Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Classic TT addendum

Perhaps the most interesting and certainly the most beautiful race bike I saw the the Classic TT was the Eldee 250cc Velo.


'Eldee' stands for Les Diener, who built a 250cc, twin overhead cam Velocette in Australia in the '50s.
After racing for years, Les quit and sold the bike.  With the birth of Classic racing and with Diener's retirement, he decided to recreate that racer.  I happened to meet Les and see the bike when I was on my way from Adelaide to a race at Winton in Victoria in 1985.  We (Graham Besson and Bill Horsman and I) stopped by McNamara Park in Mt. Gambier where another Classic event was taking place.  Now, some New Zealanders have made a replica of the bike and brought it to the Isle of Man for Bill Swallow to race in the 350 Classic TT, which had a prize for the first 250.
Twin cams driven by a train of gears
Bill told me the bike was slow and somewhat heavy for a 250, but I think the fairing and fuel tank are beautiful

Unfortunately, it stripped and mag gear in the race and didn't finish.  You can read the whole story of the bike here:
http://velocetteracing.wordpress.com/the-racing-velocettes/eldee-special/

When the Monday's racing and parade was postponed to Tuesday, we hit a few museums. We saw this Maico roadbike outside the Mannin Museum in Peel.



 We then went to Murray's Motorcycle Museum, which used to be on Mt. Snafell at the Bungalow but move to Santon a few years ago.  While much of the collection was sold off for the move, there are still plenty of interesting bikes and tons of photos and memorabilia.  They had examples of four of the bike I own: a 250 and 350 Aermacchi and an earlier version of the Moto Guzzi Airone with hydraulic rear shocks

 and a Moto Guzzi Dondolino, this one with full lighting equipment and silencer and 19" wheels.  Mine has 21", front and rear.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Classic TT 2014





I'm on my way back from the Isle of Man ClassicTT.  Team Obsolete shipped the 1959 Matchless G-50 1709 that we used to win the 1984 Senior Historic TT back to the IOM to participate in the Classic Racer Magazine Lap of Honour.  I went over a week before my ride to watch some practice and racing and hang out with friends.  There was a considerable American contingent, some newcomers, some with experience; some who I knew, some I didn't.  Ron Halem from San Jose, Ca., brought his 500 BSA Goldstar.  The bike had raced at the IOM at least four times before and this year was being rider by Paul Owen, an experienced and enthusiastic Brit.  Wade Boyd had raced at the IOM many times on both solo and sidecar and had a Classic F-1 Suzuki.  Bill Blythe is an old friend from Ct., who raced the Mountain Circuit for the first time last year after coming to the Island a couple of times previously to learn the circuit.  He was racing a Kawasaki ER-6 in the modern Supertwins/lightweight Manx Grand Prix.  Andrew Mauk, from Milwaukee, was riding his friend Keith's CB 450 Honda in the 500 Classic TT.
And, Jon Munds, from Portland, Or., was racing his 239cc CB 175 Honda in the 350 Classic TT.  Jon had Jared, Courtney and Tim helping him, all of whom I had met previously in Portland.  There was no separate 250 race this year, but there was a prize for the first 250.  
Andrew grenaded Keith's 450 pretty spectacularly early in the practice week when it broke a rod and punched a hole through the front and back of the motor. 




