Friday, May 29, 2015

7th Annual Rossi TT

Memorial Day weekend means the Steve Rossi Tiddler Tour, this year the 7th annual.
Fri. morning, I rode up to my brother and sister-in-law's house in Haddam, Ct. on my CBR250R beater bike.  Then, when I arrived, I took Amy's brand new '16 Moto Guzzi V-7 II Stone out for a ride.  It's a very nice bike with plenty of power and it steers very nicely.  I'd prefer slightly lower bars and more rear set footrest, but it's quite comfortable as is.  Then, I took my brother newly restored '64 Norton Electra.  We both agree that it seems geared too low which makes it very busy when the speed gets up there.  He's already got a bigger gearbox sprocket ordered.  But, it handles very well and is quite comfortable, and everything works including the electric starter and turn signals on the ends of the handlebar.
Sat., our friend Gordon Pulis rode up from Easthampton, Long Island, taking the ferry over to New London.  I went out on my Airone to give it a shake down before the next day's TT and met Gordon on the road on his was up from New London.  After we got back to the house, we followed Doug on his Electra on a ride to check out a new voltage regulator.  Gordon rode his '70 CL175 Honda and, having established that my Airone was mint, I rode Amy's '65 CZ175.  The CZ is a hoot and the automatic clutch release when you shift is brilliant.
Sun. was a beautiful day and there was a decent turn out for the Rossi TT.  Steve rode his latest acquisition, a '74 electric start 350 Harley Sprint.
Steve Rossi's '74 350 H-D Sprint, all original except for the Sportster mufflers
 Bill Burke rode the only other Sprint to show up, his Giro legal 310cc bike.  This uses a late, non-electric start, 5 speed 350 motor with an early, long stroke 250 crank assy.
Jeff Zelek brought this totally original '67 YR-1 350 Yamaha
Rick Bell brought a later iteration of the 350 Yamaha, a '72 R-5c.  He's had the bike since '74 and modified it extensively over the years.  It has an RD 350 front end, Dunstall clip-ons, rearsets, and expansion chambers, but a stock motor.
Rick Bell's '72 R5c Yamaha
Gino Bernardi rode a later still iteration of the 350 Yamaha, a watercooled RZ 350.
My brother rode his '65 260 Benelli.  Al Anderson rode his R27 BMW.  Jawa/CZ was well represented with Mitch Frazier on a 175 and Tom Halchuk and Scott Rikert on 250s.
Jean Frazier rode a late '60s Honda CL125a
Behind Jean Frazier's CL125a Honda is Mitch Fraizer's 175 Jawa/CZ and Rich Hosley's Ossa Wildfire
Honda, which she says is her favorite in the garage because it always starts.
Jean Frazier's CL125a Honda
There was also a BSA B25 Barracuda, '72 Kawasaki 175 F-7, Yamaha DT250, Honda XL 175, and Yamaha SRX 250.
Steve's route led us down to Old Lyme from East Haddam, through Moodus, Lyme, Hadlyme, and East Lyme.  I was afraid that heading to Old Lyme on Memorial Day Sunday might ensnarl us in Summer People traffic, but it wasn't bad at all.  I guess everyone was already at the beach.
After lunch in Old Lyme, we headed north again, stopping at Gillette Castle State Park.  This was the home of William Gillette, a famous stage actor of the late 19th century who made the transition to film.  Gillette was also a motorcyclist and on display in the visitor center of the park was a 1923 Ner-a-car, similar to one he had owned.
A 1923 Ner-a-car, similar to one William Gillette had owned
Apparently, before Gillette had owned the Ner-a-car, he had owned a Triumph from the teens.  There was a reprint of a newspaper article along side of the Ner-a-car display recounting how one day Gillette rode his Triumph down from his castle to the the Chester ferry.  The brakes failed and he went across the dock and over the Cheslyme ferry into the Connecticut river.  He swam back to shore and got some dry clothes on his yacht.  He was talked out of trying to retrieve the bike as it was in 20' of water,  but it later was salvaged.  When a director friend of Gillette's heard about the incident, he lamented that Gillette had wasted a $10,000 shot on a mere 5 spectators.
