Saturday, March 23, 2019

AHRMA Roebling Road 2019

The 2019 vintage road racing season began as is traditional with the first AHRMA round at Roebling Road Raceway in Bloomingdale, Ga., near Savannah.  I arrived Fri., 22 Feb., set up my pit and heat cycled the motor on my ERTT H-D Sprint, but didn't practice.
Darleen Drehmel photo
 I did a lot of deferred maintenance over the winter.  Bill Himmelsbach went through the motor and replaced the rings and wrist pin, got the cylinder liner Nikasil plated, put in a bigger exhaust valve for better seat contact, trued the crank and replaced the gearbox mainshaft which had started to fret.  I sent the brakes to Vintage Brakes and had the shoes relined (which had last been done in 1983).  I replaced the fork seals and swing arm bushings, and had the rear shocks rebuilt.  When I greased the swing arm after replacing the bushings, I discovered a crack and welded it up.  And, my friend Steve D'Angelo repaired and painted the fairing.
Saturday was a bit cooler than Friday's mid 80's, but still very nice, probably mid 70's.  I spent the first practice breaking in the fresh rings and bore, and the new brake linings, and picked up the pace in the 2nd practice and the bike seemed to run very well.  The 350GP was the 2nd race of the day and we were gridded in the 1st wave with 350 Sportsman being the 2nd wave.  Alex McLean got the jump at the start on his Drixton Aemacchi, but then missed the 1st to 2nd shift and I got ahead and led into turn #1 and stayed in 1st into the 7th lap, though I could hear a bike close behind.
Leading the field exiting turn#4.  #122 Alex McLean, #950 Don Hollingsworth, #2 Jonathan Hollingsworth.  Etech Photo
 Alex came around me exiting turn #4 on the 7th lap and I followed him onto the front straight and drafted by him  fairly easily after taking the white flag starting the last lap.  I was a bit surprised how easily I motored by him, as I think of his bike as very fast, and wonder if he had rolled off a bit in some kind of last lap strategy.  But, we came upon some backmarkers approaching turn #5 and I was able to get by, but they may have balked Alex and I won the race by 0.68 seconds.  We talked after the race and Alex said that he hadn't rolled off at all and in fact had tried to draft by me in earlier laps but, when he pulled out of the draft, hadn't been able to pass.
At Saturday's award ceremony.  Ron Melton photo
I bumped up to 500 Premiere which was gridded behind Formula 500 and 500GP in the 2nd wave with Sound of Thunder 3 in the first wave.  I got a good start and finished ahead of all of the 500GP bikes, 5 of the 8 F-500 bikes that started and 4 of the SOT3 bikes.  My fastest lap was a little slower than in 350GP as my rear tire was getting pretty worn and I wanted to save some for Sun.
Sun., it was decided to do just one round of practice and have a few races before lunch (ostensibly because of a threat of weather), which was fine by me as I was only going to do a few laps to conserve my tires.
In the 350GP, I beat Alex off the line and led the first lap.  On the second lap, Alex came by in a corner and I followed him onto the straight where, like Sat. I motored by.  But, Alex went really deep in turn #1 and slowly pulled away.
Alex McLean on a Drixton Aermacchi leads through turn #5.  Etech Photo
 I finished more than five and a half seconds behind him in a race shortened to 6 laps, he going faster than he had Sat., and me going slower.
We did get some rain during lunch and 'quiet time', but hardly the severe thunderstorms that were predicted.  The sun came out and the wind picked up and the track largely dried quickly.  There was a huge delay cleaning up an oil spill and all the remaining races remained 6 laps.
The SOT 3/F-500/500GP/500 Premiere finally got under way, but there were only 20 starters overall as  opposed to the 26 on Sat., as many people left because of the threat of rain or just fed up waiting out the long cleanup delay.  By now, my rear tire was really shagged and the track was slower because there were the odd damp patches, esp. where the cleanup had taken place.  again I got ahead of most of the F-500 bikes and a couple of the SOT3 bikes.  Coming out of the last corner, Alex McLean passed me on his 500 Norton Manx and out dragged me to the finish line, beating me by less the 0.2 sec.  So, I beat Alex (he on two different bikes) twice Sat., and he beat me twice Sun.
Getting the word from Art Kowitz.  Darleen Drehmel

