Sunday, October 15, 2017

2017 Race Record

In 2017, I raced in 13 events at 12 different venues.  I entered 46 races and started 44 of them on nine different bikes owned by five different people, including myself.  I had four DNFs, one of which was a crash, and two practice crashes, for a total of three which seems to be my average.  I had 29 firsts, 6 seconds, 7 thirds and one each fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.  I won AHRMA's 350GP and 500 Premiere Championship.  In AHRMA's 350GP class, I had 13 wins, 2 seconds, a third and DNS in the 17 races that I entered.  In the 500 Premiere class, I 'won' both days at Roebling Road when I was the only entrant.  At Sonoma, Andrew Mauk won both days against token opposition while I was in the same races, but in a different class, starting behind, but finishing well ahead on Andrew both days.  At Gingerman, Andrew was 1st both days and I was 3rd and 2nd.  At Road America, Andrew was 2nd and 1st, while I was 5th and 3rd.  Andrew didn't go to New Jersey M/S Park, but I won both days against somewhat more credible opposition than he had at Sonoma.  At Utah M/S Campus, I beat Andrew both days, Sat. by 0.010 seconds, Sun. by 0.217 seconds, two excellent races.  At Barber, Andrew won decisively and I was third.  But, Andrew was denied the chance to beat me again as Sunday's racing was canceled.  If we had raced on Sunday, if Andrew won he would have won the championship.  If he finished 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, I would have had to win to win the championship and if he finished 5th (i.e. finished the first lap, as there were only 5 starters) I would have had to finish 1st or 2nd to win the championship.  Points and championships are arbitrary and therefore don't mean much, but the satisfaction I had racing with Andrew, win or lose, means a lot.

Barber Vintage Festival

For the finale of this year's racing season, the Barber Vintage Festival, which I read somewhere claimed to be the second largest motorsports event in the country, I entered 200GP on the Dennis Latimer tuned CT1 Yamaha, and 350GP and 500 Premiere on my H-D Sprint ERTT.