 Luckily, the motor didn't lock up and their oil pan seemed to collect all the oil and most of the debris, though Jon got hit by some shrapnel while following.  Keith had wisely brought a spare motor.  
Jon Munns had clutch slip problems in practice and had to replace the plates.
The Team Obsolete G-50 arrived in it's crate Friday and we attracted quite a crowd uncrating it.
The first race of the fortnight was the 500 Classic TT on Sat.  We watched from Gorse Lea, a very fast bend just before Ballacraine, with Paul Barrett, the fellow who first arranged a ride for me at the TT and taught me the way around in 1982, and who now lives on the Isle of Man.  John McGuinness led early, but his front master cylinder failed.  Ryan Farquhar led until his Paton broke.  Michael Rutter led for awhile until his G-50 stopped.  Ian Lougher eventually won on a Paton, despite incurring a 30 sec. penalty for speeding in the pit lane.  Ian had finished 2nd to me in the '84 Senior Historic TT which was only his second race on the TT course.  He went on to win ten TTs.  I ran into him in the paddock earlier in the week and, having never chatted with him before, we traded Ray Cowels stories, a legendary Welsh tuner and Ian's sponsor in that Historic TT.  2nd to Ian in the 500 Classic TT was Dan Cooper on a four valve Molnar Manx and third was Kiwi Bruce Ansty on Ken McIntosh's Manx.  Bruce won the the Hailwood trophy for the first single cylinder finisher as the Molnar four valve Manxes run by special dispensation in the multi cyl. class.  Maria Costello finished 5th on a Paton and was over the moon with that result.  There continues to be much debate about what is a legitimate Classic bike and what is an accurate replica and what is a modern bike mascarading as a Classic.  The replica MVs were the focus of much attention.  Andy Mauk broke a chain on the first lap and Paul Owens blew a head gasket on Ron Halem's Goldstar on the 3 rd lap.
Sunday was the Jurby Festival at an old WWII airfield in the north of the Island where a short circuit has been laid out.  There's club racing there during the season but, for the Jurby Festival, it's just lapping in different groups.  In the Lap of Honour group, there was a Sete Gibernau Desmodiceci Ducati, a RC 45 and RC 30 Hondas, YZR 500 Yamahas, a RR 250 Aermacchi in a biota chassis, an MV 3, a Benelli four, a Paton, several TZ 250 and 350 Yamahas.  As last year on the AJS 3 valve 7R, I was on the oldest bike in the group.  I did a couple of laps and the clutch started slipping, so I return to the pits and we cranked in more free play in the cable.  I went back out, but it was still slipping, so I came in and we, Rob Iannucci, Seth Rosko and I, took the clutch apart, cleaned the plates with solvent and roughed them up with sand paper.  This cured the clutch slip for the second session but, when I started the 2nd lap, I had a big slide and almost crashed in turn #1.  A rider came by pointing frantically at my bike and I looked down to see the union on the fuel line at the float bowl had come off and was dumping fuel on the rear tire.  I pulled off the track immediately and shut off the fuel.  I started pushing the bike back to the pits through the grass thinking the session would end before I got back, but then there was a red flag.  My first thought was that someone had crashed on my gas, but it turn out to be totally unrelated, with the Paton crashing on the other side of the circuit.  This gave me time to get the bike back to the pits and tighten up the fuel line union and I was able to go out when they re-started the session and confirm that the clutch was good now.  This was all very useful, as it's much better to find this stuff out on an open short circuit than on the TT course.
Sunday evening was the TT Heroes Dinner with former World Superbike Champion and IOM resident Neil Hodgson the M.C.  Neil acknowledged all the TT winners present individually.  We sat at a table with three Scotish TT winners: Bill Simpson and his son Ian (one of five father/son duos to win TTs) and Brian Morrison.  Hodgson conducted a 'chat show' with John McGuinness, Graeme Crosby, Carl Forgarty, an Rob McElnea, all riders who had raced at the TT with and against Joey Dunlop, the most successful TT racer ever.  They all seemed to agree that Joey didn't let many into his inner circle and that he was a bit of an enigma, but had great respect and affection for him.
