Back to Back in the Saddle on the Track

Just six short days after the high speed turns of Roebling Road Raceway was WERA’s CycleJam 2017 at Road Atlanta. Bill Johnson and Bucky Sexton knew they couldn’t make it back into the south for CycleJam, so they were both missed by the gang.  David Hurst and Charles Gault didn’t make the back to back second session either. Barry Hasenkopf, our newbie racer in the Atlanta area, didn’t make it to his new home track but hopefully will join us soon. For anyone else considering taking an old bike and bringing it to the track, I recommend the CB350k, CL350k, or SL350k twins from 1968 to 1973 (front disc replacement with drum brake required for the 73 model CB350G for GP350 racing) for some good old “let it rip” for all the bike can put out racing.

CycleJam was attended by the true diehards of vintage racing in the southeast. The Vintage 1 racers consisted of John Cook and James Walker. Anyone else joining the pack would have been guaranteed 3rd place, and could possibly 1st place the way these two performed on the track;) Between broken spokes and a serious tech session that had all of us diagnosing sounds while James rotated his rear wheel, in gear, with plugs pulled and bad starts that included giving John’s competition a one lap head start, a great time and stories were had by all.

In the GP500 world (our first race) were Mr. David Rutherford on his fine BSA 500cc single, Mr. Jerry Duke on his Ducati 350 single and me on my trusty steed, Black Bullitt, the 335cc Honda CL350. While Jerry and I were in our “bump-up” race, David was on his GP500 natural on his BSA. Smaller races with an understood likely outcome become a race at the back of the pack so as not to be the last one in the class across the finish line, but crossing the finish line is much more important than not finishing at all.

CycleJam was most likely to be attended by myself as a result of missing the first three possibile races for the 2017 race season and being only an hour away.  Since the schedule had us racing during the 6th and 9th races of 17 events, I had scheduled to be back at work after dropping off the race bike and grabbing the next round of tools and supplies on the way back.

Practice was fairly uneventful. The long straights at the start/finish line and between turn 7 and 10a showed consistent fatigue in my motor. I need to make a new race motor with the Kibble White OEM type valve springs, a teflon slipper tensioner, and another set of Sirius Consolidated 1.0 overbore OEM type pistons and rings as soon as I get the chance. Until then, I’ll have to make up for it in the curves.

The weather was hot, but not as hot a most Road Atlanta races. The track was dry with cloud cover breaking every now and then. Having rain well since the previous use of the track meant we’d have a hot, dry, and fairly oil-free surface to grip onto.

I came up on the grid as David and Jerry were already on station. Riding past John Cook as the only V2 racer (both John and James were in their bump-up race) meant that James was riding in behind me. Small grids make for short grid marshaling, so the three board was replaced by the 2, then 1, then sideways, followed evenly by the green flag.

David & Jerry pulled away from me followed by James passing me on the left. I waited for John to fly by, but he never showed before the bus stop. James pulled in front and zigzagged through the switchback turns, Jerry reached then next followed by David.  As I approached the bus stop it seems that the traffic ahead of me slowed down a bit to make it through. Since John hadn’t made his move yet, I followed behind and closed on David’s BSA 500.  Jerry and David pulled away on the softer straights I then closed rapidly as they slowed for the sharper curves.  After trailing Jerry through turns 6 & 7, as David took Jerry after the Road Atlanta horizon turn,  the back straight allowed he and David to pull away from me for a long, long time. Weaving through turns 10a and 10b I didn’t gain much ground, climbing the hill toward turn 12 I began to drift back and through turn 12, the last before the start/finish line, I might have gained slightly on Jerry.

Approaching turn one appeared as if the race was going to leave me behind. Keeping all my momentum and leaning through turn one, I climbed the hill toward the bus stop with all that my motor would allow. By the time I reached the bus stop I had gained back a bit. Heading down through the esses, I gained on Jerry. Broaching the horizon turn I came out drafting Jerry. The straight section of track gave Jerry chance to pull away but turns 6 & 7 were waiting for me to make up some time. Coming out of 7 I drafted Jerry before he pulled away.

Again, the back straight didn’t look too promising but by turn 12 I was now a part of a four bike trail. James Walker was now a part of the pack. By the front straight, James was in the right lane and I was passing him. Chasing Jerry was my mission and I knew I’d get the rundown on his difficulties in the pits. Flying through turn 1, I gained on Jerry. I kept on gaining and passed him listening to some missing of his engine. Through the bus stop and down through the esses, I was gaining on David. As the back of the track straightened out, David pulled away easily. By the end of turn 7 I was much closer.

