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.
http://www.superbikeplanet.com/2016/Dec/161215sch.htm
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.
Motegi:19th
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.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

2016 Barber Vintage Festival

I missed the pre-entry deadline for Barber because two different dates for that deadline were published in different places.  Therefore, I started from the back of the grid for each of my classes (or  near the back if there were post entries after mine).  I raced three different bikes in three different classes: the CT1 Yamaha built by Dennis Latimer that I've ridden the last two years at Barber in 200GP; my H-D Sprint ERTT in 350GP; and a Team Obsolete Matchless G-50 that we had recently restored in Classic '60s.  There is no practice on race days at this AHRMA event and riders are required to practice either Thurs. or Fri., but I decided to practice both days, riding the CT1 and my ERTT on Thurs. and the G-50 on Fri.
My H-D Sprint in the foreground and Team Obsolete's latest Matchless G50 

I went out on the CT-1 first and on the 3rd lap crashed, spinning it out in turn #5.  Just as I saw the fresh scrap marks on the pavement, I lost the front end and lowsided, with little damage to me or the bike.  I like to think that there was something slippery on the pavement from the previous crash, but maybe I was just pushing too hard too fast and things weren't warm enough yet.  This was the second time I crashed this year, the other being early in the year at Willow Springs, also in my first practice session, but also several laps into the session, and also with little damage.  This is a little better than my average of three crashes a year, but still too many.
I replaced all the friction plates in the clutch of my ERTT after the problems I had at Mosport and Calabogie, but found that it would not fully release at Barber.  I though if I used it a bit it would free off, but it didn't.  I eventually realize that because the plates were thicker, the springs would coil bind, preventing a full release.  By this time, Josh Mackenzie had arrived after taking the Chinatown bus from Manhattan to Birmingham.  We replaced one new plate with a thinner used one and the clutch worked fine the rest of the weekend.
Dave Mathews photo
In the mean time, I went out on Dennis Latimer's 'B' bike, but that had a slipping clutch cause by stripped threads in the crankcase for the clutch release cover.  So, they installed a spare motor in the 'B' bike.  I went a few laps on that, but then the motor seized.  So, it was back to the 'A' bike, patched up after the crash.
I thought I could squeeze one last weekend out of the rear tire on my Sprint, but a couple of slides convinced me that I'd better change it and after practice Thurs., John Stephens helped me mount a 'take off' John Cronshaw had given me at Daytona last year.
Friday I concentrated on The Matchless G-50.  This is a bike that was raced by Harry Webster in his native England and possibly the Isle of Man.  He brought the bike with him when he immigrated to the U.S., but apparently never raced it here and it ended up going through several hands.  It ended up with a fellow in Auburn, Ca., who began to restore it, but never finished it before he died.  His widow  hung on to it for years but finally decided to sell it.  Rob Iannucci bought it and it was delivered to the AHRMA race at Sears Point/Sonoma Raceway and Larry Morris kindly agreed to haul it back to Brooklyn.  We went through the motor, gearbox, and forks, had the fuel and oil tank painted and mounted new tires.  The bike has a few interesting period modifications, the most obvious being the addition of frame tubes running from the swing arm pivot diagonally forward to the backbone.  This necessitated the modification of the oil tank.  The fuel tank had indentations put in for clearance with the clip-ons and the front brake has a cooling ring shrunk on.  Other wise the bike is very standard and original.
The frame tubes coming diagonally up from the swing arm spindle are non standard.
We guessed pretty well on the settings and just added one tooth on the rear sprocket and dropped one size on the main jet after a couple of practice sessions.  The front brake got better with use but still required a lot of force.  I had some problem with the 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 1st shift, the gearbox seeming to want to stop in neutral, but we didn't see a practical solution to this.
The alloy cooling ring on the front brake drum is a fairly common period modification

