Just three weeks after the Barber Vintage Festival where we all kept under the shade of canopies, buildings, and trees in the 90 degree temps, the WERA Grand National Finals were held, also at Barber. However, the very chilly weather had us looking forward to reaching that predicted high of 62 degrees ASAP. Rain on Friday still hadn’t cleared the Birmingham area until after the sun had come up on Saturday.
The 500GP race was schedule as #6 of 13 after a morning of practice and the lunch break. I had done what it took to get just three points behind Jerry Duke with his 120 points towards national standing and my 117 right behind him. Of the 10 racers who participated in the 500GP, only three made it to the GNF. Scott Kulina who was in the 4th position going into the race was looking forward to his presence at the GNF and the double points value to take him to the 3rd place ranking nationally.
Vintage 3 class racers who had made it to the GNF included Sir Richard Oldakowski of Farmville, VA who travelled 14 hours with 3 collision related traffic jams along the way. Mr. David Hurst from Rutledge, TN was on his V2 two stroke machine (racing in the V3 class). Mr. Mark Morrow of Raleigh, NC on his winning 2 stroke power house, Mr. David Clark (DC), of Killen, AL was also on a 2 stroke race bike.
The Vintage 5 class had 7 racers registered, but only the first four made it to the grid. V6 HW had two entries and one DNS. V6LW had 5 racers registered with two DNSs. V6MW had one entrant and same for V7HW. V8HW had a nice grid of 8 registered racers and only one DNS while the sister class of V8MW had 5 racers start the race and only one didn’t finish.
Practice had some thrills to reveal. My old Avon bias belted race tires didn’t like the cold temperatures of the track. At their 5 year old mark, they spent all this season on the bike due to the multiple number of predicted rain race weekends that I face this rainy season. However, NOT ONE of the races that I ran this year had ANY rain, in spite of weather predictions. By the second practice session the temps had warmed a little with some direct light on the track as gaps between the clouds revealed a beautiful day above.
As Scott went to go out to practice, the functionality of his clutch lever evaporated as he was heading to take the track for the first practice session. Clutch adjustment ensued to no avail and then I saw it. The clutch actuator housing had cracked and was now in three pieces. Seems that this damage was not identified with the prior repair required to the front sprocket mounting. With no spares on campus and none of the materials required to make the repair, I set out while Scott was disassembling the front sprocket cover for repairs.
Rich Oldakowski contributed the brake parts cleaner, modern bike #124 supplied the JB Weld, while the guy pitted next to us had the fancy red grease for when everything was put back together. Scott had been riding the bike since the front sprocket incident so we had a good chance of putting it back together in a manner that worked, again.
The part in question holds the grease pack that keeps the actuator lubricated, so all grease had to be removed to clear way for the JB Weld epoxy-like adhesive. When the best attempt was completed, the cover was reintegrated with the motor again and the engine was started multiple times before race #6, the 500GP, was time to run. Scott decided to give it a try and it worked, so he started with us on the grid. Rich, David, Mark and DC were in front of us on the grid. They represented the first and second row of the second wave of race 6. Scott, Jerry and I made up the one line of the 350GP bikes racing in the 500GP race.
When the second wave received our green flag, I popped the clutch for a slight wheel lifting surge of a great start and still watched Jerry take off down the track. Six of the 250 Ninjas that past us before and through turn 1. David Hurst was the target I had directly in front of me by the time the dust settled. The tirest were behaving much better in the warmer weather so I was giving the bike all it had to offer.
David’s little DS7 was performing much better, as shown at Lil Tally and the Barber Vintage festival, since he had installed the front disc brake system. He would pull away from me in the straights and I’d catch up in the turns. The 7th Ninja 250 passed me just after the museum turn and gave me something to draft behind for a while.
DC and David had a V3 battle going on in front of the camera and I was doing all I could to be a part of it. After a few laps of chasing David I was able to pass him in sight of Norton Hill and draft DC through the last turn. The drafting continued through the front straight, turn 1, turn 2 and up the gravity cavity headed towards Charlotte’s Web. Exiting the Web, DC poured on the 400cc two stroke power and pulled away from me heading toward the museum turn.
The excitement became too much for the camera to handle in my chase to pass DC that it popped off the camera mount and turned around to show me upside down. With my wine cork camera riser as the foreground, my full face helmet, visor closed, showed my FBF tech sticker from the Barber Vintage Festival just three weeks before.
David eventually passed me and gave chase to DC and the Vintage 3 race battle continued to the checkered flag. The faster Clubman racers actually lapped us twice shaving off tow of our 8 laps on the finest track I’ve ever been on, as many times as I can. I later heard that Jerry was playing around with the 250 Ninjas most the race. He took first, I took second and Scott took third in the 500GP, doubled points, GNF final race of the year. That was also the order for 2018 national standing as well.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the vicarious track time with me and the guys. Come on out and join us!
As you put your motorcycle project work into motion, remember Sirius Consolidated Inc. for your parts, accessories, and motorcycle apparel needs. The product selection continues to grow faster than I can keep up. They also sell Jack’s 350 Honda twin combination solid state regulator/rectifier, a must if you plan to go to lithium battery technology. Enjoy the exciting final 500GP race (or about half of it) of 2018.