I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends II, the Sequel

After all the excitement of the final round of the Raven Racing sponsored Vintage Trifecta, Sunday morning, after a beautiful rainless night, began with an early dawn wake up call of a light rain. Scrambling out to reconnect the rain fly tossed aside for heat relief in the tent, I scrambled back inside the tent, in the cool of the morning, and fell back to sleep in a matter of seconds. Then next thing I know, Jerry awoke me with the sound of his single cylinder engine firing up as a wake up call.

By then, the rain had soaked the track but had since cleared up to a fine mist. I was optimistic about another day of dry racing, no matter what the forecast said. As such, I did not have any intention of practicing on a wet track just to race on a dry track.  During the second practice rounds, I started to clean up the truck and found a scary part of my bike laying in the bed. Then I saw two more parts not re-installed as part of my sprocket change for Lil Tally. I hopped out of the back of the truck and looked at the rear axle of my bike. My axle nut and monster washer were gone!

Unlike at VIR, I had all my race tubs and my race toolbox with me. I searched, sorted, and organized only to find I had no spare axle nut or washer. I then checked with Jerry and he searched all he had but came up with nothing. Going through my head of the few vintage racers at the track, I came up with Dick as my next best bet.  He searched through his tool box and came up with nothing. However, his search of his Mercedes Benz Sprinter van should a much brighter picture. He pulled out an organizer of large nuts and said take this with you. Sure enough, I rode back on Jerry’s pit bike that he let me borrow, when I got back to my bike, there was at least one nut that slide on like new. By the time I came to this conclusion, Dick had arrived at my pit on his WAY COOL 90cc two cylinder two stroke Yamaha and I said “need a washer”. Back again together we went to look for what ended up being a layshaft nut of larger diameter inner thread and recessed ridge to act as the monster washer for axle torque strength. I get by with a little help from my friends.

I made it back from Dick’s pit to Jerry’s pit to return his pit bike in time to secure the rear axle, grab another bottle of water and hit the bathroom just before the National Anthem. Our timer had begun again and we were race #13 on Sunday. Later as things had settled down and the clouds had separated leaving direct sunshine to burn the skin, I headed back to my “lay in the shade” bench where I listened to the roar of 2 and 4 cylinder engines on the back straight.

My counting of races cut it very close. I noted that there were just 7 bikes in the warm up lap which should make things easy to determine which race this was. Just so happened to be that it was race #12 and we were up next. A quick trip to the bathroom and I saw Jerry headed my way on his pit bike. He was coming to make sure I wasn’t going to miss the race. I get by with a little help from my friends.

It ended up that I had about 2 minutes to spare, but as I was suited and without canopy, I fired up the engine and headed toward pit out. As I passed the concession stand, I headed back into the trees and the cool breeze of the shade generators. I watched everybody else go by then followed them to pit out. I took the widest line I could to warm up the tires as much as possible. Lil Tally has just ONE right hand turn and it’s scarred up with nasty patches which can both be a psychological problem as well as technically challenging. I also have a history of sliding off the track at this same point in a fairly heavy rain.

We had an interesting start as Jerry again flew on the outside of the track to catch up with the faster bikes in front. This time however, out of the corner of my, I saw Jerry perform a great wheelie start that he continued on into the being another great head start bursting toward turn 1. But this time, turn 1 got real busy, really quickly, right at the apex of the turn. And, just as quickly as things got snug and hairy, as if the thinning shears were applied, bikes spanned apart and headed further on down the track.

As if a rerun of Saturday, I passed DC just in time to lean into turn 2 and show the gravel texture of the track as I rounded through the turn. My not-so-favorite right hander was a bit of a nemesis but I recovered quickly. I got into my grove shortly after recovery and concentrated on the track, only glancing for Jerry ahead of me when I didn’t need to be concentrating on the details of what lay ahead of me.  Concentrating on braking as late a possible and finding that earliest acceleration point for each turn, I willfully breathed through my nostrils in, and out through my mouth.