When I got back to Steve's house, I took his Sprint for a ride.  I was surprised by how much it vibrated, esp. through the seat, much more than my race bike.  I wonder if the balance factor that worked on the backbone frame, didn't on the dual down tube frame of the '73 & '74 bikes.  But, I was also impressed with how well it shifted despite the conversion from right to left hand shift on these bikes.
By the time I got back, Paige and Josh, who has joined us at lunch, arrived and Paige let me ride her brand new KTM RC 390.  The bike has a fabulous motor and steers really well.  I had read some criticism of the brakes, but they seemed fine to me.  It seems like a great play bike, but might be hard to live with day in and out with a bit radical riding position, low bars and a hard seat.  I'm hoping that Rich Midgely will bring his KTM 390 Duke to the Roper Tiddler Tour July 4th, so I can compare it to the RC 390.
Memorial Day, I escorted Gordon back to the New London ferry with my Airone via some back roads.  After seeing him off, I hooked up with my cousin, who lives in New London, and had lunch with some of his friends.  After riding back to Haddam, I loaded up the CBR and rode it back to Hicksville in amazingly light traffic for Memorial Day.  Everybody must have beat the rush by leaving early.  So, I rode six different bikes over the the three days on some fabulous road in glorious weather.  I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Summit Point

Less than a week after getting back from California, it was off the Summit Point, W. Va., for a WERA Vintage event, this time to race my own bike for a change.  After I got back from Phillip Island, Australia last year, I vowed not to race my ERTT Harley Sprint until it got the complete rebuild.  The motor had more than 5500 miles on the big end bearing and almost 3500 miles on the piston.  I figured I was running on borrowed time.  I asked my old friend Bill Himmelsbach if he would undertake the rebuild and he agreed.  Bill and I raced together in AAMRR in the '70s and he had raced a CRTT Sprint himself.  He didn't promise any quick turnaround, but it ended up taking longer than either of us suspected.  This was in part because the amount of deferred maintenance involved and the fact that Bill and his wife have elderly parents who required a lot of their time.  But, the motor was finally done with a reground crankpin, oversized rollers and the conrod race honed to suit; a new cyl. liner and piston and rings; new valve guides and seats; and new valves; and a re-shimmed gearbox.  I drove to Bill's house in Quakertown, Pa. and installed the motor in my chassis.  We bumped the bike off there and it sounded good.  I installed the fairing that Steve d'Angelo had recently repaired and painted.  The bike looked better than it had in a while.
A fresh motor,  fresh paint job on the fairing and a new windscreen. 

Saturday morning I took it out for the 1st practice slowly breaking in the fresh motor.  It seemed to be running well and I worked the motor up to 7000 rpm and some load.  On the 5th lap, it mis-fired a  couple of times, cleared for a bit, then died.  When I got it back to the pits, I discovered that the intake valve clearance was 0.045", a huge amount.  Hmmm, that's odd.  Usually you'd expect the valve clearance to reduce as the fresh components settle in.  I re-adjusted the valve, but then it seemed like it had no compression and wouldn't start.  I checked the clearance again, and I had none.  OK, maybe I made a mistake and adjusted the valves on the the overlap rather than on compression.  So, I adjusted the valves again and now I had compression and it started.  By this time I had missed the 2nd practice, so I arranged to do a 'scrub' lap on the warmup lap of the 2nd race.  The motor ran fine below 4000 rpm but wasn't at all happy above that.  I checked the valve clearance and it had changed once again.  Frank Giannini thought it looked like the intake valve collets were pulling through the retainer.  I was less convinced as they normally sit very deep in the retainer and this wouldn't explain the changing valve clearance.  But, if they did pull through, it would be disastrous, so I took off the cylinder head and removed the collets and retainer.  I had to struggle to get the valve out of the guide, but when I did, it became apparent what the problem was.  The valve stem was 'picking up' on the guide and you could see valve guide material on the valve stem.  Either there wasn't enough clearance between the guide and stem, or the guide was the wrong material, or it wasn't getting lubricated properly.  In any case, this wasn't going to be fixed before my races were up.
I had noticed that Joe Traino's CB 350 Honda with an XL 350 motor in it was pitted next door with a for sale sign on it.
