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

Also check out all the parts and accessories that Sirius Consolidated Incorporated has for your motor-sports machines. siriusconinc.com

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May In South Georgia

The “Duck Chase” at Tally was a blast and I was hoping for more of the same action at Roebling Road Raceway in the middle of May. Doug and Jerry made it to Roebling. However, Scott had arrangements to make with the acquisition of his new to him house in Dalton, GA. Barry, although more optimistic about getting back on the track, still needed to get past a few check marks before his was ready for the race school that he scheduled for Road Atlanta. Other newbies still gathering information about the concept.

Happily surprised to find out that RRR is open much later. I actually got to camp inside the track instead of my occasional camping in the registration parking lot. By morning, I could figure out who was where in the infield. Doug and Jerry were way down yonder near the last turn of the track.

Bill Johnson was in attendance and riding his EX500, bone stock race bike. I got to let him know about the really appreciative Scott Kulina who was wise enough to by Bill’s CB350 race equipment for sale. Scott has plenty of projects to work on now in his new shop.

The full weekend of vintage racing included both Saturday and Sunday with the same race schedule. Two races with one trip for this event.

Saturday’s race included a disappointment as Doug’s bike did not make it to the start line. Jerry’s Duc was ready and it ended being just Jerry and I. The long fast track did not give my CB any advantage so I did all I could in the curves to give Jerry a run for his money.

As usual, Jerry had a great start and pulled hard all the way to turn 1, still in front of many of the EX250 Ninjas. He did a good job of keeping the Ninjas between us for the first lap or so. By lap 3, I was watching Jerry leave me in the dust on the “runway”, the long straight before turn 1 and yet by the last turn, I was closing by the last turn.  I am probably just one “head job” away from really giving Jerry a good run. I have the OEM type Kibblewhite springs, just need to set up another head.

By the white flag, I knew that Jerry had another win under his belt.  As Doug’s bike was determined to be in need of major repair, Sunday was pretty much a rerun of Saturday. The biggest disappointment was that the camera did no not created usable video fore either day. Since Cycle Jam video did come out good, I’ll end here and start the Cycle Jam write up.

Thank you Martin Mattes of Sirius Consolidated Incorporated for all the help and sponsorship. May it continue forever.

 

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Best Camera Work Possible, During Duc Season

After three weeks work in Virginia, I made it back in time to round up the race bike and gear and load it for a quick morning trip to Lil Tally for a Saturday hit and run race. Plans included joining my son for a movie later in the evening, so the awards ceremony was not in my schedule.

The morning ride started with cool temps driving away in darkness during the no traffic time of 6 AM. By the time I was passing through the heart of Atlanta in I-20, it was just beginning to show signs of getting lighter. Before the Alabama line, the sun was preventing the ability to see traffic behind me.

Arrival at Talladega Gran Prix Raceway showed a full complement of riders filling the pits. Travelling all the way down pit row that used to be the front straight before the track reconfiguration, I found that markings had prevented canopy setup in the last few pits before the back “pit in” entrance that I hadn’t noticed the season opener just a couple months prior. I still took my usual spot and decided the canopy would not come out for this trip to the track.

Pale blue skies with the softest and slightest touch of clouds that were no more dense than the contrails left by jets that had come and gone already were matched with temps that were cool, yet shorts and t-shirt comfortable. It was also comfortable to stay in leathers once having dawned them for the second practice session. The first practice session included changing gearing for Lil Tally from the previous configuration from Roebling Road Raceway, just outside Savannah, Georgia.

Doug and Jerry took their Ducs (affectionate names for the Ducatis they race) for the first practice session while I gave my bike the mods and inspection it needed to remind me where I left off last race weekend, weeks before. The Conti Road Attack CR2 in the rear had begun to seriously lip up at the tread grooves and buggered at the chicken strips while the front showed virtually no sign of wear. Note to self… remove and rotate the tires front to rear and vise versa to equalize the mileage received from each. Chain and sprockets looked fine. Visual inspection of the rear brake (SL350 hub/plate combo) through the cut-away section looked like no wear had been received. Cables and control linkage looked good. Mechanical stop for the rear brake pedal does need some attention to prevent further wear on the brake arm.

