The one track that I have crashed on the most is Nashville SuperSpeedWay. This report is about the last race weekend before it closed it’s doors for good. The NASCAR designed track is one of the most technical tracks I’ve ever raced. And, it’s not called Crashville because it is forgiving.
As our season comes to an end, Nashville was our last regular season race. With Doug Bowie and James Walker having the GP350 and GP500 wrapped up, respectively, that leaves the close battle between Jamie Brenton and yours truly, Jack Houman.
If you recall, Jamie took the GP500 with a smooth slide by in the last turn of the last lap in the last race of the season, at Road Atlanta Raceway. Even though I had a five point lead going into the race and it was technically Jamie’s rookie year, we have been very closely matched. I’d safely say that Jamie has caused me to seriously “up my game” to stay in the running.
With my race partner, Mr. Keith Bennett, out of commission, I took two bikes that were GP350/GP500 worthy. Or at least met the requirements to run the race. Keith has been recovering from wrist and hand surgery. He had a car pull out in front of him while giving his daughter her maiden motorcycle ride. He healed well enough, for an old man. But the tendons began to show signs of misbehaving which led to the surgery. Not only did Keith miss the last chance to race at Nashville, but he also is doubting his ability to race in the GNF. Heal quickly, mate.
The weather was definitely in our favor. More than enough stalls in the NASCAR pit building, so no canopies were required. It’s possible that there were more vintage racers than modern bikes in the Saturday racing sets.
Present in the GP racing gang were the top contenders of the Kentucky Wrecking Crew, Mr. Wayne Moore and Mr. Mike Wells. Reporting in for Team Old and Oily was me, all by my lonesome. Team Duc&Hunter included Doug Bowie and James Walker. Jamie Brenton, David Hurst, and John Cook were looking good in their pretty leathers. And not to be forgotten were the V1 boys, Charlie Young, Eric Mercer, and Kenneth Debelak.
Wendy and Mike were missed. We have become used to them as part of the vintage crowd. Looking forward to their return for the GNF in October.
Preregistered for the race meant a quick in and out at the media suite and tech went smoothly for both bikes. I did have to spend some time repairing the bike after the tire wall crash at Tally (see previous write-up). The one thing you have to love about old, bullet proof bikes is how they can be repaired over and over. I literally used a sledge-hammer to straighten out both footpeg mounts. Steel, the ultimate metal…
Working on both bike did stretch my resources and caused me to miss the first practice session. Seems the 12 volt security system, gel-cell battery gave up over the summer from lack of use, so Silver Bucket didn’t get a chance at the track. Maroon Monsoon was left to carry the load, all 220 lbs including leathers and other race gear.
When the second practice session came around, it took only one lap to verify that Maroon Monsoon was ready for action. By the end of the third lap, I had run two very fast race paced runs. Everything felt right. The fourth lap was a close repeat to the third and I decided I was going to fast, just for a practice session. One cool down lap and I went in before the checkered flag could force me to.
The riders meeting was more of a farewell to “top of the world” Tennessee venue. Noting all the amenities we get at NS, we realized we really would miss this place.
The Minis made their last run on this track, just before we got a shot at the GP350 final Nashville race. It was time to don our leathers and protective gear and start our engines.
I had six cameras on different bikes in our class. But not all behaved well. We had an operator error as Tony Bikeroni was nodding off when it was time to start Jamie’s camera. And sometimes the China cameras get a mind of their own.
The grid was attended by all who registered. The track marshalls counted all in place and gave the signal to our starting team. Then number 2 board went from up high to down low and we revved them up. As the green flag flew up toward the sky, throttles twisted, clutches were released and my bike had a mind of its own.
Due to the lean of the high bank, where we hit the finish line, motorcycles start in pit row. Once in motion, all remaining passes take the banked wall over the start finish line.
Almost in an instant flashback of the flubbed start of the second Tally race, my front wheel went up, my bike began to lean, and then it started coming down on a slant. At the last minute, I asked myself what should I do, and I twisted the handlebars just before the tire hit the ground and rode the bike back underneath myself.
I was sphinctered to the max, but didn’t let go of the throttle. I was flustered and follow Charles Gault (RD400, two-stroke, two-cylinder, #399) through the sharp left reserved for practice sessions. Seems that the normally coned off opening was left wide open. It was not an advantage as the further path was a faster one.
We merged back in and hammered down toward turn one. The normally massive braking turn was a bit more gradual as we did not just come off the high bank turn in a light-speed lean to approach it. Almost immediately, Charles Gault was all I could see. Getting around him as early as possible meant getting him to block for me. He’s fast in the straits, but slows down considerably in the turns.
Speeding up toward turn two and immediately engine braking while leaning right. This was rapidly followed by accelerating, shifting and leaning left while preparing for a slight engine brake, body over the bike to the other side, lean right and gas on to the main NASCAR track for a really quick sprint and left lean to slower twisty curves of the second infield traversing. Bursting out of the second infield leg is a challenge. There’s a pot hole strip where the pavement didn’t quite come together. Hitting it is a real mistake. Taking the inside means accelerating with a sharp lean left while continuously accelerating all the way to the return to the high back. Taking the gorge wide means a delay in acceleration, a more gradual lean, but others on the inside taking the lean even steeper with you on the tangent line. It a thrill, to say the least.
This brings us up and racing towards the start/finish line on the banked wall. I didn’t dare look back. I felt like I was doing good, but still had to set the pace. There were only a handful of bikes in front of me. It seemed that nobody from my class had jumped in front of me. As a matter of fact, I noticed I was gaining on Eric Mercer who had a camera point backwards at me. I pushed a little harder and was drafting him. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t having some technical difficulties as he is lighter, on a V1 souped up 350 Honda, and a much more experienced rider. I realized I needed to pass him or be caught complacent being behind him.
As we came out of the infield, I got a good leap away from him and didn’t look back. Still, nobody from my class had passed me. I knew that Jamie had to be closing in. As the halfway flags were waved, I took a peek. Nobody but Eric and he was a ways back. I could see a long way back and nobody was there. I had not seen any red flags, bikes down, or reasons for the gap, but it sure felt good. I decided this was the first of two races I had signed up for, so I eased off. My 1:22:58 best time had just been achieved. I gradually added .3 seconds to the next lap, .5 to the following lap, and .4 to the next lap and still nobody as far as I could see from the finish line. With the lead I had, all I wanted to do was finish the race, save the motor, and give this rider a break before the next race. Then, my prayer was answered by Mr. Jim Hinshaw of Hog Mountain (about two miles from my house) as he lapped me within 100 ft of the finish line. I was lapped cutting short my need to make one more pass.
That race was my first time winning a race all season long. I did have to thank Doug Bowie for opting out of the race to see who really wanted it.
The second race was a similar run, except James Walker was in the race. He was nowhere to be seen at the finish, but I was nowhere to be seen by those behind me. It was halfway through the race when I got cold all over my insides. I had a realization that I remember being on a bike that was so well motored. That is, until the motor grenaded and did not finish a race.
Better get Silver Bucket prepped for GNF. Never know when you just might need a spare. Enjoy the videos.