Joe Traino's CB 350 Honda powered by a '74 XL350 motor
Bill Johnson had brought it for Joe who had moved on physically and moved on with his life and now wanted to sell the bike.  Bill was curious and had taken it out in practice but was racing his own CB 350.  I had raced the Traino bike at Summit Point 2 years before, with some success.  So, I explained to Bill that my bike was dead and that I didn't suppose that I could race the Traino bike, as we'd have to check with him.  But, Bill assured me that Joe would be honored if I'd race his bike.  I didn't challenge this assumption.
The bike was built by Stan Lipert many years ago and is for sale for $3500
By now, it's just before the start of the 500GP race,  so we quickly change the numbers from 222 to 7 and I put my transponder on the bike.  There was just one minor wrinkle:  the bike wasn't legal for the class.  There was no time to change classes and I decided that it was better to ask forgiveness than permission.  The warm up lap would be my practice on the bike.  The digital tach either didn't work or I couldn't read it anyway, so I was just shifting by ear.  The one V-2 entrant was gridded in front of us, Rich Lucas on his RD 350.  I got a good start and led down towards turn one, but was unsure of my brake point, so Rich, Bucky Sexton and Bill Johnson all went by on the brakes.  Rich checked out.  I got back by Bill fairly quickly and followed Bucky around and drafted him down the straight.  I braked later, but still not late enough and continued to follow Bucky.  But, the next lap I got him.  I finished 22.5 seconds behind Rich and about 8 in front of Bucky.  Bill almost caught Bucky, finishing just over 0.1 sec. behind.  After the race, I went to several of the contestants and told them that the bike wasn't legal for 500GP and if they had a problem with that, to please protest me.  No one did.  So, I figured that I might as well also cheat in 350GP, which was the 2nd race after the 500GP.  Here we were gridded behind two Formula 500 machines: Mark Morrow on a RD400 based racer and Rich on his RD350.  This time, Mark checked out and I kept Rich in sight.  Starting the 3rd lap, Rich Midgley came by. We swapped back a forth a bit before he started to pull away from me and close on Rich Lucas' RD 350.  On the 5th lap, when he was right on Lucas, Midge tucked the front end in turn #5 and went down.  I had to ride off the track to avoid him, but I was able to do that without going down and was able to close back up on Lucas, finishing 3 1/3 sec.s behind him.  Bucky was alone in 4th overall and Steve d'Angelo, on his beautiful 350 Ducati,  finished less than a quarter second ahead of Bill Johnson.
Two years ago, I turned high 1:33 minute laps winning the V-1 and V-2 races.  This time I turned a low 1:37.  Does that mean that I'm getting old?  Or that practice DOES help?  Or that a tach DOES help.  Or that the track was faster then?  Who knows?  In any case, my thanks to Bill and Joe for salvaging the weekend for me.
The Stan Lipert built XL/CB 350 is a fun bike and a good value at it's asking price of $3500.  If anyone has interest in it, they can get in touch with me and I'll pass on Bill's contact info.
It was a light turn out for both the vintage and modern classes, especially considering how beautiful the weather was.  I hope we can just chalk that up to it being Mother's Day Weekend and that it doesn't represent a trend.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Goldstar Ron Memorial Ride.

Ron Halem, better know as Goldstar Ron, was a Goldstar and IOM fanatic.  He poured all his resources into his G/S race bike and racing it, esp. at the IOM Classic TT.  Kenny Cummings, Brian Filo, and I all raced his G/S here in AHRMA races, as well as various riders at the IOM.  Ron died last Nov. after a protracted battle with cancer.  Ron provided a model of how to die by insisting on living until he died.  Here are links to a couple of videos featuring Ron that give an idea of the kind of person he was:
So, the BSA Club of Northern California organized a Memorial ride in conjunction with the AHRMA races at Somona Raceway.  Fri., and bunch of people took a ride to the track to watch the races.

A throughly modernized Goldstar.  This bike was originally built by Mike Bungay.  Below is how it looked, in three evolutions, before Mike sold it.  Mike Bungay photos

Some of the bike that showed up at Sears Point for the Goldstar Ron Memorial

 Sat., we met in Novato and took a 100 or so mile ride through Marin County through Tomales to Bodega Bay and back to Tomales for lunch.  I had arranged to borrow a bike from my old friend Parra O'Siochain.  Parra is an Irishman who has lived in the Bay Area most of his life, worked for Dudley Perkins H-D, was Sandy Kosman's first employee, worked closely with Dick Mann and Mert Lawill, did a lot of work for Team Obsolete, and has been heavily involved with motorcycle flat track, drag racing, road racing and trials.
