Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Motorcyclist Post

While looking through some old Motorcyclist Posts for some AAMRR results, I ran across this:
Sorry for the poor reproduction.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rich Schlachter's 1981 season revisited

I was a bit premature in posting my report on Rich Schlachter's 1981 season as I realized later that I left out at least a couple of races and in researching them I found more detail on the races that I did report.
I already reported on Rich's 250 ride at the Dutch TT at Assen, but Rich also had a one off ride in the 350 GP, as reported in Cycle News: "Rich Schlachter's ride in the 350cc World Championship class at the June 27 road race in Assen, Holland was arranged through Kenny Roberts according to Schlachter's sponsor Bob MacLean.  'Rich rode (350cc) World Champion Jon Ekerold's back-up bike and although it wasn't really set up for his style, I think he really did well before being forced to retire when the shift lever broke.'"
I left out the Belgium GP at Spa because there was no mention of Rich in the Motocourse report, but Henny Ray Abrams reported in Cycle News: "For Connecticut's Rich Schlachter it was a disappointing weekend.  He had qualified twelfth in the first practice session on Thursday, but holed a piston on Saturday and after putting in a new engine, seized again....For American Rich Schlachter the weekend was a learning experience at best.  'I learned that you need two motorcycles to really do the GP's right.  If I had two bikes I'd have been out there today,' the Krause Racing /MacLean Racing /Arai/Hostettler/Castrol/ Champion sponsored Schlachter said.  there was a rash of seizures during the week which many attributed to bad gasoline.  Schlachter seized twice in the same spot.  'It locked up both times in the fast left-hander just before the hairpin.  It's a flat-out fifth gear turn, but the rear wheel didn't  lock up either time.  I like the track.  It's real fast and the corners are wide so you can see them going in. But it's real dangerous.  Most every corner has hay bales and guardrail around it.'  Since he only went a few laps in the dry (it was wet on Friday qualifying) he was unable to qualify and had to watch the race atop the Dunlop truck with mechanic Kevin Cameron."  This was probably the first time Henny and Rich met.  Henny was a photographer working for UPI in Brussels at the time, and they became good friends.
The next weekend was the San Marino GP at Imola.  Lou Martin reported in Cycle News: "American Richard Schlachter had a day he would rather forget at Imola.  Different fuel and a change of lubricating oil caused untold carburetor problems in practice and during the race.  The bike was described as a pig by mechanic Kevin cameron after Schlachter finish 19th of 22 finishers in the 250 class."
Rich came back to the US to ride his TZ750 at Laguna, which was run in two 100 kilometer legs.  Dale Brown reported in Cycle News: "The top two positions were set to the flag, but third became a bone of contention at the midway point as Schlachter, on the MacLean Racing /Xastrol/Arai/Sky Cycles Yamaha, moved up to challenge Bettencourt, riding a Yamaha sponsored by Bettencourt's Yamaha and Suzui and J. Wood, for third.  Schlachter, who is actively pursuing the 250cc World Road Racing Championship Series this year, made the pass on lap 16 and made it stick for almost 4 laps before he started to lose his rear brake and being forced to slow his pace.....
Bettencourt took the flag in third and followed by Schlachter, but Schlachter's 4-4 tally toped Bettencourt's 7-3.  'We just wanted to hang in there and get a good placing,' said Schlacher.  'we had an awful lot of problems in practice and the Heat race yesterday, so that hurt me in the first heat today.  But overall, it worked out quite well.' "
Alan Cathcart reported in Cycle News on the British GP at Silverstone two weeks after Laguna: "Freymond then fell back into the clutches of these three, among them Richard Schlachter, enjoying his best-ever start in a GP this year.  Qualifying a lowly 21st after blowing an engine in practice, the Old Lyme, Ct. rider has impressed trackside observers by his determination as he swooped through packs of riders in the corners to make up what he was evidently losing down the straights.  His flyer of a start ensured he was able to get a tow from the factory Kawasaki of Aussie Graeme McGregor as well as Marin Wimmer's Yamaha of Germany TZ, and by lap four he was in third place and his best GP position thus far.  This became second on lap 10 with a  heart-stopping pass inside of Wimmer in the first turn, but then Schlachter began to drop back, losing places on each successive lap until he'd become detached from the trio by lap 15, and was in danger of losing his tow.
Fortunately, Richard was alive to the problem, and hoisted himself back into contention by the final two laps, still in 5th place.  This became fourth in a tremendous pass around the outside of Wimmer before the flag to be first pistons-port machine home and equalling his best-ever finish in
Spain earlier this year.
Richard Schlachter has shown by his performances this year in Europe that it is possible for an  American  rider  to pack his bags and head for Europe with only the minimum of sponsorship and a production bike.  Provided he isn't disheartened by a few initial setbacks, he'll be able to compete on equal terms with the Europeans and beat them.  All you need is talent, belief in yourself some good help and a couple of breaks.  Are there any more Richard Schlachters out there?"
Lou Martin in Cycle News on Imatra:"Richard Schlachter got a good mid-field start but overshot the chicane on the first lap.  He continued and was 23rd at the completion of the first lap.  Schlachter clawed his way into fifth place with some absolutely brilliant riding and dicing with Grand Prix regulars like Fernandez only to have a certain fifth place turn into a DNF when he ran out of fuel on the next-to-last lap.  Schlachter is determined to win a world championship, and he has the talent to do it.  It would be a shame to see the enormous cost of fielding a competitive bike for a full season rob him of his goal, as Schlachter is living a hand to mouth existence contesting the GPs."
 Lou Martin on Swedish GP at Anderstorp: "Richard  Schlachter finished in ninth place after riding the whole race with a faulty  monoshock unit.  His TZ250's unit went in practice and a 500 Yamaha unit was fitted but it was not dialed in properly.  Schlachter is now eighth place in the 250cc World Road Racing Championship standings with one round remaining at Brno, Czechoslovakia on Aug.30."
Rich finished the season with an event that I had forgotten that he was involved with: Superbikers.  This was the precursor to SuperMoto with a circuit that was part asphalt and part dirt.  The event was made for TV and riders were selected from the three disciplines of road race, dirt track, and motocross.  
Mark Kariya in Cycle News on the 1 Nov. Superbikers race at Carlsbad: "In the Bel-Ray Challenge Cup team competition (to qualify, each team had to be composed of a dirt tracker, a motocrosser and a road racer), Team Honda, with riders Mickey Fey, Wise and John Bettencourt, grabbed the spotlight for the second year in a row at 38 points.  Scoring was done motocross style with heat and main event scores added, low score winning.
Team Maico was the only team to get all three riders into the main.  Steve Eklund, Rich Schlachter and Carlos Serrano came up with 46 points for second team on bikes they'd had out of the crate four days.
The first five finisher from each of the three eight-lap heats transferred to the 12 lap main.  There would be no second chance.
In the first heat, comprised of road race specialist, Eddie Lawson latched on to the early  lead and ran the rest of the distance unchallenged....Dave Aldana who quickly rode from fourth to second in the early going on a Dallas Baker/ATK Yamaha......John Bettencourt on a Honda CR480R, 1981 World Sidecar Champion (well, half the team, at least) Rolf Biland on a Husky CR430 and Rich Schlachter on a Maico 490 were the next riders across and into the main.....
Rich finished 12th in the final

