Saturday, February 13, 2021

Skip Aksland addendum

I recently ran across two races that Skip Aksland had competed in of which I wasn't aware on two successive days.  I saw a photo of the start of the Formula 750 race at Mosport Park in Canada, 17 Sept., 1978 and there was Aksland on the front row with  Johnny Cecotto, Yvon Duhamel, Kenny Roberts and Mike Baldwin. 

Photo courtesy of CSBK/PMP

I checked back, I saw that I had included Skip's 4th overall (5th in the first leg, 4th in the second) in the text, but had left it out of the list.  But, in researching this, I learned that Aksland had raced the previous weekend (10 Sept.) at the F-750 race at Laguna Seca, which I thought he missed because of injuries from his crash at Sears Point in July.  Laguna may have been his first race back after that crash.  In th first 100km leg, Skip finished 2nd to Roberts and ahead of Steve Baker, Gene Romero and Mike Baldwin.  In the second leg, he made only two laps before pulling into the pits with a "broken coil". Two weeks after Mosport, Skip was 8th in the San Jose Mile and a week later 11th in the Ascot Half Mile, both on a XR H-D.  Then, the next weekend (7-8 Oct., '78), Skip finished 8th overall in the AGV Cup of Nations at Imola, Italy.

Then I stumbled across an old post on the WERA forum by Larry Lawrence.  He had come across an old floppy disc that he had made on the history of the WERA GNF.  I was surprised to see that in 1978, Skip had raced in that year's GNF at Texas World Speedway.  This was three weeks after racing at Imola, 28 Oct.  In the F-1 heat race on Sat., Lawrence says the Aksland and Freddie Spencer 'tangled' and both went down.  Cycle News says they both hit oil and crashed virtually simultaneously on the last lap while dicing for the lead.  Lawrence says Aksland got a 'badly injured hand'.  Cycle News says both were unhurt other than Aksland's sprained thumb.  Evidently it was bad enough that Aksland didn't start the next day's final.  Mike Baldwin arrived after the heat races Sat., and started the final Sun., from the back of the grid and went through to win over Spencer and Aldana.

Quite a busy and varied two months for Skip, racing a four stroke V-twin on the dirt and an inline two stroke four on the asphalt, in three different countries and two continents.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Bruno Kneubuhler

 I've been reading "Chris Carter at Large,  Stories from a lifetime in motorcycle racing" which is a collection of anecdotes about races and racers.  Carter writes of the Swiss racer Bruno Kneubuhler "He was good, too.  Second in both the 50cc and 125cc world championship, and he rode in the 250cc, 350cc and 500cc championships at various times, scoring podiums in all classes, I think.  Possibly a unique achievement."  I found this quite amazing and started researching if it was in fact true.  Bruno Kneubuler's name was vaguely familiar, but I didn't know any of his details.  A quick Google search confirmed that he had been on the podium in every solo class, had won five GPs, and finished 2nd in the '73 Spanish GP in the 50, 250 and 500 races.  But, what I found even more impressive was that he raced in the World Championship GPs from 1972 when he was 26 years old through 1989 when he was 43 and scored points every year except '87 racing a Honda in the 500cc class. Bruno started racing in 1969 and got 2nd place in his first competition, a hillclimb.  In 1970 he won the Swiss Senior title.  In 1971, he rode as many International races as he could get starts for.  In 1972, he started racing in the GPs in the 350 and 500 classes on Yamahas, was 4th at his first GP in the 500, third behind Ago and Pagani on the works MVs at Assen and third again at Brno, and won the 350 race at the last GP of the season in Spain by 42 seconds. This made him third in the 500 class for the season and 6th in the 350 class in his rookie season. For some reason, I associated his name with the Imola 200 Ducatis.  Sure enough, he rode one of the works bikes in '73.  '72 was the first year of the Imola 200 and Paul Smart put Ducati on the map by winning over his teammate Bruno Spaggiari.  Apparently, the 350 Yamaha wasn't allowed in '72, but was in '73 and Jarno Saarinen, fresh from his win in the Daytona 200, dominated the event.  Ducati had developed their 750 V-Twin considerably with a shorter stroke, and reduced valve angle that allowed a shorter wheelbase.  Smart rode a Suzuki in '73, and Spaggiari had Mick Grant and Bruno Kneubuhler as teammates on the works Ducatis.  Grant fried a clutch at the start and retired and the two Brunos chased Saarinen, after Yvon duHamel and Art Baumann on H2Rs dropped out.  Kneubuhler was in 2nd place near the end of the first 100 mile leg when he crashed after turning the fastest lap of the race.  