The vintage contingent was even lighter that usual as Scott and Jennifer were working on the inspection of a place in North Gwinnett that they are looking to move to. Word has is that a 30’x30′ shop is already on premises? You go guys. Look forward to helping you move in!

As the second practice session approached, I suited up, remembering that I need to visit Lady Estelle and have my newer leathers repaired, then dawned my boots, gloves, chest/back protector, and helmet. Starting the bike with one kick (after priming with ignition off) I rode toward pit out. Everything was a racer’s perfect day. The sky was clear, so the track was hot. The breeze was cool so there was no sweating in the leathers. And there were plenty of racers present to enjoy the conditions.

Black Bullitt ran great and it wasn’t long before I found myself searching for the next gear which wasn’t there. This meant that I also had to remind myself that there were no points or trophies for practice sessions, so I headed back to the pits. The battery was charged, the tank was full, the gearing was ideal for Lil Tally, and we didn’t race til race number 9. The riders’ meeting started as posted in the schedule which meant we experienced a minimum number of crashes during practice. Writing down my grid position, I noticed that Doug’s name had been left off the grid so I passed the word, but he already caught that himself.

After Mark’s invocation and the singing of the National Anthem, there was nothing to do but rest and stretch out the Plantar Fasciitis plagued feet. The walk to the silo for registration had taken its toll on my burned out feet. The standing in line came to a halt as soon as I found an unused chair that I slid all the way around the silo to keep me off my feet. And then there was the walk back. Good news is that by the end of the day, I had figured out that the shoe inserts given me by the VA medical professionals were the cause of my discomfort. Swapping to one of the sets of massaging shoe inserts, I began to feel relief immediately.

This left me with my feet kicked up on the bike ramps secured to the tailgate for my speedy departure. With the blood circulating through my feet and no more pressure on my arches, I began to relax.

I was visited in my pit by Mr. Ron Raven, a long time fellow vintage racer who retired from racing in 2006 but had maintained his connections with all those “nicest people you meet” in vintage motorcycle racing. He has in recent years evolved into a sponsor of vintage racing. First with the gatherings he’s hosted at his trailer that included some of the finest home brewed beer I’ve ever enjoyed (twist my arm) and then there are his efforts working with the HMGP exhibition racing efforts in conjunction with WERA, and of course there’s his personally financed and performance indexed handicapped race prize money events. More on that as Ron sends me more fodder for my recruiting efforts as seen in Craigslist under the titles of “Join Us on the Track for some Great Fun Motorsurfing” as well as “Vintage Motorcycle Racers Wanted“. We’re all doing what we can to let interested parties know about this fun exciting sport while trying to keep it alive on the WERA playground.

The day continually but gradually got warmer and was just beginning to seem like getting out of leathers was a good idea when Second Call for race number 9 came loud and clear through the PA system. None of us heard First Call as we all scrambled into our gear and towards pit out. There we waited while race 8 ended, a crashed bike was loaded into a trailer, and a track crossing took place prior to our warm up lap. This delay was more than enough for me to forget to turn on the camera for the warm up lap and the start of the race. I did finally get the camera going just before the right hander as Doug was passing me with Jerry in front.

A brief summary of the video, to be posted after editing and uploading, includes that I did my darndest to be the best cameraman the Ducs could have hoped for. Details in the video.

And soon, I’ll post about my latest experience during the acquisition of my latest street ride/vintage motorcycle race machine. I look forward to creating the video about riding it to a race track, stripping it of street gear, racing it, then reconfiguring the street gear for the ride home. Stay tuned for that that one coming your way very soon.

Video link for the 500GP race at Lil Tally: https://youtu.be/HzePkjXXPZI

As always, I want to thank my vintage road racing sponsor, Sirius Consolidated Inc. from which so many of my race bike parts came from. That list will be another entry in the near future. Until next time…

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Vintage Japanese Motorcycle People are the Best Therapy a Man Could Ask For!