6 March, Daytona  Battle of the Twins,                  Gee Vee Ducati  1st Mod Prod Pro, 2nd Overall
7 March, Daytona 100 mile LightWeight,               TZ250 Yamaha,  DNF, in 4th when chain came off
8 March, Daytona 200                                             TZ750 Yamaha, 3rd, after having led until he lost 2nd and 3rd gears
5 April,   Imola 200                                                 TZ750 Yamaha, DNS got there too late and wasn't allow to start
12 April, Circuit Paul Ricard Moto Journal 200,    TZ750 Yamaha, DNS, chain came off on warm-up lap after qualifying 2nd
17 April, Brands Hatch, TAMR, heat 1                   TZ750 Yamaha, 2nd
                                                     heat 2                   TZ750 Yamaha, 2nd
19 April, Mallory Park, TAMR   heat 3                    TZ750 Yamaha, 3rd
                                                     heat 4                    TZ750 Yamaha, 5th after chain started jumping sprocket
20 April, Oulton Park, TAMR     heat 5                    TZ750 Yamaha, 18th, DNF crash
                                                     heat 6                     TZ750 Yamaha, DNS
3 May,   Hockenheim,             250cc GP                    TZ250 Yamaha, 6th
10 May, Monza,                      250cc GP                     TZ250 Yamaha, DNF after tape from radiator got in carb
17 May, Circuit Paul Ricard,  250cc GP                     TZ250 Yamaha, DNF, stuck throttle, 2nd in practice
24 May, Jarama,                     250cc GP                      TZ250 Yamaha, 4th after last off the line
27 June, Assen,                      250cc GP                      TZ250 Yamaha, 9th, qualified 6th
                                               350 cc GP                      TZ350 Yamaha, DNF, broken shift lever
5 July, Spa Francochamps      250ccGP                        TZ250 Yamaha, did not qualify after a couple of seizures in practice
12 July, Imola                         250cc GP                       TZ250 Yamaha, 19th bike ran poorly
19 July, Laguna Seca Champion Sparkplug 200          TZ750 Yamaha, 4th and 4th=3rd overall
2 August, Silverstone             250cc GP                       TZ250 Yamaha, 4th with fastest lap of the race
9 August, Imatra                     250cc GP                       TZ250 Yamaha, DNF ran out of fuel while in 5th with two laps to go
16 August, Anderstorp           250cc GP                        TZ250 Yamaha, 9th with bad rear shock
30 August, Brno                     250cc GP                        TZ250 Yamaha, DNF broken exhaust pipe
1 November, Carlsbad            Superbikers                    490 Maico,       5th in heat, 12th in final