I think this is exiting turn #8. Nev Miller photo
I did one short session to the CT-1 'A' bike and one on my ERTT to check the rear tire, but the ERTT  misfired badly.  When I came in, I found the battery ground plug wasn't all the way home and I went out for one more lap to confirm that was the problem.
Sat. the first race of the day was the 200GP at 8am.  I gridded up 39th out of 41 entries on the 10th row.  I made an effort to be mellow initially in the cool conditions, remembering my crash Thurs. morning, but still was quickly into 3rd place and closing on Jeff Henise on his F-3 Kawasaki in the lead and Greg Glevicky on his Honda twin.  About the time I passed Greg, Jeff threw his hand up and pulled off.  It turned out the rotary valve had seized in it's case.  So, I had clear sailing to the checker and won by over 2.8 seconds with a fastest lap almost 1 second quicker than Jeff's.
On the David's Sports Center, Dennis Latimer built CT-1 Yamaha. Nev Miller photo
The 350GP raced followed immediately and here I gridded 20th out of 20 on the 5th row.  In addition to starting from the back, when the 'one' board went sideways, I tried to put my motor in gear with the rear brake pedal, the Sprint shifting on the opposite side from the Yamaha.  So, I left the line last by a ways.  But, again I was quickly up to 3rd, behind Jack Parker who was chasing Paul Germain.  And again, about the time I passed Jack, Paul threw up his hand and pulled off and I had smooth sailing to the checkered flag.  I won the race by some 16.5 seconds.
In turn #5 on the H-D Sprint.  Nev Miller photo
What I didn't learn until later was that Germain's motor had seized and he coasted for a ways, then let out the clutch and the motor fired.  He babied it for a couple of laps and thought it was running pretty well, so he wicked it up and ended up turning the fastest lap in the class (Eric Cook had the fastest lap in the race on his 350 Sportsman bike starting from the 2nd wave and ending up 3rd overall), about 3/8th of a second faster than my best.
Waiting to go out on the track.  George Roulson photo
Thurs., I had been introduced to Juan Bulto, by Hub Zemke.  Hub is a passionate Bultaco enthusiast who I've know for years.  Hub had arranged for Juan, the son of the founder of Bultaco, to come to Barber with the Romero brothers, one of whom had built the frames in the Bultaco race shop and the other who ran the dyno.  We saw in practice that Juan was very fast and in the 250GP race, race #5, Germain went faster than he had in the 350GP on the same bike that had seized, but Juan went a good deal faster than that, winning the race.  In fact, Juan's fastest lap was more than 1.5 seconds faster than my best lap in the 350GP.  I was under the impression that he was going to 'bump up' to the 350 class, but he didn't Sat.  Between him and Paul, Sunday's 350GP was far from a foregone conclusion.
After the 350GP race, Greg Glevicky came to me apologizing for protesting the bike I rode in 200GP.  He said that he didn't really know, but he had been told that the 'cylinder head' was illegal and that he was involved in a duel for the 200GP championship with Jeff Henise and the points were important.  I   told Greg that there was no need to apologize, that I didn't take it personally, and that I thought protests were a good thing to clear the air and maintain the level playing field.  Apparently, the basis of the protest was that the cylinder (not head) was not of the period.  That protest was dis-allowed, but the referee, Tony Pentecost, asked Dennis Latimer what size carburetor was on the motor.  Dennis replied that it was 34mm.  The limit is 30mm, but Dennis pulled off the carb and removed the 30mm restrictor plate to show Tony and the bike was deemed legal and the win stood.
During lunch, they held the Century Race for bikes at least 100 years old and I very much enjoyed checking out the bikes and catching up with Keith Martin of Big D Triumph in Dallas.  Keith had prepared the 1915 Norton of Richard Asprey and went along as support crew in the 2016 Motorcycle Cannonball, a coast to coast rally from Atlantic City, N.J. to Carlsbad, Ca.  The bike is reputed to be the 12th oldest known Norton.
The 1915 Norton of Richard Asprey as it ran in the Motorcycle Cannonball
Keith Martin told me that the caliper brake on the front of the Norton was virtually worthless
Been Rodi rode this Indian in the Century Race
A Triumph Century racer
This BMW ran in the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball
A H-D Cannonball bike.  Note the added front brake and auxiliary fuel tank
A Sears Cannonball bike with the usual mods of front brake, aux. fuel tank and route sheet holder on those wild handlebars 