At Imola on the works Ducati in 1973

Here's a link to a documentary of the race: https://www.bpvideolibrary.com/record/746

In June of 1977, Bruno crashed at an International in Holland and badly fractured his left ankle and the surgery was botched and it got infected.  He was flown to Zurich and, after three months and more surgery, his ankle was fused.  This not only ended his season and but compromised his push starts when he resumed racing in '78 on a RG 500 Suzuki, and he only scored 2 points all year.  So, in '79 he switched to a 125 MBA, but that season was ruined by a fall at Assen where he broke both wrist.  He came back strong the next year with the MBA with three podiums and 4th in the 125 championship.

On the 125 MBA at Assen in 1980

For 1981 Bruno raced a 250 Pinfold Rotax that wasn't very successful.  He only scored points in  two GPs.  Fron Motocourse 1981-82: "Schlachter passed Bruno Kneubuhler on lap ten as the Swiss dropped down the field.  It was yet another disappointment for Bruno who struggled all year to make his Pinfold-framed Rotax competitive and had qualified fourth only to have the engine run flat in the race."  Here's a video of the earlier race at Hockenheim:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI8eIf55R2g

#33 is Bruno at Monza in '81

It was back to the 125s with an MBA in '82 and in '83 he had perhaps his best year finishing 2nd overall in the 125 World Championship with two wins, a 2nd and a 3rd, and scoring points in 8 of the 11 GPs he contested at the age of 37.  Bruno stayed with the 125s through 1986, but in 1987 he raced a 500 Honda, presumably a RS500 three cylinder.  This was probably prompted by the FIM changing GPs start from push to clutch. '87 was the first year that Bruno didn't score any World Championship points since 1972 but, keep in mind that '87 was the last year that points were awarded only 1st through 10th and the next year they went to 1st through 15th, which is still used today.  And, Bruno was racing against Gardner, Mamola, Lawson and Schwantz on works bikes.  It only got worse with the addition of Rainey in '88 and Doohan in '89, but Bruno did score points both those years.

On the RS 500 Honda

Bruno has participated in Classic racing in more recent years and operates riding school in Switzerland.

So, from 50cc Kreidler to 750 Ducati to RS 500 Honda, Kneubuhler was superbly versatile.

But, somewhere in my research, I saw a reference to seven riders being 'classified' in all five solo classes: Ralph Bryans, Tommy Robb, Luigi Taveri, Stuart Graham, Dave Simmons, Bruno Kneubuhler, and Alberto Pagani.  It wasn't totally clear what 'classified' meant, but I assume it meant scored points.  Further research revealed that Kneubuhler's podiums in all solo classed wasn't a unique achievement.  Tommy Robb won 125, 250 and 350 races and got 3rds in 50 and 500 GPs.  Stuart Graham may have also been on the podium of all five solo classes as he won 50 and 125 GPs and was 2nd in 250 and 500 GPs, but I haven't been able to find results of all his 350 GPs, though think that it's probably unlikely that he made the podium in one.  Bryans, Robb, Taveri, Graham, and Simmons all raced against each other in the mid to late '60s and Kneubuhler and Pagani were just a little later in the early 70's, but Kneubuhler carried on and was 5th in the 125 World Championship in 1986 riding an MBA, then spent his last three years in the GPs racing the 500 Honda.  It was a different time.  Much was made of Freddie Spencer winning both the 250 and 500 World Championships in 1985 and I don't think anyone has even tried running more that one class since then, even Kneubuhler who last raced more that one class in a season in 1977.  The 350 class was eliminated after 1982 and the 50 class was replaced by the 80cc class in 1984 and ran through 1989, when it too was eliminated.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Sprints at Bonneville addendum

My previous post piqued Dick Hollingsworth's interest and he did some research and came up with what seems to be a definitive answer to my question:  How did George Roeder go 20mph faster in '65 than Roger Reiman  in '64 in the same streamliner.  The answer is better salt conditions AND more power.






This article came form the website: http://msolisvintagemotorcycle.com/cr
Scrolling down quite a ways is a heading "Sprint CR Publication & Information" and immediately following is an article on the '64 effort with Reiman, with this photo: 

This clearly was a wet clutch motor which normally would be long stroke.  I suppose it's theoretically possible that it had a special short stroke crankshaft and top end, as Mick Walker claims in his books 'Classic American Racing Motorcycles' (1992) and 'Aermacchi' (1995), but I doubt it.  Scrolling down further is the article on the '65 effort with Roeder.  Neither of these articles are identified as to what publication they came from, but I suspect both are from H-D's in house publication "The Enthusiast".

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Sprints at Bonneville

When I recently went to the Antique Motorcycle Club of America national meet at Denton, N.C., a few of us rode to the American Classic Motorcycle Museum in Asheboro, N.C.  It was strictly H-D, with Knuckles, Pans and Shovels, and a couple of Sprint road bikes.  But, it had some good race posters and two that intrigued me featured a Sprint powered streamliner at Bonneville.