Mon. was to be the the 350 Classic TT, the Lap of Honour, and the the Formula 1 and Formula 2 Classic TT races, but they were postponed until Tues. because of bad weather and lack of visibility on the mountain. At first it was announced that the Lap of Honour would be scrapped entirely due to a limited amount of time there was to close the roads, but then it was decided to shorten the two races to 3 laps (from 4) and run the Parade.  So, after some lunch in Peel with the Portland crew, we spent the day at museums.  First was the Mannin Museum which tells the history of the Island from it's first know human habitation 2000 years ago to the present.  Next was the tiny Peel Transport Museum which features, among other things, the Peel P-50 and Trident microcars, powered by a 50cc motor and built in the '60s. Finally, we went to Murray's Motorcyle Museum.  It's packed with road bikes and racers and tons of photos and other memorabilia.  It had examples of four bikes that I own: a 250 and 350 Aermacchi, a Moto Guzzi Airone, and a Moto Guzzi Dondolino, which had road trim of full lighting and silencer and 19" rims (mine has 21" front and rear).
The decision to postpone the races and parade turned out to be the right one as Tues. was sunny and warm, if a bit windy.  The 350 Classic was won by Lee Johnston from N. Ireland on a replica MV three cyl. by quite a margin.  Second was Alan Oversby on a Honda with Roy Richards third on a Dick Linton 350 Aermacchi.  Jon Munns wasn't sure he could go three laps on one tank of fuel and, having broken a spoke in practice, wanted to check the spokes in the race, so he pitted after the first lap.  The stop took long enough that the leaders overtook him and he wasn't allowed to start his third lap, but was still considered a finisher.  Maria Costello finished 26th overall and 2nd 250 on a T-20 Suzuki.
I was scheduled to started the Parade #7 behind John McGuinness, Chas Mortimer, Brian Reid, and Mick Grant.  #5, Steve Plater, was on a 500 Honda four bobber with Firestone tires and I passed him on the way down Bray Hill.  I had assured Rob Iannucci that I wasn't worried about the 14 year old tires on the bike, but maybe we should have put new tires on as I had a little slide at Quarter Bridge. So, I took it dead steady through Bradden Bridge and Graeme Crosby  came by me on the straight towards Union Mills.  Graeme was on a 1300cc?Suzuki XR69, so had plenty of power, but was going very conservatively through the bends.  I tucked in right behind him and got a tow up to Glen Vine and then, appropriately, through Crosby.  He shut off early at the Highlander and I went by him into Greeba Castle.  He came back by be on the straight between Gorse Lea and Ballacraine.  Around Doran's Bend, Con Law came by the both of us on a RS 500 3 cyl. Honda.  Not long after that, Brian Morrison came by on a Kawasaki ZXR 750 and I followed the three of them through Glen Helen.  Morrison and Law gradually pulled away and I followed Croz all the way onto the Sulby Straight.  Again, he braked really early for Sulby Bridge and I went by him.  Somewhere in there Steve Linsdell came by on his 500 Royal Enfield, which his son Olie was entered on in the 500 Classic race.  Also somewhere in there, Gary Carswell came by on a Kawasaki ZXR 750.  When I crashed the Team Obsolete Benelli 350 four in the '93 Junior Classic MGP, I ended up in Nobles Hospital with Gary as my roommate.  Gary had crashed his bike testing at Jurby and we listened to the race he should have been a top runner in on the radio together in the Hospital.  Gary went on to win a MGP and race in many TTs and is now a traveling marshall. Croz came back by me after Glentramman.  Again, a little slide in Parliment Square.  I wondered if the clutch would hold up slipping it out of Ramsey Hairpin, but it worked fine.  The G-50 had race gearing on it, which was perhaps a little tall for a parade as I only used 6th gear a little bit, but it pulled fine in 5th up the Mountain Mile.  Coming down the mountain, Croz really checked up for the 33rd and I passed him again as we approached Keppel Gate.  He stuffed it underneath me at Creg-na-ba.  This was the first time I had done Brandish since they opened it up and I checked up way early.  On through Hillberry, Cronk-ny-Mona, Signpost, steady through Governor's Bridge, and finishing up on Glencrutchery Rd.  The bike ran perfectly and the conditions were near perfect; heaven.
I didn't get to watch the following F-1 and F-2 Classic as we had to drain the oil and gas and crate the bike and all the tools and spares and my riding gear up.  But, Bruce Ansty dominated on a '92? YZR 500 Yamaha GP bike.  Many thought it couldn't last or would be unrideable, but he broke the lap record on his way to the win.  Ian Lougher won the F-2 class on a TZ 250 Yamaha for his second Classic TT win.
Dinner with David Cretney, Minister of Tourism and Leisure and former MGP competitor, Mike Nicks, founding editor of Classic Bike and Classic Racer magazines, and Mike Braid, owner of a fabulous collection of solos and side cars and long time friend and aide to Team Obsolete, capped off a great Classic TT.
 A Greeves 32 Sport seen on the Douglas Prom.