Tim 'Merciless' Mings gets a autograph so he can hawk it on eBay.  Darleen Drehmel photo

Monday, March 4, 2019

summer activities

I'm way behind on my blog and may never catch up, so here's just a quick summary of the summer's events:
In June, I went to West Clare in Ireland for a family reunion/party, which didn't involve motorcycles at all.
That's me in the upper right at a sea stack at Loophead.  Rob Dowling photo
As soon as I got back from Ireland, I went to Maine for a week to visit a friend and we did a little motorcycling.
Then was the annual Roper Tiddler Tour.  We had a record turn out, great weather, and a fabulous route.
Three '60s Yamahas at the lunch stop for the Roper TT
Fri., the 13th of July, on my 70th birthday, I got back on the racetrack after my crash at Willow Springs almost 11 weeks earlier at the AHRMA race at NJMP.
On my H-D Sprint ERTT at NJMP.  Sigmond Lorenz photo
The next week, I flew out to Portland, Or.  My initial plan was to race my West Coast 350 Sprint at Portland Intl. Raceway but, in the end, Karl Engellenner couldn't get it ready in time and the water pump in his truck failed the day after he would have left, so he would have been stranded on I-5 if he had left.  So, I ended up being Gary Roper's pit attendant while he raced the '51 Velocette MAC that I had crashed at Willow Springs in April.  Gary totally rebuilt it and it worked fine at PIR.
The Velo MAC lives again
Gary, his wife Debbie and I left the track early Sun. afternoon and drove 5hrs east to Baker City, Or., for the week long Velocette Owners Club rally.  Gary let me ride his BSA B-50 MX (with B-25 charging and lights).

The BSA B-50 MX the I rode for more than 1000 miles in the Velo Owners Club rally
Not the most practical touring bike as I couldn't kickstart it and it had very limited range with a tiny fuel tank, but  I could generally bump start it if the road was flat or a little down hill and I started carrying a extra gallon of fuel after I ran out of gas on the first day and coasted 6 miles down hill.  But, the bike handled well and I was able to scratch on the fabulous roads.  We spent a couple of days based in Baker City, then a couple of days based in John Day, then back to Baker City.  On the last day, Terry Wobert let me ride his Frankenbike MAC with a XL350 top end, then drove me back to Portland for the next day's Sang Froid Riding Club's Two Stroke Ride.
Terry Wobert's Velo MAC with XL Honda top end
Courtney Olive let me ride his YA2C 125 Yamaha for the 80ish mile ride heading east from Portland.
The YA2C Yamaha I rode on the 2T ride next to Courtney's 400F Honda.
We took a break half way to swim in the river, then Courtney was the one to run out of gas on the RT 360 he was riding.
Courtney's RT 360, which is also his endurance race winner at the go-kart track
The ride ended up at Vicious Cycles for a BBQ.
a fabulous Spartonette Trailer at the AMCA meet in Terryville, CT
On 3 Aug., I started riding my '68 TC 200 Suzuki up to the Antique Motorcycle Club of America meet at Terryville, Ct.  I was jamming up the Hutchinson River Parkway when the motor lost it's edge and I noticed that it was smoking like crazy--much, much more that normal.  I got off in Greenwich and limped to my friend Carlos Escudero's shop Solo Moto.  When I got there, I saw that the smoke was just coming out of the right pipe, so checked the gearbox oil, which was way down.  I concluded that the crank seal had failed on the right side and was sucking the g/b oil out.  I topped on the gearbox and limped home, then got on my 'modern bike', a 2012 CBR250R, and headed back to Terryville.  By the time I got there it was pretty late and things were pretty wound down, but I did get to schmooze with a few people.  I rode on to my brother's house in Haddam.  It rained in the morning the next day, but after it stopped I rode my '53 Airone Sport back to Terryville.  Again it was late when I got there and most had packed up and left, but still got to talk to a few people.
Darryl Cutter's Nimbus
On 19 Aug., was the 'Splitting' Lanes, Dodging Gutters' bike show at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, and I rode my '68 TC200 Suzuki there.  I thought that easily the best bike in the show was the Henderson four of Girard Fox, but there was an Excelsior single from the teens that was impressive, too.  There was a great collection of bikes ridden there out on the street and I spent much of my time schmoozing with people there.  It was starting to break up and several of the worthy bikes had left, and I was award the "Best of the Street" trophy, largely by default.
The 'Best of the Street' trophy was, of course, a bowling pin.
Once again I went with Team Obsolete to the Classic TT at the Isle of Man.  This year we brought the 350 Benelli four cylinder on which Renzo Pasolini had finished 2nd to Ago's MV in the Junior TT in 1968, and which I had crashed while leading the Junior Classic Manx 25 years ago.  The weather was a bit of a challenge this year and I only rode it briefly in the rain at the Jurby Festival, but it came good the next day for the Lap Of Honour.  I was assigned to lead the parade and it wasn't too long before Mick Grant, John McGuinness, Steve Parrish, Brian Reid, and others came past, and I felt a little rusty as it had been two years since I had done a lap on the closed roads.  I kept the revs down to about 12,000, but made some good noise for the fans.  And, in fact, I passed Mick Grant back over the Mountain as apparently his RG500 Suzuki was over heating.  The Benelli worked perfectly and seemed to be well received.