As you can see, in 1964 Roger Reiman went 156mph and a year later George Roeder went 176mph in what appears to be the same streamliner.  I wondered how they gained 20 mph in one year.  All things being equal, it would take a lot more horsepower to gain 20 mph at those speeds.  I spent a little time researching it, going first to Allan Girdler's book 'Harley Racers'.  This has a photo of Roeder with the streamliner which the caption says was built by James 'Stormy' Mangham.  Stormy had built a streamliner powered by a Triumph 650 twin, a Cub, and a 500 Tiger 100 and ridden by Johnny Allen first in 1955 and last in 1959 when Allen crashed and destroyed the 'liner.  In the '60s, Strormy built three streamliners: one similar to the on that was destroyed (and maybe using some of the original), that had a Sprint motor; one larger with had a Sportster motor; one with a Chevy V-8.  Harley got involved and built the Sprint and Sportster motors, with Reiman riding them in '64 and Roeder in '65.

I called my friend John Stein, who wrote the book 'World's Fastest Motorcycle, The Day the Salt Stood Still, Mike Akatiff vs. Denis Manning vs. Sam Wheeler'.  John didn't know any particulars of the Sprint effort, though he believed the Roeder family still owned the Sprint streamliner.  John is very friendly with Denis Manning and suggested that I call him.  Manning built the streamliner powered by a Sportster based motor that Cal Rayborn rode to absolute motorcycle speed record in 1970 of 265.492.  This is featured in the film On Any Sunday.  Manning wasn't involved with the earlier Sprint record, so didn't know any particulars but suggested that the difference in speed between '64 & '65 could have been fuel, but I pointed out that both posters say the times were set with pump gasoline.  Manning thought the difference must be down to the weather and/or salt conditions.  I asked him if there was any way to find out what the weather/salt conditions were in '64 & '65 and he told me that the AMA lost all the Bonneville records and when he ran his BUB event at Bonneville they had to reconstruct old records from magazine articles and the like.  Manning suggested that I might talk to Clyde Denzer, The Harley race department number 2 man to Dick O'Brien, and someone involved in that '70 effort.  I called Peter Zylstra, the man who designed/drew  the XR750 motor, also retired from the Harley race dept.  Peter arrive at H-D right around 1965 and didn't know anything of the earlier Bonneville effort.  I suggested that in '64 the streamliner might have been powered by the long stroke, wet clutch motor and in '65 might have had the revised short stroke, dry clutch motor, but we both questioned that as we thought the short stroke motor came out in '66.  Peter gave me Clyde Denzer's number and I called him.  He was in the H-D race dept. in '64 and was aware of the Bonneville effort, but hadn't gone there as he did in '70 with Rayborn.  Clyde also didn't think that the short stroke motor was used in '65 and thought part of the difference in speed was just down to more experience and a refined effort, though agreed that weather/salt conditions could well have contributed.  Then I called Keith Martin of Big D Cycles, as I understood that he had the molds for the shell of the Stormy Mangham Triumph streamliner and was involved in the restoration of the bike for the National Motor Museum in England.  He also didn't know anything specific about the Sprint records and thought it had to be down the weather/salt conditions and that sometime you just get lucky. I re-read the caption on the photo in Girdler book and it says that Reiman used the long stroke motor and Roeder the short stroke.
From Allan Girdler's "Harley Racers"


Then I found Mick Walker's 'Classic American Racing Motorcycles' which states: "As a way of extra publicity Harley-Davidson began to take an active interest in Bonneville.  Their first attempts were with a specially prepared short-stroke 248cc Aermacchi road racing engine enclosed in a 14 ft long alloy shell.  Ridden by works rider Roger Reiman this device averaged 156.24 mph for the flying mile and 156.54 mph for the kilometre in 1964.  The records were approved by the AMA but not the FIM as no recognised observer was present from the latter organisation.  Hence the speeds constituted American records only.  However Harley achieved its ambition the following year when George Roeder piloted a revised version of the sprint streamliner to a new world speed record at the breathtaking speed of 177.225 mph-sanctioned by the FIM."  So Walker claims that a short stroke motor was used in both '64 and '65, which doesn't explain the 20 mph gain.


