Monday, June 3, 2019


This year the AHRMA New Jersey M/S Pk event moved from it's traditional mid July date to Memorial Day Weekend.  I addition to my ERTT, I brought my CRTT 250 Sprint, which hadn't been on the track in over two years when it had a somewhat abortive return after another over two year layoff when it dropped a valve at Daytona '14.  In the mean time extensive cylinder head work had been done, new piston and valves, and a new exhaust system.  Also new for this event was a Helite inflatable vest.  This is worn over the leathers and is activated by a tether to the bike.  While a little difficult to get on and off and once I forgot to attach the tether when I went out for a race, I was please that it didn't get in the way or seem too hot.
Kurt Lentz stands next to my ERTT 350 with my CRTT 250 in the background.  Kurt and I started roadracing the same weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, 1972 at Bridgehampton, N.Y. and, while he isn't racing now, is still very much involved.
One thing that was not new were the tires on my 250.  If I'm reading the date codes correctly, the rear was manufactured the 35th week of 2008 (3508) and the front from the 47th week of 2004 (4704).  I have records that I installed them April '10 and March, '06, respectively, and a year and a half between manufacture and installation doesn't seem unreasonable.  These are the Dunlop KR 124A and KR 825 that haven't been made for years and which I liked so much.  So, my first practice on the 250 I took very gingerly initially, but gradually upped the pace and the tires seemed fine.  The bike ran alright, but seems to 'hunt' or 'surge' at higher revs.  I remember when we ran the bike on Pete Talabach's dyno, we backed off the ignition timing several times getting more power, then reduced the main jet several times until it made less power.  I hadn't gone back to the bigger jet that made the most power.  So I changed it before the race.  My 350 seemed good from the get-go.
The 250GP class was gridded behind the Sound of Singles 1, the biggest and most modern singles, in the first wave with Novice Historic Production in the second wave.  This seemed like a crazy combination but is a consequence of having too many classes and the difficulty of fitting them all in.  I counted on getting lapped.  I quickly got to the front of the 250s and, sure enough, as I was finishing my 6th lap, I saw the starter getting the last lap flag ready.  Bill Gillis on his 690 KTM powered Kramer came flying past at the end of the straight and sucked me into turn #1.  So, I ended up 1st in class and 4th overall.  I was pleased by the bike performance, though it still surged at the higher RPMs and I suspected the remote float.  It was more rigidly mounted than on my 350 and the motor does vibrate some, so I suspected fuel frothing.  John Melniczuk said that he thought he had some very small rubber mounts at his shop some 10 miles away and he'd bring them to me in the morning.
In the mean time, I checked the float height and raised it a bit.
The 350GP, this year's featured 'Vintage Cup', was gridded behind Vintage Superbike Lightweight in the first wave with Sportsman 350 in the second wave.  I got a pretty good start and braked late into turn #1 and followed Josh Saxe on a 650 BMW twin and John Rickard on his SR500 Yamaha into the turn #3 chicane.  Tim Joyce, on Ed Sensening's 350 Ducati stuffed underneath me in the right hand exit, but then couldn't find a gear and I didn't see him again.  I got by Rickard's SR but Alex McLean got by me on his Rickman Aermacchi.  As I gave chase, several times I noticed Alex reaching down with his left hand and grabbing his left leg.  Turns out, he was out in the immediately previous race on his pre-war Norton and it had oiled his boot which was slipping off the footrest and he was helping his leg back on, but in the process got his glove oily.  This was enough of a distraction for me to get back by him and start to close on Saxe on his BMW.  Neither of us knew that the race had been shortened and were surprise when the checkered flag came out at the end of the 6th lap with me 1st in class and 2nd overall.
The race had been shortened because of a couple of oil spills that required lengthly cleanups and the fact that there was a 'Monster Truck' event happening at the track that evening and AHRMA had to be done by a certain time.  I went out to dinner with a couple of very old friends and missed the show, but when we came back we had to wait a good 20 minutes as they let the spectators out, running the access road one way. 'Monster Trucks' definitely draw a bigger crowd than vintage bikes.
We had heavy thunderstorms over night and there were a few damp patches in the morning, but it got quite hot and the damp disappeared quickly.  The 250 ran better with the raised float, so I decided not to try to install at the track the rubber mounts John brought me.  I just did three practice laps on the 350.
Sunday morning there were puddles from the overnight thunderstorms.  Rich Ronay photo
On the warmup lap for the 250 race, I realized that I had forgotten to attach my inflatable vest tether and, when I got to the grid, I got one of the grid marshals to eventually understand my problem and he plugged me in.  But, in the confusion, I apparently got the gearbox into a false neutral and started the race in 3rd gear.  But, within a couple of laps I got in the lead of the 250GP and then started to close on a SOS 1 bike, which turned out to be a TZ125 Yamaha.  I was surprised that he didn't seem to have much top end speed on me, though he definitely had acceleration on me.  I passed and led him for a while, my bike running better with the raised float.  Again, I saw the starter getting the last lap flag ready as I was completing my 6th lap and Bill Gillis again came flying by to lap me.  Just before the checker, Brian Lowe, also on a Kramer lapped me, and then Dave Rhodes on the TZ125 pipped me right at the line.  Why this bike was being raced in SOS 1 I don't know as it's eligible and did race in SOS3.
For Sunday's 350GP, I didn't get as good a start, and again Tim Joyce stuffed me in the chicane, but then he had a problem with the bike and retired.  I  got into the overall lead in a couple of laps.  I almost tested my new inflatable vest when I got the front wheel skating across the track in turn #6 and in saving it, knocked the bike out of gear, then selected a gear too high.  Both Josh Saxe and Alex Mclean got by.  I first got Josh back, then Alex.  In turn #8 on the penultimate lap, Alex stuck a wheel in on me, but that wasn't going to happen and I backed him down, thinking that the last lap would be intense.  Two corners from the end, Alex's motor cut out as apparently his kill switch failed, and he pushed in.
Running 2nd overall and 1st 350 behind Josh Saxe in the turn #3 chicane.  Rich Ronay photo
So, four starts and four wins with some good dices, a very satisfying weekend.
There were four Vincent singles racing at NJMP

With support from two vincent twins


John Rickard's 500 Norton twin and SR 500 Yamaha.  Rich Ronay photo
Rich Ronay photo

Brian Smith's 798 Ducati.  Rich Ronay photo