I arrived Fri. afternoon after driving through heavy snow in Va. and N.C. Thurs. night. I got my pit setup and the bikes through scrutineering. It got very cold that night and there was frost everywhere in the morning. I took it very easy in practice, but gradually worked up a little speed. The CRTT wasn't running correctly, hesitating and cutting out. I wondered if it was running lean because of the cold dense air, so went to put in a larger main jet. But, I found the main jet laying in the jet holder, so just screwed it back into the carb tightly. The motor ran much better in the second practice. The ERTT ran well and the gearing seemed perfect.
|Alex McLean is on the pole for the 350GP race to my left out of the photo. photo by Darleen Dremel|
The 350GP race was my first, with 350 Sportsman gridded behind us. I got a good start and went straight in the lead. On the 2nd lap, Alex McLean drafted by me toward the end of the straight. On the third lap, Kevin Dinsmoor came by the both of us on his Sportsman bike, but perhaps braked a little early into turn #1 and balked Alex a bit and I went under the both of them and back in the lead. After a couple of laps, Alex drafted by me again near the end of the straight. He seemed to have a little motor on me and I could stay in his draft, but couldn't pass him. On the last lap, we came up on a backmarker going into Turn #4 and I got by him, but Alex didn't. I was thinking that I had a shot at the win, as Alex had only drafted passed me well after the Start/finish line, but he was right on my tail and timed the draft perfectly and beat me by 0.034 seconds. It was a very fun race.
|I congratulate Alex McLean after a great race. Darleen Dremel photo|
The 250GP class was gridded in the second wave behind 500 Premiere, Formula 500, and 500 Sportsman. Again, I got a good start and went straight into the lead. I won the 250GP class by more than 30 seconds and passed 15 of 28 starters to finish 13th overall with the 12th fastest lap. What I didn't realize was that my arch nemesis and good friend Jack Parker had crashed his DT1 Yamaha on the warmup lap. Things would be different Sun.
|I wait to start my CRTT before Saturday's race. Darleen Dremel photo|
While it was slightly warmer Sun. morning, there was still frost about when I arrived at the track. I took the CRTT out in practice gingerly the first lap, but then tried to go too fast too soon and tucked the front end in turn #3 and tumbled for a while. The knuckle on my left little finger, my left forearm, and left hip got minor abrasions, but nothing serious. The bike wasn't too bad, but the clutch lever was broken, the tach cable broken, the transponder had got ripped off the bike (but was recovered) and the carb was full of dirt. When I took the carb off, I saw that there was dirt down the port and the intake valve was slightly open with a grain of sand sitting on the valve seat. So the cylinder head had to come off if I was going to race the bike. Dick Miles started to help, then Erik Green happened by and sprung into action. When we took the head off, the Helicoil for one of the exhaust bolt came out. Then Al Hollingsworth came by and he had a Helicoil kit and went and fetched it. Erik decided that the intake valve had to come out as it wasn't sealing. I pulled out my valve spring compressor, lapping compound and suction stick. But, AHRMA had accelerated the scheduled for Sun., and there were three races before lunch, the second being the 350GP. I went off to race while the crew continued to work on the 250. I got a good start, but Alex soon came by. I went a little slower than Sat., and he slowly pulled away and won by over 5 seconds with me 2nd overall.
|Putting the CRTT in gear to pull it back on compression. Darleen Dremel photo|
Fortunately, the 250GP was after lunch and we worked straight through. At some point, Jim Jowers came over and told Erik that he had a flat tire on his sidecar and he went off to deal with that, as the sidecar race was immediately after the 250GP race, which was first after lunch. For some reason, with the new Helicoil in the head, a longer bolt was needed and Al went off to find one. When I turned the crank to get the piston at TDC, it lifted the cylinder off the crankcase and dirt fell down in the joint, so we had to pull the cylinder well up to clean and reseal it.
|Al Hollingsworth putting the head back on the motor. Dave Hollingsworth photo.|
We removed the tach cable, but the tach drive was still binding, so we removed that, too. The front mudguard was cracked and rubbing on the tire, so when we pulled the bike down off the bench, Dick straightened the forks which were tweaked and the mudguard cleared. We fired up the motor just as they were making 3rd call, and I rode straight down to pit road and onto the track without stopping. I took a pretty tentative warmup lap and gave the motor a good look on the grid and didn't see any leaks. Again, I launched straight into the lead, but on the 2nd lap Jack Parker drafted by. But, I could draft by him if I got on his tail on the straight. We went back and forth and I was leading when I took the white flag starting the last lap.
|Leading Jack Parker at the white flag. Dave Hollingsworth photo|
I was getting a good draft behind Mark William's H1 Kawasaki when, near the end of the straight the motor lost power and I pulled in the clutch and coasted to a stop at turn #2. It turned out that the sparkplug lead and fallen off, which is a lot better than a rod through the case. And, I was still scored as 2nd even though I didn't finish the last lap. I guess that Chris Spargo, the overall leader on his F-500 Yamaha had lapped everyone behind me, so I did my 7 laps before anyone else in the 250 class. And, if the plug lead hadn't fallen off, neither Jack or I was sure who would have won. So, it was an exciting, successful, fun weekend despite the crash in the middle. Many thanks to Erik and Henry Green, Al Hollingsworth, Dan Levine, and Dick Miles.
|Dick Miles imparts some wisdom to me. Darleen Dremel photo|
|I tell Dr. Dan Levine how it is. Darleen Dremel photo.|