From Stephen Wright book American Racer 1940-1980


I just got a hold of George Roeder's son, George II.  He thought that Reiman had run a long stroke/wet clutch motor and his dad the short stroke/dry clutch motor as a way of introducing it, as it was what was supplied in CR Sprints in '66.  He still has the streamliner at his museum at his shop Roeder Racing in Monroeville, Ohio.  When his dad was a franchised H-D dealer starting in 1972, he used to drive up to Milwaukee to pick up new bikes from the H-D factory to save on shipping.  He'd drop into the racing dept. to see his old buddies.  One time someone told him that the old streamliner was in a warehouse and in the way and why didn't he take it with him.  However, the machine has no motor in it, so it doesn't answer if it had a long or short stroke motor.  George II, also known as 'Joe' to distinguish him from his dad, told me that Bill Millburn had some information on the streamliner, so I called him.  Millburn is a collector and a bit of an historian on Class C racing in the '50-'70s.  Bill told me that he has the build card on the motor that both Reiman and Roeder used, a long stroke, wet clutch unit.  He says it was run at Daytona in a road racer with a 5A, 5 speed gearbox, 5A being the closest ratio option.  The gearbox was changed to a 5B, wider ratio, gearbox for Bonneville.  This would make some sense as with the super tall gearing needed at Bonneville, a lower 1st gear would be useful for getting going.  After Bonneville '64, the motor went back in a road racer with a 5A gearbox, then back in the streamliner with a 5B for Roeder at Bonneville in '65.  Millburn is convinced that it was the same motor in '64 & '65.
Finally, I talked to Herb Harris, a collector and former sponsor of Roeder Racing, and a lawyer who represented Roeder when, after Harley built their museum in Milwaukee, decided that they wanted the streamliner back.  According to Herb, it was a Davidson who gave the streamliner to George and therefore Roeder was the rightful owner, and that he decided to keep it and respectfully declined to return it to H-D.

This is one of the ways I spend time during 'lockdown', researching bit of motorcycle history arcana.  There is just about no one left who was there at the time and I guess we'll never know the details of effort, but I find it fun jogging peoples memories and getting their opinions. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

2020 Race Record

2020 was an unusual race year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  The year started with two races in Feb., then racing shut down around the world.  AHRMA resumed racing in late July with two back to back races in the Mid-West, then there were two races back to back in the South, then the Barber finale. The VRRA in Canada had only one race and that was on a date that conflicted with one of the AHRMA races that I went to, but I don't think I was allowed to go to Canada anyway.  I had planned to do the WERA administered AMA Vintage M/C Days at Mid Ohio, but that was canceled.  I had also planned to do the Lap of Honour at the Isle of Man Classic TT, but that too was canceled.  So the total of 7 events that I went to was surely the least I've done perhaps since I started racing in 1972.  The 7 events were at 7 different venues, and I did four races at each event (two Sat., and two Sun,) for a total of 28 races.  I started all the races that I entered.  I won 13 of them, was 2nd in 8 of them, 3rd three times and 4th 3 times (two of which were mechanical DNFs), and 1 DQ for a crash which caused a red flag.  I had one other crash, but that was in practice and didn't prevent me from racing.  I raced three different bikes, all of which were mine.  At the first race of the year at Laguna Seca, Ca., I raced the 350 Aermacchi I own that lives in California with Karl Engellenner, who built and maintains it.  With it, I won the 350GP both days and was 3rd and 1st in the 500 Premiere.  The rest of the year, I just rode my CRTT and ERTT H-D Sprints.  With the CRTT, I had 9 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third(in 350GP) and 2 fourths (1 mechanical DNF, 1 in 350GP).  With the ERTT, I had 1 win, 6 seconds, 1 third, 1 fourth, and 1 DQ (crash).  I won the 250GP championship and was 2nd in the 350GP championship.  However, a big asterisk should be put after the 250GP championship as the entry in this class was very light and at least two of most competitive in this class couldn't make it to most of the races.  The entry in 350GP was slightly better but also with excellent riders and bikes.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Southern Swing #2

 This year's AHRMA race at Barber was very different than the past as the 'Vintage Festival' was canceled because of Covid-19, though racing continued.  So, there was no swap meet, Wall of Death, Ace Cafe, AMCA or VJMC club meets, etc., and nominally, no spectators.  Because of this, entry was way down from years past.  Many people who entered didn't show up because the forecast was for rain all weekend as a hurricane approached.  Then, many of those that did come ended up not racing because of the heavy rain, meaning grids were very thin.

I arrived at Barber Thurs. mid day with my 250 and 350 H-D Aermacchi Sprints.  The 350 I had crashed at Carolina M/S Pk. in Sept., and tore up the fairing, among other damage.  I left the fairing with Sakis Vasilopoulos who said he would repair it and deliver it to Barber.  So, after setting up my pit, I collected the fairing from Sakis, who did a beautiful job on it, including painting it and even making numbers.  But, he had filled all the mounting bracket holes, saying that they were oval from wear.  So, it meant fitting the fairing from scratch, then mounting a windscreen, which I did with the help of Dick Miles.  Fortunately, Thurs., was a beautiful day.