A 350 Aermacchi that Joey Dunlop race in a Junior Classic MGP, displayed with many of his other bikes raced at the IOM.

The KR 750 Kawasaki that Mick Grant raced.

The Renault Trafic six speed diesel van we had use of on the Island.  Why can't we get these in the USA?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

All the gear, all the time

5 weeks ago, I was riding my Honda CBR 250R home from Brooklyn when, about 1/3mi. from my house, a car pull out from the curb directly into a U-turn in front of me.  I tried turning left, hoping they'd see me and stop and I could sneak around the front of them.  No such luck and I T-boned the car behind the left front wheel/driver's door area.  I'm a little fuzzy about my trajectory, but I ended up on the road with my neck and left thigh hurting.  An ambulance was there shortly and, after my helmet was removed and my one piece Aerostich Roadcrafter was cut off me, a neck collar was put on and I was put on a back board and taken to the emergency room of the local hospital.  A CAT scan showed a 'non-displaced fracture' of C-4 vertebrae.  I take this to mean a crack, as I had no neurological symptoms whatsoever.  The contusion and hematoma on my thigh was the main problem and, while that's much better, my knee continues to bother me.  It always could be worse and I'm glad I was wearing all the gear that I was, including boots, gloves and back protector.  I spent a day in the hospital and was fitted with a more comfortable neck brace/collar which, hopefully, I'll get rid of next Tues. when I see the neurosurgeon again.  He convinced me that it wouldn't be prudent to ride again for 6 weeks.
So, I went to the AHRMA race at New Jersey M/S Park on 12-13 July, but didn't race.  What I did do is covered in this posting on Larry Lawernce's website, The Rider Files.  Larry is a long time Motojournalist and writes the 'Archives' column in Cycle News along with much of their race coverage.  Larry had done a few pieces on abandoned race tracks, so I sent him my report on Vineland, which he posted recently:
http://www.riderfiles.com/david-roper-explores-the-remnants-of-the-old-vineland-speedway/#comments
Check out Larry's other abandon track articles:
 http://www.riderfiles.com/iowas-ghost-track/
 http://www.riderfiles.com/memories-of-meadowdale/
 http://www.riderfiles.com/the-last-days-of-mid-america-raceway/
 http://www.riderfiles.com/mid-america-raceway-the-worlds-longest-paved-motocross-track/
 http://www.riderfiles.com/parry-at-mid-america-1984/
 http://www.riderfiles.com/the-woods-of-wentzville/

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Grattan

Ewe Sat Because of the problem with the cracked frame it was decided that it would be better to not ride the Seeley G-50 at Grattan.  So, I went to the track with no ride, but after dragging my pitiful self around with a hang dog look on Fri., Trish Damon offered me a ride on her CB175 Honda.  
I would race it in the 250 GP class, while Trish would race it in the CB 160 race and 200 GP.  Then, after briefly considering an offer of a CB 750 Honda, Don Drake asked if I'd like to race his 350 Ducati.

Trish's Honda was quite stock and not super quick, but worked fine.
250GP ran with 500 Sportsman, Pre 40, and Formula 125.  Francis Ganance's freshly rebuilt 250 was running very well and he was riding very well, and he finished 5th overall behind four 500 Sportsman  bikes.  Trish's bike was no match for Lorraine Crussell's 175 Honda, and Lorraine was also riding superbly and I finished almost a minute behind her, 13th overall and third in class.

Don Drake's 350 Ducati is a short stroke, i.e. a 450 top end on a 250 lower end, and the more I rode it, the more I realized it wanted to rev and I kept lowering the gearing.  Come the race, Francis Ganance was bumping up with his 250 Ducati.  He got a better start than me and I got balked a bit by the Vintage Superbike Middleweights, who out dragged us to turn # 1.  Not wanting to lose touch with Francis, I tried to dive under Alex Cook's 850 Guzzi in the turn # 10 'bus stop'.  I thought I was by him, but we were on completely different lines and we collided.  I went down and, while Alex didn't, I knocked the seat off his bike, and he couldn't continue.  I banged my big toe and pinky, but was otherwise OK.  Don and his crew kicked the Ducati straight and Alex was able to remount his seat, so we were both ready for Sunday.