I got to the point where I was doing all I could do with what I had and consoling myself with need for a change, like some serious head work including the new Kibblewhite springs to replace my 50 year old valve springs. And then it happened (4:30). A 250 Ninja that must have been hanging out behind me passed me in the back straight. It wasn’t a blistering pass, and may have required some drafting behind me. This was at the end of the third lap. THREE laps (almost) he was behind me so… I got a playmate!

As soon as he passed me, I got in behind him and drafted him through the last turn set. He pulled away from me slightly as we crossed the start/finish area but I hit the throttle as I downshifted for turn one and closed the gap. On the way to turn two a slight gap developed but I braked later and drafted through the turn. The right hander didn’t seem to matter at all. I do have to make a note to self to adjust the camera OR the tachometer as it is in the way since my latest tach rubber mounting.

The back straight showed some gap developing and I closed and almost got some draft in the last turn set. I was hitting brakes later and throttle earlier through the turns and making up for span between us. Through turn 2 he gapped me and by the right hander I was back on his tail and took him on the inside. He took me back before the next turn and gapped me a bit as he pulled down the back straight just in time for both of us to be lapped by the faster bikes on the track. I closed a little through the last turnset and he gapped us at the start finish enough that I didn’t gain full closure in turn 1.  By turn 2 I trailed him through the turn and then played his wingman for the right hander on the outside. Playing his wingman again for the last turn before the back straight, I was having some fun.

Again, we were lapped by another of the faster bikes on the track just before leaning left into the last turnset. At that moment, I lost traction on the rear tire just enough to take me out of the ideal turn. Knowing I was heading off the track, I straightened up, eased off of the throttle and coasted through the grass. This left a serious gap and another of the bikes lapped me. Going through turn 1, then 2, I had to concentrate on where I was and what I was doing. Coming out of 2, I saw something that didn’t make sense until I realised I was lapping somebody. Taking this Ninja 250 on the right was a surprise and now I was back on target for my playmate. I kept flying and without any hesitation flew through the last turnset like nothing happened the time before.

I measured about 4 seconds between us as I raced through turn 1. Then 3 second by turn 2 and less than a second by the right hander. The back straight showed some serious span developing, and I gained no ground on the last turnset. The last lap showed no chance to catch up. It was a great few laps for this old man on his old bike. To see the “Great Chase” click on the title.  youtube.com/watch?v=hQDiwlFGHrY

I get by with a little help from my friends. For my closing thanks I chose to include Mr. Martin Mattes, my race sponsor and the owner of Sirius Consolidated Incorporated (the Keyster Carb Kit Capital of the WORLD) for all the support he’s given me for my vintage motorcycle racing efforts. The list of SCI parts found on my bike include: spokes on my CB77 front wheel and the tube inside the Avon and Continental tires, the spokes on my SL350 rear wheel and the tube inside the Avon and Continental tires I run on them, the 520 chain that propels me down the track, the Antigravity battery that Martin sent me as soon as he carried the product line, the Keyster K 1561HK carburetor kit that bring my 350 Honda twin all the life allowed with the restrictions I am limited by with the indexing of the 350 Honda twin in WERA’s 350GP class. the throttle cable, clutch cable, and front brake cable that I interact with my race bike via, the OEM type petcock, the fork seals and fork oil in my front suspension system, the gasket and seals in my engine, the electronic ignition on my cam shaft, the spark plugs, spark plug caps, the Barnett clutch springs and clutch plates in my transmission, the 1.0 over pistons, rings, circlip, wrist pin, assembly in my engine, the intake and exhaust valves, the tappet covers and o-rings, the chain lube I run on the race bike and street bike I resurrect and the repair manual I used to work on and optimise all bikes with.  I get by with a lot of help from this friend, Mr. Martin Mattes of Sirius Consolidated Incorporated. Thank you Martin!