Friday dawned raining, as promised, and I set about practicing on both bikes.  My 250 had ancient and very worn Dunlop tires, the ones that are no longer made, and which don't have the best reputation in the wet, but are my preferred tires in the dry.  So, I was very cautious on it, both because I didn't trust the tires and because I didn't want to put any unnecessary wear on them.  I've long had a problem with the carb on my 350 sticking, especially when rolling the throttle of gradually.  The slide snaps right down when the engine isn't running but, when running, the slide tends to hang up unless one snaps the throttle shut.  The carb got packed with dirt in the crash at Kershaw, and it took me a long while to even get it out of the body.  Now, it the rain, the problem seemed noticeably worse.  After one session, I took the slide out to see if I could polish it to improve the situation.  Al Hollingsworth happened to come along and said that he might have a slide in better shape.  The slides are brass, plated with chrome(?) and the plating on my slide was almost completely worn away.  Al's was used, but much less worn and he loaned it to me and that completely cured the sticking issue.  The rain let up some in the afternoon and a dry line started to develop, but I didn't bother to go out any more as the forecast was for heavy rain Sat., and I didn't figure that I learn anything in the dry and just wear out the tires more.

Sat., I was first up in race #4, with 250GP in front of Novice Historic Production Lightweight in the first wave and Formula 125 and Pre 40 in the second.  Just three of the seven 250GP entrants started and 16 of the 27 overall entrants.  Craig Light on his Bultaco 'Metralla' immediately went into the lead.  I had just met Craig at the USCRA Moto Giro in August, where he rode a Bultaco Lobito 175 then, the next weekend, he was at CMP with the Metralla.  His backround is in MX and enduros and he only started road racing last year and apparently, he had never road raced in the rain.  And it was really raining, but I wasn't willing to go at his pace and he pulled away and then Colton Roberts, Jonas Stein and Joe Koury came by on their F-125 bikes for the second wave.  Colton got by Craig for the overall win and I was a distant 5th overall and 2nd (of three) in the class.

This is from Saturday's 250GP (I think)before the Kourys, father and son, passed me. Father #951 finished ahead of me, son #357 didn't finish. I don't know who took the photo as someone sent it to me after finding it on the internet.


The 350GP was in race #7 gridded behind 350 Sportsman and ahead of Novice Historic Production Heavyweight, all in one wave.  Five of the ten 350GP entrants, and 13 of the 24 overall entrants started.  Jerry Duke led the 350GP and the overall on his Ducati.  Eric Cook slotted into 2nd O.A. on his 350 Sportsman bike.  I was third overall initially, but on the 3rd lap, Craig Light came by on his 250 Metralla.  I was trying to hang with Craig, but he was pulling away.  Then my ignition coil fell off and I came to a stop.  I was credited with 11th overall and 4th in class, because Jason Roberts had his carbs gum up on his TD2b Yamaha and he didn't finish the 1st lap.

Remounting the coil was simple and I had the bike running again in an hour or so and was ready for Sun.  Conditions were a little better on Sunday but still very wet for both my races.  And, for some reason I felt a little more with it.  In the 250GP, I got in the lead overall quickly, but Colton Roberts came by on his F-125 bike.  On  the last lap, I got baulked lapping a rider and Craig Light got by me, but I got back by him and finished less than 1/4 second ahead of him, though his fastest lap was more than half a second faster than mine.  My fastest lap was more than 8 1/4 seconds faster than I had gone on Sat., where as Craig's was only 3 1/8 seconds faster.

In the 350GP race, Jerry Duke again got the jump on our class behind some 350 Sportsman bikes.  I passed Jerry going into turn #5 on the first lap, then Jason Roberts came by on the back straight, having changed the oil in his pre-mix.  Stan Miller crashed his Sportsman bike in turn#13, which caused Jason and me to check up a bit.  Then Jason crashed in the last corner of the first lap.  These crashes put the chill on any heroic on my part, but I managed to maintain the overall lead.  Jerry showed me a wheel several times, but I held him off and finished less the 3/4 of a second ahead of him.  My best lap was 15 seconds faster than Sat., whereas Jerry's and Craig's were closer to 9 1/2 seconds faster.  But, Jerry had the fastest lap of the race, more than 3/8 seconds better than my best.  It was good ending the weekend on an up note with two wins in close races and, perhaps more importantly, surviving.

The only photo I took at Barber: Doc Batsleer's CL 90 Honda which he bought new back in the mid '60s.  He told me that he was inspired to bring it to Barber after seeing the Aerostich ad in a magazine with me and a friends CL 90.


From Barber, I drove to Savannah and spent a few days with friends.  One of the first things that I did was dry my racing gear.