Trish's 175 was not, however.  It wouldn't start and she and her crew couldn't figure it out.  But, she found me a different 175 to race Sunday.  Now, I would race in the 250 class the 175 Honda that Anders Carlson was racing in 200GP. 
 This bike was quite different than Trish's.  It shifted in the opposite direction as it just had a reversed shift lever while Trish's bike had a linkage.  This was more awkward shifting and the riding position was awkward for me, too, but the bike was faster than Trish's.

But again, not as fast as Lorraine's and Lorraine briefly got ahead of Francis on the first lap.  They both steadily pulled away from me with Francis finishing 5th overall again and me this time less than half a minute behind Lorraine in 10th overall.
Having geared Don's Ducati down again, I thought I might be able to make it a race with Francis in the 350 GP, but it would require using the draft of his very quick 250, and on the first lap, I missed some shifts and lost touch with him.  I finished less than 3.5 seconds behind him, he in 5th, me in 6th overall.
all in all, not a bad weekend for having arrived with no ride.
Steve Pieratt picked up this beautifully crafted twin engine Bonneville on his way to Grattan.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Shannonville

It's been a long time since I've posted, for a variety of reasons, some of which I'll get into later, but I'm going to try to do a quick overview.
Over the May 31/June 1 weekend, I drove up to Shannonville, Ontario, Canada for the first VRRA event of the year.  Len Fitch, who's 1972 TR-3 Yamaha I rode last Sept. at Ste. Eustache, asked me if I would like to ride it in all four VRRA events this year.  I can't make the Mosport round, as I'm committed to go to the IOM and do the Lap of Honour in the 'Classic TT'.  But, I committed to the other three events.

Exh
Len Fitch's stable
len's1972 TR3 Yamaha that I raced
I hadn't been to Shannonville in almost 12 years, so the first practice was spent re-familiarizing myself with the track.  It being flat and without any really blind turns, this didn't take long.  Only turn # 2 you can't really see the exit when you enter it and it is very bumpy.  Len had ordered new rear shocks after I had suggested the worn out Konis weren't optimal at Ste. Eustache, but they never arrive and at the last minute put on a set of stock RD350 shocks, so the bike shook it's head pretty hard in turn #2.  After the second practice, I decided the bike was geared too tall and Len geared it down.
I entered two classes and first up was Period 2 Heavyweight which was run concurrently with Middleweight Production in Saturday's 6 lap heat.  I got in the lead pretty quickly and won overall, though Brent Waller on his 550 Honda had a faster fastest lap.
Len dropped the needles for my second heat for the GP class.  This class is for any factory built two stroke race bike and is divided into Modern and Vintage, Vintage being up to 1989 or so.  The Modern are then divided in Lightweight (up to 125) and Middleweight (up to 250), and the Vintage divided into Heavyweight (750), Middleweight (500) and Lightweight (125).  There were no HW. Vint. entered, so the MW Vint. We're gridded behind the Modern bikes.  Two MW Modern bikes cleared off, and we had a good scrap with a couple of '89 TZ 250s and  a Honda RS125 (LWModern) that got by.  I ended up 6th overall and 3rd Vint., but we considered the moral victor, being the first aircooled, twin shock bike.


Sunday's ten lap finals went similarly with me leading from the pole in P2 HW and never being headed, though again, two bikes had a faster fastest lap, but clearly not enough of them.
In the GP race, the same two MW Moderns cleared off and I scrapped with a couple of the MWVint.  A MW modern, who I had beat in the Heat came by on the straight, but I braked way later and got back by.  This pattern went on for a few laps until he figured out he could brake much later  and he pulled away.  So, I again ende up 6th overall and 3rd Vint., this time keeping the Modern LW at bay.  And again, the moral victor with only bikes at least 15 years newer in front .
A modern RS250 Honda, overall winner of the GP race

