Friday, October 28, 2011

Bill Burke sent me a couple of photos from the archives. I think the second one dates the first. I'm saying March '85 at Daytona. Back then the vintage races were on Wed., Amateur day. I won the F-750 race on Team Obsolete BSA Triple, but in the 500 Premiere race, riding a Matchless G-50, I tangled with someone and ran off the track coming to a complete stop, but not tipping over, before I could get going again. Kurt Liebman won on the OLS (Oscar Liebman Special) BMW. Roger Reiman crashed his KR 750 H-D in practice and broke his wrist.
Thurs. morning, I went out for BOTT practice on a TT-1 Ducati and promptly crashed on cold tires in the Dogleg, breaking a metatarsal in my left foot. After much negotiations, Dr. Dave Kieffer, also racing a Ducati in BOTT, wrote a medical release for Reiman and myself. My memory is that in the race Fri., Reiman finished 5th on an XR1000, Kiefer was 6th and I was 7th, Reiman and I bracketing our othopod.

So, I think this photo is on 6 March, '85 and, if I had to guess, the fellow I'm talking to is John Ulrich. That's definitely Linda Swanson looking on and Antonio Ricciardi in the H-D tee shirt.
When I see a photo of myself like this, I think "Dude, lighten up. It's just a game."

Here I am the next day talking to Paul Miles after leaving the medical center.
The price of glory.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

21-22 Oct, 2011 Fri. evening I rode up to Greenwich to see the bike show put on by my friend
Carlos Escudero at his shop, Solo Moto. Carlos had some of his and his clients significant bikes on display. These include a Matchless G-85 CS motocrosser, a Crocker, a Brough Superior, a Velocette Thruxton, and a Laverda SFC. There was Honda 'from mighty to mini' with a nice unrestored C102 Cub and a NR750 oval piston bike, one of about 300 made. And there was the 1930ish Indian 101 Scout that Carlos found in a basement and hadn't run in over 40 years. He got it running shortly and has left it as found with just basic cleaning up.
And, speaking of Indian 101 Scouts, when I was at the Fall Giro, I sat next to Will Paley at the Sat. dinner and he extolled the virtues of his 1929 Scout and suggested I come up to his house in W. Cornwall, Ct. to ride it some time. So, I stayed over in Greenwich and rode up to W. Cornwall Sat. morning. Fellow Giroist Bill Burke had called the other day and told me he was taking his NSU Special Max and Ken Richardson's Moto Guzzi Lodola to Pete Tallabach's Mohawk Garage in Washington, Ma. for some fettling, on his way to his sister's in Millerton, N.Y. Since these were all vaguely in the same area, I suggested he join our vintage ride.

'51 Moto Guzzi Falcone with my '90 Honda VTR250 and '29 Indian 101 Scout in backrounds

So, Will rode his '51 Moto Guzzi Falcone and I rode the '29 Scout over to Falls Village for lunch where Bill met us. The Indian has a left hand throttle, a right hand ignition advance/retard, a left foot clutch and right hand shift three speed gearbox, and 'normal' right hand front brake lever and right foot rear brake pedal. The ride started at the deep end of the pool with a very steep decent down Will's road to Rt. 4. There's not much front brake there, but the rear was adequate. Not only is the twistgrip throttle left hand, one turns it inboard to accelerate, so there was about 45 years of muscle memory to erase and relearn on the fly. To add to the challenge, the 2nd gear dogs are apparently well worn and when one got much speed in 2nd, it would pop out of gear. Time to change to 3rd, which was slightly hard to find. But, once in 3rd, the motor was very flexible. I started to learn about retarding the ignition when slogging up hills and advancing when the revs got up, but I'm sure this is something that takes a while to feel and do instinctively.
After lunch at the Toymakers Cafe, something of a motorcyclist destination run by a guy who says he raced with me at Loudon and Daytona years ago, Bill followed us back to Will's house where he got on Will's '56 R 50 BMW, which Will had hotrodded a bit with lightened flywheel, lumpier cam and higher compression pistons. Will led us on a couple of hour ride through the back roads of northwest Ct. on a nice dry fall day, if slightly cooler than ideal.