The long back straight of Road Atlanta racing on a 350 Honda stocker can seem like an eternity, especially while the leader of the race is pulling away from you. Through turn 9, John flew by with Jerry drafting him as we all headed into 10a & 10b.  I waited longer on braking than Jerry did and followed John through the 10a and passed him through 10b. Climbing the hill and and racing under the bridge, John took me on the right heading down the hill and taking turn 12 before me. It would seem that John turned on his game switch and raced away. James flew past me followed by Jerry. I was back to the back of the pack, again.

Not letting my throttle rest, I caught up to and rode shoulder to shoulder with Jerry through turn 1. He pulled away up the hill and I used the bus stop to catch up. I did my darnedest to gain him in the downhill race through the esses, but Jerry had become more familiar with them. His exit however had him riding the rumple strips till back on the track. Well past the halfway mark and I could still see most of the racer in front of me.

Through 6 & 7 with very little gain on Jerry, I was beginning to think he got the hang of the track. In front of Jerry I could see two bikes making turn 8 shoulder to shoulder. This time, on the back straight, I seemed to stick with Jerry.  Going into 10a I noticed Jerry drifting wide. His recover through 10b left him wide. The two maneuvers had scrubbed off some much needed speed and I dove into the inside of his turn and throttled full.

Jerry and I rode under the bridge together as he pulled ahead toward turn 12. We were fighting for it and Jerry went into 12 too hot. He’s seen leaving the camera range as he enters the grass. He did NOT end up in the pea gravel! He calmly brought the bike back under control in the grass and rode back on the track without losing control. Glancing back before turn 1 I saw Jerry tucked down and aiming for me.

It wasn’t until I got through turn 7 again that I saw David. It was getting fairly late in the race, so he was my next target.  David had been clearing turn 12 as I crested the hill under the bridge. Still pushing to close even more I flew through 12 and tucked in tight for the long boring front straight. The white flag was waving from the finish line bridge and I figured where I was was where I was going to be at the finish. After my last traversion through turn 12 that I needed to save myself for the next race. Jerry was behind me, but I didn’t have to work hard to keep most of that lead for one lap. Some conservative racing to the finish line of the GP500 race got me there before Jerry and left me saluting and blowing kisses to the corner workers, thanking them for their service that allows me to have such fun.

Back to the pits for hydration and insight to John & James’ woes on the track before returning for the GP350 race.

Doug Bowie made it to CycleJam and had 3 of his Ducati race bikes with him. His big bike was not in play, but I can’t remember why. Doug, Jerry and I would be battling it out for the GP350 at Road Atlanta. John Cook and James walker would be on the track with us in the Vintage 1 class.  All of us would be following the Formula 500 class.

As we landed in our grid positions, there was no sign of James Walker in front of us in his Vintage 1 grid position.  John Cook was camera center glancing back for James.  As the green flag approached, we made ready for our best starts. John’s spread eagle start looked a bit like a kite with two tails. Doug surged in front of the GP crowd flying past John who was in the Vintage 1 class.  By the time we approached turn 1, we were shoulder to shoulder with Doug on the inside line, John center, and me on the outside turning right toward the bus stop. Doug lunged for the lead through the bus stop with me following and John hot on my tail.

Coming out of the bus stop, my favorite part of Road Atlanta, There was a pack of four racers blocking my path. Jerry was holding up the rushing racer after getting to the bus stop first. Doug trialed him. It seems that Jerry was held up by Mark Williams, f the Formula 500 class who was about to be played in a high speed game of chess. Powering through the downhill path of the esses, I trailed the pack to the horizon turn, turn number 5, where Doug and I flew by Jerry on either side while chasing Mark. I drafted in behind Doug as we approached turn 6. Having mentioned to John after the first practice session that I kept pace with Mark Williams during practice went through my head as Doug took the inside track and I proceeded to take Mark on the outside track during this right hand turn. Doug got stuffed at the apex and I pulled past Mark in a lean like only the Contis would allow.

This left us with turn 7 behind us and the long back half of the track where everybody gets to pull away. With nobody in front of me, first Doug eased past me, then Mark flew past both of us and we all progress towards 10a. Before that, Jerry eased by me on my left, in time for the left hand turn. Jerry took 10a first and I took 10b while Mark and Doug climbed the hill and under the bridge. Making the last set of turns, led us out to the front straight.  Expecting Jerry to pass me never came to fruition. That left me leaning hard and fast through turn 1 only to pass Mark on the outside. With Doug in my sights, I closed through the bus stop and gave chase downhill through the esses again. Gravity was in my favor and I gained significantly in time to ride up along side Doug for the horizon turn, #5. I tailed Doug up to turn 7  and he pulled away in the back straight. John overtook me before the zig and zag of turn 10a and I took him back through 10b, just three seconds later. By the time I’d made it to turn 12, Doug was pulling away.

