Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving in Ct. is often a great time to ride.  The roads are generally clean as the leaves have been blown off and the sanding hasn't started.  With the leaves off the trees, one can see farther, whether that be around corners, distant vistas from the tops of hills, or deep into the woods to check out the great rock ledges.
Brother Doug and sista-in-law Amy and I went on a 60 mile ride on Thanksgiving Day.  Doug rode his '65 Benelli 260, Amy rode her '71 Cl 350 Honda, and I rode Doug's '65 CZ 175.

Doug led us on some great roads west and north through Durham  and Middlefield.  When we got back, Doug drained the gas and oil from the Benelli and Honda and we put them down in the basement.  I left the CZ out as I had a ride planned the next day with Rich Hosley.
Friday was another beautiful day, not quite as cloudless as Thanksgiving Day, but slightly warmer--mid-to-upper 50s as opposed to low-to -mid 50's.  My one complaint about Thursday's route was there was no dirt roads.  I made up for that Friday on my way to meet Rich, discovering the most direct route to our meeting place included some great dirt roads with almost no houses on them.  Rich rode his '49 Norton International 500.  He led us west through Madison, Rockland, Wallingford, Hamden, Cheshire, to Prospect where his friend Peter Thiel lives.  We toured his pile.  Rich and Peter probably knew each other through his Norton Commando, but Peter was working on a CB 360 Honda and owned a 4 cyl. Goldwing, which he and his wife had ridden to Nova Scotia and Cape Bretton and now had leaking fork seals.  Peter has an interesting B-50 BSA with clubman bars and a high front mudguard.  When I called him on that, he said he had a second set of wheels and high bars to convert it into a scrambler.
But, Peter pulled out his tiddler, a '75 CB 200 Honda, to join us on the ride.  Pete led us skirting Waterbury, Naugatuck, through Beacon Falls, Bethany and Seymour to the Blue Check Village restaurant in Woodbridge.

But, the Blue Check was closed, so we backtracked in a round about way to  Guerra's Sandwich shop in Seymour, which we had passed on the way to the Blue Check.  They had an overwhelming selection on hand written signs taped fairly randomly around.  Rich and I went for 'The Bomb'.  I managed to pay and get out before Rich and Pete had a somewhat unpleasant exchange with a rather surely cashier.  Great sandwich, but surly and no restroom.
Pete's CB 200 has CL 175 pipes on it to replace the rotted out originals.  Peter Thiel photo
 Conversation revealed that Pete and I had been born in the same hospital in New Rochelle, N.Y. and we both had a brother named Douglas.
Peter Thiel photo
Pete followed us part way, then peeled off to go back to his house and Rich and I carried on through Bethany.

In Hamden, at Quinnipiac University, Rich and I switched bikes.  Quite a contrast between a little, idiosyncratic two stroke and a big, older four stroke thumper.  I found the International delightful, slogging from low rpms with slightly ponderous handling.  Rich had a lot of problems with the CZ.  The steering head bearings had loosened off creating symptoms similar to a overly tight steering damper causing one to over correct and weave.  The CZ has and automatic clutch release where moving the shift lever (which is also the shift lever and therefore long and with a long throw), disengages the clutch.  So, one doesn't have use the handlebar clutch lever when one shifts.  In fact, it shifts better when you just bang the shift lever and don't touch the clutch lever.  After a while, Rich had had enough and we switched back, incredulous that I had been able to keep up comfortably on such an odd ball bike.  I think that once you get used to it, the CZ is great.  Plus, Douglas has put a modern, electronic ignition and 12 volt charging system on it, so I was able to plug in the electric vest and glove liners.  But then, I think they are almost all great.
Left to right: Peter Thiel, Rich Hosley, and DR.  Pete got a Harley guy who arrived as we were about to leave to take this photo
Rich led me within 10 miles of Haddam, then peeled off.  The bike when on reserve about half way from there, so there was little to drain out before Amy and I lowered it into the basement in the waning light, having ridden about 140 miles that day.  Another day in paradise.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rob Iannucci reminded me recently of another photo sequence of a crash.
 This was the 6 September 1989 Senior Classic Manx Grand Prix when I was racing the Team Obsolete '59 Matchless G-50.

 On the 2nd lap of the 4 lap race, I noticed my friend, the inimitable Dick Miles, spectating on the hill after the Verandah and before Bungalow Bridge.

The race seemed to be going well and I was feeling good.  So, on the third lap, as I went by Dick, I took my right leg off the peg and waved it at him.

