“Cocky: It felt good while it lasted”

Barely making the registration for the Barber Vintage Festival 2018 racing after the first weekend racing the KZ400/440 and getting a 2nd place on Saturday and a 3rd place on Sunday that propelled me into the Vintage Superbike Lightweight class to 10th position in a class of 25 racers. I thought this was great and that I’d be playing near the front of the pack. Little did I know the realization I would experience while racing with the full sampling of the race class at the grand finale in the splendor of the most beautiful “campus” we go to race at, Barber Motorsports Park. “The Real Guys” showed up!

Still shaking out a few bugs from the bike… I began to experience a high speed break up on the much larger track in comparison to how the bike behaved on the “Lil Tally’s” sprint track. Checking the fuel venting by breaking the seal at the rubber gasket did not solve the problem. Pulling off both float bowls and cleaning what really was begging for a good flush didn’t solve things either. So, I went through the process of “finishing” the mods I had made. When I got to the velocity stacks, I remembered that they came with a diamond patterned “chicken wire” grill to keep rocks out. I removed one that only required the lightest touch to extract. When I got to the second, it was already removed and shaped differently. More of a curve and the outer diameter of the grill was smaller than the one I extracted. As I didn’t get to this step until after the last practice session, I had to console myself in that I had found what had to be the problem and would experience the benefit on Race Day.

The rest of the Festival was in full swing and I had the Buell Blast as my pit bike to cruise throughout the park. Checking in at Norton Hill, I set up my “other” abode with the Norton folks and made the rounds. Friends from all over the world, including Mexico and Germany, were on Norton Hill and I made it a point to say hello to each and every one. I’d like to give a very special “YAY MAGGIE!” to our den mother/event promoter/memorabilia maker/etc… She and Barney were instrumental in what like many years before turned out to be the BEST BARBER FESTIVAL YET!.

Saturday morning, race 4, I was gridded in the midst of the pack as a late entrant. Just like at Lil Tally, In front of me was Patrick McGraw, limbering up for our thrill ride on the track. We were in the third wave of race 4. This meant that the faster bikes were given a head start to ensure those fastest among them would lap earlier in the race. A cloud of smoke in the distance ahead with the “Wave 2” track worker moving aside indicated Wave 2 was ready for their green flag. Their cloud of smoke and the Wave 3 sign being taken out from in front of us meant it was our time to look at the number boards and wait for the green flag…

As all those behind me flew past and we headed down the track, I believe that Patrick was the only one I raced past before turn one. Patrick is running his own KZ400, but it has the original KZ400 motor whereas mine has a 440 motor installed giving be 40cc more displacement to work with. Neither of us have played with headwork, cams, valves, or larger pistons. Going into turn 2, I edged past M53 (researching name) and raced down the mini “Gravity Cavity” headed toward the front straight.

The pack was pulling away from me as I raced towards Charlotte’s Web. Braking as late as possible, I caught up to and passed a Suzuki GS450 846 (researching name) through the most significant left turn on the mostly right turn track. He took the lead before the museum turn/hump as did M53.

Pulling out of the museum turn I noticed that I had full used of the redline range. Removing the chicken wire from the grill of the velocity stacks made all the difference in the world. My stock carbs were now able to do all they possible could do. The pack was pulling away from me as I was setting up for the first zig zag of Barber’s back track section. Staying on the throttle up to and through the last turnset, I had more than a half dozen bikes in front of me bunching up for the other most significant left hand turn on the track, the last turn before the start/finish line. One full lap completed and I had some good footage to show.

I passed another bike in the last turn and tucked down for the long run to turn 1 where I passed another with ease. As the size of the track tends to separate riders with different lap times, I still had a pack of 3 chase into Charlotte’s web and gain on them. Edging up to 846 (researching name) I paralleled by, but only for a few seconds. He pulled away heading toward the museum turn and I had to fly through it to keep up. They all pulled away initially leaving me to go WOT until the second set of zig zags near Norton Hill, where again I caught up with the three in front of me. I was playing cameraman as best I could and it looked like I had found the stars of this video. I was definitely out powered. Each time the track straightened out, they would pull away. Each time there were curves to race through, I had to in order to get the right angle to record their turns.