Halfway to turn 1, John flew past me closely as if he’d taken advantage of my draft for a short burst. By turn one, I was using John’s wake for my own drafting and we climbed toward the bus stop together. The last turn of the bus stop had me tailgating John and a couple seconds later he was noticeably pulling away. By turn 5, I was along side John and he burst away in the short straight before turn 6. Coming out of turn 7, John filled the camera lens. Then as if he’d warmed up, he pulled away to chase Doug.

The second half of the GP350 race had me successfully staying off Jerry as I chased after Doug. I did see Doug cross the finish line and followed seconds behind.

John Cook sent me this link to the V1/GP350 race from his perspective. Seems he was in a lot of the right places at the right time to play cameraman for the GP350 racers, having made a good start this time…

Good times had by all. More fun in the next exciting episode. Hope you’ll be on the track with us.











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Back in the Saddle at Roebling Road

The first three races I’d hope to race came and went this season. However, Roebling Road got me back on track. WERA’s vintage racing began in the southeast Saturday, which was smack dab in the middle of Memorial Day weekend. Traffic was as expected on the way to the track, including the 40 minute traffic stop in I-75 around 6pm in Macon, GA.

The 93 degree forecast had everyone prepared for a hot, stagnant, sweltering day in the pits. When in fact, we were all blessed with a nice 15 mph breeze which kept the sweating concentrated to “leathers time”. The skies were clear while the track was clean and hot.

From the time of my last race/crash of 2016 to this weekend, Black Bullitt had been through some serious upgrades making it more like a race bike than the street bike I’d been racing for a decade. New swing arm bushings with complete cleaning and re-working, first time conversion to alloy wheels front and rear along with leaving behind the 50 year old factory laced and trued OEM wheels, hubs & spokes constituted the bulk of the refinements.

Conversion from the larger heavier CB350 rear wheel hub to an SL350 rear hub laced with Buchanan spokes to an XL350 rear, rim as well as, modifying a CL175 rear brake plate allowing for brake rod use versus a brake cable modification, was the most “outside the box” modification I made. The SL350’s hub center WAS about a 1mm larger diameter than the CL175’s brake plate cavity designed for the CL175 wheel hub. Both the CL175 brake plate and the SL350 brake hub required material removal to accommodate the configuration. Having received many pats on the back for rear brake lockup recoveries and wanting to reduce the overall weight and spinning mass of Black Bullitt motivated the modification.

The greatest modification to the bike was probably the replacement of the bias belted technology tires with the Continental Road Attack radial tires. Many a discussion, both technology and “banter-based” took place between GNF 2016 and Roebling Road May, 2017. The results associated with the rubber hitting the road/track were… amazing.

As stated, everything wheel related had been rebuilt from the axle to the track, so maximum benefit would be experienced. The Contis proved to be everything I’d hope for. With the high speeds of RRR and Black Bullitt running through some of the turns at 95% maximum speed, the Contis stuck to the track giving the confidence necessary to push the limits full time. I do have pics of my tires that showed the most shedding I’d ever seen from a set of Road Attacks CR tires, perhaps due to the maximum temps on the track at RRR.

The first practice session was nothing more than a tire scrubbing that was not at all impressive having to return to the pits in the crash truck for having forgot to add enough fuel to the tank. The second practice session included a faster pace and the beginning of confidence of the Road Attacks. Keeping hydrated as much as possible, we attended the racer’s meeting, copied down our grid positions, and went back to the pits for the long wait till race #8, our first for the day.

Bucky Sexton was dealing with some technical issues which left him wrenching on carburetors where he found a milky ball of water in the bottom of one carb. His concern was that he felt the issue was electrical. John Cook seemed to have pinched a tube and required a tech session at “Stick Boy Racing” tire trailer where Derek Bennett took great care of John. All those that had spare tubes tossed them John’s way to help him back on the track.

Bill Johnson returned to the track having transformed from being a GP racer to having beefed up to a V1/V2 bike configuration as well as bringing an track configured EX500. His weekend was a matter of upping his game to a world of faster racing.

