Sunday, August 11, 2013

I just stumbled across this photo from NJMP :
This is the first lap of the BOT F-1 race Sun. 8/4/13.  Pat Mooney crashed his Buell in turn #3A.  Ilya Saltykov is just disappearing at the extreme right and I (#7) am  inheriting 2nd place.  Pat apparently was OK, but his bike wasn't.  Photo by John VanNostran

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dave Back just sent me three more photos from NJMP.
This is coming under the bridge onto the front straight, a fast, fun bend.

Dave says this is turn#4, but I suspect it is #5 as #4 is a right hand bend.
Thanks, Dave.


For quite a while now I've been saying that, as I slide into my golden years, I want to race older and slower motorcycles.  Last weekend I contradicted myself by racing a 2002 Ducati 748R in addition to my H-D Sprint and Moto Guzzi Dondolino.
Jason Brownrigg's 2002 Ducati 748R
A photographer/videographer friend of mine, Jason Brownrigg (the fellow who took the portrait of me you see to the left ), got involved with a couple of friends of his in making a 'sizzle reel' to pitch a motorcycle racing TV show to see if they could get funding to make a pilot.  Jason approached me as being the vintage roadrace guy.  Jason and Lex and a camera guy came to Team Obsolete and interviewed me and shot some video.  Jason owns the 748R and an 848 Ducati which he races in CCS.  He proposed him racing one of the bikes and me the other at the AHRMA race at NJMP in Millville, N.J.  In addition, Lex would be making his racing debut on his 749 Ducati, having just taken a school at NJMP and gotten his racing license.  I had spent a fair amount of time on TT-1 and TT-2 Ducatis in the early '80s and, though singles are my favorites, 90 degree V-twins are the next best.  So, I was curious and a wise man once said to me that it's good for one to do something against one's nature now and again.
I drove down to Millville Thurs. night and met Jason, Lex, and the two camera people, Adam and Jordan, and we got set up in a garage.
Jordan setting up a GoPro camera on the 848, with the 748R to his left, then Lex's 749, then Ilya's 1198
Fri. morning Aleksey and Ilya joined us in the garage.  Aleksey was making his debut on my Velocette Thruxton, which hadn't be on a racetrack since Oct. 21, 2001 when the mainshaft pulled out of the flywheel and cracked the driveside crankcase.
My Velocette Thruxton that Aleksey Kravchuk has done such nice work on.  Unfortunately, minor teething problems kept it off the track
Since then, it had had a flanged mainshaft, heavy duty driveside crankcase installed by my friend Mark Gibson, and he acquired a belt primary drive, but then we both got distracted and it sat, not quite finished, for more than a decade.  Aleksey expressed some interest, so he took over the project and put some very nice work into it including installing the belt primary drive and making the beautiful primary cover, recovering and reinforcing the seat and repairing the alloy fuel tank.  Ilya is Aleksey's good friend and he races an 1198 Ducati.
I had never been to NJMP, so I went out in the first round of practice on my H-D Sprint so I didn't have to learn the bike while I learned the course.   We were using the 'Thunderbolt' circuit, as opposed to 'Lightening', and it is considered the better of the two on the premises and the one the AMA races on.  It's 2.25 miles long and I found it challenging and good fun with a pretty good mix of fast and slow and some elevation changes that give a blind entry into turn #2.
Next I went out on the 748R and just about immediately felt comfortable on it, despite the fact that it was a different world to what I'm used to with slick tires and tire warmers and triple disc brake and 115HP.  Stuff happens fast on it and one has to pay attention.  It's physically more demanding than the vintage bikes as you just generate more G-forces  and it gives the upper body in particular a workout.  I did one session on the Dondolino, which seemed alright if slightly overgeared, then another session on the 748R, which got red-flagged when someone oiled the track.  After lunch, Jason and I switched bikes and I rode his 2009 848 Ducati.  The 848 definitely had more power, particularly in the mid range, but I didn't seem to get on as well with it.  Ilya came by me on the 1198 and I got sucked in a bit and found myself entering the tight, decreasing radius right turn #9 too fast.  I got on the rear brake too hard and got the back end wagging and ran off the track.  No harm done as I got it under control and re-entered the track and carried on.  In the 2nd afternoon session, I felt I was entering turn #4 too fast on the first lap, again getting on the rear brake too hard and wagging the rear and running off the track.  Everyone had told me not to touch the rear brake but, old dogs and new tricks, I couldn't reprogram my software.  On the vintage bikes, I rely on the rear brake because there's more weight on the rear and the front brake isn't so powerful.  I carried on with the session then, on the last lap, did it again and ran off in turn #4.  I'm not sure I can blame the bike.  The track wasn't in as good shape with oil dry in several corners sapping confidence and maybe I was getting tired and sloppy.  In hindsight, I think it may have been just the rear brake adjustment, being much more sensitive on the 848 and very hard to lock on the 748R.  My fastest lap was faster on the 848, but we decided I would race the 748R and Jason the 848 as I was a little faster than him and it would make better video if he was on the faster bike.