My friend, Dr. Dan Levine, showed me his latest project, a Rickman 500 Triumph.  The chassis is all new replica of period gear.  The front brake, a replica Robinson 4LS, and the forks, replica Ceriani 35mm, both came from Hungary.  The frame and body work came from England where Adrian Moss now owns the Rickman name.  Dan is threatening to race it.

Dr. Dan Levine with his Rickman Triumph Daytona.


Thurs., I drove to Denton, N.C., for the Antique Motorcycle Club of America meet there.  I noticed that my route there took me through Cheraw, S.C., which rang a bell.  Cheraw is where Dizzy Gillespie was born and grew up and, being a big fan of Dizzy, I made a point of stopping there.  His boyhood home is no longer there, but there is a park on the lot where his house stood, with great stainless steel sculptures of his horn, the notes to his composition "Salt Peanuts", etc.  Then a local guided me to the town green where there is a 7' tall statue of Dizzy blowing his horn.  Cheraw has Revolutionary and Civil war history and is a lovely place that honors its favorite son well. 



The bikes at Denton were mostly Harleys with a good number of Indians, but there was a smattering of British, Japanese and Italian bikes, too.  Denton Farmpark, where the event was held, was just chock full of old stuff: old farm machinery. a complete old machine shop with everything belt driven, an old gas station, etc., etc.  



An old linotype machine?


My friend Will Paley brought his 1920 ABC, a British across the frame opposed twin (before there was a BMW), with swing arm rear suspension, overhead valves and a four speed gearbox--ahead of it's time.  Will's ABC was parked next to a 1920 Indian Model W Sport Twin, a fore and aft opposed twin that was unrestored and started easily and ran great.  Another friend, Terry Wolbert, drove out from his home in Yamhill, Or., with five girder fork British bikes including a JAP engined Panther, and an AJW, an obscure and short lived bike.

Will Paley's 1920 ABC

Terry Wolbert's Panther.

A Triumph dirt dragster with reversed cylinder head.


Sat. morning a few of us rode to a museum about 16 miles away in Ashboro, American Classic Motorcycle Museum.  It was all Harley--Knuckles, Pans, and Shovels, with two Sprints, but it had a few good race posters on the walls and the covers from The Enthusiast Magazine, the in house Harley monthly, from the 1920s to the 1970s.  A couple of the race posters that intrigued me were from 1964 when Rodger Reiman went 156mph on a 250 Sprint powered streamliner at Bonneville and the next year, when George Roeder went 176mph on what looked like the same streamliner also powered by a 250 Sprint (running on gas).  It seemed incredible to me that they could go 20mph faster in one year.



Jack led the ride to the museum on this well patina-ed Panhead.

After returning to Denton Farmpark,  I went to hear the results of the judging.  The AMCA judges bike against their specs and appearance compared to when they came out of the factory new.  Points can be taken off for things as small as having the wrong spark plugs in the motor.  But, after this, a Concourse D' Ordinaire was held.  I put my '68 TC200 Suzuki in the line up.  I thought they had a prize for Most Rusty, but I parked next to a XS 650 Yamaha that was well rustier that my Suzuki, so I didn't think that I had a chance there.  But, I had misread the category and it was Most Rustic, not rusty, and I won.  It could have something to do with the fact that Will Paley was judge, but I'll proudly display the plaque anyway.  


The bike that won "Most Rustic" in the Concourse D'Ordinaire"

Five days after I got back home, I got a Covid-19 test and the result was 'none detected', so it looks like I got away with it once again.



Thursday, October 1, 2020

Southern loop

I started three back to back weekends by joining the USCRA's Moto Giro in Syria, Va. We were based at Graves Mountain Lodge and did loops from there, returning back there for lunch each day, which meant going over the some of the same roads multiple times. But, the roads were great and the scenery gorgeous. In fact, at first I wondered if the roads were too good--too smooth and well marked. But, eventually we did get a few gnarly roads and there was a good deal of excellent dirt road and one watercrossing. The turnout was well down from the usually because of Covid-19, but there were about 50 riders and a good variety of bikes.
Jesse Morris with his NSU Max 
An NSU Max, a Puch, a Jawa, a Gilera, two Ossas, two Bultacos, three R-27 BMWs,three Suzukis (including my TC200, a TC250 and a 305), two Yamahas (including a YM1 reputedly bought in Vietman at the PX by a service man and brought back to the States), a Kawasaki 90, and the usual gaggle of Hondas.
Alex Snoop on his 175 Ossa Wildfire

The bummer of the weekend was Rich Hosely breaking his right tibia and fibula without crashing by putting his foot down when he slid a bit and hitting his leg with his foot rest.
Craig Light's Bultaco Lobito
Bultaco Metralla

I didn't think the route sheet was the best and misinterpreted an instruction Sunday afternoon and missed a turn and went miles the wrong way on a boring divided hiway until I got disgusted and rode back, missing a reportedly good road going up to Skyline drive.
90cc Kawasaki G-3
Mitch Fraizer with his 250 Jawa Californian
Puch Allstate Twingle
Yamaha YM-1 Cross Country reputedly bought in Vietnam at the PX and brought back to the States by the previous owner.