 Foot back on the peg, I pitched it into The Bungalow and the bike slid away and I went sky/ground/sky/ground.

 I ran over to the bike to see if I could restart, but it was a bit bent up and there was a puncture in the aluminum fuel tank.

So, I watched the finish of the race from the marshall's hut thinking I had just done a 'Schwantz', throwing it away when I had about a one minute lead.

 However, I was awarded the Milne Shield for the fastest lap in the race (102.52mph).  Months later, back in the shop in Brooklyn, I started working on the G-50 to get it ready for Daytona.  I took the seat off and found the two frame tubes were broken just in front of the top shock mounts.  One side was all worn smooth and shiny and clearly had been broken a while, where the other side was fresh.  I like to think that second side let go just as I pitched it into the Bungalow and that's why I went down.  It certainly could have happened at a lot worse place on the TT course.
We retired that frame (#1709) then and built all the rest of the bike into frame #1708. which Rob had acquired years before.  1709 frame was put aside until 2007 when we restored the bike to as near as we could to the way it was in 1984, when we won the Senior Historic TT, for the Centenary TT Lap of Honor.
I don't remember who took the photos but I think it may have been a photographer for one of the British newspapers(The Telegraph?????).
September, 1989

Saturday, November 17, 2012

At Barber, I was introduced to Rolf Janssen by Ake Smith.  Rolf is the AHRMA Historic Production Heavyweight class champion on his 750 BMW.  I was looking for somewhere to spend Sun. night in Atlanta after I dropped someone off at the airport and before I picked someone up at the airport the next morning, and Rolf graciously volunteered.  Rolf is German born, but has lived in Atlanta 18 years.  Sun. we talked late into the night, and I got to know his story a bit.  He ask if I could identify a bike and I couldn't.  I thought some readers of this blog might be able to.
Ernst Janssen with the mystery British motorcycle
Apparently, Rolf's dad Ernst, had been fascinated with motorcycles as a young boy and had apprenticed himself to a bike shop, against his family's desire for him join the family carpentry business.
Ernst, in the late 1920s, on the right
Ernst wanted to fly, too, so joined the Luftwaffe before the war.
Ernst off to war, with his sister, one of his brothers and his parents and his beloved motorcycle

Early on in the war, he was shot down over the Irish Sea and, after being a P.O.W. in England, was sent to Barton Fields Camp in Canada.  After the war ended, Ernst was finally repatriated to Germany in November of 1946, having spent about a fifth of his life as a prisoner.  Rolf tells me his whole family loved strawberries, but Ernst never ate them because he had to pick them as a P.O.W. in Canada.  Ernst may have been in the Luftwaffe, but he was no Nazi.  Rolf remembers that as a young boy he went to a party where the kids given Dinky toys as presents.  Rolf was given a tank and, when he showed it to his dad, Ernst said that it was nice that he was given a present, but they didn't have that kind of toy in their household, and the tank disappeared.
Ernst courted Rolf's mom, Antonie, on a motorcycle.  One time, when they were returning from a trip, Ernst stopped and told Antonie that if he was going to marry her, she had to know how to ride a motorcycle.  He showed her how and she rode him back the rest of the way.  Apparently, this was Ernst's way of proposing to Antonie and her way of accepting.
They bought the ruins of a bombed out shop, rebuilt it, and started a motorcycle dealership in Hasselt in far western Germany, some 20 Km from Holland.
Antonie on the left and Ernst in the middle building their shop out of the rubble.
They sold DKW, NSU, and Horex.
Janssen's Hasselt dealership in Feb. 1953
Antonie picked up and delivered parts on her NSU Pony.  This was part of their marketing plan, showing people that anyone could ride a motorcycle, you didn't have be a strapping young man.
Rolf's mom, Antonie, with her NSU pony
 Ernst went from being a factory trained mechanic to to being a master technician/instructor.

Ernst instructing on an NSU Prinz transaxle

Another view of the Hasselt dealership with Antonie in the entrance way.  The shop morphed into an auto dealership which Rolf's older brother now runs. 

I don't really have any info on this photo other than that's Ernst and Antonie to the left of #102, which looks to be an NSU Max.  There must have been a road race in town.