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I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

Having missed the second round of the Raven Racing Vintage Trifecta at Barber Motorsports Park around Independence Day, I was really looking forward to racing at Lil Tally for the third and final round or the Trifecta. Missing my favorite track on my favorite holiday was the result of having work that was of a larger scope than originally expected at the condo restoration in Reston, VA.  Being back in Georgia in time for Lil Tally was the only option.

The forecast was a dreary 55% chance of rain both Saturday (for the Trifecta) as well as Sunday for the same race schedule repeated as the day before. Perhaps this was one of those reasons that we didn’t get more vintage riders showing up to compete for the money?

Early Saturday morning I took the trek from Stone Mountain, Georgia to Munford, Alabama. Gaining an hour allowed me to spend the night at home the night before  the race. The gate fee was up to $30 for the weekend, which was a first for Lil Tally. However, unlike VIR the race before, Tally doesn’t charge for the ability to spend the night in your van, truck, motorhome or tent, like the $35 charge per night at VIR. The usual suspects were already parked with their canopy up. DC (Dave Clark) and Jerry Duke were already at home under their shade generator in the fold-out comfy chairs at the very end of pit row, our usual spot.  My usual spot didn’t even have neighbors, again attributed to the forecast.

Parking the truck and pulling out enough gear to “mark my spot” I headed to the “Tally Diner” for a cup of fresh coffee and headed to the silo for registration. It was shortly after 7:30 and there was no line, just three guys being taken care of at the table. I had pre-registered online so there was normally a shorter line. As I approached I notice Emily reaching in to a short stack of papers and she had them within my reach while stating “sign the waiver”. I did. She handed over the forms and my feet never really stopped moving. That was a great start to the race day!

Back at the pit, I finished unloading, walked across the street and checked in with Jerry and DC. The vintage headcount came up with Dick Gruhn of “QuickBikes” on his 2 stroke Yamaha screamer. David Hurst who had to bump up to Vintage 1 class in order to use a disc brake on his Yamaha DS7 was in attendance.  It was later that we found out that Harry Vanderlinden, an AHRMA regular was present and riding his Kawasaki GPz550.

The Trifecta was Ron Raven’s creation wherein he went over the results of multiple vintage races, at the race tracks that he would offer cash prizes for, while comparing to the vintage classes that were represented in the one race of the day that had the majority of vintage racers in attendance. His calculations included what was considered to be the fastest class represented as the basis. Each of the remaining slower classes were each give a handicap in seconds per lap, over the full course of the race. Ron also made variances for bikes like my CB350 which had to race in the 500GP class as a 350GP (indexed in) bike. Those racers who were, like I was, racing in a “Bump up” class needed to inform Ron of such to get the even better handicap.

Ron made the rounds on his mighty spiffy modern Honda scooter (looking good Ron) checking in to identify all the participants for the final round. Verifying with WERA that it was okay with them, Ron requested that the two payouts that were not paid out at Barber could be paid out as 6th and 7th place. All approved, it appeared that all a vintage racer had to do to receive “cash for racing” was to complete the race. Little did we know…

We made our way out for the practice sessions and experienced light sprinkles for the first round. Later for the second round the skies began to clear up as the clouds took on more definition rather than the gray blur of earlier in the morning.

After practice, I had come to the conclusion that my race tank, for the whole season, had seen nothing but a continual adding of more fuel to the tank. Thinking about ALL the ways to get better performance out of my race bike, I considered that removing the mixed-age ethanol fuel and replacing with all new would be a good idea. I drained the race tank into my truck tank while Jerry watched from across the street. Jerry  came over and offered me some of “the good stuff”. He happens to live/work not far from a local supplier of 110 octane race fuel. Seeming not too much different from being offered some good ol Alabama moon shine (except Jerry doesn’t drink) I accepted with a sheepish grin. I mentioned that my bike doesn’t really have the capability to take full advantage of the higher octane fuel and he wisely mentioned mixing with some of my pump premium. Seeing the sense it, especially spreading the fuel out for Sunday’s race, I did exactly that. Just a little help from my friends.