Friday, January 6, 2017

Rich Schlachter's '81 season

A recent post on Superbikeplanet.com caused me to review my old friend, Rich Schlacter's, 1981 season.
The post mentioned that Rich finished fourth in the 250 Spanish GP at Jarama in '81.  I thought he also turned the fastest lap, so I pulled out my 1981-82 copy of Motocourse.  I was wrong; he had the second fastest lap.  It was Silverstone that year, where he also finished 4th, that he had the fastest lap.
But, this sucked me into going through Rich's whole season as reported by Motocourse.  It starts with  Daytona, 6 March, '81, when Rich stood in for Ted Boody who was supposed to race George Vincensi's Ducati in Battle of the Twins, but broke his collar bone in a practice crash.  Rich won the Modified Production class and finished  second overall.
The next day was the 100 mile Light Weight 250 race. Mark Homchick, in his report in Cycle magazine, writes: "Rich Schlachter was missing from the heat race results.  Working his way up from a slow start, Schlachter had a big-end bearing fail on the back straight, ending his ride."  So he had to start the final from the back of the grid.  "Meanwhile, Rich Schlachter was making amends for his back-row starting position.  His running 2:18s and 2:17s in the midst of mid-packers proved he was willing and capable.  On lap 13, Schlachter had moved up to fourth.  Unfortunately for Rich, he would get no farther.  His bike threw it's chain twice and he retired."
On to the Daytona 200 the next day on the 8th.  Peter Clifford reports in Motocourse:
" Spencer didn't win--his bike blew up while he led by an incredible, embarrassingly big margin.  Schlachter inherited the lead from Spencer, having moved up from mid-pack, but when his TZ struck transmission troubles Singleton and Frenchman Marc Fontan moved past to finish first and second."  Schlachter 3rd.  But, that doesn't tell the whole story as John Ulrich reported in Cycle World: "Roberts' race was over, ending with stuck throttles just as Rich Schlacher's race was beginning.  Last year, Schlachter fried his bikes clutch getting the hole shot, and retired in one lap.  This year he swore not to do that again so eased out the clutch gently as he fed in the throttle -- and promptly killed the engine.  Jumping off to push, Schlachter got underway at the end of the first start wave and immediately abandoned his plans for an orderly, cautious approach to the beginning of the 200 miles.  Instead he whipped into a series of 2:05 laps and sliced through the field, gaining rapidly on the leaders.  
Schlachter was third and closing in three laps, behind Spencer and  Cooley and ahead of Fontan, Singleton and Aldana.  Crosby already had shifting trouble and would retire in another handful of laps.
By the fifth lap, Schlachter was second, and Cooley started to lose ground as his Suzuki overheated and slowed. At 10 laps, it was still Spencer alone in front; Schlachter , alone in second; Fontan and Singleton in tandem, racing for third; Cooley; Aldana.  The 15th lap showed little change except that Spencer was farther out in front of Schlachter and Schlachter was farther ahead of Singleton, who had passed Fontan.  Aldana was fifth, Christan Sarron sixth, Stafford seventh, Cooley eight.........
It threw a rod, opening a huge hole in the cases on the next lap.  Spencer pulled into the pits, where the broken Honda deposited all its oil on the pavement.
Schlachter led, convincingly.  He dove towards Turn One just after someone else had crashed, and ran over debris.  His bike whipped sideways on the pit-side banking, flinging I'm up out of the saddle and off the footpegs.  Schlachter held on and didn't crash, but his forearms broke a section of plexiglass out of the windscreen.  
With the chunks of plexiglass went the bike's fuel tank breather hose, and gasoline sloshed out of the breather, was whipped inside the remains of the bubble, and Schlachter couldn't see through the windscreen anymore.  
He could deal with that, peeking above the bubble, straining he is neck muscles against the 170 mph wind blast.  
But, when second and third gears in the transmission lost teeth, Schlachter was forced to shift around the troubled gears, slipping the clutch out of turns,  which is why he slowed, and why Singleton over took on the 37th lap and pulled off into the distance ahead.  It took Fontan a few more laps to overtake and  pass, and then he, too, was gone, and Schlachter was left alone, wondering if he could even finish the 52 laps in possession of third place."
Don Morley Photo from June '81 Cycle World
Next up was the Transatlantic Match Races in England.  Again, from Motocourse:
Brands Hatch,17 April: "Randy Mamola , riding last year's 500 Suzuki Grand Prix machine, and chasing the £10,000 put up by Marlboro for the first rider ever to win all six races, duly won both 13 lap races with Richard Schlachter (Yamaha) second on both occasions......Potter lay third, Haslam fourth and Heuwen fifth, leading the American skipper Dale Singleton, with surprise of the series Schlachter ready for action in seventh place after a bad start.
The 29-year-old from Old Lyme, Connecticut, who later starred in 250 Grand Prix races, carved into the British belly like a butcher with a sharp knife and cut his way through the field to finish second behind Mamola who looked quite capable of taking that £10,000 back to California.
Mamola repeated his winning dose in the second race with Schlachter holding off a groggy-feeling Potter to finish second once again."
Mallory Park, 19 April,1st race: "Schlachter restored a little pride by snatching second place at half distance but four laps from the finish the flying Newbold relegated him to third spot to finish second behind Haslam, who recorded his first Transatlantic win."
Mallory Park 2nd race: "....Huewen was fifth in front of Schlachter whose chain was jumping the rear sprocket."
Oulton Park, 20 April: "Any thoughts the weakened Americans had of pulling back the massive 61 point deficit disappeared on the second lap of the first race at Oulton Park when their top scorers, Mamola and Schlachter, crashed without serious injury.
With Mamola and Schlachter missing from the second race Spencer and Singleton did a great job trying to restore the Americans' fading pride and morale."
Schlachter ended up 5th individual scorer overall and 2nd American.
Alan Cathcart, in his report in Cycle News, writes: "Current U.S. Road Race Champion Rich Schlachter seemed like a man in form after two second places (sic) at Daytona in the 200 and the Twins.  Suffering a heavy cold throughout the weekend-'the English doctor I saw said I had a social disease when I knew damn well I had a virus,' said Rich."  (Rich told me that the English doctor told him he had an 'American' disease-Rocky Mountain Fever or something, but I like Cathcart's 'social disease'.)  "So I turned right around and flew back to the States for treatment and some medication before I went to Paul Ricard."
Actually, Rich went to the Imola 200 next, but got there too late and they wouldn't let him ride.  So, he just spectated that weekend and went to Circuit Paul Ricard for the Moto-Journal 200 the next weekend, 11/12 April, 1981.  Rich remembers qualifying 3rd on his TZ750.  He put on a new chain for the race, but it came off on the warm-up lap, and Rich confessed that he may not have pressed on the rivet link properly.  So, he didn't get to start, but the organizers did pay him start money and told him that he had an entry for the 250 GP five weeks later.

