Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hallett 2018

It's been ages since I've updated the blog for reasons that I'll explain later.
For many years, AHRMA held their race at Willow Springs back-to-back with a race at Sears Point, aka Sonoma Raceway.  For 2018, apparently Sonoma Raceway decided that they wanted to do something else with that weekend, so AHRMA held a race at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit in Oklahoma the week before the Willow Springs event.  I had always flown out to Ca. for the back-to-back races and raced bikes that lived on the west coast.  But this year, I decided to drive out.  I hadn't driven across the country in ages and I had heard good things about the Hallett circuit.  I had raced the CT1 Yamaha built by Dennis Latimer, from Oklahoma City, several times at Barber and NOLA, and he was keen to race it without having to drive thousands of miles.
Dennis Latimer on one of his creations, a superb 175 Yamaha
 Dennis brought two almost identical CT1s and I tried them both in Friday practice.
The first had no tachometer and the suspension felt stiff and the front brake wooden.  The second CT1 had nicer suspension, but the motor felt more peaky and was geared too tall.  I went to go out on my H-D ERTT, but the end pulled off the throttle cable that I had just made.  Denny Poneleit and Paul Germain repaired it for me with silver solder and I was able to get out for the last practice and confirm that my gearing was too tall.
Sat. We had no on track activities because of rain. Not thunder and lightning, not a hurricane, just rain. The AHRMA rule book says “every attempt will be made to race in the rain”, but the wimps canceled the race because of rain. We sat around all day smoozing and watching the MotoGP qualifying and the first MotoAmerica race from COTA.
Sun., we got back on the track and I start to pickup the subtitles of the track.  Hallett is a short circuit (1.8 miles), but is challenging with 10 turns, a couple of which are blind, and a good deal of elevation change.
Dennis and I settled on which bike to race.  I finished the first round of practice and decided to lower my gearing again on the ERTT.  I went out for the second round of practice on the CT1 and on the second corner of my out lap, I lost the front end and fell on the slowest corner of my he track.  I guess I just hadn't let the tire warm up enough.  It seemed like a nothing crash with no damage to the bike, but my left pinkie got trapped under the handlebar and got torn up a bit.  Also, I was sore on my left upper back/side.  Later, I decided that I had at least cracked a rib.
The bike and I got quickly picked up and I was able to finish the gearing change on the ERTT.  I did several laps in the second round of practice and decided the gearing was very close.

The 200GP race was my first and we were gridded behind the sole 500GP entry and in front of Class C foot and hand shifters and Novice Production Lightweight.   I was 2nd going into turn #1 and leading going into turn #2, which I took very carefully.  I then led the field for the next 5 laps, but I could hear a four stroke close behind each time going into turn #2.  I had to go around a lapped rider in the last turn of the penultimate lap and didn’t get a great drive.  Then after taking the white flag, I went through turn #1 a gear too tall and Joe Koury Jr. came by on the run down to turn #2. I was able to out accelerate Joe into turn #4 easily and held him off by nearly 2/3rds of a second at the checkered flag, but he must have been really pushing on his 175 Honda, as I had a lot of power on him.  Our last lap was the quickest for both of us, with Joe’s more than a 1/4 second faster than mine, but I guess I started the lap more than that ahead of him.
A couple of races later there were several races with red flags, and an inspection of the track was made.  There were a few spots where water was seeping up through cracks in the surface and someone was claiming that the wind was causing ice to form there.  I think this was preposterous as the air temp was in the 50’s.  Eventually, what was decided was to have a sighting lap in addition to our warmup lap, and the races were left at full distance
Several races later was the 350GP race.  The 350s were gridded in front of Sportsman 500 and Formula 500 in the first wave and Vintage Superbike lightweight and Novice Production Heavyweight.  I think I was in the lead before the 1st turn and was never passed.  My fastest lap was the last, as it should be, but Pete Homan in VSL had the fastest lap of the race.
I had tracked down an old high school classmate who lives in Oklahoma City and he came out to the track Sun.  He helped me load up, as by this time that rib was starting to be a bit painful.  From the track, I followed Mark to his home in Oklahoma City and spent the night with him and his wife.  In the morning Mark gave me a bit of a tour of Oklahoma City, which I found to be a bit of a revelation.
Paul Germain cruises by on his beautiful TA 125 replica pit bike.
Jason Roberts rode his period correct TD-2 Yamaha and his son, Colton, rode a replica ERTT H-D
Joe Green, on the left, is a super fan and comes all the way from England to spectate at U.S. vintage events, here with Dennis Latimer
Dennis brought his 350 Ducati, last raced by Robert Bryson, which he's threatening to get back on the track.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent Sharing! I love everything this post. I know the Full Circuit at Pittsburgh International Race Complex is 2.8 miles in length with 19 corners. And want to learn more in detail about the pitt race