After a proud rendition of the National Anthem, the Minis/Groms took the track. I call it the “Sound of Little Thunder”. The bikes in that class are all single cylinder bikes of smaller displacement of 50cc to 125cc and you’d be surprised at the WOT racing that these guys endure.

After the Minis/Groms racing it was a lot of 10 lap races of the big fast bikes, one after the other, and a long way from race 14A for the Trifecta racers. Being without a canopy as I have been through two this year and it’s usually Lil Tally where the wind turns mine into crash and burn sail kites, I wasn’t going to buy another for a one day/weekend rental at purchase prices. I found an interesting 2×4 built, high back to high back bench to lay down on and cover my face with a straw hat in the shade of the trees. It was on the back straight of the track, so I could hear the wide open sounds of the different engines in spite of the fact that my hearing aids were at the VA for a tune up.

The public announcement at Lil Tally is consistently the one thing that could be upgraded. Add to that, the fact that the bikes on the back straight would usually be flying by as the announcements were being made, and it was easy to say I never really knew exactly what race was taking place. Around race 9, I made a bathroom call and asked a racer near the grid sheets and was told it was race 9. Going back to the restful horizontal position, I tried to keep track of races. Giving my best guess, I determined it was either the 12th or 13th race, I headed back to the truck in my pit and noticed that David Hurst was suited and ready and waiting for 3rd and final call.

Suiting up rapidly, I had all but my helmet and gloves and made my way to the Alabama Air Conditioned Mansion on wheels where DC and Jerry were comfortably inside and pounded on the door. I stated that I believed it was time to go, while Jerry and DC thought we had one more race to go. They came out and noticed that Matt, the 125cc water cooled Clubman bike in our race set, #14A,  wasn’t suited up either. Together, they all noted David Hurst as I was starting my bike. Needless to say that we all made it, just in time for the money race.

WERA was kind enough to pull the two fastest classes, Formula Super Stock,  normally in our race set and gave them their own race, #14B. We still ran with the Clubman race bikes, which I thought could also have had been placed in #14B, but I don’t get to make the rules. This left Vintage 4, Vintage 3, and 500GP as the money class races competing for Raven Racing’s cash awards.

Jerry and I were side by side in Row 11 as the expected slower of the race classes, with Vintage 4, and Vintage 3 getting a head start ahead of us. The concept here is that the faster bikes get out of the way of the slower bikes and safety is maximized. We are also spaced out by distance and empty rows in order to increase this safety factor.

To understand what I am up against, you have to watch Jerry Duke take his usual great start on the right side of the screen. (Yes, that’s right, the video came out great on my new SD chip. I only wish I knew how to get rid of the humidity build up that took over the lens at the end of the race.) When you watch Jerry, the red blur, pass ALL the vintage bikes and ride up the back sides of the Clubman class, you will understand why I might tend to cling to the title I go by as the fastest 350 Honda in the 350GP class racing with the 500GP bikes, just like Jerry. Except, Jerry is getting really good with his 350 Ducati single with that was made the first year they had a 5 speed transmission. Watch him fly past and away from the entire vintage race sets!

Racing through turn 1 was fairly easy for me as the pack had cleared out well before I got there. I did pass David Hurst before turn one and I believe it was Matt who was pitted next to DC & Jerry one the 125cc two stroke water cooled Clubman bike? I got a fairly good start for my little 335cc two cylinder, two valve per cylinder power house;)

Of the two bikes I did pass early in turn 1, Matt burst past me just after turn 1 as I was closing the window of opportunity on the far outside edge of the track. I was concentrating on DC who was doing his best to keep that Suzuki 500 two cylinder, two stroke with open port technology (pre-reed valve technology) ahead of David Hurst behind us. I passed DC and laid my bike in to turn 2 showing off how great the GoPro captures the texture of the race track’s gravel embedded into the black top.

