Tuesday, March 30, 2021

2021 CMP addendum

The first 30 seconds of Jonathan Hollingsworth's video shows how close I was to being taken out in the first turn crash in Sunday's VSL/350GP/350 Sportsman race. Jerry Duke got his usual good start and got through the corner before some VSL bike crashed in front of Alex McLean taking him out. I just barely missed Alex and took a long ride through the grass. https://youtu.be/aUZJn3sn2ts

Monday, March 29, 2021

AHRMA Carolina Motorsports Park 2021

In preperation for my second race of the 2021 season, I put my CRTT H-D Sprint on the dyno to understand why it didn't seem to want to rev at Roebling Road four weeks before. After several runs, the motor went BANG and lost power. I found that the exhaust valve wasn't opening and suspected that a tappet had broken. This happened to this motor last July at Blackhawk Farms and was no big deal as I just took the broken pieces out and put a used tappet in that I had with me. But when I investigated this time, I found it wasn't so simple.
It looked like the broken off head of the tappet had been jammed into the tappet bush and pushed it up towards the head and galled the bush so the broken off stem of the tappet was jammed in the bush.
I decided that this was more than I could deal with in the time I had left and Rob Iannucci offered me a Team Obsolete AJS 7R which I accepted. The bike had last been run in 2015 when I raced it at a USCRA event at NJMP Lightning circuit. We just put oil in it, changed the number plates and did some safety wiring and it seemed ready. I had a miseralble Friday night at CMP as it got really cold and I had to make three dashes to the men's room in the middle of the night with gastro-intestinal distress. Sat., was cold, cloudy and very windy. I took it very easy in the first practice, but had a lot of problems shifting the gearbox, especially downshifting (i.e.lifting the lever up). I got an old broken aluminum footrest from Stu Carter and slid it over the toe piece of the shift lever, lengthening it and making it bigger in diameter.
This helped enormously in the 2nd practice, though I still occasionally had problems downshifting.
Testing the shift lever on the bench. Amy Roper photo. My first race was race #7 with Sound of Singles 2 in the first wave and 500 Premiere (Vintage Cup) in the second wave and Formula 500 gridded behind. At the start, Helmi Neiderer crashed going into turn #1 and his bike knocked down Tony Read, the winner of the two 500 Premiere races at Roebling Road. This brought out the red flag, one of an incredible number of red flags over the weekend. Neither Tony or Helmi made the restart, so I was able to finish a distant 2nd to Wes Orloff, on Dale Coffman's 450 Honda, in class, but 17th overall behind a bunch of SOS2 bikes (and lapped by the leader, Ralph Staropoli) and three F500 bikes. There were more crashes and red flags before my second race, #13 the Vintage Superbike Lightweight, 350GP and 350 Sportsman and and Formula 125. I was running a distant 2nd to Alex McLean on his Drixton Aermacchi in class. I still occasionally had problems downshifting in the 'fog of war'and failed to get it right entering one of the corners and came out two gears too tall. Jonathan Hollingsworth on a Rickman Aermacchi and Jerry Duke on a 350 Ducati came by me. I initially thought--no problem; I can get them back--but then the red flag came out and the race was called final, so I was 4th in class and 10th overall. I decided that I was geared a little tall and added one tooth to the rear sprocket. I also went to one step colder sparkplug as I had a little concern about the center electrode on the one I had run with. Saturday night was much better than Friday and, while Sunday was somewhat warmer than Sat., it was perhaps more windy and even drizzled a bit in the morning. I trimed the footrest that I had slipped over the shift lever in a effort to further improve my downshifting.
My sister-in-law Amy Roper and her fiance Dave Nichols came to the event and were a trememdous help. Amy Roper photo.
Amy Roper Photo. After the one practice round, I went up one jet size in the carb.
Trying to find neutral after starting the bike on the roller starter. Amy Roper photo. In Sunday's 500 Premiere race, Tony Read stalled on the grid and wasn't able to start the race. I again ran a distant second to Wes Orloff and was able to hold off Helmi, who was somewhat detuned by his crash on Sat. This race too was red flagged for a crash and I ended up 2nd in class and 13th overall behind 8 SOS2 bikes, Wes and 3 F500 bikes. By the time the 350GP race came up, the sun had come out and it was considerable warmer, but still very windy. And, people were still crashing. I think it was on the second restart that someone crashed in front of Alex McLean and he had no where to go, went down and didn't make the restart as he hurt his foot. So, I took the lead in the class on the third restart.
Exiting turn #1. Amy Roper photo. I thought the race might be re flagged again as someone fell in the last corner and the bike ended just off the track in the impact zone, but for once they didn't throw the red flag. I had passed Jerry Duke early on but must have been goofing off or again wasn't able to make the downshift as my fastest lap was nearly three seconds slower than in the 500 Premiere race. In the last corner of the race, Jerry stuffed me hard up the the inside. I thought that he wasn't going to make the corner and I ran off the track. Jerry ran over the rumble strips but stayed on the tarmac and beat me to the finish line by 2.5 sec.as I recovered, so again I was 2nd in class, this time 4th overall with two VSL bikes in front of us. So, all four of the races that I was in were red flagged, the last one three times. And these were far from the only races red flagged. There had to be a record number of crashes. Part of this was undoubtedly the weather and maybe March isn't the best time to race at CMP. Part of the problem was just a big turn out--more entries mean more crashes, perhaps especially when it's the first race of the year for many of the racers. And, part of it is the nature of the CMP track. Turn #1 is very tight and not that far from the start line, so it's not uncommon for there to be a gaggle of riders there at the start trying to occupy the same spot. I felt lucky to survive unscathed.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