I stayed over at Graves Sun. night and Monday drove to Thomas Jefferson's house Monticello, which I found fascinating and well done. From there, I drove to Peaks of Otter campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway, hydroplanning in the heavy rain and wondering if this was a good idea. But, it stopped raining and I was able to set up my tent and walk to the near by lodge to get dinner in the dry.
In the morning, I woke up to find that my right rear tire was flat. Thinking I'd put on the spare, I found that the tool to lower the spare was missing from my tool kit and I was unsuccessful trying to bodge it with an Allen key or screwdriver. I ended up pumping it up to 63 psi with a hand pump, which took a while. But, it got me into Roanoke where I got the tire patched. I unloaded my TC 200 and rode it to the Va. Museum of Transport while they were working on the tire. Cars, boats, planes and locomotives and one motorcycle--a '67 Triumph Bonneville. I stayed in Roanoke that night and the next morning cruised around town some and went to the O. Winston Link/Raymond Lowey museum in the old railway station that Lowey redesigned in the late '40s.
One of two railway stations in Roanoke
Downtown Roanoke
The Taubman Museum of Art

Hotel Roanoke
From there to the Booker T. Washington National Monument, then to the Rocky Knob campground also on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Rocky Knob overlook  where I met this rider from Indiana

Thurs., I drove to Stone Mountain State Park in N.C. and walked up to the top of Stone Mountain for a beautiful view that afternoon. The next morning, I walked the 4.5 mile loop trail that goes down to the base of the mountain by a spectacular waterfall, on to a restored homestead, then up over the mountain.
Stone Mountain had these mysterious holes in the rock.

this photo of the Stone Mountain waterfall doesn't do it justice

Then I drove to Carolina M/S Pk., getting there barely in time to get my bikes to Tech inspection before they close. I presented my 350 with a flat rear tire, which is a bit embarrassing. The next morning, when I tried to start it for practice, it wouldn't fire as my battery ground lead had come out of it's holder and had been laying against the crankcase for possible 8 days, draining the battery. So I put it on charge and just rode my 250 in practice.
The 250GP was in the third race of the day in the second wave behind the Thruxtons and Classic 60s & 650s in the first wave and 350 Sportsman in the second. I won the 250GP class quite comfortably and finished 9th overall behind four Thruxtons, three Classic 60s and one Classic 60s 650 (all form the first wave) and had the 5th fastest lap of the race. I did a scrub lap before the 350GP race to confirm that the battery was now charged up, my only practice on my ERTT. Race 11 had Sportsman 750 and Formula 500 in the first wave and 350GP led the second wave with Novice Historic Production Lightweight and Formula 125 behind. Alex McLean led the second wave into turn one with me behind. Jason Roberts on his TD2b Yamaha came flying by me on the straight between turns #6 and #7. Before the end of the first lap, we caught up to the first wave and I was able to get around both Jason and Alex. I guess Alex got really baulked by traffic and Jason and I began to exchange the lead. He'd pass me on the straight and I would out brake him going into the corners. We exchanged the lead 4 or 5 times in the first 3 laps. Then I ended the fun when I tucked the front end in turn #5 while in the lead on the fourth lap and, with my bike in the impact zone, the race was red flagged. Jason had the 5th fastest lap of the race, only bettered by the two Sportsman 750s and two F-500 bikes, while my fastest lap was 0.011 seconds slower than Jason's. I made out fine in the crash, but my bike got pretty torn up.
My ERTT after the crash.

It lowsided and then backed into the dirt ripping up the fairing and breaking the right clip-on off, and there was lots of dirt in the carb, and other damage.
Broken clipon and brake adjuster
Turns out that is fork tube was slightly bent.

Dirt in the carb.

I also found that the exhaust head pipe was cracked almost completely around, which probably had nothing to do with the crash. I decided not to try to fix it in the field and to wait until I was back home to strip it down and examine it carefully. I asked Sakis Vasilopoulis if he could repair the fairing and he said he could and would return it at Barber in Oct. So, Sunday I raced my 250 CRTT in both the 250GP and 350GP races. In the third race, I again easily won the 250GP and was 6th overall with the 5th fastest lap of the race. But, my fastest lap came on the 4th of 6 and the motor seem to loose it edge as the race wore on. I checked the valve clearance before race 11 and found the two rocker adjuster lock nuts sitting in the exhaust rocker cover and both adjusters had backed off and I had huge valve lash.
The lock nuts for both rocker adjusters came off.