Happy to have my engine operating back in the red-line of the tachometer again, I was speed shifting (holding the throttle wide open while pulling in the clutch and shifting gears as fast as I could before my engine reved into explosion) to get every ounce of extra power out of it. Unfortunately, the “fish-eye” effect of the GoPro camera makes the distance between the lens and a bike 20 yards ahead look almost lost in the horizon.  As such, what my eyes could see, the camera could not.  Although the video doesn’t display it, I had Jerry in my sights until the 8th lap. By the time I came around and uprighted into the back straight, I asked myself “what happened to Jerry?” He had been just ahead of Dick Gruhn each time I was vertical until the end of this second lap. Then, low and behold, before Dick was about to lean into the last turnset, out popped Jerry from perfectly hidden by Dick who was drafting Jerry.

The span widened as Jerry’s 2 seconds per lap better times than mine put more and more distance between us. Because of the back and forth design of the Lil Tally track, one can look across the layers of traffic and see just how far someone is ahead of them.  It was just as Jerry and Dick were getting out of reach of the the turn 1/turn 2 span, just after the halfway mark of the race, that Dick developed motor troubles and pulled off between the turns. As I went past Dick on my right, the first of the Clubman class fastest racers lapped me. 7:10  Over the next lap, more of the faster bikes found me hovering on the outside of the track allowing them free reign of the optimum inside turns so as to NOT become a rolling road block.

Then, by 8:40, Harry Vanderlinden gracefully passed me just before turn 2.  Not much more excitement occurred in my efforts to catch up with and pass Jerry.  However, just before he made it to his pit, I worked my way around him in the treacherous “S” curve of pit row. Pulling to a quick stop and having my bike on the stand before he made it back to his pit. So there, take that!

It was a great day on the track. I’ll have to check and see how I did compared to my best Tally times but will have to keep in mind that I am still running on my old Avons still due to rain forecasts that haven’t come true, but I don’t mind that at all.

At the award ceremony not only did I get second place for the 500GP race, but also $100 for having placed 3rd in the final round of the Raven Racing Trifecta. It should also be noted that both Jerry and I finished ahead of the V3 race bikes. It was Harry Vanderlinden who took 1st place in the Trifecta with Jerry Duke receiving 2nd place and $125. Thank you to Mr. Ron Raven for hosting the cash award event. For more information about the Raven Racing Trifecta, read this thread on the WERA Vintage BBS: http://forums.13x.com/index.php?threads/vintage-trifecta-road-atl-barber-tally-cash-prizes.350271/

This might be a good time to note that the CB350/CL350 are celebrating their 50th birthdays this year. Originally created halfway through 1968 and taking the world by storm. At the end of it’s 5 1/2 production run, the 350 twin saw about half a million of the CB350/CL350/SL350 Honda twins that WERA allowed (indexed) into the 350GP race class with certain limitations. Thank you WERA for giving “CheapJack” a place to play with his old “stocker” 350 Honda racer.

Video of the Final Round of the Trifecta at this link: youtube.com/watch?v=nJMOdLmE6HY

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Short, Sweet, & to the Point VIR Race Video

Here’s a nice short example of all the curves on the north end of VIR as race by Mr. Mark Morrow on his vintage RZ race bike chasing TZ. Notice the difficult to memorize curves of VIR: youtube.com/watch?v=x8weDwVpTms&feature=youtu.be

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A Heated Battle on My Birthday Run

After many years without vintage racing being included at VIR the first weekend in August, this new race schedule configuration brought back my favorite twisty, curvy, too many curves to memorize without regular runs on the “Oak Tree” track. Virginia International Raceway is barely over the Virginia border from the North Carolina line, so much so, that from the southern property line of VIR, I can throw a rock over the state line.

This particular run to VIR also included a special rendezvous with Sir Richard Oldakowski and his daughter riding shotgun. Rich brought out his trusty SR500 thumper which has taken him to national championships in impressive style. I even had the pleasure of taking this low RPM power house around Road Atlanta to find out what it was like to open the throttle on such a refined machine. Rich has retired from competitive vintage racing and now just shows up at the track and chooses which classes he will let loose the adrenaline while letting his trusty steed gallop around the track. Rich’s SR ran in the Vintage 3 class, like myself in 500GP, uncontested.

