Thursday, June 28, 2018

Corsa Motoclassica 2018

I went from Oklahoma City to just short of Albuquerque and visited an old friend, Hurley Wilvert, a factory Kawasaki and Suzuki rider from the 70's.  Hurley and I got to talking about injuries, as old racers do, and he mentioned breaking his ribs with his elbow.  The light bulb went off in my head.  I couldn't understand how I had hurt my back when I fell at Hallett, but the elbow made perfect sense.  When I tucked the front end, my elbow would be cocked holding the clip-on and the plastic elbow cup in the leathers would land in the upper side/back and transfer all the weight to a small area.
I arrive at Willow Springs Fri. and Gary Roper had already set up in the garage with Karl Engellenner arriving in the afternoon.  In Gary's first practice on his Indian, the front wheel locked while braking down from the Omega and he fell, breaking his collar bone.  He went to the hospital in Lancaster and I picked him up mid day.  With him out for the weekend, his Velocette MAC was available and I readily agreed to race it.
Gary Roper's '51 Velocette MAC
Karl arrived with his and my ex-Mike Bungay Aermacchis and we unloaded and set up the garage.  I had my ERTT there also, which I didn't intend to ride, but was there for backup.
My original ex-works ERTT in foreground, my ex-Mike Bungay Aermacchi behind, and Karl's Aermacchi behind that.
Walt Fulton, III arrived Sat. morning and in his first practice on Karl's Aermacchi, fell and did minor damage to the bike and himself.
Walt Fulton III getting ready to race my ERTT (left) after Karl's Aermachi broke it's gearbox
In his 2nd practice, his gearbox broke.  The bikes use a modified street 5spd. gearbox, with an aftermarket 5th gear set, which brings the first 4 gears closer to 5th, making a good set of racing ratios.  It was one of these after market gears that failed, which was quite disappointing as we've had this problem before and Karl found a new source for the gearset; but apparently no more reliable.
 My practices had gone fine and I told Walt to race my ERTT.  We took a guess at the gearing  and put Walt's number on the bike.
My first race was on the MAC in Class C foot shift in the 2nd wave behind F-250, 200GP, and Historic Production Lightweight and ahead of Class C hand shift.  The Velo ran great and I was able to pass both of the Prod LW.s and 9 of the 200GPs to finish 13th overall and 1st in class.
Walt did a scrub lap on my ERTT to get familiar with it as he got no practice on it, though he had ridden it many years before in a parade lap at Daytona.
For the 350GP race, we were gridded in the front with Vintage Superbike Lightweight behind us in the first wave and 350 Sportsman, Classic 60s and Classic 60's 650 in the 2nd wave.  I got into a great dice with Pete Homan on his VSL BMW.  He had a little acceleration  on me and I had top speed on him, being on a narrow bike with a fairing and he having two cylinders sticking out in the breeze.  We went back and forth several times.  Then we came upon a back marker in turn #8.  Pete went to the outside of the lapee and I was to the outside of Pete.  It seemed that Pete moved over into me as maybe the lapee moved over towards him, or maybe the brutal wind blew him my way or blew me his way.  But, anyway the front of my fairing contacted  the rear of Petes bike and I ricocheted off the track at what certainly had to be over 100 mph.  I held it up for a while, trying to scrub off speed, but then went sky/ground/sky/ground/sky/ground.  It's not the speed, but he sudden stop that hurts you, and I had no sudden stop and was virtually unhurt.  The bike however, was a bit dinged up.
crushed Cone Engineering muffler
bent right clip-on, in addition to broken fairing and windscreen and dirt in the motor.
My crash allowed Walt to win the 350GP race on my bike and finish 4th overall behind two VSL bikes and one 350 Sportsman.