Our first race was the GP500 where we actually had one GP500 bike jockeyed by Mr. David Rutherford. He’s one of the truly competitive GP500 AHRMA racers that occasionally joins on the WERA gridded tracks on his BSA 500 single. Since Bill Johnson had upped his game to the V2 class, he was gridded in front of us with the faster bikes. Bucky Sexton, Jerry Duke, Mike Wells, David Rutherford, David Hurst and myself were all that made it to the GP500 grid this Memorial Day weekend.

Ed Bargy was the Race Starter for the weekend and it was good to run into him Friday night for some chat time. With Jerry having made the run to Michigan and having weathered the frost slick weather, which forecast was the last straw keeping me from going, he was gridded in the center position, first row, for our class. He was surrounded by Bucky and Mike. That left me in the ideal position, behind them, as cameraman. David Rutherford was gridded behind me, for some reason. This did make for a more impressive surge into the scene after the start.

Ed’s start was as smooth and consistent as always and the pack raced down the long straight track towards turn one. Shortly after the start, David burst in front of the camera from stage left and kept going down the track closing on the pack as I slowly eased past Mike while we approached turn one. My tired motor, years since the last rebuild, did not act impressively for the Roebling long straight between turn last and turn one. The pack pulled away from Mike and I and began to make their first lean of the race before we could clearly see turn 1. Not letting off on the throttle and trusting my new radial tires, I kept my speed up and leaned as other slowed in the turn.

I gained and closed on the pack to find Charles Gault as my first target. Trailing him through turn 2 and passing in turn 3, the first left hand turn of Roebling. I then set my sights for Jerry. After a right turn behind Jerry I overtook him on the outside of the next left turn sweeper. This left a serious gap between me and Bucky. Approaching the last turn of the track, I shifted into fifth (and final) gear and leaned. Achieving about 95% of Black Bullitt’s maximum speed for the day in the apex of the turn, I uprighted behind Bucky for the beginning of the long straight trek to turn 1.

I centered on Bucky only to have to veer right to avoid him as Bucky’s technical issue had reared it’s ugly head before the completion of the first lap. I tucked down and in for the long agonizingly slow run for turn 1. I had plenty of time to think about when I was going to rebuild the motor or build another leaving this one as a “trusty” backup.

Surprisingly, nobody came up behind me before the turn… nor for the rest of the race. David Rutherford was already  turns ahead of me being chased by John Cook on his V1 bike and I wouldn’t see either of them until we were back in the pits. I spent the rest of the race making up for my tired motor in every turn while truly scuffing the tires for the next race. Nothing but baron Roebling Road Raceway track for the rest of the GP500 race video.

The break that followed the GP500 before the GP350 race was just one Solo race of the modern bikes. A short burst of PowerAde and powered fan along with some water over the face and down and inside the leathers and I was energized for the next and final race of the day, or so I thought. I did make one prediction during the break. Noticing that Jim Hinshaw was running in the Formula 500 class during our next race, I stated my goal was to NOT be lapped by Jim on his plenty powerful 500cc two stroke triple Kawasaki.

As we were pitted by the back fence, calls from the control tower were not easy to discern. We missed 2nd call and headed to the track in a fury. Not seeing (or even looking) for the number sign, I saw a racer turning back to the grid and not taking a warm up lap. So I too followed him back stream to my grid position. Not knowing why he did such, I assumed it was time to do so. Then I saw John Cook and Bucky head down the track for a warm up lap. Having not come to a stop in my grid, I chased them around the track for a warm up run. Getting to the grid with a full crowd I figured I may have been in the wrong. I had started my camera before the grid, just in case we took off quickly.

Pulling up alongside David Hurst, I was ready for the start. Noticing Jerry ahead of me, backing up into his proper grid position, I verified the camera was recording. Grid officials were still checking and positioning racers so I was comforted that I was not the final hold up before the race.

As Ed ripped the green flag through the air the pack took off. Mike and I made our not so impressive push down the straight as the pack pulled away from us with David trailing behind us. I slowly left Mike behind me in time for turn 1. Just as the race before, slowing traffic in turn 1 allowed me to gain on the pack.  Again, Charles was the bike in the back of the pack. This time however, he held me off for the first lap and again I took him on the outside of turn 3 in the second lap, this time.

Now behind Bucky who was trailing Jerry, I noticed Bucky was apprehensive about overtaking Jerry. This is only Jerry’s second year of racing and he has yet to get to a point of smooth & predictable. I did show Bucky a wheel in the second left turn just to let him know I was with him. Jerry, Bucky, and I made a drafting train heading for the last turn of the track which lead to my dread, the long straight run.

Bucky had signs of issues again so I was prepared to jump aside when his speed dropped off. That left me behind Jerry who was pulling away in the straight. Charles Gault passed me on the left just after the start/finish line.  I slowly and predictably drifted left down the long, slow motion effect, run for turn 1.