Other vintage racers at VIR this past weekend included Mark Morrow on his 400 Yamaha and Vintage 7 Heavyweight class had 4 entries with James J. Bonner, Greg Reisinger, Jeff Johnson, and Dan Clark. Vintage 8 Heavyweight saw John Hvizdak, Randy Edwards, James Roth.

There were still plenty of challenges in this hotly contested series of races. It was after all, 90 degrees in the shade, so everything we did was hotly contested. As neither Rich nor myself showed up with a canopy, (my most recent acquisition took wind damage earlier this year at Lil Tally), we eventually noticed the shaded picnic tables under the canopy of trees. The temperature drop had to be at least 15 degrees from the black top where our shade faded away as the sun rose over Rich’s Dodge Sprinter van.

Practice had to be the most exciting part. With all the lightweight modern bikes on the track at once, Rich and I let all of them go ahead of us for the practice session I did make. So, about 3 laps later is when they all started lapping me from every angle. All this time I was re familiarizing myself with VIR’s beautiful twisty turns and elevations changes. But once the lapping frenzy started, I continually calculated where I would be most out of the way for the faster bikes flying by.

Earlier that day, I missed the first practice session as when I was taking my bike of the race stand, it came off unevenly and fell away from me. Upon hoisting the bike back up, I found my break lever broken. Searching through my tool boxes for any possible spare parts, I came up empty. I brought no tubs with me as my truck was full of my home construction tools and supplies with no place to store them when on the job. With no other CB350 racers at VIR, I turned to Rich. Looking through his tool box he handed me a lever, cable adjuster, and half a perch.

Returning to my pit, I tried to install the lever, but it was too wide (stronger) at the part where it slides into the pivot. Without the second half of the perch, I had to file the lever to make if fit into my perch. My first practice session came and went but I did get the lever to fit comfortably and function as it is supposed to.

As the only two vintage racers in the 8th race, Rich and I were gridded next to each other in the 11th row, back of the pack, and that worked for both of us. The race was not as packed with modern bikes as the practice session was, which was a relief.

I did have one silver lining that occurred during the brake lever recovery and that was the determination that my motor was not as tired as I had earlier in the season thought. Seems that the carburetor synchronization had been drifting and I hadn’t caught that until that Sunday morning tech session.

The race starter had an interesting starting procedure where in he would slowly arch the green flag pole with flag clenched in hand over his head as an attention getter before going to 1, sideways, then ripping the flag through the air to start the race. A neat bit of personality interjected into the procedure.

All of us took off for turn one. There was no traffic when we got there, but it did catch my attention that we weren’t left behind that much by the 25o Ninjas and Kayla on her winning 250 Honda. However Kayla Yaakov didn’t start in the pack this time. Seems she got a late approach to the grid and flew past Rich and I just before turn one. Her skills are so amazing that she was the first to lap us just three laps later.

I was able to keep Rich in sight for two laps while bursts of memories reminded me how to handle VIR’s treacherous curves. The smile began to climb on board as I really started throwing my body around on the bike through each of the turn sets as I remembered how to handle each from years gone by.

I received the halfway mark flag and swooped through turn one, and then the pack led by Kayla Yaakov, racing in the Clubman Novice class, but that won’t be the case next year as she continually finishes in front of the Clubman Expert racers this year, she won’t be allowed to race as a Novice next year.

The rest of the pack followed her while I tried to stay clear where possible. Still racing on the old Avon bias belted tires since the Roebling Road race that was predicted for rain, but never did, due to the busy work schedule I’ve maintained this season, I was surprised how well they handled, after I had scrubbed off all the “old” from them.

As the last of the Clubman pack raced past me, I went back to re familiarizing myself with VIR curves till the checkered flag. I wished the rest of the 500GP guys made it to VIR, because none of them know it as well as I do;)

My SD chip I ordered did not arrive in time for the VIR run, so no video this time around. Hopefully I’ll have some show & tell next time.