The 12th race of the day was the Formula 250/Formula 125/ Classic 60s and Classic 60s 650 and I was gridded 36th overall, 9th in class on the 13th row, in the 3rd wave.  I got a decent launch and passed Alex McLean on a Norton Manx early for the class lead, as we sliced through the heavy traffic of the F-125 and many F-250 bikes.  But, after a few laps, Alex passed me back and pulled away.   He finished 4th overall and I was 6th O.A., more than 11 seconds behind him.  I again missed the 1st to 2nd shift, which was only a problem in turn #5, the slowest on the track.
Alex Mclean #122 stalking me after we passed the F-125 bike of Earnest Csizsmar
Earlier in the day, I had run into George Barber and we chatted a bit.  He had a woman with him who was doing video interviews for the Museum archives and she asked me if I would do one.  I agreed and Josh and I rode over to the Museum after our last race.  After the interview, Josh and I toured the museum a bit and ran into Chuck Hunnycutt, the head of restoration at the Museum.  Chuck and I go way back having competed against each other for several years and stayed in touch for the years after.  Chuck gave us a behinds the scene tour and we stayed until they shut down the Museum.
Unfortunately, I forgot that this is when the awards ceremony  was going on and I missed my opportunity to collect my awards from Colin Edwards III, the Grand Marshall for the event and missed my chance to thank Dave Ecker and Dennis Latimer who were there.  Apologies.
Josh and I then joined the Time Warp Vintage Motorcycle Club's barbecue  in the paddock.  I'm an honorary member, having broken down in Knoxville, Tn., years ago on my way to Barber an getting my old friend, Butch Sprain, President of the TWVMCC, to help me there.  This involved leaving my van there and renting another and then getting the van fixed on our return.  This was finally finished just before the Club's monthly meeting, which we attended and were inducted.  Since then I've followed the Club's many activities from a distance via their email and meeting minutes.
Sunday had the same schedule and again started with the 200GP race.  Jeff Henise had replaced his seized motor with a spare and again I quickly got into 3rd behind Greg and Jeff.  I got by Greg and set off after Jeff and wondering if I could catch him as he was really going well.  Then the exhaust pipe blew off the cylinder of the CT-1 and I pulled off.  It was a bit of a disappointment as it was shaping up as a good race, but it's better than a rod through the case.
So, on to the 350GP race.  Again, Juan Bulto did not start and, in fact, Jack Parker pulled off after the warmup lap.  This time I made sure I got it in gear by using the shift lever, not the brake pedal.  I ran down Paul Germain in a few laps and out braked him going into turn #5, but his motor was running poorly and finally seized for good.  I had an easy run to the flag for the overall win, though my fastest lap was slightly faster than Sat. and only bettered by Rich Midgely winner of the 350 Sportsman class from the 2nd wave.  In fact the next 9 bikes behind me were 350 Sportsman bikes.
Ahead of Paul Germain on his DT-1 Yamaha before he dropped out.  Nev Miller Photo
Paul Germain put his spare motor in for the 250GP race and kept Bulto honest and again had a slightly faster lap (0.08 sec.) than I did in the 350GP.  So again, I lucked out with the 2nd 350GP win, as the cliche goes: you have to finish to win.  And, was it Woody Allen who said "80% of success is showing up"?
After the long wait, we finally grid up for the Classic 60's race.  At the start, Rob Hall out drags me with his 650 Triumph from the Classic 60s 650 class (his brother Jake had ridden it Sat.).  I got by him for a while, but when I missed another shift he came back by.  Then Alex McLean came by and set off after Rob. On the 7th lap, Dave Crussell in the F-250 class crashed and the race was redflagged and declared over.  I was 6th overall again and officially 2nd in class, though 3rd in my wave, and my fastest lap was more the one second quicker than Sat.
Alex Mclean again stalking as he goes by #43 Henry Syphers.  Henry was enter if F-125, but that sure doesn't look like his 125 Honda.  Nev Miller photo
Big events always run the risk of being ruined by their success.  It gets more expensive, more bureaucratic, there are more crashes and traffic and protests.  Emotion run high.  But, clearly the great majority agree it's still well worth it in the case of the Barber Vintage Festival.  The track is superb for vintage bikes; the level of competition is high; the amenities (museum, swap meet, bike shows, etc.) great; and the weather regularly good.  While a hurricane raged to the east and kept many entrants home, we had delightful weather in Leeds.
#112 Aleksey Kravchuk was pitted next to us
The non-original fuel tank indentations which allow the clip-ons to be pulled back a little further
On the grid on the T/O Matchless G-50.  Stacie London photo

