end, my elbow would be cocked holding the clip-on and the plastic elbow cup in the leathers would land in the upper side/back and transfer all the weight to a small area.
I arrive at Willow Springs Fri. and Gary Roper had already set up in the garage with Karl Engellenner arriving in the afternoon.  In Gary's first practice on his Indian, the front wheel locked while braking down from the Omega and he fell, breaking his collar bone.  He went to the hospital in Lancaster and I picked him up mid day.  With him out for the weekend, his Velocette MAC was available and I readily agreed to race it.
Gary Roper's '51 Velocette MAC
Karl arrived with his and my ex-Mike Bungay Aermacchis and we unloaded and set up the garage.  I had my ERTT there also, which I didn't intend to ride, but was there for backup.
My original ex-works ERTT in foreground, my ex-Mike Bungay Aermacchi behind, and Karl's Aermacchi behind that.
Walt Fulton, III arrived Sat. morning and in his first practice on Karl's Aermacchi, fell and did minor damage to the bike and himself.
Walt Fulton III getting ready to race my ERTT (left) after Karl's Aermachi broke it's gearbox
In his 2nd practice, his gearbox broke.  The bikes use a modified street 5spd. gearbox, with an aftermarket 5th gear set, which brings the first 4 gears closer to 5th, making a good set of racing ratios.  It was one of these after market gears that failed, which was quite disappointing as we've had this problem before and Karl found a new source for the gearset; but apparently no more reliable.
 My practices had gone fine and I told Walt to race my ERTT.  We took a guess at the gearing  and put Walt's number on the bike.
My first race was on the MAC in Class C foot shift in the 2nd wave behind F-250, 200GP, and Historic Production Lightweight and ahead of Class C hand shift.  The Velo ran great and I was able to pass both of the Prod LW.s and 9 of the 200GPs to finish 13th overall and 1st in class.
Walt did a scrub lap on my ERTT to get familiar with it as he got no practice on it, though he had ridden it many years before in a parade lap at Daytona.
For the 350GP race, we were gridded in the front with Vintage Superbike Lightweight behind us in the first wave and 350 Sportsman, Classic 60s and Classic 60's 650 in the 2nd wave.  I got into a great dice with Pete Homan on his VSL BMW.  He had a little acceleration  on me and I had top speed on him, being on a narrow bike with a fairing and he having two cylinders sticking out in the breeze.  We went back and forth several times.  Then we came upon a back marker in turn #8.  Pete went to the outside of the lapee and I was to the outside of Pete.  It seemed that Pete moved over into me as maybe the lapee moved over towards him, or maybe the brutal wind blew him my way or blew me his way.  But, anyway the front of my fairing contacted  the rear of Petes bike and I ricocheted off the track at what certainly had to be over 100 mph.  I held it up for a while, trying to scrub off speed, but then went sky/ground/sky/ground/sky/ground.  It's not the speed, but he sudden stop that hurts you, and I had no sudden stop and was virtually unhurt.  The bike however, was a bit dinged up.
crushed Cone Engineering muffler
bent right clip-on, in addition to broken fairing and windscreen and dirt in the motor.
My crash allowed Walt to win the 350GP race on my bike and finish 4th overall behind two VSL bikes and one 350 Sportsman.
There was one race between this and the last race of the day, the 500 Premiere race and we quickly took Walt's numbers off the ERTT so I could race it.
The race was all one wave with the Motards in front of 500 Premiere and  500GP, Historic Prod. H.W. and 250GP behind.  I rode an uneventful, somewhat subdued race to finish 2nd in class behind Jeff Elings on a G-50 Matchless and 4th overall with the Motard winning overall and Jim Neuenburg, on  Fred Mork's KRTT Harley between me and Jeff.  My arch  nemesis and good friend Andrew Mauk ran out of gas on Keith Lieghty's CB450 Honda based Premiere bike.
Sunday, the wind was even more brutal than the typically windy Will-blow Springs.  I just  did one short practice on each bike.
In the Class C foot/hand shift race, I got into a duel with Ralph Wessel on his Indian.
Ralph Wessell's Indian Scouts
He had a little motor on me, but I could close up in the corners.  On the fifth lap of the 6 lap race, I was finally able to get underneath Ralph in the turn #5 downhill left after the Omega.  The track then goes to the right and over a rise onto the back straight.  I would shift into 4th right at the peak of the rise, making the front end light.  This is also where one would be exposed to the incredible wind coming out of the shadow of the hill behind the Omega.  This put the bike into a horrendous tank slapper that I couldn't save.  I got pitched over the front of the bike, with the bike then landing on top of me and grinding my right knee into the pavement and then the dirt.  When I finally came to a stop, the bike was on my left ankle and my right leg was hung up on something on top of the bike and it took me a long while to get out from under it.
The Velo MAC post crash
The race was redflagged and the ambulance came and picked me up.  We were able to get my tattered leathers off without cutting them.  I had a very, very deep abrasion/laceration just inboard and above my right knee cap.  The EMT asked if I wanted pain meds and I initially said 'let's wait, the endorphins are kicking in'.  But, when we got on Rosamond Blvd., I thought that they are going to really have to scrub this wound and I'm definitely going to need the opioids.  So, they put some fentanyl  in the I.V. drip.  15 minutes later, as we were arriving at the hospital, they gave me another dose of fentanyl.  In the emergency room, they did CAT scans and X-rays, which confirmed that I had a minimally displaced fracture of the left 8th rib from the Hallett crash, but no new fractures.  Then they gave me some morphine and injecting Lidocaine around the knee.  Then they gave me some more morphine and started scrubbing.  The nurse told me to 'breath in through your nose and out through your mouth', which she had been taught in labor.  It was still pretty intense.  When they were quite sure that they got the wound clean, the started stitching me up at two different depths.  They bandaged me up, gave me some antibiotics and oxycodone, some crutches and discharged me.  Gary Roper picked me up at the hospital that I had picked him up from two days before.  He took me to the motel in Lancaster at which AHRMA was having there board meeting the next day.  Monday, Mabel Haynes borrowed Luke Conner's rental car and drove me to the track, where my van had already been loaded by Lou Lebland, Kevin Burns and Art Kowitz and I was pleased to find that I could actually drive it, albeit with frequent stops to rest and elevate the knee.  So, I carried on with my original itinerary up the coast visiting friends and then back via I-80.
So, within 8 days, I had three days of racing and I crashed each day.  Not good.  I average about 3 crashes a year and this year I did that in 8 days.  I hope that means that I'm done crashing for the year.
We weren't the only ones to have problems at Willow as these thoroughly broken crankcase  from a British  twin show

a side view of the broken crankcases
Steve Arnett's 750SS Ducati upon which he won the F-750 class each day.
Virgil Elings had a very interesting twin cam 250 Moto Guzzi in what looks like a Norton featherbed chassis
it has a small outside flywheel
looks like a crankcase repair from a thrown rod
Sears Allstate Puch and Kawasaki G-3 90cc pit bikes