I would like to point out that my Zero Gravity 8 cell battery that Martin Mattes of Sirius Consolidated Incorporated (the Keyster Carb Kit Capital of the World) sent me has performed flawlessly. Where applicable, the Zero Gravity 8 cell battery sees me thought 2 practice sessions and 2 racers, whether all in one day or the same weekend, without a charge in between. And is it ever lightweight, agile, and can be mounted in any configuration rotation necessary. Way too cool! Thank you, Martin!


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Tribute to One I Envy

In case you hadn’t heard, one of vintage racing’s finest has been laid to rest. Mike Wells of Mike Wells Racing died while RACING! He DIDN’T die of racing, he died doing what he loved to the last second that he had life within him. It is believed that his crash was the result of his life having left his body before the end of the race. Having received the white flag, indicating that he had only one more lap to finish the race. Mike’s life left his body and his lifeless body was able to navigate the bike to the inside of turn one where he interfered with no other racers. Reports state that he was slumped over the bike as it crashed in the infield away from the race line and without interfering with anyone on the track.

It can therefore be stated that Mike’s race leathers had to be pried from his cold dead body and that he died with his boots and his gloves on. Mike had retired about a year before, moving to Florida and regularly flying back to his shop in Lexington, Kentucky. Mike leaves a legacy with those who met and dealt with him. Another one of the “good guys” of vintage Japanese motorcycle racing and wrenching has left his legacy behind for those who knew him to remember.

There is now one less Honda twin expert who specialized in the 305 Superhawk CB77 which he raced for decades. Mike saw Vintage Motorcycle Racing as a way of life and loved all the people he met of that genre. Mike was the epitome of one of those “nicest people you meet on a Honda”. I will miss him every time I am at the track. If you knew him, you will too. Fair winds my friend. RIP (Race In Peace)

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Last Man Standing?

After missing the second round of the Vintage Trifecta at Barber Motorsports Park, the one place I love to be when celebrating our nations birthday, I found myself as the only vintage motorcycle racer of any class at Roebling Road this past weekend. I’m sure Jerry must have felt about the same as I was not the only one in the GP500 class missing at Barber.  Jerry Duke found himself standing alone for the GP500 racers at Barber, while there were plenty of other vintage racers in other classes.

Vintage 8 Heavyweight had Fred Davis & Sean Brown competing, while Vintage 8 Middleweight had Micah Hyde, Matthew Smith, Tim DeBusk, & Michael Raymer competing and finishing in that order. Vintage 7 Heavyweight had Ray M. Hickman, Eric B. Bozell, Steve Wilkening, & James J. Bonner while Vintage 7 Mediumweight saw competition from Sean Brown. Vintage 6 Heavyweight had Eric B. Bozell and Ray M. Hickman battling it out while Vintage 6 Lightweight saw the likes of Keith Buras, Mark Morrow, Eric Crews, and Sean Brown competing in the same class. Vintage 5 racing had Mark Morrow taking the prize from Eric Crews & Christopher Keeling with Dick Gruhn not starting the race. Vintage 4 was a no show from Dick Gruhn who must have had some serious difficulties as he did not start this race either. Vintage 3 had Mark Morrow edging out David Clark for the win while Mark Williams was not able to make the starting grid.

To Jerry Duke, I’m sorry guy. I had business obligations that kept me from doing battle with you at the prelude location for the Grand National Finals. Will see you at Lil Tally for a double header weekend of battling around the tighter track where I have a little better chance to keep up with you as cameraman.

I’m bringing my newbies to get some more experience in hopes that their learning curves will give us some excitement sooner rather than later. Let’s give those who come to see the finale of Ron Raven’s Vintage Trifecta (Racing for da money) at Lil Tally something to remember.

In the meantime, I’m going to cut this short as the camera did work well and I did get to see some of the footage before the SD chip corrupted and became useless. (Note to self… copy the file to the editing hard drive and then look at the video.) As for feeling like the last vintage racer on earth… well, we’ll just notice how things will trend from here. Only one direction to go from here and that up!