Then come the GPs with Rich's first at Hockenheim, the 3rd GP of the season (but the 2nd 250GP, as there was no 250 race at Salzburgring in Austria), on 3 May.
"One additional moment of excitement came when a bug got inside Nieto's helmet and he pulled up his visor as he peeled off into a corner.  The sudden movement upset his line and he an Schlachter touched.  Both managed to stay on the road and neither slowed for more than a split second."  Rich finished 6th in his first GP.
A week later, Rich was at Monza.  It was cold and wet and they had taped over part of the radiator to get the operating temperature up.  In the race, part of the tape came loose and somehow got in the carb.  Not understanding why the bike was running so poorly, Rich retired.  DNF; no points. 
Circuit Paul Ricard, 17 May:" Richard Schlachter's chances of really impressing the Gran Prix world evaporated in the Mediterranean sunshine as he returned to the grid from the warming-up lap.  One of his throttle slides jammed open and his mechanic, Kevin Cameron, remedied the problem but as the race started it caught up again and the engine would not fire.  He struggled off the line in last place, accompanied by Eric Saul.  While Eric set about cutting his way through the field, Schlachter could only manage four laps with his engine over-revving violently going into corners and the machine trying to throw him off.  He returned to the pits, beating his thigh in frustration."  DNF; he had qualified 2nd to Anton Mang.
Jarama, 24 May: Rich almost didn't get to ride.  After the organizer had previously promised him an entry, when he got there, they said no.  His new friend and competitor, Martin Wimmer, had a friend with an entry who had gotten hurt at Paul Ricard and was not going to race at Jarama.  Wimmer pulled some strings and Rich got to take Wimmer's friend's place, but he missed the first practice session sorting this out.  "Richard Schlachter's ride from last place to fourth in the 250cc race was simply superb.  It was an effort that distracted attention from the race leaders; the focus became 'where is Schlachter, how many places can he make up on this lap, and who will he pass next'
Jarama is not an easy circuit to pass on: its three hairpin bends and other tight corners force the faster rider to move off line as he overtakes.  It's not as if Richard had the advantage of works machinery: his near standard Yamaha TZ250 H was in no way superior to the opposition.  That did not force Richard to resort to wild or dangerously aggressive riding; He never seemed likely to fall off and smoothly maintained his pace through the race.  His fastest lap, in fact was the 25th of 31 laps, time bettered only by Mang.
Had the Yamaha not refused to star, the story might have been different.  After the race, Richard was quietly certain that he could have won:  "I thought this was mine, but at least we now have a foot in the door.  Next we want to get the whole 'body in".  There is every indication that Richard can do just that.  It would have been all too easy for him to have clawed his way into the first ten and then eased off for a few championship points.  The fact that he continued to rise faster than those ahead of him showed a balance of talent and maturity that will stand min in good stead its the future"
Rich trying to start at Jarama with the rest of the field out of sight.  Don Morley photo
Assen, 27 June:"...Martin Wimmer and Richard Schlachter were in eighth and ninth places respectively.
Schlachter had been last off the line again and was charging through the field when, after reaching eighth place at the end of lap ten, felt his rear tyre begin to slide and decided to ease the pace.  This allowed Wimmer to retake him, a position he held to the finish."  Rich ends up 9th.
Imola, 12 July: "Richard Schlachter struggled home nineteenth, thanks to a rear suspension unit that refused to damp properly."  No points.
Rich came back to the States for the AMA race at Laguna Seca 0n 19 July.
Laguna Seca:"In both legs, however, Mamola ended up in front.  Cooley was second twice, and with back-from-Europe Schlachter (who was amazed he could ride his 'dinosaur ' 750 at all after most of a season on a TZ250) fourth in one leg behind Aldana's Bob Work-prepared TZ750 and fourth in the other behind behind Bettencourt's TZ."  Schlachter 3rd O.A.
Then it was back to the 250 GPs.
Silverstone, 2 August: "Richard Schlachter and Martin Wimmer rapidly put pressure on Tournadre.  Mang closed inexorably on Freymond and took the  lead convincingly on the sixth lap.  As the West German star pulled steadily away Freymond's second place was severely threatened by Wimmer, Schlachter and McGregor.....
The fabulous battle for second continued to rage at full strength.  Wimmer and Schlachter were riding superbly to keep up with the disc valve machines of McGregor and Freymond.  Mang marched away from this hectic struggle which was obviously going to be decided on the run-in to the flag.  On the last lap the superior speed of the Ad Majora and the Kawasaki favored Freymond and McGregor and the pair flashed across the line side by side.  Freymond was credited with second and this decision stood even though the Australian protested.