Dave Ecker's CT1 Yamaha, built and tuned by Dennis Latimer
Unfortunately it seized in Friday practice and didn't race.  Dennis promises a DT1 based 250 for next year
I got to Barber Thursday afternoon and got set up, pitting between Dennis and crew and Juan Bulto and crew and got the bikes through scrutineering.
My TC200 Suzuki and ERTT racer
That evening, I went to Rusty's BBQ in Leeds with Canadians Doug MacRae and Herb Becker and introduced them to fried okra.
Friday, I went out on the CT1 first.  It seemed close though was a little reluctant to rev at the top.  We looked at the plug and, if anything, it looked rich, but we decided to leave it.  My ERTT also seemed close in the first session.
In the second round of practice, on the 3rd lap while approaching 11K rpm in 5th gear the motor slowed a bit, I clutched it and the it stopped abruptly.  It had indeed seized.  One theory is leaking crank seal.  The cylinder wasn't bad, but the piston was and they had no spare.  The bike was parked and I scratched from the 200GP class.
I put a new sparkplug in the ERTT to get a reading on jetting.  But, I stalled the motor going out pit out and couldn't push start it after a couple of attempts and had to walk it back to the starter rollers.  I finally got out on the track and almost immediately the red flag was thrown, so I got no plug chop.  It was already clear the rain was coming before the weekend was out and the question was when.  Paul Germain told me that his weather sources indicated that it would be raining by 1p Sat.  So I decided to change my front tire during Saturday's lunch break.  I had a Continental ClassicAttack front tire, which I had proved to myself didn't work in the wet when I crashed on a damp track at New Jersey M/S Park in July.  I asked Juan Bulto if he had ever raced on the Conti tire in the wet and he said he hadn't and that people in Spain agreed that they were no good in wet conditions.  Al and Dave Hollingsworth helped me change the tire to a new Avon AM26.  As I was finishing up re-installing the wheel, a fellow in a shirt with a Continental logo came up and I explained what I was doing and why.  He suggested that the 90/90 X 18 tire that I had been using wasn't a race compound as I had thought, but rather a 'high performance' street tire.  He said that the smallest tire available in the race compound was 100/90 X 18.  He got Buff Harsh of Todd Henning Racing, a Conti dealer, to stop by and Buff confirmed what I had been told.  Buff suggested that while the first versions of the race tire maybe weren't so good in the wet, the new ones were OK.  But, 100/90 X 18 is too big for my WM 2 rim, so I'm sticking with the Avon.
After I changed the front tire and put in a bigger main jet.
I went out in the 3rd practice session and scrubbed in the new tire and got a plug chop which indicated the jetting was lean and I went up a jet size. In the final practice session, the motor started running poorly as I went out on the track and died as I was approaching turn #5.  I realize at the last moment that I had forgotten to turn on the fuel.  Luckily, there is a  a connector road between Turn #5  and the back straight after the turn #10 chicane and I was able to bump start the motor with the help of a corner worker on our second try and re-enter the track.  I passed Jon Munns on his 350 Sportsman Honda, he passed me back, and I chased him for a while.  This was just what I needed to step up the pace and get my head right.  Again, the plug looked lean and consulting Peter Politiek, Sn., I went up another jet size.
Changing the main jet.  Matthew Jones photo
Sunday dawned cloudy but dry.  The scheduled had been altered with the Pro Sound of Thunder money race moved from Sun. to Sat. and people were speculating that racing might be canceled Sun. as Hurricane Nate was heading for the Gulf coast.  The 350GP race was the second of the day and I started on the pole as I was leading the points (and, in fact, had cinched the championship some time before).  350 Sportsman was gridded behind us in the second wave and Novice Production Heavyweight in the third wave.  I nailed the start and led into turn #1.  A bit after halfway through the first lap, the red flag came out as there had been a start line crash in the 2nd or 3rd wave.  After what seemed like an interminable delay, we went out for a 2nd warm-up lap.
After the red flag on the pre-grid waiting for the re-start.  George Roulson photo
I again got a good start, but Jack Parker on his DT-1 Yamaha got a better one and led in turn #1 and went right to the curb in turn #2 to block and chance of me getting underneath him.  This only postponed the inevitable as I out braked him into turn #5 and pulled away.  Later, Jack's exhaust pipe broke and he faded back.  Peter Politiek, Jr., riding Ed Sensenig's 350 Ducati, passed Paul Germain for second but then the piston came apart and he didn't finish.  In turn #11 on the last lap, Taylor Miller came by from the 350 Sportsman class with Rich Midgely chasing him.  Taylor apparently has little race experience and was riding John Miller's CB350 Honda, while John took a break from racing after a recent crash and head injury.  Germain ended up 2nd almost 13 seconds behind with Alex McLean, in his first race on a newly acquired short stroke Drixton Aermacchi, was a further nearly 18 seconds behind Paul's DT1 Yamaha.  Alex told me that he was still learning about the Aermacchi and there was more to be had, so he could be a real challenge next year.  Finally, the jetting looked good and I left it for the 500 Premiere race.  
I came to Barber leading the 500 Premiere Championship, having scored all my points on a 350 Sprint.  This says less about my brilliance as a rider than the poor participation in the class.  Participation in the older classes in general seems to be falling as rider/owners get older, and in the 500 classes in particular as they are 'Balkanized' with 500 Premiere, 500GP, Formula 500, 500 Sportsman, and Classic 60s.  The classes need to be consolidated, with 500GP particularly silly, as it is almost identical to 500 Premiere.  Anyway, only Andrew Mauk or I could win the Championship and I thought my chances were an extreme longshot as, even though I led the points, AHRMA only counts the best ten finishes and I already had ten while Andrew only had eight.  Therefore, I would have to better my one 5th place and 3rd place to gain any points while any point that Andrew scored would add to his total.  And, my chance of beating him (or Wes Orloff, for that matter) was remote.  But, one never knows and I was going to make him work for it.  We were in the second wave behind the Bears and ahead of the third wave Formula 500s.  Andrew was on a mission and led from the start with Wes 2nd and me 3rd.  I expected that Ron Melton and Helmi Niederer would challenge me, but it never happened.  We started catching some Bears bikes and then Tyler Waller came by on his Honda and Dean Singleton on his Yamaha from the F-500 class.  So, Andrew won the class and I was third and then it was announce that Sunday's racing was canceled.  Andrew asked Race Director Cindy Cowell if double points would be awarded for Saturday results as was done at Talladega when Sunday racing was canceled.  She replied "Absolutely not".  Therefore, Andrew thought that I had won the Championship, while  I thought that he had.  But, when I sat down and did the math, Andrew was right: I ended up with 8935 points and he with 8505.  Andrew told me that he came to Barber thinking that only an 'act of god' would keep him from winning the Championship, but that's what happened.  Andrew and the bike's owner/tuner, Keith Leighty, were extremely gracious with the results and I hope I made it clear to them that I love racing with them and that points and championships are extremely arbitrary and therefore don't mean much.
Keith Leighty's trailer/workshop almost packed and ready to go home to El Paso.
Some rain did come after the 500 Premiere race and several people did fall down, including John Ellis, a guy who almost never crashes, but he was on Continental tires.  The rain stopped and the final races were run in dry conditions and I was able to get packed up and eat some fish tacos with Andrew Keith, Wes and friends before it started raining again and I headed out to visit friends in Savannah.  
Pitted opposite me was this 1938 R-17 BMW, I'm told one of the rarest.