'56 BMW R-50

What an interesting collection of contrasting bikes that were still compatible riding together. A 750 V-twin flat head, and horizontal 500 single and an opposed 500 twin. A girder forked, leaf spring on the Indian; and male slider telescopic fork on the Guzzi, and an Earles fork on the BMW.

'29 Indian 101 Scout front brake torque arm detail

Rigid rear on the Indian, swingarm with friction shocks and springs under the motor on the Guzzi and swingarm with shaft drive and hydraulic shocks on the BMW. Foot clutch, hand shift on the Indian, right side, up for 1st on the Guzzi and left side, down for 1st on the BMW. We stopped for fuel and Bill got on the Guzzi and I got on the BMW, then finally I got on the Guzzi and Bill rode the BMW, he not being ready to learn the Indian in traffic.

Will gases up the Indian while I ponder the front brake /suspension. Bill Burke photo

Will Paley and Bill Burke with bikes spanning 27 years

I had not ridden an example of any of these bikes and it was a treat. The Indian is extremely impressive for an 82 year old machine. It steers very well and motor is delightful and quite quick. I've never warmed up to the BMW opposed twins, but this was a very competent ride. I've got to pick the Guzzi as my favorite. I'm smitten with the horizontal single. The motor is marvelous; torquey and responsive, with excellent shift and steering. It's very much like my beloved 250 Airone, but with more power and more stressed brakes. Maybe Guzzi should have made a 350 single road bike.
2011 racing summary This year I entered 41, and started 39, final races over 13 events at 13 different venues, on 7 different bikes owned by 5 different people. I had six DNFs, four of which were mechanical, one crash, and one mechanical/crash. I finish 1st fourteen times, 2nd eleven times, 3rd five times, and 6th five times. I crashed five times, twice in races, three times in practice. Luckily, I didn't get hurt beyond minor bruising, but one can't count on that. Five crashes is the most I've crashed in a year in the last decade and is twice my average. Let's hope it's just an anomaly. I'm still very much enjoying the racing and look forward to a similar program next year.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

14-16 Oct., 2011 From Barber, much of the circus move on to Daytona for the AHRMA event combined with CCS modern club racing. I was able to stay with racing friends in Smyrna, Atlanta, and Savannah, Ga. and St. Augustine, Fl. killing the four days until activities started at Daytona. One part of the Circus that didn't move from Barber to Daytona was Ken Rosevere and his Goldstar that I had raced at Barber. So, I decided to race my 350 Sprint ERTT in the 500 Premiere race. With a reduced grid at Daytona compared to Barber, I ended in the same position on my 350 as Ken's 500: 6th. Wes Orloff, Ari Henning, and Todd Puckett had all gone home and John Cronshaw suffered a nasty high side crash in Fri. morning practice that ruled him out of racing this weekend. Doug Polen was riding the McIntosh Manx that Schwantz had ridden at Barber and he ended up finishing 3rd behind Tim Joyce and Pat Mooney, with Niek Leeuwis 4th on his Seeley Goldstar and Bruce Verdon 5th (after I had showed him around in practice). Bruce is the proprietor if TT Industries in New Zealand, manufactures of superb 6 speed gearboxes for the British singles.
Nancy Hollingsworth photo