The two great friends Wimmer and Schlachter also crossed the line together and although the young German thought he had claimed fourth the judges thought otherwise and typically Martin warned Richard that he would make sure the positions were reversed next time round."
Rich at Silverstone on his way the 4th place and fastest lap.  Don Morley photo
Imatra, 9 August: "....Closing fast on them was Richard Schlachter who had overshot the chicane on the first lap.  Schlachter passed Bruno Kneubuhler on lap ten as the Swiss dropped down the field.....
Schlachter had obviously put his intense dislike to the circuit behind him as he scythed his way through the group of riders contesting fifth.  De Radigues retired as his front brake locked on and the remaining riders separated as Schlachter towed Eero Hyvarinen and Patrick Fernandez in pursuit of Jean Louis Tournadre.
As Mang increased the pace Guignaboet was gradually left behind and Balde had him in his sights by the 13th lap.  Balde got past with little difficulty and left Guignabodet in lonely third place.  Tournadre's fourth position turned out to be secure as Schlachter ran out of fuel with two laps to go and neither Fernandez nor Hyvarinen had the speed to catch him"
Anderstorp, 16 August: "Tourndre was making up ground after a slow start and soon passed Martin Wimmer and Richard Schlachter who were fighting between themselves for tenth......
.....Richard Schlachter found himself unable to match the pace of Wimmer and the others when the performance of his rear suspension unit deteriorated.  He could, however, maintain a healthy lead over the local rider, Bent Elgh, who hung on to tenth place."
The last GP of the season was at Brno, Czechoslovakia on the old 6.785 mile long road circuit.  Rich found it intimidating and, when his exhaust pipe broke up in the race, he was almost relieved  to retire.
Two 4ths, a 6th, and two 9ths and a fastest lap is not bad for a privateer in his first year on the circuit.  I think the only tracks that he had been to previously were Imola and Circuit Paul Ricard.  
I met Rich through my brother in the spring or early summer of 1970. They were classmates at Old Lyme (Ct.) High School, both having recently moved to Old Lyme, and both motorcyclist.  I had wandered back East after being discharged from the Army.  The three of us, and a few other friends, did a lot of dirt bike riding together.  Then both Rich and my brother bought H-1 Kawasakis and I had converted my Kawasaki Bighorn dual sport bike into a 'cafe racer'. I saw a poster for the AAMRR road races at Bridgehampton, Long Island, and suggested to Douglas that we go.  He said he'd race if Rich would.  So, a bunch of us got on the New London-Orient Point ferry and headed to the Memorial Day 1972 road races at Bridgehampton, knowing nothing.  In Sunday's sprint races Rich's H-1 seized.  We hadn't realized that there was a 4 hr. endurance race on Mon. and I bugged my brother to race in that.  He thought the 10 lap sprint was plenty and he finally said "Why don't you race?"  I hadn't intended to race because my Bighorn had a terrible front brake and I replied that I would if I had a decent brake.  That led to coming up with a scheme to take the complete front forks and wheel off Rich's seized H-1 and put it on my F-5 Bighorn.  We took the number plates off Doug's bike, because he had raced as me.  At the time, if you were under 21, you needed a parent's permission to get a race license.  So, I got the license and Doug raced as me.  We each got a few laps practice Mon., then I went to grid up for the start.  The grid marshals were sending people to their respective spots until I was the only one left.  I wasn't on the grid sheet because I hadn't entered.  They told me that they didn't see me on the grid sheet and asked if I had entered.  Yes I did, I lied.  They said that there must have been some mistake and would I mind starting from the back.  Oh, alright.  We started the race and people were streaking by me down the straights, but I was passing many in the corners.  Then, on the third lap my motor seized locking the rear wheel and my mind seized and I went sky-ground-sky-ground.  I had some blood in my urine and spent the night in Southhampton hospital and I was hooked.  This road race stuff was for me.  Rich was hooked too, and we spent the next several years going to club races together.  I got a TD-3 Yamaha and started doing AMA Novice pro races and Rich followed suit maybe a year later.  He quickly advanced to Expert, got a TZ250 then a TZ750.
After Rich stopped professional racing and started a family and built up his business, it seemed he made a conscious effort to stay away from the race track, though always had bikes and rode on the street.  After many years, he started going to races to spectate and now follows racing avidly.  He's gone to at least one GP in each of the last several years and he's been to the Barber Vintage festival the last three years, anyway, usually riding a bike down the long way.  He puts thousands of miles on his bikes touring all over the country.  A motorcyclist through and through.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Harold Dean