The bike seemed totally original and unrestored except for the exhaust pipes and mufflers

Stu Carter's recently acquired Bultaco TSS replica

An RD400 based racer under construction

An H-1 Kawasaki drag bike with after market (homemade?) cylinder heads
Wes Goodpasters 650 Norton which he used to win the the Classic 60s 650 class and finish 4th in Bears
A fellow asked me if he could take some photos, to which I said sure.  He's a pro: Matthew Jones  photo

Matthew Jone photo.  I've added a link to his web site on my links list

Saturday, October 14, 2017

USCRA's 2017 Fall Giro

This year's Fall Giro was based in Tannersville, Pa., in the Poconos.  In 2014, we had a Giro base in the same place, but it was disrupted by police searching for a fugitive who had shot a cop and was at large, therefore roads were shut down and routes had to be changed.  The a big Walmart truck went over a little bridge and damaged it and routes had to be changed again.  So, this year's promised to be a clean run, especially since the weather was as good as it's been on any Giro; sunny and mid 80's with a light breeze.
I brought my '68 TC 200 Suzuki and my 'problem child', Laurence Deguillme, came with me.  Laurence had not been able to finish his 160 Ducati and was therefore borrowing a CA 77 Honda.
Laurence's CA77, Doug sitting on his Benelli, Pete ready to get on his T-20 Suzuki and Dave's Matchless
My TC 200 in the foreground, Pete's T-20 behind, Doug and his Benelli on the left and Dave's Matchless G2 in the back.
Sat., after our initial agility test, we headed initially southwest, then turned northeast and eventually crossed into N.Y. at Barryville.  Along the way, a bear jumped out of high grass and Mike Tomany hit it with his Puch Allstate and crashed.  Mike broke his scapula and a rib which punctured his lung. When I got there, Mike was laying in the road, but several people had stopped and I didn't see what I could do to help, so I carried on.  Mike's son, Aaron, was following and witnessed the whole incident,  then accompanied his dad to the hospital.
We only went a few miles in N.Y. along the Delaware River and, after a time check that didn't happen because of Mike's accident, we crossed back into Pa. via the Roebling Bridge.  This was the high point of my day as I'm a big fan of the Roeblings and their bridges.  This particular one is the oldest surviving Roebling bridge, the oldest suspension bridge in the country, and was originally an aqueduct for the Delaware and Hudson Canal.  That is, it carried the canal over the Delaware River.  Now the canal is gone and it's a roadway.  It's a National Historic Landmark and has been fully restored by the National Park Service.
The Roebling Bridge
It used cables attached to a huge chain that connect to an anchor deep in the ground
What was once a canal over a river is now a roadway.
Reading the sign explaining the cable/chain system revealed opposite.
From the Roebling Bridge we headed west about 18 miles to lunch at Rusty Palmer, a huge Honda/Bombardier dealer in Honesdale, which made it 99.5 miles from our start.  Laurence had been having big problems with the 305 Dream.  It would run well for a while then run poorly and he would let it sit for a while and it would run OK again for a while.  He associated this with a quick disconnect he had in the 'crossover' hose that kept coming partially apart.  He was able to get some hose at the dealership and I helped him eliminate the disconnect without spilling too much gas.
After lunch, we headed south and after a while I caught up to the Cotter clan.  Brothers Tommy and Danny Cotter are long time Giroistas and over the years more of their sons/nephews and friends have joined in the fun.  They're all characters and ride with brio on interesting bikes (or, in Tommy's case, sometimes scooters).  I gradually worked my way through them and was leading when I just overshot a turn in Newfoundland that I saw at the last minute.  I made a U-turn, but they, being not far behind, saw where to turn and we all entered the dirt Creamery Rd. at about the same time.  Tommy turned into a parking lot immediately before the road and cut across the grass to short cut the corner, but I just caught out of the corner of my eye that he was encountering a culvert and laying his X-6 Suzuki down at maybe 5 mph.  