Going faster than the stars in turn one, I brought the camera closer to the subjects ahead of me. M53 (researching name) became the star nice and clear as we zoomed through the gravity cavity and raced to Charlotte’s Web. Swooping up behind him on the outside, I passed and closed to position for the museum turn. Before we got there, he took the lead again. I tucked in behind him for the draft and we raced to the museum turn where I had to check up momentarily as M53 (researching name) had let off the throttle exiting the turn and I was following his lead. That slight hesitation on the throttle left me delayed entering the zig zag leaving me spending all the curves at speed to catch up by Norton Hill. As I did, M53 (researching name) went wide and I swooped in and passed him. By the time we got to turn 1, he’d taken the lead with me hot on his heels.

I was so focused on the best line to catch back up during Charlotte’s Web that I was taken by surprise when the leader of the 1st wave came flying by during “our” battle. For more than a full lap, I was getting different camera angles of M53 (researching name) while the fastest of the first wave went flying by us and a much greater speed. The cat and mouse game continued where I would watch him pull away in the straights and I’d catch up in the curves. After the white flag (one lap to go) I took the lead again in Charlotte’s Web and I was passed before the museum turn, again. We gave each other a reason to push our bikes hard and our skills even harder. Having my friends on Norton HIll there watching gave me all the encouragement I needed to gain on my playmate in the last turn set.

Approximately one second after M53 (researching name) took the checkered flag, so did I. This was just one of the many highlights of the greatest Barber Vintage Festival… so far. However, when I took a look at the results, humility set in. I was 15th of 18 racers in my class. So, unlike my previous expectations may have been led to believe, I’m still the guy on the $1,500 of motorcycle AND tires AND all the race parts added having a GREAT time on the track with guys who are putting a bit more into their budget. COME JOIN US!

Thank you to Mr. Martin Mattes of Sirius Consolidated Incorporated, my race sponsor for more than a decade. siriusconinc.com

The great race video can be seen at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQJdqAL2G1I

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Just Hours Before Barber Vintage Festival

The following is an announcement about the state of Georgia and it’s unconstitutional actions taken specifically against Vintage Motorcycle Owners NATIONWIDE.

Dear BoS friends,
It has happened! The state of Georgia has finalized and fully adopted the chain of registration Ex Post Facto law into full on collision intent.  No Title, No Registration without a completely documented paper trail back to the last registered owner, a requirement that WAS NOT IN PLACE just months ago. You have just had your rights violated, by the state government, for having done no wrong to nobody else… and you set the precedent.
Below is a quick update for a vintage motorcycle sale that had to dissolve. I am picking up the bike at Barber Vintage Festival to return to the seller after the owner for more than ten years, is not able to register a bike he’s been riding on the roads for years.
Perhaps you’d care to join this libertarian out for justice facing the state of Georgia?
The actions of which are U.S. Unconstitutional are, so far, running unchallenged.
What will it take for your couch potato self to become active as the encroachment nears your “pursuit of happiness”?
Just how subjective does it have to be for you to stand up and SAY NO TO GOVERNMENT?
The state of Georgia is violating the Constitution of the United States of America and you’re just going to sit there and let it happen?
The bike in question is one I sold more than a decade ago to a guy that worked at the place where I worked. He wanted something cheap and my 350 Honda resurrections had just broached the $1,200.00 minimum. The fairly stock CL350 Scrambler had been brought back to life and all functions tested and adjusted for optimum functionality. He rode this bike along the Clifton Corridor to his home not far away. I resurrected the bike and left a pair of my already tested carbs to prove proof of life, and a great idle as well. Delivered to buyer at Roebling Road Raceway and was coordinating the final tank and seat configuration as approved by sending images and text.

Then, just before Barber time was gearing up, the sale fell through. Seems that although he bought the bike 11 years ago, this new rule now applies retroactively to then and beyond!  If we don’t do something about this, all the bikes that do not have a complete copy of copy of copy of bill of sale back to the last registered owner then we all own parts bikes and vintage bike race frames.