Tues.,  I was informed that Harold Dean had died.  I mentioned in my last post that I had stopped by to see him at the rehab facility that he was in, but he was asleep and I didn't wake him.  I left him a note and just before I got back to Doug and Amy's house he called and told Amy that I should have awoken him.  Now I feel a little guilty and sorry that I didn't as I won't get a chance to talk to him again.
I mentioned that I was riding the 175 C-Z that he had given Doug.  Years before, when Doug was visiting Harold (who lived 5 or so miles away) and checking out his extensive bike collection, Doug commented that his first bike was a 175 C-Z.  A few days later, Harold dropped off the bike and told Doug that it was his.  Doug and Harold had know each other maybe 20 years before when they both worked at New Haven Tweed airport, but had lost touch until Doug and Amy moved to Haddam.  Harold was a pilot and had once flow to Alaska in his Cessna with a Triumph Tiger Cub in the plane, to get around on the land.
Harold had been a top Enduro rider in the 60s and had been sponsored by Jawa/C-Z.  He used to drive down to there warehouse, first in Long Island City and later in Plainview, N.Y., pick up bikes and deliver them to dealers in the Northeast.
He had an extensive collection of bike that included many BMWs, mostly airhead twins, but at least one single, a couple of Sprints, a couple to Tiger Cubs, a late '40s 125 C-Z, a Horex Regina, and a Hercules 175? 250? 7 speed enduro, among others.  He had recently given his very close friend Al Anderson his '31 Henderson 4 cylinder.
Harold rode into his last (85th) year and often accompanied us on the Tiddler Tours with his cheater BMW Twin.  But, when you're in your  80s, you can ride what ever you damn well please.
It's the end of an era and Harold will be missed.

