Saturday, April 7, 2018

Carolina Motorsports Park 2018

At the previous race at Roebling Road, sound testing was conducted and my bike was one of many that were deemed too loud.  I had been through this with my other Sprint in California at Sonoma  Raceway and Karl Engellennner fitted a Cone Engineering muffler megaphone and we were impressed with how much it cut the noise.  And, while dyno testing showed it knock a tiny bit off of peak power, it gained a lot in midrange.  So, I got one of these for my ERTT and hoped it would do the same for this motor.  While I haven't had it on the dyno, it definitely cut the noise and seemed to pull from lower revs and be strong in the mid range.
The Cone Engineering muffler I fitted to my ERTT
1st practice I started to re-familiarize myself with the circuit when, on the 2 lap, the motor died coming out of turn #7.  I pulled off and found that the ground lead had pulled off my AGM battery with push terminals.  Luckily, this was at a place with quite a wide, downhill grass verge and I was able to push the lead back on and bump start the motor well off the track surface, then re-enter the track with a good sight line to oncoming traffic.  I got in another 3 1/2 laps with the bike working well and the gearing good..  I checked the plug and realized that it couldn't tell me much as it was well used, so I put in a new one.  While doing this, Scott Dell asked me if I wanted to take his Vincent Comet out for a spin.  He had broached the subject at Roebling Road four weeks earlier when I had admired his bike.  The only Vincent I had ever ridden was a twin on the road more than 30 years earlier.  I immediately took a liking to the Comet.  I had asked Scott what the redline was and he said 5-5500 rpm, but the tack was marked 5000 so that's what I used and it pulled well.  It had good brakes and steered well.  I didn't get much time to get into it as we got a red flag when somebody crashed and he and the bike were right in the impact zone.  This was one of an inordinate number of crashes and red flags we were to get over the weekend.  Fellow Comet racer David Tomkins followed me out on the track and later told me he got a lot out following my lines.  He finished ahead of Scott both days, winning the Class C foot shift class on Sunday.
My 2nd practice was red flagged on the out lap when my problem child, Stu Carter, high sided in turn #4 and was hit by John Jewett's Triumph Thruxton when he couldn't avoid him.  Stu was quite beat up; no broken bones but possible ligament damage in a knee and the other knee, heel, hip and hand very sore.  In no shape to race, Stu headed home that afternoon.  Another arch nemesis and good friend, Jack Parker, had crashed starting his 2nd lap of practice and his hand was very swollen and he also decided not to race.
The practice session resumed and my motor started to stumble as we entered turn #4 and I realize that I hadn't turned the fuel on.  I was able to turn it on before the motor died completely and was able to carry on and put in 4 laps.  As at Roebling Road and Barber last year, the new plug showed no color even though I was running as big a main jet as I had ever used.  I took the plug to the Hall brothers, Jake and Rob, of Hall Custom Vintage.  Rob thought he could see a little ring of color at the very bottom of the insulator, but though it was on the edge and advise me to go up at least a jet size.  I went from a 182 to a 185 and raised the needle a notch.
Rob Hall reads my plug while Jake gets ready to go out on their Bonneville. Julianne Johnson photo
The HCV Triumph Bonneville that the Hall bros. run in Classic 60s 650
This is the HCV Goldstar the brothers run in Classic 60s.  Several years ago, they converted it from plunger rear suspension to rigid to improve the handling!

My first race was my bump-up class 500 Premiere.  I was the only entrant in the class and on pole with 500GP gridded behind me in the first wave, Sportsman 750 and Formula 500 in the 2nd wave and Vintage Superbike Lightweight and Novice Production Heavyweight in the 3rd wave.  I got a good start and led overall for more than a lap, then Alex McLean came by on his 500 Manx Norton.  Next by was Nick Hargis on an XS650 based 750 Sportsman bike from the 2nd wave, who went on to pass Alex and finish 1st overall.  Nick's dad, Jeff, was next to come by also on a XS650 base Sportsman bike.  Finally, Danny Miller came by on his RD 400/TR3 Yamaha, but his bike seized on the last lap and he pulled off at the kink on the back straight.  So, I was 4th overall, with probably had about the 10th quickest fastest lap, but I was happy with that as I was probably on the smallest bike in the race.
My 2nd race was the 350GP, gridded behind Bears in the 1st wave with 500 Sportsman and Vintage Superbike Lightweight in the 2nd wave.  I muffed the start a bit and several 350GP bikes were ahead of me going into turn #1, but I passed them all, the last being Alex McLean on a short stroke, 6 speed, Drixton Aermacchi, by turn #7, and chased three Bears bikes.  The race was shortened from 8 to 6 laps due to previous delays from a bunch of red flags, including an air lift to the hospital for John Miller.  Dan May won the overall on his 750 BMW with Stan Keyes, 750 Norton 2nd, and Clay Land 3rd on a 750 Triumph.  I was 4th over all and 1st 350GP with the 4th fastest lap of the race.
Sunday was similar in results and with way too many crashes and red flags.  We just had one round of practice and my sparkplug still looked lean and I put in the biggest jet I own, a 190 as I don't have a 187.  Again, I got a good start in the 500 Premiere class and this time Alex McLean didn't come by.  In fact, apparently he pulled off after 2 laps.  And again, Nick Hargis came by first, then his dad Jeff and I was 3rd overall.
Before the 350GP race, Alex McLean crashed his Classic 60s Norton Manx and apparently the following rider's foot rest hit his helmet.  This knocked Alex out and he was airlifted to the hospital.
So, I had one less competitor in the 350GP and I chased the same three Bears bikes, though they finish in a completely different order with Stan Keyes winning, Clay Land 2n,and Dan May 3rd.  I finished some 11 seconds behind Dan.
I have no explanation of why there were so many crashes.  The track seemed fine to me.  People have suggested that it was the full moon and I have no better reason.  The word is that both riders who were airlifted are going to be alright.
While my lap times weren't as quick Sun. as Sat., which I put down to different wind direction and strength, they were still faster than I went last year at CMP.  That quite possibly is due to the muffler, though I also had a fresh rear tire, where as last year the tire was very worn.
John Rickard's 500 Norton Dominator which he got from Stan Friduss who raced it in the 1965 USGP at Daytona.  Notice the G-50 Matchless front brake.

I don't know anything about it, but I thought it was striking and assume from the 'RZ 421', trick heads and clutch and the beautiful expansion chamber that it must be potent
Pitted across from me was Mike Platt who had blown up his ZX7 so 'threw together' this S-2 350 Kawasaki triple in 6 weeks.
Aleksey Kravchuk's beautiful 1937 Mk VII KTT Velocette
The Hollingsworth's line up of lightweight H-Ds .  #73m is a 165cc that Jere Masters raced in 1965 in the Sportsman races at Daytona.  He took the riders school and raced it at CMP-- the same bike and rider 53 years later!