Parra took me from the track to his home in Forest Knolls and Sat. morning we rode to Novato.  I rode Parra's TR5T Triumph, arguably a Triumph 500 twin in a BSA chassis, and he rode his Honda FT500 Ascot.  Parra had replaced the 21" front rim with a 19" alloy rim on the TR5T and was running it with out a battery.
Parra's TR5T Triumph
Parra started the bike for me and I flipped on the headlight.  I found the bike delightful, being very torquey, steering very well and having good brakes, though I thought it was very stiffly sprung for my weight.
When we got to Novato, we met up with Don Lange, among others.  Don is an old friend of Kenny Cummings, having both been musicians in Seattle years ago.  They reconnected a couple of years ago and Don became intrigued with Kenny's hobby of motorcycle racing and started coming to the races and filming.  He got sucked in and last fall bought a CBR300F Honda.
Me trying out Don's CBR300F.  Don Lange photo
He very sensibly took a riding course and very methodically practiced by riding in an ever increasing radius from his home.  This would be his first group ride and probably his longest ride and he was a little concerned about etiquette and if he'd be able to keep up.
Me talking with Parra before the ride started.  Don Lange photo
The line up in Novato before we left.  Don Lange photo
After smoozing for a while, people started to mount up and head out.  I kicked the Triumph a number of times, but it didn't start.  Parra then kick it a bunch with no results.  Then I did the run and bump and it started.  By this time, Parra, Don, and I were the last away, but that was OK as Parra knew the area and knew where we were going.  We had a great ride through the swooping, flowing roads of rural Marin.  We caught up with the group in Tomales for a late morning break at the Tomales Bakery.
At the Tomales Bakery.  Don Lange photo
 More smoozing ensued.  When it was time to leave, again I kick the Triumph with no results and after a couple of pushes got it started.  Once running, it ran fine.  We stopped for gas in Bodega Bay, site of the famous Hitchcock movie "The Birds", though this wasn't the gas station that went up in flames in the movie.  After I gassed up, again it didn't want to start.  Another rider suggested that I turn off the head light.  He had noticed when I pushed it at Tomales the headlight flickering.  Without a battery, the headlight sucks most of the juice and it won't fire.  Sure enough, I flipped off the headlight and it started on the first kick.
From there, we took a roundabout way back to Tomales for lunch in the William Tell House.  Among the 40ish bikes on the ride, there were 7 or 8 Goldstars, BSA A-10s and A-65s, a B-50 single, at least three Norton Commandos, and an Atlas, Triumph Bonnevilles and Daytonas.
An A-10 BSA,  400 Can-Am, and Royal Enfield Continental GT 535 among others at the William Tell House
Goldstars and a Commando at the William Tell House
A KH Harley with a Gimeca front brake.
A BSA Rocket 3 and A-65, and Kennie Buchanan's 370 Suzuki
Gary Roper rode with his wife Debbie on his beautiful Commando
A BSA B-50 in front of it's predecessor, the Goldstar
A Norton Atlas, a H-D bagger, Brian Filo's FZR Yam, and a A-65
From lunch, things broke up with people returning to there homes.  Don following a few back to Novato and Parra and I peeled off for Forest Knolls along the way.  Don did great and said it may have been the most fun day in his life.  The ride went a long way towards making up for missing the USCRA's Spring Giro in Oneonta, N.Y., which has conflicted with the AHRMA Sears Point races the last three years.

Sonoma Raceway

From Willow Springs, I traveled with Kenny Cummings and we drove to my friend's house in Lompoc, while Karl and Mike headed back to Sacramento with the two crashed bikes.  Mon. morning, I ordered a new helmet first thing and Kenny got on the Bay Area Rider's Forum (BARF) and found someone who could repair our leathers quickly.  We got on the road late morning and drove to the San Francisco airport and picked up a rental car so Kenny could keep his Sprinter parked and he'd have a way to get to the Airport Sat. morning.  I followed Kenny to his in-law's house in Berkeley where we ditched the Sprinter and drove to Vallejo and dropped off our leathers with Richard Lee [(415)621-2738,], who promised them for Wed. afternoon.