From one of the most recently affected:
“I have the the same pic of the vin plate and took off from work and took it to the DeKalb vehicle registration office at 8am sharp this morning and they searched the records in any way possible, by vin, by my name, address etc.  This is no record of that m/c ever being registered in my name going back to 1/1/1977 when I moved to Atlanta. They showed me a list of every vehicle I have ever had registered in the state of GA.
The registration office said that I could not have registered this bike back when I bought it from you if you did not supply me with a valid registration in your name or someone else’s name.  Bottom line, the registration office said we had to prove a solid line history of purchase ownership of this vehicle in order to get current registration.
I rode it on the road only to/from Emory rehab a few times, 1 mile away.  Since it looks like I tried to register it and couldn’t because I had no previous registration/paperwork from you or any other seller.   The few times I rode it I prob used the tag from my 550cc Honda that was registered, insured and licensed at the time.  I do remember running out of gas on the 350 once in my only 3 or 4 trips to Emory, and I had to.bring it home on a trailer.  I rode the 550 routinely for several years and still have that registration now and tag sticker right up.through 2018.
Looks like I need to get registration from you or the previous owner to make the transfer to the new owner.  And as you said, can’t be something written on the back of a napkin, lol…”
So there you have it. The state of Georgia is now behaving as if this law is affecting transitions from 10 plus years ago.
So what ya gonna do about it?
Jack Houman
Vice President GANOA
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A Great Time Had for a Great Cause

Saturday had nothing to do with vintage motorcycle racing. As a matter of fact, the two motorcycles involved were both from this millennium. The American Legion Legacy fund raising event was held at the Snellville Post 232. My race partner has had issues with his V Strom 1,000 ever since the last time he went to change his oil. His drain plug threads stripped away and the recommended repair failed. So, I was in the process of setting him up with the newly acquired 2002 Buell Blast 500 and I was going to ride the newly configured race bike, the 1979 Kawasaki with the 1980 KZ440 motor installed when I realized just how loud the exhaust system was. Among all the other civilized bikes in the ride, I was going to be the police-magnet for the db levels I was emitting.

With only one option and one full day, I decided to attack the long dead SV650 that had been neglected since the battery died. Having drained the Buell Blast of 3 year old fuel as the first step in the resurrection process, I decided to do the same for the SV. When lifting the tank off the bike, I felt like the fuel tank was much more full than I expected. After setting up the vacuum pump on the petcock, I noticed that the liquid coming out of the tanks was beading up on the gas can. Taking a whiff of the liquid, I found no smell. My tank had become full of water.

The SV650 sits outside in the weather, in the driveway. I’ve been out of state for more than three months this warm cycle. We’ve had a noticeably rainier than normal amount of precipitation this year. And, the seal on the gas cap appears to have given up the ghost. Rain got in, sunk to the bottom of the tank, and the gasoline floated to the top where the hot sun would evaporate the gasoline until the rain would return and fill the tank while displacing the gasoline. I was quite fortunate having chosen to drain and clean the tank. Had I simply changed the battery and tried to start the bike, I would have sent the grungy water into the carbs and causing the next unnecessary phase of the project to add to the list of things to do.

After a tank cleaning and the replacement of the battery, I applied the choke to the carbs and pressed the starter button for 10 seconds and then let the motor rest while the vacuum allowed fuel into the dry carburetors. 30 seconds later I pressed the starter button and the bike fired up without any “dead spots” through the range of RPMs. A little work on the hydraulic brake master cylinders and a thorough cleaning and Keith was upgraded to the SV650 for the poker run and I was to ride the Blast.

We set up for the evening’s festivities early in the morning and as the last riders showed up and registered, we took off for the poker run. Stops included the VFW in Lawrenceville, the new Will Henry’s location just off Sugarloaf Parkway where we had a great barbecue plate and a beer, the American Legion in Duluth, followed by Dillon’s in Duluth where we had tables waiting and were treated like we were something special. Thank you Dillon’s wait staff. Your service is appreciated. We then took a scenic route through parts of Gwinnett county I’d never seen before on our way back for our final card drawing back at the “Hero’s Clubhouse” at Snellville post 232.