AHRMA Roebling Road 2021

My 2021 racing season kicked off with the traditional February Roebling Road Raceway date.  I only brought my 250cc CRTT HD Sprint and my 350 wasn't ready.  The 250 had a pretty extensive rebuild over the winter: new crankpin and big end bearing, new main bearings, new gearbox, new cylinder bore, new rings, new valves and new exhaust seat and guide.  And a new rear tire. 

My '67 CRTT H-D Sprint as it arrived

So I signed up for Fri. afternoon practice.  I rained Friday morning and, while it had pretty much stopped raining by the time I got on the track, the track was fully wet and I was very cautious.  By my 2nd practice the track was drying, but there were plenty of damp patches and the odd puddle.  The motor started easily, sounded fine and accelerated fairly well, but didn't seem to want to rev and I wasn't pulling the gearing that I had in the past, so I dropped a tooth on the gearbox sprocket.

Saturday morning was quite cold with temps in the low 30's and I took it very steady.  By now the sun was shining brightly and it had warmed up a bit.  I went out for the 2nd practice and on my out lap when I cracked the throttle in turn #3, the rear tire broke loose and I low sided.  I slid on my ass on the track then into the dirt without tumbling, but I did wear right through my leather and got a raspberry of my left cheek. 

Wore right through my leathers.  Darleen Drehmel photo

The bike wasn't too bad, but the fairing was pretty smashed up and dirt was packed everywhere.  It seems like I'm making the rookie, cold tire turn #3 crash an annual tradition as I did it last year, though then I tucked the front.  
After the crash.  Kenny Cummings is very disappointed in his 'dad'.  Courtney A. Black photo

I abandoned the fairing and mounted number plates.  Now I have an air filter on the carb, so I didn't have to take the head off to clean out the dirt as I did last year. 

mounting number plates with Dr. Dan Levine.  Courtney A. Black photo

I installed a new CO2 cartridge in my inflatable vest. I got the bike re-teched and was able to do a scrub lap in race #2, and everything seemed OK for race #3, my bump-up race, 350GP with 350 Sportsman gridded behind us in one wave. 
heading out for a 'scrub lap'  Darleen Drehmel photo