Tues. morning we went into S.F. and visited Jennifer Bromme's Werk Statt motorcycle repair shop.  I first met Jennifer some years back when she was racing a CB160 with AHRMA.  Since she's become a mother, she's quit racing, but not riding.  She's run her motorcycle repair shop in San Francisco for more than 20 years and it's an impressive operation with three mechanics.  They do it all.  Among the bikes outside waiting to be serviced was an early 70's CS-3 Yamaha next to a 201X Ducati Hypermotard.  Jennifer showed Kenny some software that he thought would be helpful running his business, NYC Norton.
With Jennifer Bromme at WerkStatt.  Kenny Cummings photl
We left there and spotted a new 961 Norton in the window of the legendary Munroe Motors, who claim to be the oldest bike shop in S.F., so we had to park and check it out.  After checking out their operation, we drove to Fort Mason Center to meet Paul d'Oleans, the Vintagent, and his partner Susan McLaughlin at Greens Restaurant, which has a fabulous view over the Bay.  Paul was keen to do a portrait of Kenny and me with the 'wet plate' photography that he's become enamored with.  These are photos on a chemically treated aluminum plate that are given a relatively long exposure and developed immediately.  It's a process that goes back to the early days of photography.  After much discussion about what would be the best venue, it was agreed that we'd meet at an alley in the Mission district the next day after picking up John Thorndike, Kenny's employee and BEARS racer, at the S.F. airport and taking him to what Kenny considers the best burrito joint in the Bay Area, if not the world.
But, before going to the airport Wed., we visited Motion Pro in San Carlos, just south of the airport.  Motion Pro manufacture an amazing array of motorcycle specific tools.  I had gotten to know Rick Yamane, the majordomo at Motion Pro, through Moto Guzzis and he graciously gave us a tour.  A significant part of their business is making cables, both production and custom, and this was a fascinating section to observe.  One of Rick's primary responsibilities is maintaining Chris Carter's, owner of Motion Pro, personal collection of motorcycles.  The emphasis is on motocross and enduro bikes of the 60's and 70's and flattrackers, though there are road bikes too, going back to the teens.  Everywhere you look in the building are photos, posters, trophies, and memorabilia.  Who knew that Jim Rice road raced an A1-R Kawasaki and won the worlds tallest trophy?
With the "World's Tallest Trophy" at Motion Pro.  Kenny Cummings photo
Rick introduced us to Chris Carter, who is an ultra enthusiast.  In his office is a framed jersey signed by Joel Robert, the Belgium M/X World Champion, which Chris got in the late '60s from Robert after bugging him at each round of the Inter-Am when he was just a kid.
From Motion Pro, we went to the airport and picked John up and headed to Taqueria Cancun, then met Paul d'Orleans and Susan McLaughlin at an alley a few blocks down from the restaurant.  They picked this spot as there is very little traffic and very colorful background graffiti.
Paul d'Orleans takes a wet plate photo of me in an alley in S.F.'s Mission district.  Kenny Cummings photo
While they were shooting us, an elderly gentleman with a huge mop and beard came down the alley.   Paul and Susan said 'we've got to shoot him', and he couldn't agree more.  The guy was a '60s hippie who never left.  A delightful character and slice of local color.
Susan McLaughlin photo
Paul d'Orleans/Susan McLaughlin wetplate  photo
From the photo shoot, we went back to Berkeley, got the Sprinter and John and I drove to Sonoma Raceway, aka Sears Point, to get set up in a garage while Kenny drove to Vallejo to pick up the repaired leathers.
The AHRMA  racing there is on Thurs. and Fri., there being AFM modern bike racing on the weekend.
Gary Roper had had very little to do on the Velo, just adjusting chains and clutch.  Mike and Karl, on the other hand, had worked flat out straightening forks and brackets, replacing footrests, stripping engines to get the rocks out, and doing body work and painting.
The '51 MAC  Velo worked great right from the start except it was geared tall.  The Sprint however, wanted to shake it's head, something it had never done before.  And, it was geared too tall.  When Walt Fulton III tried to go out on #2 Sprint, he found that it wouldn't engage any gears.  While Karl tried to diagnose this, we agreed the Walt and I would share bike #1.  He agreed that it was shaking it's head and we both felt the front brake could be stronger.  Karl and Mike carefully adjusted the wheel alignment.  And they changed the shocks to the ones from bike #2.