When all the cards had been drawn, many of us were wondering about our chances to pull of “worst hand” the third and final place in the poker run standings after best and second best hands. As it turned out, I took first place with a pair of 10s and 6s, while Keith took second best hand with 9s and 2s. The kitty must have been pretty full as my take would have covered a weekend of race fees while Keith received half that. Then, I noticed Keith back at the registration booth turning in half his winnings to be donated back to the Legacy fund .Next thing I knew I was turning in half mine as well. There are not many causes better than the American Legion Legacy Fund that pays the tuition of children of soldiers fallen since 9/11, and it felt great.

Now, with three legal street bikes (one headed back to the Barber Vintage Festival to race in the Vintage Superbike Lightweight class) I think I will put some more time and miles on the street as well as on the track.

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Second Day of AHRMA Racing for 440

After the successful completion of the first of two races necessary to qualify for racing at the Barber Vintage Festival the day before was quite encouraging. A number of practice laps were also required, so I made it a point to run the full first practice run. Once completed, I sat out the second practice session while sorting and separating 350 Honda race parts from general race parts and then the KZ400/440 race parts.

With the tank topped off, transponder charged, and camera charged with space on the memory chip, I left the bike ready for racing. When it came time to check my grid position I was relieved that somebody had realized that having the race class that was behind us and passing us in turn one after the start was best re-positioned to start in front of us instead. While sorting parts, I had a text chat with John Cook who was one of the racers that crashed  the day before and was resting at home. He made note of the fact that, as he said it, he saw my bike sliding around the track on the 22 psi tire pressure, so I decided to take the pressure up to 25 psi for the next race. Seems I let go of some of that low frequency wobble I was experiencing.

The weekend had already been long and drawn out after a Friday of bike modifications and practice sessions, including a trip home for race parts, Saturday racing and dinner with a handful of racers enjoying a great Mexican meal at Frontera. I set up the ramps so I could ride 440 into position for the ride home in the back of my truck as soon as I got back from the race. Everything was wrapped up and ready for loading.

The end of the sidecar race marked the point where there was just one more race before it was time to ride to the track. Suiting up, I went through the checklist and had everything ready to ride. Not being able to hear the calls, I estimated the end of race 5 and headed for pit out. As we were flagged to take our warm up lap, I started the camera and joined the procession. The new positioning put the Vintage Superbike Lightweight class at the back of the first way where we were more comfortable behind Jeremy Sharer’s class.

Again, I was behind Patrick McGraw at the start, but this time I had a better handle on the position of my clutch friction point so I had a better start. It allowed me to get past Patrick early in turn one where I was gaining on David Hurst. David had switch to front disc brakes on his Yamaha DS7 and seems he’d experienced a bit more confidence in his bike. Earlier during practice, it took me almost two laps to pass him, which was unheard of on my CB350, before he’d switched to disc brakes.

As we traversed through the curves of Lil Tally, John Rickard gradually put more distance between me and him while I was trapped behind a closely matched bike with the rider of white leathers. I took all 440 had and drafted the rider until I could come along side and “show a wheel” before the last turnset before the front straight. He eased off and let me take the inside trail and I grabbed the gap that was left in front of him. Without any interference in front of me, I took turn one with only minimal steering wobble effect, as fast as I felt confident to. As I had no one in front of me, I was free to take the curves at optimum angles and had the track to myself for two uninterrupted laps.

The leader of the second wave came by me just after the start/finish point followed by the second in his wave just before the right hander. About a lap after that, I came up on, and passed a bike just after the right hander. That was the last I saw of anything other than race track go by.

AHRMA Vintage Superbike Lightweight race at Talladega Gran Prix Raceway, Sunday September 9th, 2018.

 

 

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Months in the Making and Came to Fruition on the Track

This year included many out of state trips for work. On one of the runs I picked up an owner modified KZ400 that had a KZ440 motor dropped into to it’s engine cradle. From what I was told, this was a “plug and play” no modifications required to achieve it upgrade. My 350 Honda twin, being a “stocker” with only a 1.0mm over bore, which brings the 325cc engine displacement up to a whopping 335cc works great in a class of similarly speced bikes, but is no comparison to the 362cc version with high lift cams, head work, high compression pistons, etc… As such, last years racing at Barber Vintage Festival involved playing with the newbies in the back of the pack that I will now be competing with in the Vintage Superbike Lightweight class.