There was one race between this and the last race of the day, the 500 Premiere race and we quickly took Walt's numbers off the ERTT so I could race it.
The race was all one wave with the Motards in front of 500 Premiere and  500GP, Historic Prod. H.W. and 250GP behind.  I rode an uneventful, somewhat subdued race to finish 2nd in class behind Jeff Elings on a G-50 Matchless and 4th overall with the Motard winning overall and Jim Neuenburg, on  Fred Mork's KRTT Harley between me and Jeff.  My arch  nemesis and good friend Andrew Mauk ran out of gas on Keith Lieghty's CB450 Honda based Premiere bike.
Sunday, the wind was even more brutal than the typically windy Will-blow Springs.  I just  did one short practice on each bike.
In the Class C foot/hand shift race, I got into a duel with Ralph Wessel on his Indian.
Ralph Wessell's Indian Scouts
He had a little motor on me, but I could close up in the corners.  On the fifth lap of the 6 lap race, I was finally able to get underneath Ralph in the turn #5 downhill left after the Omega.  The track then goes to the right and over a rise onto the back straight.  I would shift into 4th right at the peak of the rise, making the front end light.  This is also where one would be exposed to the incredible wind coming out of the shadow of the hill behind the Omega.  This put the bike into a horrendous tank slapper that I couldn't save.  I got pitched over the front of the bike, with the bike then landing on top of me and grinding my right knee into the pavement and then the dirt.  When I finally came to a stop, the bike was on my left ankle and my right leg was hung up on something on top of the bike and it took me a long while to get out from under it.
The Velo MAC post crash
The race was redflagged and the ambulance came and picked me up.  We were able to get my tattered leathers off without cutting them.  I had a very, very deep abrasion/laceration just inboard and above my right knee cap.  The EMT asked if I wanted pain meds and I initially said 'let's wait, the endorphins are kicking in'.  But, when we got on Rosamond Blvd., I thought that they are going to really have to scrub this wound and I'm definitely going to need the opioids.  So, they put some fentanyl  in the I.V. drip.  15 minutes later, as we were arriving at the hospital, they gave me another dose of fentanyl.  In the emergency room, they did CAT scans and X-rays, which confirmed that I had a minimally displaced fracture of the left 8th rib from the Hallett crash, but no new fractures.  Then they gave me some morphine and injecting Lidocaine around the knee.  Then they gave me some more morphine and started scrubbing.  The nurse told me to 'breath in through your nose and out through your mouth', which she had been taught in labor.  It was still pretty intense.  When they were quite sure that they got the wound clean, the started stitching me up at two different depths.  They bandaged me up, gave me some antibiotics and oxycodone, some crutches and discharged me.  Gary Roper picked me up at the hospital that I had picked him up from two days before.  He took me to the motel in Lancaster at which AHRMA was having there board meeting the next day.  Monday, Mabel Haynes borrowed Luke Conner's rental car and drove me to the track, where my van had already been loaded by Lou Lebland, Kevin Burns and Art Kowitz and I was pleased to find that I could actually drive it, albeit with frequent stops to rest and elevate the knee.  So, I carried on with my original itinerary up the coast visiting friends and then back via I-80.
So, within 8 days, I had three days of racing and I crashed each day.  Not good.  I average about 3 crashes a year and this year I did that in 8 days.  I hope that means that I'm done crashing for the year.
We weren't the only ones to have problems at Willow as these thoroughly broken crankcase  from a British  twin show