Just as I was about to post a rant about what was almost my first negative experience in the world of Japanese vintage motorcycles I’ve ever endured, I received a text reply from a fellow vintage motorcyclist who shared as much with me as I shared with them.   My almost negative post was replaced with what is about to be the best turn around from rant to rave. Kelly and I shared a family connections with our fathers and motorcycle riding that you had to be there to appreciate. Thank you Kelly for the best night’s sleep in more than a decade and preventing me from going down the dark side.

Retrospect:  I had made arrangements to travel from my brother’s place in Virginia to Thurmont, Maryland to pick up a CB350 Honda, my specialty, for a recovery and resale. However, on the morning of the pickup, where I had taken a day off of work I had received a message from the seller that his cousin had purchased the motorcycle the seller had made arrangements for me to buy and pickup the bike upon his return to Thurmont, Maryland, his home town.

On the morning of pickup, I received a text message that his cousin had purchased the bike and that it was gone…

As the slogan that Honda had at the time of the CB350/CL350/SL350 350K twins were on the showroom floor stated: “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”.  I came to the conclusion that, after decades of proving the slogan true, that it became FACT that there was, after decades of evidence, nothing but truth in the slogan.

Just when I was about to go on a negative rant, after having made arrangements to purchase of a CB350 in Thurmont, Maryland from the owner who had made arrangements days before for me to meet and buy his bike, my angst was extinguished as I shared family ties with a Honda owner who had very recently lost their father and was selling late Dad’s vintage Honda motorcycle.

Immediately, my frustrations were extinguished in the pain of another biker’s loss of a father, reminding me of my loss of the same. We texted back and forth till the inevitable need for sleep kicked in.  At that point it was time for me to purge my angst with the positive experience shared with another soul whom I had not yet met.

After deep breaths and long exhales helped achieve a positive outcome,  I’m ready to move past my frustrations, thanks to Kelly.  Just another example that life is not as obvious as it may seem. As usual, all is good and righteousness was salvaged by divine intervention.

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The Best Encounter in My Vintage Motorcycle Sales History

I grew up in a Norton world. My father’s mild mid life crisis included the acquisition of a Norton Commando 750 Roadster which just happened to be a Combat model. This meant the motor would only behave with the highest octane fuel available. When it was behaving with high octane, it was a monster waiting for a speeding ticket.

At the same time, the CB350/CL350/SL350 Honda twins were selling up a storm and I didn’t even know about them. I was kinda busy growing up, working, and saving for a trip around the country, as well as occasionally concentrating on school work.

Today, I drove to Leesburg, Virginia for a few weeks work reconstructing a condo for my brother. I had just had the wildest time with one of the most interesting vintage motorcycle people that ever rode a Honda. He purchased Black Metal Magic, a CL350 Honda restoration project ,converted to a cafe racer. Brian already had a CB350 which is being worked on for his riding in the states. I am honored that he is talking about sending “BMM” to Vietnam where he will be riding it half the year when in country.

Brian’s trip to pick up the bike was an ongoing tale of obstacles that he had to overcome. Delayed by an overload of errands to be completed before his departure and then followed by a flat tire repaired by AAA, nasty traffic jams hours south of Atlanta area, a sleepless night waiting for the traffic to disappear, and then the remainder of his trip in that condition. His perseverance is to be commended. He even continued his quest to acquire the bike without his trailer for lack of road worthiness under the premise that we’d just slide the CL350 into the back of his Lexus SUV which was a true team effort.

Brian’s appreciation of cafe bikes in general, as a rider where scooters are the primary mode of transportation, is a world apart from the average American rider. His enthusiasm and appreciation was invigorating for me, renewing my fervor in the concept. I look forward to seeing pictures of Black Metal Magic in the far off world of the southeast Asian country amidst the scooter populated background. I hope he will be in town for the next Barber Vintage Festival to tell the tales of riding in Vietnam.

 

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March Racing on the Fast Track

Made it to Bike Week and Nortona this year. A short visit, but I still checked off many boxes in the vacation category. Bike Week turned into WERA Vintage racing at Roebling Road Raceway for a high speed Saint Patrick’s Day event. Weather was good to me for the duration and so was the track.

It became clear, fairly early on, that I had forgotten to pack the tent for this trip. Murry hosted me on his couch fo the first night at Daytona and Barney & Maggie hosted the second night at the campground. I camped in the truck cab on Friday night and slept fairly well after blocking off most the light leaks into the truck.