I introduced “440” to the race track this weekend at Talladega Gran Prix Raceway in Munford, Alabama with AHRMA while my WERA race buddies were at Road Atlanta the same weekend. Needing to meet all the criteria to race at the Vintage festival I spent my last chance weekend at Lil Tally.

Friday practice day turned out to be more of a shakedown cruise for 440 with the belly pan I had so meticulously handcrafted of rain gutter material. Seems the lower profile tires that I actually for the track weren’t taken into account with the original tires used for mocking up the pan.  As a backup plan, I brought Black Bullitt along in case I needed to achieve my track time and laps on it as I was bound and determined to race at Barber.

After the belly pan swap was achieved, I began to learn the bike and front disc brakes with racing. The 6 speed tranny was a nice advantage and new to me on the track. The Contis made me smile each time I’d push harder in the curves and they’d stick like soft rubber race compound even though they weren’t. The faster I went I did notice one anomaly that had my attention. I experienced a low frequency oscillation in the steering function through the fastest corner on the track, turn one. I simply chalked it up to shocks that I used to initially for mockup.

By the end of the Friday practice I was comfortable with the bike on the track. Back at the pits it was time to make video recording capability. I figured I’d just mount my complete bracket from the handlebar mount on the CB550 front in of Black Bullitt and transferred it over to the same location on 440. Everything was going fine until I snapped off a bolt in the handlebar mount. There was no way I was going to race with only one of the two handlebar mounts working correctly. Upon close inspection, I noticed just how much the Kawasaki KZ400 handlebar mounting system was to the CB350 Honda, so I decided to drive back to Stone Mountain, Georgia to check out my selection.

Just over an hour and a half later, I came up with a set of polished aluminum handlebar mounts and installed them at my workshop. About the time my truck’s power save feature cut the lights off as I had left the door open, I was tightening the new mounts into place. About an hour and a half later, I was staring at the locked gate of Tally GP Raceway. About 20 minutes later some Tally guys came by with keys and let me and two other vehicles that were beginning to look like a camping crew outside the gate.

Saturday morning practice went well and my times began to pick up as well as my comfort factor with the bike. Keith Bennett and Charlie Young, other team members of Team Old & Oily, were there as spectators for the day. RJ Reynolds, an Alabama native that used to meet up with the Atlanta Norton guys at Lil Tally back in the previous millenium made it by as well. WERA racers present included John Cook, Bill Howard, Mark Morrow, Paul Garland, and David Hurst, just to name a few. Special recognition to Stan Keyes and his corral of Norton Commandos that he brought to race.

Race 6 included the Vintage Superbike Lightweight class among others. The grid configuration had me starting behind Patrick McGraw who had been a constant source for answers about racing the KZ400 and mods recommended for the bike’s best performance chances. Our bikes look very similar except for the starboard engine case on my bike bulges a bit more which is the difference between the Kz400 motor and the 440 motor. And, as you might expect, the performance from the 440 is advantageous.

I’ve known the “man to beat” in the class for more than a decade now. Mr. John Rickard races a Yamaha SR500 single cylinder which is allowed to be punched out to a class maximum of 590cc, unlike the 470cc limit for two cylinder engines like the KZs. Starting in the pole position, I kept an eye on John as the race was getting ready to start. Patrick came into the scene as one of the last racers and went through a short version of his warm up act and settled in quickly as the grid marshalls cleared the track. All eyes were on the number board which went from 3 to 2… to 1… then sideways, followed by the green flag.

The details of what I saw in front of me are best enjoyed by viewing the video. The race included a couple of crashes and a red flag which required a restart of the race after the dust had settled. Enjoy the video. I was quite pleased with 440’s performance including taking second place it’s first time on the track. See the AHRMA Vintage Superbike Lightweight race at Talladega Gran Prix Raceway on September 8, 2018. Special note that the racer in the blue leathers that pulls in front of me, in turn one, and away quickly is none other than Jeremy Sharer on his Kawasaki Bighorn 350 Single screaming two stroke legend.

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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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