With Seth Rosko waiting to go out on the Lap of Honour with Steve Plater on an RC30 in the background

About to start the Lap.  Sue Blythe photo
A Burney V-twin we saw while spectating at Gorse Lea
My first outing in brand new Vanson Leathers

Two days after getting back from the IOM, I drove up to Mosport for the VRRA's vintage festival and raced my ERTT in the P1-350, and P2 Lightweight classes
Turn 3? or would it be turn 10 at Mosport.  Bill Murphy photo
8-9 Sept., the USCRA ran a vintage race at NJMP as a support race for MotoAmerica and I ran Team Obsolete's Surtees Special AJS 7R.  It rained all weekend and, instead of being the curtain raiser on Sun., the vintage race was moved to be the curtain closer and, by that time, virtually everyone had left.  I didn't get one photo there.  I left the race track and dashed up to Binghamton, N.Y., to catch up with the Motorcycle Cannonball which arrived there from Keene, N.H. on their odyssey from Portland, Me. to Portland, Or.  I knew at least five riders making this epic trip on M/Cs at least 90 years old.
Keith Martin of Big D cycles had prepared these three Nortons and was riding one of them
The next day it was announced that the days ride to Jamestown, N.Y. would be canceled, the first time this has happen in five Cannonball that have been run so far, because of flooding and washed out roads.

On the 15th of Sept. was the Harris RiConn (Rhode Island/Connecticut) Tiddler Tour.  I rode my '53 Moto Guzzi Sport.

My brother Doug holding on to his 250 Benelli  with my '53 Airone Sport in the backround.  Edwina Stevenson photo
Google tells me that 'schrott' tanslates as scrap metal.  This sticker was on the back of a Sears/Puch twingle
The next day after the RiConn TT was the IMOC (Italian Motorcycle Owners Club) annual meet in Sturbridge, Ma., with a good turn out of interesting bikes and people, as usual.
A 200 Laverda Gemini, a bike I had never heard of.

Again, I rode my Airone there.  Shortly after I left with a bunch from the Boston based  'Ministry of Transportation', my bike lost power and died just as I was crossing Rt.20.  We quickly saw that the rocker spindle had backed out.

