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