The Friday night drive to Tally for a night of track camping before the race was replaced by an early departure Saturday morning, in the cold rain. As predicted, around 8 AM the rain in Munford, Alabama came to a drizzly stop. At around 50 degrees with only 63 as the predicted high temp, with a puddle soaked track, and some occasional wind gusts, I let both practice sessions go by while I tried to catch up on only 3 hours of sleep.
The WERA Vintage contingent included Jerry Duke, Dick Gruhn, DC Clark and myself pitting next to the Race Tech area. We had 2 two stroke racers Dick and DC and 2 four stroke. Jerry and I made up total of the 500GP grid with our 350GP race bikes. Hopefully more riders interested in vintage motorcycle racing will join us on the track this year?
Soggy ground, dark overcast skies, and a cold dry wind left bike mud sprayed, tread filled, and less than optimally warm. This was difficult to believe as the February visit to Lil Tally was T-shirt weather. By the time bikes took to the track for racing, the track had been dried up during practice sessions. Freshly cleaned and dried, that was one nice surface to race on. Would have been even better with sunny skies to make a track hot with excitement.
Just before Race 12, the V3, V4, 500GP and FSS race, the sun came out with one large chunk of blue sky making for a nice change of pace and perkier attitudes. By the time we gridded up, the overcast skies were back, making things better for video recording. We took the warm up lap and proceeded to our grid positions.
My start was interesting. My bike was behaving quite well. My motor timing and carbs seemed to be ideally suited for the weather conditions. 11,000 RPMs was easy to reach taking advantage of all of the power in the red-line range. This proved to be the case with my barely discernible wheelie at the start. The clutch grabbed and held, the bike began to lean to the left at the end of the wheelie, and as usual, Jerry tore a path to turn one that was phenomenal. Shift to second gear sent the front wheel to the clean asphalt and I was in hot pursuit of the Duc.
Lil Tally is the one track where my 350 Honda has half a chance to keep up with Jerry Duke, on his Duc. The freshly configured 2.15″ rims, front and rear, to support the Continental Classic Attack street radial tires brought the chicken strip size down to 1/4″ to 1/8″ in the front and a barely discernible edge in the rear. This supports the latest information released from Continental now stating that the 90/90-18 Classic Attacks will support a 2.75″ wide rim. My results tell me that 2.5″ or 2.75″ rims would be ideal.
The benefits received in this configuration for racing include: The small low profile wide footprint tire yields a wheel/tire outer diameter much closer to the end result of a 17″ wheel’s gyroscopic characteristics. The tire portion of the wheel is much lighter than larger tires at the outermost portion of the spinning mass. And of course, the Continental Classic Attack secret ingredient (race rubber on demand) makes for one nice handling dry track tire.
With all the benefits working in my favor, I tried to brake as late as possible, hitting the gas early as possible, and maintaining as much speed through the curves as possible. Jerry would power pull away from me out of each turn and I’d gain as much as I could going into each. The one right hand curve at Lil Tally can be an ongoing mind game, if you let it. This was one area where gaining on Jerry gave me great advantage over the rest of the track.
It was our fourth pass through the right hander when as I closed on him, I saw his hand up in the air. Glancing rapidly and seeing no red flags, I flew past him putting as much space as possible, in case it was a trackside fix issue. The rest of the race was the completion of my tire/wheel configuration test and all scored highly, above my expectations.
When it was all said and done, I was the only vintage racer to score points on the track at Lil Tally on 4/20.
One thing to note about racing with modern bikes flying by us on the track, is the amazing racing skills of Ms. Kayla Yaakov, as she so smoothly flies by. With a race finish time 24 seconds ahead of her closest competitor, I always smile and try to learn as much as I can, for the short time she’s within in my sight.
Race times for Race 12, Clubman, V3, V4, 500GP, FSS race posted at Speedhive.com
The next race realistically reachable would be the Roebling Road Raceway weekend with WERA on May 18th and 19th. Hope to see you there!