As soon as I started the warm-up lap, the motor started cutting out intermittently.  I pulled in pit lane and saw that one of the leads had pulled off the coil.  I shoved it back on and got a push start and started the race from the pit lane after everyone got rolling.  Three of the 350GP and three of the 350 Sportsman bikes started pulling away.  After a couple of laps, I saw I was catching Colton Roberts riding his Dad's TD2b Yamaha.  Jason Roberts had crashed in practice when an oil line failed on his Aermacchi and oiled the rear tire.  He broke three ribs and offered his Yamaha to his son.  Colton had never turned a wheel on this bike before the start of the race and he was clearly figuring out how to ride it.  I was able to pass him in several corners and he would blow by me on the straights.  By the last lap, Colton had gained enough confidence in how the bike was going to act that I was unable to pass him and he finished 0.9 seconds ahead of me.  So I was 4th in class and 7th overall.

The 250GP class was in race #11 gridded behind Sound of Singles 3 in the first wave and Vintage Superbike Lightweight in the second wave. 

On the front row of the 250GP grid, behind the VSL grid, in the 2nd wave.  Darleen Drehmel photo

I got ahead of a few of the VSL bikes at the start and soon caught some of the SOS3 bikes.  SOS3 may have the greatest range of speed of any class.  The first two in that class lapped me (and all but 7 of the 30 starters)on what were effectively Moto3 bikes--modern watercooled, fuel injected 250 singles in full race chassis.  I passed 6 of the SOS3 bike and two of the VSL bikes for 1st in class and 17th overall.

Sunday morning was even colder with frost everywhere.  There was only one round of practice and I managed to complete 5 laps without crashing.  I still wasn't pulling the gearing, so I added two teeth to the rear sprocket.  Then, Art Kowitz told me that he was taking his X-6 Suzuki to the Hall brother's mobile dyno to sort it.  I didn't realize that it was there, and I followed Art down and after he made a run, we put my Sprint on.  Rob Hall was able to alter the ignition timing while Jake kept the bike running.  Rob advanced the timing 2-3 times to optimum and noted that the fuel/air mixture was a little rich, so I went down one jet size.

Sunday's 350GP/Sportman race went much like Saturday's except Jason Roberts wasn't riding his dad's TD2b.  I had a fairly lonely ride after the first 5 pulled away and ended up 3rd in class and 6th overall.  My best lap was more than 0.8 seconds slower that Sat. without the encouragement of chasing Jason and maybe his draft, too.  

There were a couple of crashes in close succession around race #7 that required both the ambulances to transport riders, which shut down racing until one returned.  After racing resumed, there was another red flag delay so, by the time race #11 came up, the race was shortened from 8 laps to 6.  Again, I led the 250GP class from the start.  I passed three of the VSL bikes and two of the SOS3 bikes to finish 1st in class and 17th overall.  I was only lapped by the leader of the SOS3 class (as were the next 16 bikes).  What I didn't realize until after the race was that I finished just 0.315 seconds ahead of Don Hollingsworth on his 250 Sprint.  I had a slightly faster fastest lap than Don, but mine was on the 3rd lap and his was on the last.  Clearly, I was goofing off and he was smelling blood.  Would I have been able to respond if the race had gone the full 8 laps?

My fasted lap of the weekend last year on the same bike (also without a fairing) was more that 3.3 seconds  faster then my fastest lap of the weekend this year.  I'm willing to accept that some of that is because I'm a broken old man (or rather more broken, older man), but I was definitely pulling more revs with taller gearing last year.  Why is mystery that I'm still investigating.

Brian Larrabure's Seeley G-50.  Brian unfortunately had a serious crash Sun. on another bike and broke his leg and clavicle

My pit neighbors: Doc Batsleer's Indian and Beno Rodi's cammy Nortons

Dave Kaufman's G-12 Matchless


Local Rick Panettieri always brings an interesting and immaculate bike, this time a Laverda Jota


Stu Carter's ex-Ginger Molloy Bultaco

The Bultaco seat warning