Friday, December 16, 2011

I recently read a great motorcycle book: Motorcycle Drag Racing: A History, by John S. Stein. This is a large format book of high quality with superb photos. It's comprehensive, covering the evolution of the sport from the '50 to today, and from all angles. The major focus is on the personalities, both riders and tuners. Stein is close to many of them and interviewed many more. The sport is nearly unique in that riders of all ethnic backrounds and genders have been successful at the highest level. The evolution of the machines is fascinating. American, British and Japanese; two stroke and four stroke. Single engine to double engine to triple engine back to single engine.
Highly recommended and, at $4o including shipping, it is a bargain. Go to to see excerpts, photos, reviews, and to order.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NYCvinMoto arranged a screening of 'TT3D Closer to the Edge' at Bar Matchless tonight, albeit in 2D. The film covers the 2010 IOM TT races, mainly featuring Guy Martin, but with plenty of face time with John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson, and Conner Cummins, among others. The racing footage is superb. The film certainly doesn't shy away from the dangers and follows up on Martin's and Cummins' horrendous crashes in the Senior and Ian Hutchinson's crash later in the season in a short circuit race in England. Paul Dobbs' widow is perhaps the most remarkable person in the film and her love of the racing and the place after her husband's death there is amazing. I got to meet Kiwi Paul at the MGP in 2004 as he raced the Classics too, on a Matchless G-50. I highly recommend the film as it captures the beauty of the place and the allure of the races.
And, I got yet another dose of the IOM TT when I went to Dean Adams site Superbike Planet. He's posted some film of the '68 Junior TT and you can see perhaps the same bike I rode there in the video previously posted here. You can clearly see Renzo Pasolini on the 350 Benelli four, as well as Ago on the MV and Phil Read on the Yamaha and many others.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ken Richardson has posted part 2 of practice on the 350 Benelli four at the '93 Manx Grand Prix. But, I think part 1 was actually recorded after part 2, as I'm revving the motor to 13K through the gears as opposed to 12K in part 2. The overall gearing is the same as I'm doing very little more revs in 7th gear. I decided on the basis of this that we should gear down for the race and let it sing. To finish well, I had to get a big lead as we had to stop for fuel (and oil!), where just about everyone else could do the four laps without stopping. The bike responded to the lower gearing and I was going a good deal faster in the race than in practice. In fact, I was getting ahead of myself and my timing was a little off and, on the first lap, I ran wide at Kerrowmoar (just after Ginger Hall), and sideswiped the bank on the outside of the corner, dislocating my right hip while I was still on the bike. I then ricocheted to the other side of the road and the last thing I remember is the haybale in front of the light pole I was about to hit. The next thing I remember is being lifted on a stretcher into the helicopter for the trip to Nobles Hospital. I actually made out pretty well, considering. Besides the hip, I fractured my left ankle and they put a couple of screws in. I raced 17 days later at Steamboat Springs, Co. and, while I planned to just cruise around, when Steven Mathews crashed in the lead, I inherited the lead and won the race.
Part 2 is about a lap and a half. It was the first flying lap (going through start/finish without stopping, therefore going down Bray Hill at full chat) I had done on the bike. I actually ran out of gas at the Bungalow on the 2nd lap but, for some reason this tape doesn't get that far. At 35:43 there's a jump in the tape just as I'm about to brake for Sulby Bridge. It resumes just about where I crashed at Kerrowmoar.
I didn't go back to the I.O.M. for 9 years when I did a parade lap at the '02 TT on a AJS 3 valve 7R. That got the juices flowing again, and I raced in the '04 and '05 Manx GPs. I wasn't a contender any more as the locals had gotten a lot more serious with many TT regulars racing in the Classic Manx. '95 was a horrendous year, with five very experience, respected, sober classic riders killed in the practice and racing including a friend I had known for years and another who I had just got to know. I slid off harmlessly at Windy Corner when I miss judged how wet it was (it had rained just before practice started but had stopped, and the road was wet some places and dry others). About 10 min. after I slid off and a mile down the road, John Loder on Dave Nourish's Seeley went off the edge of the earth at the 33rd Milestone and was killed after finishing 2nd in the previous two Senior Classics. While I never thought I kidded myself about the dangers of racing at the IOM, and many times had said to myself before pushing off on Glencrutchery Rd "this could be the last time; do you really want to do this?" And, I had really wanted to do it, until I didn't. I had some good runs at the I.O.M and got away with it. Now, I think I'm cured of needing to race there. But, I love the place no less and am sure I'll go back many times