I awoke to Scott unloading his race bike and scrambled to registration to pay for a day on the track in southeast Georgia. Coffee from the concession was joined by a bacon egg & cheese English muffin. The brain began to start with this influx of nurishment so I started the ritual of preparation for technical inspection. Without any issues I had flown through tech and returned to our pit.

Going over the changes that Black Bullitt had received since the last trip to the track, I thought I had everything ready. However, just before our first practice session I remembered that I needed to change gearing from Lil Tally to Roebling Road configuration.

Scott took the first practice session for his intro to Roebling’s sweeping curves with virtually no braking. Practice was exciting for him with the faster bikes flying by. That’s all the motivation any racer needs to “up his game”. One issue we are still working into play is the ideal jetting for his motor. Originally, the motor puffed black smoke with 115 mains, so I had reduced them to 110s. After the rest of the refinements to the motors tuning, 115 mains appear a little lean, so we’re going for 120s next time out on the track.

This run to Roebling Road was also to be my “maiden voyage” for the electronic ignition system that Sirius Consolidated Inc. sent me for my race bike. My first practice lap showed difficulties that had me returning to the pits to verify that I had fuel and that the cap was venting. It was behaving like it was starving. Returning to the track a minute later, I attempted a second lap and had the same results.

Scott had a second run at Roebling and found he liked the sweepers and was working on his consistency in lane placement so as to make it easy for faster bikes to determine which side to pass him on. Handling was much easier at Roebling because braking was a non-issue. This meant not dealing with a limited travel of the front forks due to a less than optimum configuration for the steering damper. The solution bracket has been created and will hopefully be implemented prior to the next trip to the track.

The rider’s meeting included a few changes: The Meatball flag has been replaced with a slippery flag being folded and pointing at the racer who needs to safely and immediately GET OFF THE TRACK! A black flag means that the issue being experienced allows the racer to proceed directly to tech at Pit In for further details after inspection. It was also noted that 15 races in less than 5 hours was ambitious but achievable. We were going to achieve it!

As our one and only race was the GP500 which was race #10, we implemented the jet change to 115s on Scott’s carbs. Not much I could do with my bike except switch back to the crankshaft based Dyna-S ignition from the Charle’s Place cam based system from SCI. Fuel proved to be flowing fine and yet the sensation was that of fuel starvation that kicked in after throttle had been wide open for long stretches.

The registered racers for the GP500 included: Doug Bowie on his 250 Ducati, Jerry Duke on his 350 Ducati single, Scott Kulina on his CB350 Honda twin, and myself on the CL350. Being a little anxious, Scott and I took off for pit out as soon as second call rang out. We circled the staging area in sight of Jerry and Doug’s Ducati pit. There was some activity going on there, but they weren’t heading our way yet. As the wave of modern bikes came to pit out, Scott and I waved the bulk by but proceeded when we were waved by the stragglers.

By the time we made the grid positions, I was far left and Scott was far right, but no sign of Jerry who was supposed to be between us nor Doug who was supposed to be behind us. We were near the front of the second wave with Ninja 250s behind us. We both expected the Ninjas to pass up prior to turn 1 and they did. I stayed on the tail of the slowest Ninja through turns 3, 4 & 5 and even on to the back set of curves. He pulled away going through the last turn that headed to the “runway” where his speeds would continue to climb while I might see a 7 MPH increase by the time I got to turn 1.

Scott later noted that he was happy once the 3 Ninjas passed as he had the track to himself, at least for 3 to 4 laps, and he started pushing limits and finding optimum locations to traverse each curve. As the Ninjas rode out of sight, I would look back to see if Jerry or Doug ever made it to the track and there was no sign.

As the beginning of the “lapping crew” came by, I still looked back in straight sections of track to see if the Ducatis were going to enter the 500GP pack. Different Clubman bikes came by and eventually, the Ninjas came back into play. Shortly after that, I received the white flag and maintened my pace. Not looking back at the end of the race, I didn’t notice that Jerry had entered the race and was on the same lap I was. Seems he started from pit out after the second wave flag sent us down the track. His finish was only 5.5 seconds after mine and his best time was 1.5 seconds faster than my best. Looks like I was handed a win by unforeseen circumstances. I never got to hear from Jerry what happened, but I’m sure it’s a funny story.