Sat. morning in practice, the ERTT and Dondo went fine, but the shift linkage broke on the 748R in turn #3 of the first lap, so I got no practice  on that bike.  Then it started to rain and the smart phones indicated it was going to rain more for the BOT(Battle of the Twins) F-1 race that I was entered in.  So, I asked if I could switch to the Sound of Thunder race at the end of the day when it would be dry.  Permission granted, but the rain stopped and it was just damp at the start of the BOT F-1 race and completely dry by the end.  Lex had DOT treaded tires on his 749, but still crashed on the warm-up lap.  Ilya, on the 1198, started cautiously but started closing on early leader, Pat Mooney on an 1125 Buell.  Mooney apparently hit his kill switch accidentally and, before he figured out what happened, Ilya went by.  Ilya, thinking Mooney had broken started to cruise and was surprised when Mooney came back by, but Ilya stepped it up and won with the fastest lap.
The Dondolino was up next and the Class C foot shifters started on row 13 (the last) behind the 250gp, and F-250 in the first wave and Historic Production lightweight and Class C hand shift in the second wave.  Alex McLean, on Bob McKeever's freshly rebuilt prewar cammy Norton beat me off the line and disappeared and I, in turn, pulled away from Tom Kerr's beautiful Vincent Comet.
Tom Kerr's Vincent Comet
I did get by all the tank shifters and quite a few of the 250gps and one of the F-250s to finish 10 overall.
the Moto Guzzi Dondolino in turn#6.  Photo by Dave Back
The 350gp was immediately following and Jack Parker got the holeshot on his DT-1 Yamaha with Jason Roberts, on his 250 CRTT H-D Sprint 2nd.  I was able to dive under Jason in turn #1 and chased Jack the first lap.  Following Jack down the front straight, I had no motor on his very fast 250, but I braked later and then pulled away, winning overall and having the fastest lap over all the F-500, 500 Sportsman, and Middleweight Vintage Superbikes .
Then, it started raining again.  Jason mounted up rain tires on the 748R, which he was going to race in BOT F-2.  But, these rain tires were five years old when he bought them 4 years previously and he said they were like glass after he crashed on the warm-up lap.  So, that made it a mute point that it was raining for the Sound of Thunder race which we had switched our entries to.  DNS.
The H-D 350 Sprint ERTT in the foreground and the Dondolino behind it.
What makes it go.  Photo by Steve J. Gallagher
In the 350gp, my fastest lap was my last, which is the way it should be, but in the Class C, my fastest lap on the Dondo was the 2nd and they got progressively slower.  I just put that down to the fact that the cylinder and head 'grow' more with heat than the pushrods and so the valve lash increases the hotter the motor gets.  While Jason and Lex were patching up their crashed bikes, I went over the Dondo and found a big intake valve clearance and readjusted it.
photo by Steve J. Gallagher
The front came through Sat. night and Sun. dawned cool and dry.  I didn't practice on the Dondo, figuring my position was assured in that class.  I did a couple of laps on the ERTT and it felt good.  I got a complete session in on the 748R that Jason had restored to race worthiness with a new footrest and handlebar and other nicnacs.  Before going out for the BOT F-1 race, I realize I hadn't made a launch on this bike and consulted Jason and Ilya for advice on how to get off the line.  I did a practice start when I went out for the warm-up lap.  When the flag dropped, I got a great start and slotted in 3rd behind Pat Mooney and Ilya going into turn #1.  I inherited 2nd when Pat lost it in turn #3a, the bike cartwheeling and being throughly trashed.  Ilya pulled away and on the 2nd lap, I started hearing a bike behind me.  Bill Gilles came around me toward the end of the lap on his '08 RSV 1000 Aprilla which Chaz Davies had raced during the '09 season in AMA Daytona Sportbike Class.  I was surprised that he didn't have that much motor on me down the straight, but he pulled steadily away from me on his first race on the bike.  In fact, he posted the fastest lap in the race, though Ilya won it comfortably.  I was pleased to finish 3rd behind the two bigger bikes on an F-2 legal bike.  Jason got 8th on the 848, a bit detuned by Sat.'s crash and Lex finished his first race, just getting lapped by Ilya.
I immediately went out on the Dondo and was laughing in my helmet on the warm-up lap as the bike was so different and seemed so slow.  Why wouldn't it, having traded 115hp for 34.  But, when the start came, I realized that the Dondo was REALLY slow and I had trade 115hp for about 4hp.  In fact, it barely made it around the first lap and I pulled off.  The intake valve was barely opening and I realized I had been in denial about my slowing lap times from previous day and the big valve clearance I found that night.  Further inspection has revealed that the intake rocker roller had fallen off, much like the exhaust one had in May in N.H.
Draining the fuel post race.  Photo by Kevin Vogel
But, again, immediately out on the H-D Sprint.  This time it took me two laps to outbrake Jack Parker into turn #1.   Jason Roberts pipped Jack at the end for 2nd when Jack got balked by a backmarker.  While I won overall, I didn't have the fastest lap this time as an '85 Yamaha Next Generation Superbike was in the race Sun.
In the SOT race,  Ilya won again, his third win in three starts, over Gilles Aprilla, and turned the fastest lap of the weekend. Lex got going and tracked down Jason and passed him at the end of the straight, then promptly ran off the track.  He got back on and caught and passed Jason again, only to run out of gas and not finish.  He had a bit of a hizzy fit, as you would but, unfortunately, they didn't have a camera looking up at him as they did on my ERTT, to catch this.  Never the less, they got tons of great footage with wins, running off the track, crashes, and running out of gas.  Now, the monumental task of editing it down to three minutes for the 'sizzle reel' for the pitch.  Hopefully, I'll be able to post some of the video eventually, whether the TV show ever happens or not.  It was great working with kids and they seemed very happy with the results.
Adam with camera, Jason, yours truly, and Lex with the 748R

And people tell me I'M tall
Adam with me mugging with a camera.  How these guy carry this all day is beyond me.  Lex Kendall photo
Jim Jower's beautiful 250 Ducati.  Steve J. Gallagher photo