I readjusted the valve lash and tried to really reef down on the lock nuts. This brought the edge back to the motor and I finish 2nd 350GP behind Alex McLean, as Jason Roberts didn't race on Sun. I was 4th overall behind two Formula 500 machines and Alex and my fastest lap was more than 1 1/4 seconds faster than in the 250GP and less than 2 1/2 seconds slower than I had gone on my 350 the day before, or just over 2%.
Craig Light's Bultaco road racer.  He rode the Lobito in the Moto Giro.
Dave Kaufman's (AJS Dave) G-12 Matchless
This Gilera was at the Moto Giro, also.
A beautiful S-65 Honda
This showed up at Carolina M/S Pk., on it's way to an air show.
I drove to Savannah Sunday evening and visited with friends there the next four days. Dan Levine made arrangements with a friend of his for me to change the gearing and check over my 250 for the AHRMA Talladega G.P Raceway the following weekend at his friend's sports car racing shop in Pooler. It was a fabulous facility with one half being devoted to vintage cars and the other to modern.
Dr. Dan Levine admiring the hardware
What do you do with the headers while you're working on a motor?
A Ferrari flat 12.
A Lola?
Porsches, Lolas, Elvas, Corvettes, and Ferraris, and other exotica.
Modern racing Ferraris.
And street Ferraris, too.
I was amused that crew at this shop were all Ga-Ga over my little stone ax 250 single in the presence of all this sophisticated, high dollar equipment. I got to Talladega Fri. afternoon and got my bike teched. The weather forcast was iffy with a good possibility of thunder storms and I wondered if the ancient Dunlops on my bike were up to a wet race. But, despite seeing lightning in the distance, not a drop fell on the track all weekend. It was hot, though. I hadn't been to TGPR since 2013, when it was back to back with NOLA. Since then it had be a stand alone event and I didn't feel it was worth the very long drive for a track that I considered second rate. It is short and flat. But, it being back to back with the postponed CMP and having done so little racing this year, I decided to do it. After practice, my opinion of the track hadn't improved, but riding on a mediocre track is better than watching TV at home.
Like CMP, my two races were separated by a big gap. 350GP was in race #2 and 250GP was in race #10. 350GP was in front of Novice Production LWT and Formula 125, all in one wave. Jason Roberts (TD2b Yamaha), Alex McLean (Drixton Aermacchi) and Jerry Duke (350 Ducati) pulled away in the front. Soon, Colton Roberts (Jason's son) came by on a F-125 Yamaha and not long after Jonas Stein came by on his 175 Honda. Jonas was pulling away when he got into the last corner too hot and ran off the track. This allowed me to get by, but he soon recovered and passed me again. So, I ended up 4th 350GP (on my 250) and 6th overall. The 250GPs were gridded in the back behind Thruxtons and Classic 60s and Classic 650s, and Sportsman 350 in the first wave and Novice Production HWT and 250GP in the second wave. My best lap was less the 0.05 of a second faster than in the 350GP race but was good enough to win the 250GP class and finish 5th overall behind three Thruxtons and a Sportsman 350. After the race, I checked my valve clearance and again found huge exhaust lash and the adjuster lock nut missing. Al Hollingsworth gave me a spare locknut and a little advice on the tightening procedure when I adjusted the valve clearance. Sunday's 350GP went about the same as Saturday, except that Jason Roberts didn't race because the chrome on the cylinder bores on his TD2b was peeling. Alex McLean and Jerry Duke took off and shortly Colton Roberts, the Jonas Stein came by with their F-125 bikes. This time, Jonas kept it on the track and passed Colton for 3rd overall, me being 3rd 350GP and 5th overall, with my best lap 0.7 seconds faster than I had gone Sat. The previous weekend at Carolina M/S Pk., when I rode my 250 in the 350GP race on Sun., I finished almost 1 min., 7 sec. ahead of Jerry Duke and my best lap was almost 11.5 seconds faster than his best. But here at Talladege there was no way that I could stay with him. He finished more than 8.5 seconds in front of me and his best lap was more than 1.2 seconds faster than my best. Also, I lapped Jonas Stein at CMP, but he was way faster than me at TGPR. I don't think that my bike was slower; I was just slower. Race #10 was also similar to Sat. with me 1st 250GP and and 5th overall behind three Thruxtons and one Sportsman 350, though my fastest lap was more than 0.8 sec. slower than I had gone in the morning's race #2. I guess I better check my valve clearance again.
Luke Conner's Thruxton, KRTT, and KHK?
Stu Carter's two Seeley G-50s, Framecrafter KTM, and my finger.
Stan Miller's T-20 Suzuki X-6
I noticed the grease fittings over the cams on Keith Leighty's CB450 based racer and asked Keith about them.  They're to pre-lube the rocker arms.