T-day weekend

I've been nagged about not having posted about our family's ancient Thanksgiving tradition of putting the bikes away for the winter.  The tradition involves running each bike, then draining the oil and fuel, then lowering it into the basement.
First up was the '67 Moto Guzzi Stornello ISDT Regolarita that Douglas has started to restore for Pete Swider.  Pete's dad, Mike, had used the bike for enduros and had modified it extensively.  The plan is for Doug to tidy it up and bring it back close to stock.  They're pretty rare as only 75 of this model were made.  He'll ride it and, if he likes it, will buy it from Pete and, if not, Pete will sell it.
The Certain forks and Suzuki front wheel are among the non standard items

Next was the '65 C-Z 175 which hadn't been run since it we pulled out of the basement last Spring.  There were those who wanted to leave it in the basement all Summer, but I argued 'Why have it if you aren't gong to use it?'  And, I promised to use it.  It's routsheet holder had the sheet from the '15 Roper TT, so I decided I do the Afternoon route.  This was 54 miles on the west side of the river and I added a good 6 miles with a detour to visit Harold Dean, who had given the bike to Doug and Amy, at the rehab facility he's at now.  But Harold was asleep and I decided not to wake him and pushed on.  The C-Z is a great little bike if you're patient--comfortable and with good handling and the brilliant automatic clutch release when one moves the shift lever.  It's not very quick, but I saw 62.2 mph on the bicycle electronic speedo, which is plenty for snotty New England roads.  Just after I got started, I remembered that I had forgotten to check the tire pressure before I left, but it seemed to be handling fine, so I carried on.  When I got back, I checked it and there was 11psi in the front and 20 in the rear.  I guess neither it or I are very sensitive.  We drained the fuel and down it went.
A couple of the iconic stickers on the C-Z

It was a dry, but cool day, and Amy accepted my offer to ride her '71 CL 350 Honda.  All these bike have charging systems that can handle an electric vest and gloves, including the C-Z, which has the Power Dynamo 12V, 150 W system upgrade.  I did check the tire pressure this time.    The CL 350 has been 'CBized' with a low exhaust and disc brake, but I returned it to its roots by taking it on some dirt roads, some quite rough, after adapting to the enormous power after the C-Z.  32.6 miles (including Cedar Swamp Rd.) and it ran perfectly.  Gas and oil drained, it went down the hatch.
The Honda Cl 350 hadn't gotten a lot  of use recently either, as evidenced by the cobwebs on the mudguard

Working my way up the power curve, I next 'rode Amy's '16 Moto Guzzi V7 II Sport Stone.  With Amy being short, the bike has the lower seat, which make the 'bars seem high and wide for me.  But otherwise, it's comfortable and throughly modern.  Being a 90 degree V-twin, it's smooth, but with a pleasant thudding lugging at low revs.  Just under 30 miles and, after draining the oil, but not the gas as we couldn't figure it out with fuel injection and fuel pump, it went down in the basement.
The heart warming scene of a girl and her motor
The next day, I fired up the '53 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport.  I had last used it in the Fall Giro, where it leaked and burnt a tremendous amount of oil, like a gallon over the two days.  Doug left it on his trailer to leak for a couple more weeks, then powerwashed it and put it on some fresh cardboard to leak for another week or so.  So, this was the perfect opportunity to try to figure out where the oil was going.  Shortly after I started it, I noticed the exhaust rocker spindle wiggling back and forth.  So, I just rode it for a mile or two and drained what oil was left in it.  Further inspection found that the rocker spindle bore was wallowed out and oil was definitely leaking from there.  But, I was also missing three rocker cover screws, at least one of which gave direct access to the valve spring chamber and it's oil.  But, this didn't explain the smoke that everyone told me was coming out of the exhaust pipe, rather than off the outside of the pipe.  I pulled the head off and the bore didn't look bad, though full of oil.  Initially, the piston looked good, too but, on closer examination, I saw that the ring land was broken between the top and second ring.
With my beloved Airone Sport.  Amy Roper photo

Sunday, I rode my '59 Horex Resident to the British Iron Association breakfast in Colchester.  After breakfast, back in Haddam, Bill Burke showed up and pulled his trick Sprint out of his van.  We headed to Rich Hosley's shop in Branford, where he said he'd be working on his La Salle.  I was dead reconning and hit the Shore too far east and we had a bit of a tedious slog along Rt.1 and 146 behind some slowpokes.  I actually overshot Rich's shop and we stopped at a gas station to figure out exactly where we were and the best way to get back.  While sitting there idling with my electric vest and gloves plugged in, the Horex motor died.  The motor didn't want to start and when I pulled out the plug, I could see no spark, though it was a bit hard to tell in the sunlight.  Several people stopped to help, but I couldn't get it started.  We called Rich and he drove his van over and we loaded the Horex into it.  When we got it into his shop, I tried starting the Horex again and it fired up.  Odd.  After we had a good smooze, Bill and I decided to head back.  I fired up the Horex and plugged in and waited idling while Bill got organized and started his Sprint.  The Horex died again and we started connecting the dots.  We checked the battery and it was well down.  The 150 W Power Dynamo charging system could keep up with the load of the electric vest, gloves and lights at idle.  So we put a charger on the battery for 15 or so minutes, then started back without me plugging in.  We had a relatively high speed blast towards Haddam and the Horex ran fine, so I plugged back in for the last 5 or so miles.  The Horex got it's fuel and oil drained and it went down.
 In the meantime, Doug had just idled his Guzzi LeMans, Norton Electra, and Benelli 250 getting them hot, then draining the oil.  Eight bikes down in the basement is a little tight, but the winter projects have begun.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Moto 3