Next, I raced Mike Bungay's 350 Aermacchi in 350gp and won comfortably. The bike worked perfectly with no sign of the trouble we had with it on Sun. at Barber. My quickest lap on my bike was slightly faster than my quickest lap on Mike's bike, but it came on the third lap and is probably attributable to the tow I got off of Alex McLean when he came by on his 500gp Norton Manx.
So, to finish the comparison between my 350 and Mike's, I raced his bike in the 500 Premiere race Sat. Again, I finished 6th behind Mooney, Nick Cole (ES-2 Norton!), Polen, Niek Leeuwis, and Bruce Verdon. I was able to swap back and forth a bit with Alex Mclean and Peter Politiek on Tom Heyser's BSA Goldstar as they came through from the 500gp grid. This time I got a killer draft off the two of them and my quickest lap was almost three seconds faster than on my bike. Fortunately, we had put taller gearing on after Fri. (the tallest Mike owned) to take advantage of the draft. Again, the bike ran great.
I decided not to stay for Sun. and the final 350gp race. I had already cinched the championship for the year and there wasn't too much competition left. So, Mike asked Don Hollingsworth to race his bike. Don got a big lead after starting from the back of the grid with no points.
Nancy Hollingsworth photo

When he exited the East Banking on his last run to the checkered flag, the motor made the 'bad noise' and lost power just as it had done on me on Sun. at Barber. Don clutched it and was able to coast across the finish line still in 1st place. Mike didn't have much time to check it over before the bike had to be loaded for it's trip back to Ca., but he was able to determine that that the motor turned over fine and had compression. The mystery deepens and I can't wait for the autopsy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

7-9 Oct., 2011 it was down to Leeds, Alabama for the Barber Vintage festival, the biggest vintage event in North America.
Let me get the 'name dropping' out of the way right off the bat.
Here I am telling Paul Smart how it is.
Paul Pace photo

Buff Harsh photo
And here I am about to show Kevin Schwantz the way to get around the race track. I'm riding Ken Rosevere's Geoff Monty Special replica Goldstar and Kevin is on Ken McIntosh's Norton Manx. This bike came from New Zealand with a contingent of fast Kiwis. There were also a few Aussies, Dutchmen and Brits making a truly international event. Much credit for this goes to Jamie Waters who's hard work and sponsorship made for the best 500 Premiere grid in years, if not ever. Because of the large number of foreign riders who had no points with AHRMA, the normal grid placement based on points was replaced with a 'Superpole' type qualifying: one warm-up lap, one timed lap, and one cool-down/in lap. This was great fun, though Sat. I screwed it up, running wide at the chicane onto the grass and I had to momentarily back out of the throttle. As it turned out, this wasn't a handicap as the two people who were supposed to grid in front of me weren't there, and I got a good start while others were balked. This allowed me to hold off the hordes for a little while, and a couple of people augered in on the first couple of laps. First Niek Leeuwis on a Seeley Goldstar came by, then John Cronshaw on his Goldstar. John was distracted by a debris flag in turn#1 and I was able to get back by him. A little over a lap later, John came back by with Robert McClendon on the Herb Becker prepared Seeley Norton 500 twin. They both had a little motor on me and started pulling away, but then the twin broke a valve and was out. Todd Puckett, on Jamie Water's ex-Bruce Yoximer Seeley G-50, stuck a wheel in on me, but I backed him down. Then, apparently the plug came out of his float bowl and he retired. So, I ended up 6th behind Schwantz and Pat Mooney on Manx's, Dave Cole on a Norton ES-2(!!!), Leeuwis, and Cronshaw. Four pushrod motors in the first six.

I was also riding Mike Bungay's 350 Aermacchi. This is a bike I've ridden several times out west as it's based in Sacramento with Mike. Mike got it as an unfinished project many years ago and it's been an ongoing development project. It has a one-off trellis frame (that's been mistaken for TT-1/2 Ducati, but isn't) and a street based motor that Mike's done extensive development with Karl Engellenner of Motorcycle Machining Specialties, also in Sacramento. I brought my own 350 ERTT Sprint and, in practice, I went a bit faster on my own bike than Mike's. I also crashed Mike's bike in Fri. practice when I spun it out in the turn #5 hairpin. I was unhurt and there was only minor damage to the bike. But, based on the times, it looked like I had a good shot at the win on his bike and we changed the gearing and I rode that in the 350gp race. I led flag to flag and won fairly comfortably.
Sun. we had another 500 Premiere qualifying, which a lot of people weren't aware of, myself included, and several missed it entirely, including John Cronshaw.He was pissed off being gridded at the back and decided not to race. I did a little better and was gridded at the other end of the third row.
Me, Ari Henning, Bruce Verdon, and Wes Orloff on Sun.'s 500 Premere Grid. Paul Pace photo

Again, I got a reasonably good start and, after things settled down for a few laps, Ari Henning and Wes Orloff came by, both on 450 Honda based bikes. I was able to get back by them into Turn #1 and shortly after that, Wes' fairing came adrift and he had to retire.