See ya’ll at Lil Tally!

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Cycle Jammin Vintage Race Fun!

WERA held it’s annual Cycle Jam event at Road Atlanta Raceway north of the suburbs of Atlanta at the very beginning  of June. The weather was glorious with puffy clouds, a great breeze, and lots of sunshine. The Saturday morning ride to Braselton, Georgia from Stone Mountain, was a comfortable one hour commute to the track.

Barry Hassenkopf MADE IT TO THE TRACK! Registered for race school, Barry put his Wolf blue leathers to use and joined all the modern bike guys for some track learning. Through out the day, John, Barry’s Pit Monkey for the day and I had our job set out for us. Seems that some of the modifications to strip street stuff for race use left the bike without a functional charging system, something Barry had counted on. John and I were swapping out batteries, charging with what we had to work with and getting Barry on the track as well as we could.

Track time portions of the school were cut short each time for Barry, but he still gathered all the information he needed and was offered to take the Mock Race the next time he made it to the track, but otherwise, Barry is certified! Hope he makes it to Barber for the Independence Day tradition of racing at the finest campus that we have the pleasure to race at.

Practice was a great reminder of how expansive the “home town” track is, all but turn 12 that is.  I was still configured with the old Avon race tires since the Tally race that was scheduled for rain and didn’t drop until the cool down lap at Tally. Doug had the “big bike” out. His Ducati F1 is a Vintage V class race bike. Jerry was in good form and confident on the Atlanta asphalt.

Cycle Jam was also a special event for vintage racers of race #9. Mr. Ron Raven was hosting his first of three (the Vintage Trifecta) sponsored payout races. Ron has worked out the handicaps using a lot of performance data that is specific to each track of his trifecta to give each racer in their class a shot at taking home a cash booty.

Ron’s second event will be held at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama on Saturday June 30th with the finale being held at Lil Tally at the later part of August. Stay tuned for results!  Our (500GP class) usual slot, race 9, also includes Clubman, V4, V3, and Formula Super Sport classes. However, it is the V4, V3, and 500GP classes that were racing for money.

The weather was hot and dry, the breeze what hot and dry, and lot’s of water was consumed by all present. The WERA crew included the usual suspects and it’s always nice to see the same familiar faces at the track. Scott, the crash truck guy (one of my heroes) had some really banged up bikes to return from all the modern bike crashes during practice. Things seemed to calm down by race time.

Helping Barry gave me great distraction time instead of watching the clock. So when it came time to race, and I was behind in suiting up, I took the short cut to pit out and was the last racer waved on and allowed to take the warm up lap. Arriving at a full grid of racers, I forgot to start the camera recording.

Our two wave race had me and Jerry in the front of the second wave. Followed by a group of Ninja 250s, it always makes for good footage when they all pass me before turn 1. It was after turn 5 that I remembered to start the recorder. The video shows the Ninjas ahead of me approaching turn 6 & 7. By the time I’m clearing turn 7, I am comforted by the fact that I am on the tails of the Ninjas, just in time to watch them power away from me in the back straight.

Jerry had done such a good job of pulling ahead and keeping the Ninjas as cover that by the end of the first lap he was nowhere in sight. So early in the race, I hadn’t given up, so I poured on the steam, braked way late in the intersections, went faster through the turns, and generally raced myself silly.

Pushing a little too hard, I got the change to play recovery expert. About 3:15 into the video, I head into turn 10A with a little too much enthusiasm and broke loose the rear wheel with one last down-shift. By the time I had traction, I was pointed straight towards the pea gravel.

Instantly remembering that I was going for a new record (time between crashes) I did my best to keep things under control. Now I know what it feels like riding through pea gravel without crashing! However, having been well shaken (and not stirred) and the loss of time required for recovery, I simply went back to a decent race pace to finish out the crashless race.

Enjoy the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVlgmVv3c4A&t=334s

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