While I'm obsessed with vintage bikes, I also follow modern racing.  And while it was a great year in the MotoGP class, I very much enjoy the Moto 3 class, too.  One Moto 3 rider that has fascinated me this year is the Malaysian Khairul Idam Pawi.  He came on to my radar when he won the 2nd race of this season in Argentina by 26.17 seconds!  No one wins in the intensely competitive Moto 3 class by that kind of margin, let alone a rookie.
Pawi raced in only one Moto 3 race last year, in Aragon for some reason, and finished an unspectacular 25th.  Then in the pre season tests, he was 27th fastest of 33 at Valencia and 20th fastest of 33 at Qatar.  In the race a Qatar, he finished  22nd, 17.608 seconds behind the winner.  Then, in the next race he won by over 26 seconds.  It was wet and he used the same tires as everyone else.  When he got into a sizable lead, his team tried to slow him down, but he kept stretching his lead, just about crashing every lap.  I wondered if he was the Next Big Thing or if he was a wet weather specialist.
The next race was COTA in Austin, Tx., and Pawi finished 20th, 48.107 seconds behind the winner.  This led me to think that Argentina was just a very weird fluke.  Pawi was 14th in the next two races, credible for a rookie in such a competitive class, but not The Next Big Thing.
Pawi crashed out in the next three races, while in 5th one lap from the end at Mugello, while 7th at Catalunya after he had led, and on the 1st lap at Assen.  So, maybe he was a 'win it or bin it' type, except by now he also had four lackluster finishes.
At Sachsenring, Pawi won again, this time by 11.131 seconds, still a huge margin in Moto 3.  Again it was wet.  The next race in Austria he finished 27th, 40.361 seconds behind the winner.  What's up with this guy?
At Brno, he crashed out while in 3rd.  This was the 3rd wet Moto 3 race of the season and John McPhee won the race by the next biggest margin of the year, 8.806 seconds.  So, it does seem that a wet track does increase the chance of an otherwise mid pack rider winning and at a bigger margin and perhaps the Championship contenders are more conservative, having more to loose.
Silverstone: 22nd
San Marino: 22nd
Some of Pawi's unimpressive performances could be attributed to him being a rookie and presumably never having been to these circuits before.  But, at Aragon where he had raced as a wildcard in 2015, he was again 22nd.
At Phillip Island, Pawi crashed out on the first lap in a multi bike incident and it wasn't clear to me who was at fault.
At Sepang in Malaysia, at a track he presumably had raced before (and maybe many times), he finished 8th and scored his last points of the season.
In the final race of the season at Valencia, Pawi finished 25th.
The average margin of victory of all the Moto 3 races of 2016 was 3.926 second and the average margin of victory of all the Moto 3 races of 2016 that Pawi didn't win was less than half that, 1.854 seconds.  Bagnaia won the race at Sepang by 7.108 seconds.  Frenati won COTA by 6.612 seconds.  Brad Binder, who pretty much dominate the class and won his championship before the other two were decided, won at Phillip Island by 5.937 seconds (after he had cinched the Championship and had little to loose).  Pawi won his two races by over 26 and over 11 seconds.  He's easily the most up and down racer I've been aware of this season.
Pawi, along with Binder, Navaro, Bagnaia,and Quartararo (all of whom finished the 2016 Moto 3 championship higher than Pawi) moves to Moto 2 next season and it will be interesting to see how he does.  Danny Kent, who won the Moto 3 Championship last year, moved to Moto 2 this year and finished the season in 22nd place, so there's is certainly no direct correlation.  I'll  be watching how Pawi develops.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2016 race record

In 2016, I raced at 10 different events at 10 different tracks, one of which I had never been to before.  This is the least number of events that I've done in at least 15 years.  I entered 35 races and started 32 of them.  I had 5 DNFs.  I had two crashes, both in practice and neither of which stopped me from racing later in the day.  This is a little less than my average number of crashes.  I raced 6 different bikes belonging to 5 different people.  I had 9  firsts, 12 seconds, 4  thirds, 1 fourth, 2 fifths, and 1 sixth.  Despite running many less events and having a lot of mechanical gremlins, I won the AHRMA 350GP Championship yet again.  This concludes my 45th year of racing without missing a year.
I also did the Lap of Honour at the IOM Classic TT, 4 Tiddler Tours, and one Moto Giro.