a side view of the broken crankcases
Steve Arnett's 750SS Ducati upon which he won the F-750 class each day.
Virgil Elings had a very interesting twin cam 250 Moto Guzzi in what looks like a Norton featherbed chassis
it has a small outside flywheel
looks like a crankcase repair from a thrown rod
Sears Allstate Puch and Kawasaki G-3 90cc pit bikes

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hallett 2018

It's been ages since I've updated the blog for reasons that I'll explain later.
For many years, AHRMA held their race at Willow Springs back-to-back with a race at Sears Point, aka Sonoma Raceway.  For 2018, apparently Sonoma Raceway decided that they wanted to do something else with that weekend, so AHRMA held a race at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit in Oklahoma the week before the Willow Springs event.  I had always flown out to Ca. for the back-to-back races and raced bikes that lived on the west coast.  But this year, I decided to drive out.  I hadn't driven across the country in ages and I had heard good things about the Hallett circuit.  I had raced the CT1 Yamaha built by Dennis Latimer, from Oklahoma City, several times at Barber and NOLA, and he was keen to race it without having to drive thousands of miles.
Dennis Latimer on one of his creations, a superb 175 Yamaha
 Dennis brought two almost identical CT1s and I tried them both in Friday practice.
The first had no tachometer and the suspension felt stiff and the front brake wooden.  The second CT1 had nicer suspension, but the motor felt more peaky and was geared too tall.  I went to go out on my H-D ERTT, but the end pulled off the throttle cable that I had just made.  Denny Poneleit and Paul Germain repaired it for me with silver solder and I was able to get out for the last practice and confirm that my gearing was too tall.
Sat. We had no on track activities because of rain. Not thunder and lightning, not a hurricane, just rain. The AHRMA rule book says “every attempt will be made to race in the rain”, but the wimps canceled the race because of rain. We sat around all day smoozing and watching the MotoGP qualifying and the first MotoAmerica race from COTA.
Sun., we got back on the track and I start to pickup the subtitles of the track.  Hallett is a short circuit (1.8 miles), but is challenging with 10 turns, a couple of which are blind, and a good deal of elevation change.
Dennis and I settled on which bike to race.  I finished the first round of practice and decided to lower my gearing again on the ERTT.  I went out for the second round of practice on the CT1 and on the second corner of my out lap, I lost the front end and fell on the slowest corner of my he track.  I guess I just hadn't let the tire warm up enough.  It seemed like a nothing crash with no damage to the bike, but my left pinkie got trapped under the handlebar and got torn up a bit.  Also, I was sore on my left upper back/side.  Later, I decided that I had at least cracked a rib.
The bike and I got quickly picked up and I was able to finish the gearing change on the ERTT.  I did several laps in the second round of practice and decided the gearing was very close.

The 200GP race was my first and we were gridded behind the sole 500GP entry and in front of Class C foot and hand shifters and Novice Production Lightweight.   I was 2nd going into turn #1 and leading going into turn #2, which I took very carefully.  I then led the field for the next 5 laps, but I could hear a four stroke close behind each time going into turn #2.  I had to go around a lapped rider in the last turn of the penultimate lap and didn’t get a great drive.  Then after taking the white flag, I went through turn #1 a gear too tall and Joe Koury Jr. came by on the run down to turn #2. I was able to out accelerate Joe into turn #4 easily and held him off by nearly 2/3rds of a second at the checkered flag, but he must have been really pushing on his 175 Honda, as I had a lot of power on him.  Our last lap was the quickest for both of us, with Joe’s more than a 1/4 second faster than mine, but I guess I started the lap more than that ahead of him.
A couple of races later there were several races with red flags, and an inspection of the track was made.  There were a few spots where water was seeping up through cracks in the surface and someone was claiming that the wind was causing ice to form there.  I think this was preposterous as the air temp was in the 50’s.  Eventually, what was decided was to have a sighting lap in addition to our warmup lap, and the races were left at full distance
Several races later was the 350GP race.  The 350s were gridded in front of Sportsman 500 and Formula 500 in the first wave and Vintage Superbike lightweight and Novice Production Heavyweight.  I think I was in the lead before the 1st turn and was never passed.  My fastest lap was the last, as it should be, but Pete Homan in VSL had the fastest lap of the race.
I had tracked down an old high school classmate who lives in Oklahoma City and he came out to the track Sun.  He helped me load up, as by this time that rib was starting to be a bit painful.  From the track, I followed Mark to his home in Oklahoma City and spent the night with him and his wife.  In the morning Mark gave me a bit of a tour of Oklahoma City, which I found to be a bit of a revelation.
Paul Germain cruises by on his beautiful TA 125 replica pit bike.
Jason Roberts rode his period correct TD-2 Yamaha and his son, Colton, rode a replica ERTT H-D
Joe Green, on the left, is a super fan and comes all the way from England to spectate at U.S. vintage events, here with Dennis Latimer
Dennis brought his 350 Ducati, last raced by Robert Bryson, which he's threatening to get back on the track.