It quickly became apparent that the gearbox of bike #2 wasn't going to be repaired in the next couple of days.  A later strip down revealed that all but three teeth had been broken off the sleeve gear.  Was this the result, or the cause, of my Sun. crash at Willow?  I guess we'll never know.
So Walt would ride bike #1 in 350GP and I would ride it in 500 Premiere.  The only problem was that the 500 Premiere race came before the 350GP and it was made clear to me that I better not crash the bike before Walt had a chance to race it.  Unfortunately, the 500 Premiere grid had been decimated by the carnage at Willow, so there were only three of us starting at Sears.  Kenny Cummings was not able to repair his bike, but rode Helmi Niederer's Seeley G-50, as Helmi was not able to make it because of business commitments.  And, Jeff Elings rode his G-50 Matchless.  Behind us was 500GP, Formula 500, 500 Sportsman, and Vintage Superbike Middleweight.  I led from Turn #1, was never headed, and turned the fastest lap of the race.  Second overall was Motorcyclist Magazine's Ari Henning in the 500 Sportsman class riding one of his Dad's CB 350 Hondas and I was pleased to turn a faster lap than him as he's an excellent rider with a fast bike.  I was brought back to earth when I saw that he turned a faster lap in the following 350 Sportsman race on the same bike.  Kenny rode very cautiously as he could not afford to damage Helmi's bike while he had extensive and expensive repairs to do on his own bike.
Next up was the Velo in Class 'C' footshift, gridded on the last row in the third wave behind Novice Historic Production Heavyweight, Formula 250, 250GP, Formula 125, and Class 'C' Hand shift.  I was able to pass 16 on my way to finishing 10th overall, 1st in class, behind 7 250GP and two Historic Prod. Hvywght bikes.
Going around Kelly Clark on a Montesa and leaving Neil Jensen's Honda behind.  Etech Photo
Walt won the 350GP race on the Sprint, finishing 6th overall behind five Triumph Thruxtons.  Motorcyclist Magazine's Zack Courts won the overall.  Like Ari Henning, I've  known him since he was a kid growing up in the paddock while I raced against their dads.  John Thorndike won the Bears class, having never before been to Sear Point, a difficult track to learn.
But, Walt wasn't at all happy with the Sprint, the headshake bothering him more than me and unhappy with the front brake.  So, Mike and Karl took the front brake apart and carefully massaged and adjusted it.  The shocks switch hadn't made any difference.
Karl and Mike massage the A1-R Kawasaki front brake on Sprint #1
Friday, Walt and I agreed the front brake was better, if not brilliant.  In the 500 Premiere race, I led for several laps, but then Ari came by on his Sportsman CB350.  We got into a good dice and I stuffed him good going into the turn #9 chicane and he stuffed me good in turn #3A.  I got right on his tail through the turn #5 carousel and got a perfect draft, pulling around him approaching turn #7, only to find I was in way too deep/fast and I had to stand it up and go wide while he slipped underneath.  That effectively ended my chances and I finished a little over a third of a second behind.  We both did our fastest lap on the last lap, his 0.051 seconds faster than mine and my fastest lap was nearly 2 sec.s faster than I had gone the day before.
The Class 'C' race started well on the Velo and on the third lap, I went almost 0.2 sec.s faster than my fastest lap Thurs., but then the motor started misfiring at high RPMs.  I started short shifting, but the misfire was coming at lower and lower revs and less and less throttle.  Many of the people that I had passed, passed me back.  I started to wonder if I was going to finish.  But, it did keep running (barely), though if the first four hadn't lapped me, it might not have, and I had built enough of a lead that no one in my class caught me and I wasn't last off the track.  We surmised that the magneto must be failing.
On Gary Roper's '51 Velo MAC . Etech photo

Walt again won the 350GP again finishing 6th overall behind five modern 865cc Triumph Thruxtons.
So, despite many problems, it ended up being a very successful event.