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

6th annual Rossi TT

Steve Rossi did it again, hosting an excellent Tiddler Tour.  The tiddlers included four BMW R-27s, four 250 H-D Sprints, two 250 Benelli (vertical motors), a YR-1 Yamaha, a CL 77 Honda, a CL 90 Honda (punched out to 104cc), an NSU Max Special, a 250 BSA Starfire (the only British bike this time), a Puch/Allstate twingle, and my '53 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport (once again, the oldest bike in the event).  Getting into the grey area of period correctness were a 250 Jawa, a CL 175 vert. Honda, a later DT-1 Yamaha, a XL 175 Honda, all from the '70s.  Getting into the '80s were a VTR 250 Honda and a 305 GPZ Kawasaki.  Getting into the '90s was a MZ 125 and into this decade was a Honda Grom.  Blowing the bounds of Tiddler were a R69 and R75 BMW.  Blowing the bounds of Tiddler AND period correctness was a 1000 Guzzi Le Mans and a Hinkley Triumph.  Our host ran a 10-12 year old tiddler, a Derbi 50.  Steve owns a number of very proper tiddlers, but had a good excuse to ride perhaps his most modern, and smallest bike: he had fallen down some stairs and had badly broken his left elbow, and couldn't straighten (or completely bend) his left arm.
Mark Turkington's '61 H-D Sprint, the first year H-D imported them.  Perhaps the most 'concours' bike on the ride


A cherry CL77 Honda ridden by a 30 year Honda mechanic from Willimantic, new to the TT

I had some mechanical drama leading up the this event.  A week previous, while riding my Airone to the British Iron Assoc. breakfast in Colchester, the motor made a bad noise and locked up.  Turns out, the magneto gear nut had backed off and the gear went askew and jammed.  This stopped the motor, but it didn't stop the flywheel, which sheared the Woodruff key that locates it on the crankshaft.  Mike Peavey sent me a key and Fri. I started putting it back together.  Sat. I pulled it out of the basement again and it started on the first kick and seemed fine.

Me, my '53 Airone Sport, and the Nevr-Dull.  Photo by Gordon Pulis
 I decided to take it for a test ride and see if I could find may old friend, Gordon Pulis, who was riding his CL 175 Honda from East Hampton, Long Island (via the Orient Point/New London ferry), for the TT.  Sure enough, there he was riding up Ct-82 in East Haddam, and I escorted him to my brother's house.  I had to make a few minor adjustments to my bike.  But, being the socially conscious and responsible people we are, we condemned Gordon's 'silencer', which was rotted and blown out.  At first we thought we could just patch it but, when we took it off, we decided it was too far gone to salvage.  We ended up grafting on mufflers from a CL350 that originally came on Amy's bike.  This required a bit of redirection of the pipes and, though not elegant, the bike ended up much quieter.
Some not-so-elegent exhaust mods to mount CL 350 mufflers on Gordon's CL 175

Gordon with his bike.  The exhaust doesn't look too bad from a distance.
Steve dubbed this TT "North by Northwest" as that's the directions we headed from his house in East Haddam.  Steve had to do some last minute revisions to his route as he found some of the dirt roads washed out from the recent rain.  A few crybabies complained of rough paved roads but I should try to be more understanding.  They're riding with the handicap of hydraulic rear suspension which we all know is just a fad;  friction dampening is the answer!  I thought the roads were excellent.
We had lunch in Coventry, Nathan Hale's home town.

Steve expounds at the lunch stop.  Photo by John Harris
 Quite a few of the tiddler tourist seemed to leave the ride from there.  Rick Bell on a 250 Sprint and I rode back together.  At one point we came upon a guy on a Boss Hog.  He held us up a bit and I thought I could dive under him when we turned from one road to another, but he squirted ahead and picked up the pace.  I was actually quite impressed how quickly he hustled that huge barge.
After we debriefed back at Steve's house, a few of the hard core repaired to Doug and Amy's house across the river.  There we entertained ourselves by dismantling a dead 250 Jawa that Harold Dean had donated to the cause.  Doug just wanted the wheels, but we stripped the motor, which was a challenge as the crank was seized.  The peanut gallery gathered around and ate piazza and drank beer while a few of us beat the stuck motor into submission.  Actually, other than the seized crank, the rest of the motor and chassis was in remarkably good shape for having sat outdoors for twenty years.  Anyone need any Jawa parts?
A couple of dead 250 Jawas that Harold Dean donate to the cause.
More photo from the TT can be seen by going to: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo
Search 'NE Tiddlers' and go to 'new photos'