Loaded up and ready to head home.  We actually headed to Greer, S.C., and spent the night with Henry Kelller who Josh had worked with on an AHRMA team when he lived in Florida.  Henry's planing a comeback for next year.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Fall Giro


This year's USCRA Fall Giro was based in Brattleboro, Vt.  There were about 80 entrants and among them, three Moto Guzzi Airone Sports, including mine.
The Vermont Airone Sports

Laurence Deguilme and I had planned to go together and share a room but, at the last moment, something came up and he couldn't make it.  I called Tim Courts and offered him Laurence's entry.  Tim thought that sounded like a good idea and thought he could get his old 250 Ducati race bike shaken down for the Giro.  I thought Tim was a grizzled veteran of these events, but it turned out that he had never entered a Giro before.
Tim's ex-racebike 250 Ducati.  He was conserned about the seat, which is little more than a plank, but he got a gel pad from my brother and had a sheepskin and he was fine. 
Saturday started pretty cool and somewhat foggy as we headed north from Brattleboro to Dummerston, then west to Newfane and South Wardsboro.  I took a little detour and went to some land that my siblings and I own in West Wardsboro.  After a quick snoop around a tiny corner of the land, I returned to the Giro route on Rt. 100 south thru W. Dover and Wilmington. and into Ma.  We had lunch at Sayre Anthony's Nova Motorcycles in Turners Falls, after a 100 mile morning.  Sayre was working on a number of interesting bikes including a Gold Star an a Pre War DKW100.
A late '30s DKW 100 at Nova Cycles.  Rob Sigond photo
  Robert Fuller was having a hard time starting his Airone Sport as he wasn't quite reading what the motor wanted.  I got it started for him on the 2nd kick.  They're stone axe simple motors, but they can be particular.  The afternoon took us south through Deerfield, then northwest through Conway and Ashfield, east on Rt 2 through Shelburne Falls, than north through Colrain and Leyden back into Vt.   I caught up to Tim as we approached Brattleboro and his bike started running poorly as we got into town.  But, we made it back to the motel and Tim discovered that the problem was that he was running out of fuel.  He filled up the tank and it was better than new.  A total of 193 miles Saturday.
Jesse Morris' NSU Max had blown a head gasket (which he couldn't understand as he had replaced it, heat cycled it and retorqued the head) and Peg Preble had blown up her 175 Honda side car and I offered them each the use of my TC200 Suzuki for Sunday, but they both declined and decided to run a second sweep vehicle in addition to sister-in-law and Amy with Gayle Ellis.
The NSU Max of Jesse Morris and, yes, I'm a terrible photographer
The dealer sticker on Jesse's NSU, King Motorcycle, Brooklyn, N.Y.
A 65cc Yamaha
Sunday was like Sat., cool and sunny.  We headed across the Connecticut River into N.H., then north following the river more or less to Walpole, then east through Alstead Center.  Somewhere around here, I came upon a gaggle of Giroist and I passed a bunch of them down a steep hill just as I see the cop parked by the side of the road, but I guess he didn't see me, luckily.  Shortly after this, Bill Condon pulled up along side me pointing at my bike.  I pulled over and he pointed out that my kickstarter was hanging straight down.  I pulled it up and took off again, but the kickstarted fell down again and I realized that the return spring had broken.  Not a big deal as I had a bungee with me to hold it up and the bike is very easy to bump start.   After a bit, I stopped to see why Rich Hosley and Rick Bell, my nominal teammates in Team Paleo, were stopped.  Rich was securing his speedometer on his Ossa Wildfire after a small crash had knocked it ajar.  They followed me but almost immediately I went on reserve and I wondered if I'd make it to the next fuel stop.  But, I did and while there, Henry Syphers gave me what was left of some oil that he couldn't used, which eased my mind a big as the Airone was spewing it profusely.  We skirted south skirting around the east side of Keene and south some more through Swanzey and Richmond into Royalston,   Ma.  Lunch was at the Boiler Bar and Grill in Orange, a converted mill, 81 miles from our start.
The Boiler Bar & Grill, Sunday's lunch stop.  Rob Sigond photo
 The afternoon took us back up north into N.H.  about 20 miles from the finish, Tommy Cotter's 175 Bridgestone died and his brother Danny towed it back to Brattleboro and they still made their time check.
the scoring of the Giros is almost entirely based on the agility test when one is given a specific time to get through a slalom of cones where points are accumulated for time over or under or for knocking down a cone, dabbing or going out of bounds; low points wins.  I am consistently a high scorer, but this Giro I actually did fair.  I had a total of 7.7 points and beat my Team Paleo teammate Rick Bell's (250 H-D Sprint) 10.284, but we both dragged down Team Leader Rich Hosley's 4.842, good enough for 2nd 250 and 10th overall.
I love these Zundapp Super Sabres
Add caption

They do require pre-mixing
The owner found an NOS exhaust pipe for cheap
Jake Herzog's Grossa, an Ossa motor in a Greeves chassis




A YDS2 Yamaha