By the end of 2014, my life wrapped up what has been a major life change that took more than a year to unfold. At the end of the year, my divorce was finalized, leaving 2015 with a clean slate and a fresh start. Now feeling free to make a fresh update to the race blog, there has actually been more going on then what made it to the pages.
After the loss of my job in March of 2013, I was attending races with Mr. Keith Bennett as his “pit monkey”. Keith made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He offered to take me to races and the only expenses I was obligated for were my gate fees and food/drinks. Since he was going anyway, and would need a room anyway, he paid the expenses as if I wasn’t there, anyway… As such, I was able to see my race buddies at the track, support Keith in his race efforts, and be there should my technical expertise be useful for any of the 350 Honda racers.
On one of the trips to the Roebling Raceway track with Keith, I got to chat with Rich Oldakowski. He started asking me if I knew anyone that might be interested in a CB200. I didn’t understand that he was talking about a race bike. I assumed it was like the CB200 that I was delivering and training the newbie buyer rider on the very next day. Minutes later I realized that it was a race bike he had and was looking for a good home for the bike. I asked him how much a bike like that might cost and he said he was just looking for a good home for it. When Rich delivered the bike to me at Road Atlanta, Doug Bowie told me that was a fast bike and he remembered Rich giving Doug a run for his money.
I was a racer again. With the CB200 punched out to 240cc now known as “Red Storm” receiving ongoing refinements (Rich had stated that the bike was running great for a few seasons and then torn down for a motor refreshing and had not run the same since) I made it through 2014 finishing a total of 3 out of 8 races entered. By the end of the season, at the Grand National Finals, I blew up the motor and it’s now in need of an overhaul after basic troubleshooting of what parts were damaged.
Realizing that the first race of the season was just five weeks away and hadn’t even pulled the motor yet, I got in touch with Jason Pannell. Jason is the guy who bought my race bike shortly after losing my job. He spent some serious time, energy, effort, and money on the bike. Upgrades that Jason put into the bike include 35mm front fork system, Woodcraft clip-ons, custom rear sets and shift/brake linkage, not to mention painting the bike black. Jason also installed the new aftermarket coils he ordered from SCI as well as the replacement pistons, rings, pins, and circlips after the the motor dropped a valve during a track event.
Jason had some serious difficulties with the performance of the bike during his time at the track. He went through three ignition coils, a problematic attempt using the EVO Ballistic four cell battery, and what turned out to be POR-15 tank liner particles that peeled off the fuel fill port and lodged into the petcock screen filter. While at the GNF in October, Jason was still having difficulties and I remember him talking about selling it. On New Year’s eve, I texted Jason to see if he was still selling my old race bike. It just so happened that Jason was going to list the bike the following weekend on the WERA vintage racer’s BBS.
Then, Jason made me an offer I couldn’t understand. So, I’ve got my race bike back and Jason will be racing on Kawasaki 250 Ninjas and having a blast. Jason will be able to take advantage of 5 different classes that the EX250 is eligible to race in. He’ll get plenty of track time and time in the saddle.
In summary, my “back in the saddle” return to racing announcement includes three special rounds of appreciation going out to three very special race buddies. First to Mr. Keith Bennett who kept me in touch with vintage motorcycle racing even when I wasn’t a racer. That connection had me in the right place at the right time to bump into special racer #2, Sir Richard Oldakowski who presented me with Red Storm. It was I who knighted him for the gracious act of presenting this bike-less racer with a race bike. And to special racer #3, Mr. Jason Pannell for reuniting me with my original race bike that he had so skillfully super-engineered my old race bike into a competitive bike that I hope to live up to. Add Martin Mattes of Sirius Consolidated Incorporated to the list for having sponsored me over many years and you have a handful of guys who have had a positive impact on my racing hobby and my life in general. Gentlemen, I thank you all.