This had happened before, so I had safety wired the nut on the other side and it was still there, dangling from the wire.  But, that didn't stop the spindle from unscrewing.  We had it back together in 10-15 mins, and when I got home, I drilled and wired the spindle, too.  Bill Burke photo

The last weekend in September was the USCRA's Fall Giro in Oakridge, Tn.  I rode my '68 TC200 Suzuki and had a fun session swapping back and forth with Robert Ignatowicz on his CL 175 Honda.
My TC200 Suzuki in front of Robert Ignatowicz's Cl175.  He's talking on the phone.

definitely one of the classier bike on the Giro: a 125 H-D Rapido with sissy bar

Definitely the classiest tow vehicles at the Giro: Jack Parker with his Studebaker Lark with oversized tires.

I spent Sunday night with Jack in Knoxville and checked out his considerable pile.  The next day I went to visit a friend in Hixon, Tn., near Chattanooga.  She took me to the International Recovery and Towing Museum.  The tow truck is claimed to have been invented in Chattanooga and this museum is dedicated to the history of towing.
An overview of the International Recovery and Towing Museum

The next day, we went to the Coker Tire Museum which has a big collection of vintage cars and motorcycles.
Coker Tire Museum

Then it was on to Barber M/S Pk. for the final AHRMA race of the year.  This year I only raced my ERTT H-D Sprint.  I practiced on Thurs., which went well, and spent Fri. checking out the museum.   Sat., my first race was the second of the day, the 350GP.  I got in the lead on probably the 2nd lap and kept pushing, expecting Alex McLean to challenge, based on his winning performance at NJMP.  Tim Mings showed me a wheel once or twice, but ended up not finishing, as he crashed.  I was still leading on the second to last lap when I approached a back marker in the 'museum turn'.   I thought that I had to get a good drive out to pass this back marker before the chicane so he wouldn't balk me there, as I was convinced that the jackals were nipping at my heels.  But, I grabbed too much throttle too early and spun the bike out.  It was a fairly gentle low side with minimal damage to me or the bike.  Hero to Zero.  It turned out that Alex was back in 4th place having started the race in 2nd gear.  Peter Politiek on Ed Sensening's 350 Ducati was closing and wasn't sure if he could have caught me if I hadn't crashed.  He did have the fastest lap in the class.  I was able to patch the bike up and get it through tech well before my 'bump-up race', the 500 Premiere.  I was able to keep it upright this time and finished 6th behind the CB450 based Hondas of Andrew Mauk and Wes Orloff, the Seeley G-50s of Helmi Neiderer and Kenny Cummings, and the BSA A50R of Paul Germain.  Tim Mings on his CB77 350 Honda got by me at one point, but I passed him back and he ended up finishing about 2.5 seconds behind me.
Leading Tim Mings #34 CB77 Honda, Paul Germain #61 DT1 Yamaha, and Peter Politiek, Jr. #59 350 Ducati.  Nev Miller Photo
Sunday, Alex nailed the start and steadily pulled away and finished almost 6 seconds ahead of me with Peter almost a second behind.
There was a lot of attrition in the 500 Premiere class with first Andrew Mauk dropping out and then Helmi Neiderer.  I went back and forth with Paul Germain, but he was clearly having trouble with shifting or clutch and he dropped out also, so I ended up 3rd, behind Wes Orloff on Dale Coffman's Honda and Kenny Cummings on his Minovation Seeley G-50,  almost 7 seconds ahead of Maria Costello, who was having her own problems.

Less than 2 weeks after the Barber event, my younger brother, Douglas, died in a horrible accident.  It was a huge loss as he was universally liked and relied upon for his mechanical expertise.  While he and I were quite different, we shared our love of mechanics in general and motorcycles in particular.  He had a wicked sense of humor.  He laid out the best routes for the Tiddler Tours that he and his wife Amy put on for years, the social event of the season.  I really miss him.
Doug in the middle between our good friends, Scott Rikert (L) and Bill Burke (R).  Ken Richardson photo