One of the races that I especially enjoyed watching on Fri. was the Sound of Thunder 2, Open 2 Stroke, Battle of the Twins and Sound of Singles 2 race.  Ari Henning was riding his hot rodded CBR250R Honda in SoS 2 and Zack Courts was riding Luke Conner's Triumph Thruxton in BoT.  Ari's Honda now has a 300F crankshaft in it and has an overbore, so it a full 300.8cc, and it has a special top yoke so he can mount the clipons under it, but it doesn't change the geometry.  And, he runs slicks on stock wheels.  But, still, it's and humble entry level bike built to a price.  Ari and Zack got into a tremendous dice and Ari prevailed, beaten only by two SoT 2 848 Ducatis, and only the winner having a faster fastest lap, to me an amazing performance.  I often moan about 'theses kids now-a-days', but Ari and Zack are a couple of 'kids' who are superb racers, excellent journalist, and delightful people to spend time with.  I'm fortunate to call them my friends.
Tim Fowler's CB160.  Tim is arguably the founder of CB160 racing.  Google 'Fowlerformula'
Tim about to ride Jeff Scott's '47 GTP Velo
Jeff Scott's Velo Endurance

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Willow Springs

 I flew out to LAX to race at the 20th annual Corsa Motoclassica at Willow Springs on Mike Bungay's 350 H-D Sprint and Gary Roper's '51 Velocette MAC.  We had decided that there wasn't much to be gained from Fri. practice as I raced both of these bikes at Willow before, so we had a good baseline.
There is a sister bike to the Sprint, that's technically owned by Karl Engellener.  Karl does the motor work on both bikes and Mike does most of the chassis and body work on both bikes and they are a true team.  Walt Fulton III was to race 'Karl's' bike, designated #2 as it was built after the bike that I was racing, #1.  The two bikes are exactly alike except for thr forks, shocks, front brake, front tire tachometer, and primary gears.  #1 bike, that I was riding, had a new piston, valves, one guide, and an Avon AM 26 front tire, as the Dunlop KR 825 tire is no longer available.  Both bikes had a new exhaust port shape and were producing more power on the DYNO than ever before.
This is Karl Engellener's bike #2 which Walt Fulton III was riding.
Gary had been working on the Velo, too.  He moved the oil tank to the left side so that a longer intake tract could be used, which the DYNO showed broadened the power band.  He also made an additional heavy duty gearbox mount, put on new tires, replacing the Avon Speedmaster ribbed with an AM 26, and replaced the simple seat springs with mountain bike spring/shock units.
The Dyno liked the long intake tract and I liked the mountain bike spring/shock units on the seat.
Gary added an extra gearbox mount to keep things rigid and square
Willow was near it's miserable worst, with an overcast sky, cool to cold temperature and the wind just blowing like crazy.  This and the motor work required both bikes to be geared up from what we ran last time.  We had some trouble with the tach on Sprint #1, which just turned out to be the battery.
My first race was on the Velo in Class 'C', which was gridded behind 200GP.  The little 350 Velo was lined up with Beno Rodi on a 1939 BSA M-24 Goldstar, Fred Mork, on a 1939 500 Norton Manx, and Gary Swan on a 1953 500 Triumph T100C in the 11th and last row.  I got a good launch and didn't see any of my Class 'C' competitors again (except when lapping them).  I got to chase down a bunch of the 200GP bikes, finishing 6th overall out of the 26 starters.
Next up was my 'bump-up' race, riding the 350 Sprint in the 500 Premiere class, which was gridded first in front of 500GP and the second wave 500 Sportsman and Sound of Singles 2.  We had Ron Melton and Thadd Wolfe on 500 Manx Nortons, Kenny Cummings and Helmi Neiderer on Seeley        G-50s, Jeff Elings with a Matchless G-50 also in a special frame and me on a little ol' 350 Sprint.  I was third behind Kenny and Ron going into turn#1 and Thadd came by in turn #2.  Thadd went by Ron and was looking to make a move on Kenny in turn #4, the Omega, when he fell.  We continued down the hill and when I just started to crack the throttle in turn #5, I was down.  When I slid to a stop and got oriented, I realized that my bike was in and impact zone and I picked it up to move it away.  It was then that I saw the Kenny and Ron had also crashed.  Kenny was checking on Ron who was slow to get up  having three broken ribs and a fractured fibula as we were to learn later.  After a bit the red flags came out and we saw an ambulance coming, which I assumed was for Ron. But, the ambulance turned and headed beyond turn #6 out of our sight.  We later learned that was for Wendy Newton and Ralph Hudson in the SOS2 class in the second wave.  Ralph said that they saw the yellow flags and the debris on the track and slowed through the turn #5 area, but still had a slide, then figured that they were by the incident and time to resume racing.  Wendy opened the throttle and went sideways, first one way then the other before high siding.  Ralph had nowhere to go and hit her bike and was launched over the bars.  A third rider ran off the track avoiding them, and crashed in the dirt; seven riders down in less than half a lap.