Thursday, May 22, 2014

CRTT at Summit Point

My 1966 CRTT 250cc Sprint hadn't run since the big end failed at NHMP in May of 2012.  It had been pushed aside as I pursued other project in my frenetic life.  But, with my 350 ERTT off to Australia and with me vowing to get it rebuilt when it came back and with my Dondolino needing attention, the CRTT rose to the top of the to do list.  I had the crank rebuilt by Falicon with a new rod, rod bearing and crankpin.  JE made a couple of new pistons.  I got a new L-1 replica camshaft from Megacycles.  And, Chuck Wagon Racing did a valve job.


When I was putting it together and setting the cam timing, I discovered that there wasn't enough piston to intake valve clearance.
This was hard to understand as the new piston was pretty much a copy of the old piston and that had enough clearance.  As time was running out to get the bike ready for Summit Point on 10 May, I had the intake valve pocket cut deeper.  Then, I discovered that the intake valve was bent and that's why there wasn't enough clearance.  Between having the valve job done and checking the cam timing, somehow the intake valve got bent.  I had
another intake valve, so I installed that with the unnecessarily cut piston.  When I got to the circuit Fri. afternoon, I tried starting the bike by pushing and it didn't fire,  but my ankle is so bad now that I figured I just didn't push it fast enough.
Sat. morning, I put it on some starting rollers and didn't get a pop.  I pulled the spark plug and it was sparking like crazy.  After my experience at Roebling Road, I had made sure that I had the stator leads on the correct spades of the coil.  But, it sure seemed like the timing was 180 degrees out again.  Sure enough, I pulled the rotor and turned it 180 degrees and the motor started right up.  This could only mean that I timed the ignition at TDC overlap, not TDC compression.  I've got to fire my mechanic: Me.
I took it pretty easy in the first practice, breaking in the new motor, but it seemed to go alright.  In the second practice, the motor hesitated a couple of times and there was a lot of backfiring on the overrun, so I came in after 3 laps.  Turns out, my mechanic (me) had failed to safety wire the exhaust header bolts and one was missing the the other was about to fall out, allowing the exhaust pipe to hang about an inch below the exhaust port.  I kept checking the sparkplug and it looked well safe.
By the time the racing started, it was raining.  While watching the V-5, V-3 race, I saw Rich Oldakowski pass Rich Midgely and then drop it in the 'carousel'.  When he tried to pick his bike up, he slipped and fell on his ass, so I knew it was slippery.
My first race was V-2, 500gp, 250gp, with three of the 11 starters in 250gp.  I got the jump on the other 250s, but Craig Hirko on his 175 (200?)Bridgestone out dragged me to turn one, then steadily pulled away.  I watched someone go down in turn one, so I was definitely taking it easy and didn't do any sliding.  I ended up 2nd in class, almost 39 seconds behind Craig, and 4th overall, Craig being 2nd O.A.  I was reasonably please with how the bike was running and it seemed quite oil tight.
So, I lined up for my second race, Formula 500, V-1, and 350gp, with a bit more confidence.  Of the ten starters, six of us were in the 350gp class.  I got a good start and this time Hirko never came by.  Midgely led on his CB350 V-1 bike with Steve d'Angelo 2nd on his 350 Ducati. I worked my way into  3rd O.A., 2nd in class.  On the 5th lap, my motor lost power and, I'm told, emitted a big cloud of smoke and I pulled off.  The motor didn't have any compression and, when I got home and pulled the head, I found that the piston had collapsed in the intake valve pocket, where it had be unnecessarily cut.  Clearly, cut too much.  I got to fire my mechanic.
I failed to take a single photo at the track, but here's one I took touring around on the beautiful next day.

And, here's the piston that failed.