So, if anyone can identify the British single in the first and third photo, please add a comment below.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Williston Cox just sent me a link to some fabulous photos of racing at Laguna Seca from the good ol' days.  Willie is the son of Madison Cox, who I had raced with in the BOTT and who I had miss identified in the crash sequence I previously posted from Laguna.!i=1781907135&k=pWgNcst
These photo have to be from at least two different years as we see Eddie Lawson on both Kawasakis and Yamahas and Freddie Spencer on a Yamaha and Hondas.  My guess is 1981 and 1982.  F-1, Superbikes, 250's, sidecars and BOTT.  There's one of you faithful scribe on the Team Obsolete, Rob North framed, 909 XR Harley  in addition to Jim Adamo on Reno Leoni's Ducati and a couple of Madison Cox on the Darkroom Ducati.  But, also great candid shots of such greats as Roberts, Spencer, Lawson, Baldwin, Cooley, Don Vesco and Dave Aldana, Kel Carruthers working on Roberts Yamaha out of the back of a box van and great overall shots of the track and crowd.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I finally got around to writing a Daytona report after dealing with hurricane Sandy.  I made out better than most with no flooding and no tree through the roof, but I do have some big limbs down and lost power for a couple of days.
I went on from Barber to Daytona, doing a little sight seeing on the way.  Wed. I went to the Hollingsworth family race shop in St. Augustine and changed the gearing on my bikes while Al plugged away at repairing Don's and Dick's 250 Sprints.Their matriarch and team leader, Myrtle, fed us and put me up for the night.  Thurs. morning, I loaded up and drove to Winter Park where there was an excellent exhibit of David Delong moto art.                        
David was someone I raced with at Bridgehampton, Pocono, and Summit Point and probably other places back in the '80s and '90s.  I never knew then that he was an artist; he was just a motorcycle racer to me.  And, he was a real racer, racing into the last year of his life at age 70.  His widow, Harriet, has made a great effort to get David's work shown and has organized a terrific show at a lovely gallery in Winter Park that will run to next April.
From there, I drove up to Daytona, got my credentials and set up my pit.
The AHRMA Daytona event has gone from being a curious side show on amateur day of the March Speedweek, to being a huge curtain raiser for the 200 that attracted tens of thousands of spectators in the mid/late '90's, to being a huge anti-climax to the Barber event during the Fall 'Biketoberfest'.  Entries weren't great last year, when they first went to having the event in the Fall, but this year they were way down from that.  It seems unsustainable.
Fri. practice went well and I didn't do any changes before the races.  It didn't go so well for the Hollingsworths and Al's work was for naught in the case of the '66 short stroke (the last four stroke to win the Daytona Novice race).  When Dick was practicing on it at Daytona, it dropped a valve.
The Hollingsworth's short stroke 250 CRTT Sprint after it dropped a valve at Daytona
First race for me was F500/Vintage Superbike Lightweight/Historic Production Heavy Weight/250GP/Class 'C' Foot & Hand.  We had 22 starters among the six classes.  It was an amusing race for me as I diced the whole way with John Stephens on his 250 Ducati.  I got by him on the Dondolino soon after the start but he drove past me near start/finish completing the first lap.  However, he waited way to long to brake into turn #1 and nearly ran off the track trying to get it slowed enough to make the corner, letting me by.  Again, John drove by me near start/finish completing the second lap, but this time he brake way too early and I passed him going into #1.  Same deal on lap three.  On the fourth and final lap, he came by not long after the chicane and I tucked into his draft and closed right up on him but, when I pulled out of the draft, I couldn't pass him.  He beat me by nine hundredths of a second.  Not that it meant anything as we were in different classes and he won the 250GP and I was 2nd to Alex McLean on Bob McKeever's Norton in Class 'C'.
Next up was the 350GP/F-250/350 Sportsman/Classic 60's/Classic 60's 650.  There was a grand total of seven starters in the five classes and five riders finished the five laps.  I started on the pole on my 350  H-D Sprint ERTT and I didn't see anyone during the whole race.  Alex McLean's fastest lap was almost 2 seconds  faster than my fastest lap, but he started in the second wave on McKeever's Classic 60's Norton Manx and couldn't overcome that deficit.
Originally, I was scheduled to race the Dondolino again on Sat. and the ERTT on Sunday, but they changed the schedule so that both of my races were on Sun. with none for me Sat.  Then I discovered a broken exhaust valve spring on the Dondo and decided to blow off Sunday's race and leave Sat. morning.
I took no photos of my own bikes at Daytona, so I'll include a couple of more from Barber:
Bill Doll photo
my brother Doug and me with the '70 ERTT. Rich Hosley photo

Bill Doll photo