Working on my bike at the last-minute just hours before my departure, I imagined the day when I would actually be ready for the next race, immediately after the race before. But, as I have been doing what I can with the resale bikes I have to work on, while it is still early enough in the year to sell them, that day will have to wait a few more weeks. I have three more bikes to complete for resale before I shut the doors till next year.
I had a laundry list of issues to check out on the race bike. I also needed to pull the loaner carb intake that Jamie was so gracious as to loan me. I also needed a new front tire. The hot track at Jennings had literally chewed up the front Dunlop tire like a modern bike’s rear can tend to look like. That was the last heating/cooling cycle that tire would see. Since I had ordered the Avons as a pair, I was now going to be matching the front to the Road Runner type tire on the back.
This was a job for my Super Assistant. The Deanman has probably helped change two dozen tires with me in the past three years. With his help, I was able to swap tires in less than a half hour and the wheel needed only 1/4 ounce weight. Racing always works better when you have competent people in the pits with you. Thanks Deanman!
Running out of time, I decided to bring the tools necessary to extract Jamie’s intake manifold with me. Keith had bailed on this race. Seems he caught a bug from extended family members on Memorial Day weekend earlier in the week. And, although he was feeling better by the end of the day, he had to admit that his bike wasn’t ready and it would be pushing it to try to make the race. So, I called John and gave him my ETA and loaded the truck.
This time at John’s, I dropped off a 450 motor that needed just a top end job. Seems that the previous owner had a ring or two break while pushing the bike hard trying to keep up with some modern bike friends on a mountain run. I was presently surprised to find out that this bike’s extra parts included an electronic ignition for a CB500 that John would be able to put to good use.
We unloaded my motor and parts, then loaded John’s bike and headed for Savannah. The GPS gave us an estimate of 11:45 arrival time and we stayed close to our schedule. Breakfast at the hotel and we headed toward the Roebling registration line. John was able to get the first hand example of the lack of efficiency that Roebling Raceway track is known for. With a firm 10PM lock down time and a lackadaisical 7AM gate open time, Roebling has a reputation for amateur business manner.
When we got into the track we found the Doug/James/Jamie pit area and made our place across the street facing them. Canopies mounted as early as possible to ensure a safe place from the sun and we began to tweak on the machines. I looked forward to getting some track time with my latest set of carb replacements. Since John had not been to Roebling before and I needed to scrub my new tire, I led him around the track at a pace that was only slightly challenging to follow. Looking back occasionally, I’d let him catch up and then get only a bit more aggressive each time. It seemed to be helpful for him.
I did note the fact that my gearing was off. I had 16 tooth sprocket and needed a 17 tooth for the high-speed sweepers of Roebling. Working on other things between practice sessions and trying to help John out, I decided to wait for the long break between the first race and our first race to change the sprocket. In order to make this work in the long straight without blowing up my motor, I had to ease of in the straight away section.
Racer’s meeting included the fact that my race hero, Mr. Royce Eaton (former Naval Aviator and Airline Pilot) was celebrating his 76th birthday after the race events and we were all invited.
I have always been impressed by Royce’s racing skills. I have been on the track with him while racing both the Norton 750 and later the 350 Hondas. Royce races the Honda 350s in the V1 racing class. There he has been able to take the 325cc motor and punch it out to 362cc with the high lift cams, and high tension springs, Mikuni carburetors, and many more modifications to almost double the horse power of these 1968-1973 motors and frames. His bike has always been an impressive performer. Royce also races his Ducati production racer 750cc in the Vintage 4 class with a smooth consistency that I have yet to achieve. It’s alway impressive to watch his light blue leathers fly by on the track.
For years now, I have felt both a camaraderie and competition with Royce. So, in order to give myself a fighting chance and in order to make it a self-serving goal, I decided to beat Royce by racing to at least one year old than when he decides to throw in the towel. He’s still here at the track which means I have at least 25 more years of racing left in me.
Just like at Jennings, we were scheduled for the 5th and 7th race except there was no minis racing at Roebling. So, we had the 4th and 6th races of the day.
John experienced some mechanical difficulties during practice which sent him back to our pits on the truck. When relocating to his stand, he dropped the bike and broke off his shifter lever. This was not good as he had no spare and it was a custom aftermarket configuration. It was however, the same device that he used for his rear brake lever. And, since racers don’t need brakes (cause they just slow you down) he swapped the lever arms and ended up with a “de-tuned” brake lever to avoid that unnecessary braking effect.
James was doing some light modifications on his bike. Seems John noticed that one of James fuel filters was mounted backwards. James also had to borrow my lockwire tool. Since it didn’t get put back in my toolbox, John had to mail it back to be on Monday since I had to have it for work in preparation for Talladega.
After the wrenching was complete we all had time for a quick shot of water, start the cameras and head to the track. It was race time. Roebling proved to be less than a tight packed close knit group of racers. The long straight heading toward turn one proved to be a real separator of the competitors. As we are mostly (excluding James “Luke’s Guy” Walker) close to each other’s capability and evenly matched 350 Stocker Hondas, the difference of a long straight run for all eight passes simply adds up over time.
However, at the beginning of the race, things can get a little hairy. As We all rounded through the first right hand turn and uprighted, I was able to close slightly on James Walker (that should have been my first sign there was trouble) and then I almost plowed into him. Quickly dodging to the right, I avoided a collision and proceeded to track Jamie Brenton. This shows quite well on the video.
But, as time went on, all of Jamies straight run passes easily put distance between us. Behind us, I could see Wendy making strides as my bikes performance had not quite been optimised. After a short time, I came to the conclusion there was no benefit to push hard to catch Jamie as there was nobody breathing down my neck either. After the first lap, nobody changed positions.
Jamie took first place in the 500GP, I took second and Mr. John Cook took third place. Doing mighty fine his rookie year.
The GP350 was basically the same thing with different players. Except Doug Bowie did not have mechanical difficulties while John Cook did. Seems his rear brake mod was not totally secured and the foot pedal came off a the start.
So Doug took first, Jamie took second and I took third.
Videos to show the highlights.