Ari Henning leading me, Todd Puckett and Wes Orloff. Paul Pace photo

Ari was having a lot of chatter problems and the motor wasn't carbureting well coming off the corners (which turned out to be a loose needle) and he dropped back. Then, my old arch nemisis, Todd Puckett came by seeking revenge. After a short tussle he pulled ahead and I finished 6th again behind Schwantz, Tim Joyce, and Mooney on Manx's and Leeuwis (Seeley Goldstar)and Puckett(Seeley G-50).

Ari Henning, me, and Wes Orloff debriefing after Sun.'s 500 Premiere race. Buff Harsh photo

In Sun.'s 350gp race, I again got a big lead when, on the 7th of 8 laps, the motor made a bad noise and lost power. I clutched it immediately and coasted to a stop. I figured a valve train
failure, though it sounded a little like the sparkplug had blown out of the head. I rode back to the pits on the crash truck with Phil Turkington who had won the race on his Bultaco, then ran out of fuel on the cool off lap.
Examining the Aermacchi after we found it turned over fine, had good compression, and the sparkplug looked good. We took the rocker covers and carb off and found nothing wrong. So we put it back together and fired it up. It started right up and sounded fine. I rode it around the paddock for a while and revved it out in 1st gear and it seemed fine. A mystery. I wondered if I had hallucinated the whole incident ( there was some mold on the bread I made a sandwich with a few hours earlier). But, nearly a week later, I had dinner with Steve Maney and Martin Page and they told me they had been watching from the outside of turn#2, and they heard the noise and thought a valve must have dropped.

Oct 1, 2011 The USCRA Fall Giro took place in
the Catskills based in Freehold, N.Y. and I rode my '53 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport which, once again, was probably the oldest bike in the event. Sat. was wet and cool. Sun. was pouring when we got up, but had stopped raining by the time of the riders meeting and by lunch stop the sun was out. Apparently, it rained all around us and started raining again just after the awards ceremony. We got lucky.
I rode most of the weekend with Rich Hosley on his Ossa Wildfire (I was #76, he was #77). Rich is an excellent rider and is an old enduro veteran, so he knows how to read a route sheet. But, it seemed we both overshot the odd turn at about the same frequency, which allowed the other to take over the lead. Sat. afternoon we got separated when he missed a turn and I waited for him at the side of the road. When he figured out his error and got back on route, he didn't notice me waiting and was charging to catch up to me. So then I was charging to catch him and never did (the Wildfire is fast). Later, I took a wrong turn and went way out of my way. When I retraced my steps, I found some people to ask directions of. While we were going over the fairly complicated directions, another lost Giroist showed up. He couldn't follow the directions and said he'd just follow me. I went glacially slow, but he couldn't keep up in the fog. I was eager to get back but thought I couldn't drop this guy as he'd die of exposure. So, I stopped at every intersection and waited for him to catch up. When we got close to base, I was momentarily disoriented approaching the town from a different direction. My charge caught up and pointed the direction. Now that I knew he knew where he was, I dropped him and sped to check in and made it 12 seconds before my key time.
Among the interesting bikes there was this 250 Villiers powered Royal Enfield

two stroke exhaust spew.

Another nice two stroke twin was the Yamaha YM-1 Big Bear Scrambler

I love the exhaust tips.

pit stop Sat. Henry Syphers in front of his ex-Doug Roper Bridgestone DS175
I didn't get a picture of the beautiful 250 Adler from Louisiana before he dropped out Sat. We had three Airones and a Lodola in the Guzzi camp.