Again, I do apologize for the lack of video for this race. I had tested the GoPro prior to loading it into the housing. It did start recording at the grid. However, it was stopped already when the race was over and the file is not recoverable. Perhaps I’ll try another memory chip for the next race.

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Thank You Sirius Consolidated Inc.!

 

Thank you Mr. Martin Mattes of Sirius Consolidated Incorporated for the new electronic ignition system for my CL350 race bike. It installed so easily and left no room for error even before fine tune adjusting. Removing the points/condenser system, which I used as a back up for my Modified Dyna-S fixed timing ignition now means using your electronic ignition system as primary and the Dyna as a back up.

Idling properly, when in the grid, means I can let go of the throttle if needed while waiting for the green flag. Now I have the increased performance of electronic ignition matched with KeiHin carbs (populated with the Keyster KH 1561K carb kits) for the optimum behavior for the full spectrum of the tachometer. 

I look forward to testing this at Roebling Road Raceway after a couple days in Daytona for Bike Week.

As I have been trying to help a fella CB350 rider with her install, I created this 350K Honda twin prep sheet for instruction assistance:

In situations where the process is not behaving you must determine why.

How to reference the gold rotor unit: From the drilled all the way through side and the tangs pointing down, the magnets will be on the far side and can be seen recessed into the far side of the gold rotor unit.  Based on the system I installed, there were two magnets embedded into the gold rotor unit. I found one almost perfectly between the two tangs and one almost perfectly embedded in line with the left tang, on the far side. Use a straightened paperclip to locate the magnet and to reference to the tangs below.

The complete check list:

Starting with all ignition parts removed!

Always rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise ONLY!

Preparation: Slowly rotate the crankshaft (14mm wrench) through the LT/LF region at that point where the crankshaft wants to keep going past both marks and allow it to slowly come to a stop about 70 degrees past LF/LT. Rotate another 5 to 10 degrees to make sure that the crank doesn’t want to, on its own, rotate any further. You are at the point where the cam chain tensioner is to be adjusted. FYI, all but the right intake valve should have no pressure on the so clearance can be verified by flicking the rockers and hearing them move.

Loosen the lock nut (12mm wrench) on the cam chain tensioner. Then loosen the adjuster bolt (10mm wrench) about 2 turns. Tap the end of the cam chain adjuster with a screwdriver handle in case it needs any awakening. Snug the adjuster bolt, then tighten the lock nut. Cam chain adjustment is complete.

From this point, continue to rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise past the LT and LF marks one time. The crankshaft should not be in the position where it is trying to push past LT/LF. As you approach LT/LF the next time, it will try to push past…

1) With the crankshaft held into position to the LT mark, the pin in the camshaft points straight up, perpendicular to the plane created at the mating point of the head and rocker box assembly
(Either this will be perfectly upright or off by increments of 11.25 degrees.) if so, you may allow the crankshaft to continue until it comes to rest. This was to verify that the camshaft IS connected to the crankshaft in perfect timing and not off by a tooth of the cam sprocket or more.)

2) Place the timing advance unit on the camshaft and slide it into position over top of the pin that was pointing straight up.
(Rotate the timing advance unit back an forth to make sure the back of the timing advance unit is nestled around that pin.)

3) Install the gold rotor unit over the camshaft with the magnet/tangs STRADDLING the knuckle of the timing advance unit that the arrow is towards it. (You will have to flair the weights outward to expose the knuckle)

4) Install ignition timing plate into that small window where it fits with the notches allowing the cam adjuster nuts to be nestled in those notches.

5) Make sure the plate is in the track/recess that the points plate once rested in and secure the plate with screws and washers.

From this point you SHOULD be able to time your electronic ignition as per the instructions associated with it.

Video and PDF instruction sheet for electronic ignition system sold by Sirius Consolidated Inc are found at this link:
https://www.charlies-place.com/electronic-ignitions-installation-instructions/

 

 

 

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