Here's a link to Etech Photo's sequence of the opening lap:
In the 2nd photo you can see the dust from Thad crashing. In the 3rd photo, Thad's helmet at the very left.  In the 4th photo Thad standing; going to his fallen bike in the 5th and picking it up in the 6th.  In the 7th photo is Wendy Newton and Ralph Hudson from the 2nd wave, headed for disaster.
We quickly confirmed that the track was covered in oil.  It developed that a competitor in the following 350 GP race had taken a 'scrub' lap at the back of our warmup lap and the gearbox drain plug had fallen out of the bike.  The rider realized that something was wrong but, with no 'hot tech' at pit in, rode back to their pits.  It was a very awkward situation as this rider is very munched loved and respected, but made a very poor judgement and now Wendy had a broken radius and ulna in her wrist, three broken ribs and a broken vertebrae and was transported to the hospital, not to mention the trashed bikes.  The #1 Sprint had bent forks, bent footrest and mounting plate, broken windscreen and dirt in the inlet tract.
post crash.  While it doesn't look too bad from a distance, the forks were bent and there was dirt in the int. tract
Kenny's Seeley G-50 was worse with a bent fork, bent and/or broken motor mounts, likely bent swing arm, dented fuel tank, smashed fairing and windscreen and dirt in the inlet tract.

the belly pan of Kenny Cumming's Seeley G-50 after Saturday's crash
Neither of these bikes would run on Sun.  I didn't get a good look at Ron's, Ralph's, or Wendy's bikes, so I don't know how bad they were.  Ron left Sat. afternoon, Wendy was in the hospital, and Ralph was beat up enough that he didn't race on Sun.  Thadd was able to patch up the Manx and won the 500 Premiere race Sun.  Kenny and I had some bruises and abrasions, but nothing serious.
It was decided that I would ride Sprint #2 in the Formula 250 race, the last race of the day Sun., after Walt ran the 350 GP.  So, I practiced on it Sun. morning and, while slightly different than Sprint #1, was also excellent.
I again won the Class 'C' race on Gary's Velo and again chased some 200GP bikes, catching a dice between Mark Hunter and Ron Monsorius again finishing sixth overall.
Walt won the 350GP race again Sun., then I got on the bike for the Formula 250 race.  I had looked at the lap times from Saturday's race and seen that Dave Crussell had a best lap of a high 1:41.  My best lap in the morning practice was a 1:44, so I was resigned to racing for 2nd.  But, I got a good start and led to the approach to turn #8 when Crussell came by, on his 350 Kawasaki Bighorn. I followed closely and got underneath him in turn #4.  He drafted past.  I got a good draft on him and led again.  And so it went.  He seemed to have a little top speed advantage, but also had some shifting problems.  He was really good into turn #2; I thought that I had a bit of advantage in turns #4 & 9.  About the sixth lap, I made a really big effort in turn #9 to stay in Dave's draft down the front straight when I lowsided at easily 100 MPH.  But, it's not the speed that hurts you; it's the sudden stop.  And, there was no sudden stop.  I just tumbled for a while and collected more bruises.  Later, Karl discovered four broken spokes in the rear wheel; was that a factor?  Or, a gust of wind? Or, was I just pushing too hard?
In any case, both the bikes were crashed, my leathers and helmet beat up, and I was pretty sore.  The price of glory.  And, we planned to race again at Sonoma Raceway in three and a half days.
Once again, Yoshi Kosaka organized a bike show and some interesting machines showed up.
YDS-3 Yamaha
the owner claimed this Goldstar was inspired by a Velo Thruxton.  The fuel tank, I guess
An AJS Stormer M/X bike turned  road racer
An RZ 500 Yamaha done up in GP livery
Roger Reiman's H-D KRTT, owned by Fred Mork
A nice Norton International
Virgil Eling's Gilera four