I chuckled to myself about the irrepressible Tommy and was back leading again.  Later, I learned that further on Tommy, Danny, and one of their son/nephews were chasing their friend and entered a corner, by one account three abreast, and didn't make it, the three of them running off the road and crashing.  Apparently, Tommy broke a femur and lost the end of a finger.  Danny initially refused treatment when the ambulance came but, as soon as it left, reconsidered.  Turns out he had a broken T-6 vertebrae.  They both ended up in a Morristown, N.J. hospital (one by helicopter) to be closer to their Bayonne home.
Somewhere on Promised Land Rd., my bike went on reserve.  I didn't know if there was any fuel before I got back to base, but figured my best chances were to stay on Rt 447 rather than do an almost 10 mile loop on Snow Hill and Laurel Run Roads which came back to Rt 447.  I learned later that on a steep downhill on the marbly, dirt Laurel Run Rd., Harry Elliot locked the front brake on his Ducati and crashed, breaking his leg.  All this carnage is highly unusual.  While it's not unknown for someone to crash on a Giro, there have probably been only a couple of broken bones in the 13 Giros the USCRA  has put on, so four riders in one day is unheard of.  The only explanation I have other than random chance is that the weather was too nice.
I didn't find any fuel on Rt. 447, nor Rt.191.  At Rt. 715, I encountered Pete Swider, also on his X-6 Suzuki, and he was having problems which he thought might be low fuel related.  So, we carried on in extreme economy mode.  Three miles from the end we finally found fuel.  I never knew that my bike would do 26 miles on reserve. A 175 mile day.
Sat. eve, at the banquet dinner, Mike Gontesky was the MC.  Plenty of people were thanked for stepping up and going out to fetch broken down bikes.  One group didn't get back until 9p.  There was plenty of swag that was handed out for door prizes.
Mike Gontesky's Aermacchi Chimera. He didn't ride it in the Giro; just brought it to show it off
They were ahead of their time--not a sales success, but who wouldn't want one now?
Sun. morning, we headed south and west,  then north and west on a dirt road.  Back on pavement, we turned onto a road that seemed familiar to me.  After a while, I realized that this was the road to Pocono Raceway.  I hadn't raced at Pocono since 1984 and I think the last time that I had been there was to spectate at Formula USA race in maybe the early '90s.  Despite the fact that Pocono is perhaps my least favorite race track, I did feel a bit nostalgic passing by it.
From there we went through White Haven, then across the Francis Walter Dam, which was fairly spectacular.  Back to Blakeslee, then a bit of dirt road and on to Pocono Lake and Pocono Pines, through Little Summit and back to Chateau Resort for lunch for a 82.5 mile morning.
About 3 miles into the afternoon run, I stopped for fuel.  I had a really hard time starting the bike and after kicking and kicking, I finally push started it.  For the rest of the afternoon, the Suzuki ran poorly.  I don't usually by the 'bad gas' theory and anyway, that wouldn't make it hard to start as the fuel in the float bowls was from the previous tank.  Did I have a leaking crank seal?  We headed south and west, through Neola, then back north through Reeders, then Tannersville and back to base at Chateau Resorts for a 44.9 mile afternoon.  300 miles of great roads in fabulous warm, sunny weather.
When I got home, I checked the points and timing, pulled the exhaust pipes off, took the carbs apart and didn't find anything but sprayed through the jets.  I took the baffles out of the mufflers and they weren't clogged up, but I put the torch to them anyway.  I put it all back together and it runs great.  No smoking gun, but sometime you just have to take them apart and look at them so they know that you care.  Ah, the joys of owning an old stink wheel.
Volunteers Amy Roper and Shana with her new husband Eli Kirtz in his Swedish Army uniform
Robert Fuller's '49? Airone
Team MotoGeezer may have to change it's name as this is some of the fresh blood riding with them this time.
How not to do an agility test--a TC250 knocks over cones