I took Charles on the inside as he was braking for turn 1 with Jerry right in front of me. Showing Jerry a wheel in turn 2, he hit the gas to keep me at bay.  Knowing Charles was behind me, with a steady smooth move, I drifted to Jerry’s right side for the left hand turn. When Jerry slowed for the first left turn of the track, I didn’t. Jerry drifted wide as I was passing him on the outside. I continued to surge so he could see my front wheel as I passed him close and outside.

Getting in front of Jerry left a blank track ahead of me. The faster classes were gone much further down the huge track. At the end of the second lap I drifted left in preparation for turn 1. Just before the end of the straight, Charles burst in front of me, held the lead for a couple seconds, then graciously chopped the throttle and left turn 1 for me clear to race through, unencumbered.

Charles and I are not in the same race class. He is a Formula 500 racer while I’m racing GP350. Our position at the finish line has no effect on each other’s placement at the podium. However, the way my bike was configured and at the faster tracks like Roebling Road Raceway, we are playmates on the same playground. Knowing the rules of any and all playgrounds, we play well together.

This was the last time Charles could get close enough to even show me a wheel, but I didn’t leave him in the dust. The rest of my race was a matter of maintaining pace to avoid being lapped by Jim. I believe Charles was close enough behind me to see when Jim and Mark Morrow flew past me… just 100, then 200 feet after the finish line. This left me still in my race.

In the last lap, I saw  David Hurst on the horizon. With one more reason to up my game, I pushed to lap David. Closing on him, all the way down to the last turn, I leaned in and got some good footage of David and his bike, got a small draft effect behind him, and took the slingshot toward the finish line. With David’s two stroke power against my tired motor, I needed all I could get to stay him off all the way to the finish line. Tucked in and down, tweaking the throttle to get maximum efficiency since WOT was slightly breaking up, I counted the seconds remaining to the finish line. At the end of the GP350 race, as I approached the line I noticed the flagman already flying the checkered. It was less than 3 seconds after the finish line that David flew by me.

Just six days until the next race at Road Atlanta for CycleJam, I’ll leave things at this point. Lots to do before I get there. Stay tuned.



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2017 Race Schedule is Posted!

I have been quite fortunate this year in that Mr. Martin Mattes of Sirius Consolidated Incorporated has agreed to sponsor me for all the races I attend in 2017. So the ambitious schedule is posted. Beginning in February with AHRMA at Roebling Road Raceway, one of the fastest tracks we race at. In March, AHRMA will take me back to Kershaw, South Carolina for the first time in many years. We take the month of April off for… lack of races available. Then, just when you think we might be getting into warmer racing in May, WERA racers will be heading up to Grattan Michigan to keep temperatures under control.

By June, things begin to heat up with  WERA Cycle Jam at Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Georgia. It’s a 3 or 4 day racing event with both vintage and modern bikes. Cycle Jam also makes for a great opportunity for the motorcycle racing spectators to camp out and live a weekend of motorcycle racing.

One month later, the pace really begins to pick up. WERA is hosting their usual July 4th weekend of racing a Barber Motorsports Park, the finest “campus” we go to race at. Topiary artwork in the infield and throughout this most fabulous refreshing place to be.

Less than a week later, WERA personnel have to be at the Mid Ohio Raceway for the WERA/AMA Mid Ohio Vintage Days where all sorts of vintage motorcycle racing will take place. It will also be my opportunity to race this world renown racetrack for the first time.

This leaves us with a full month to recuperate before our passport-required trip to the Canadian Gran Prix. The Canadian equivalent of the Barber Vintage Festival will be the site of the first August vintage race a Mosport hosts the Mosport Vintage Festival in early August. The weather is expected to be Canadian summer wonderful and a refreshing change from the next track weekend just one week later and 1,ooo miles south of Mosport.

Mid August will include a sweltering hot track, so no tire warmers required for vintage bike racers. Talladega Gran Prix Raceway will host our return to Hotlanta-like weather conditions romping around the “funnest” little track you ever had the chance to lean on at “lil-Tally”.

Just three weeks later, the Atlanta boys have their second local race at Road Atlanta just before the temps begin to cool down at the end of southern-summer. That’ll be one hot track that will be a blast to “stick to” while leaning through the curves and cresting the hills on some mighty fine September days. The real challenge on this weekend will be the divide between the WERA racing at Road Atlanta and the AHRMA racing at Lil-Tally.

AHRMA begins at Tally earlier in the week. They usually have practice day(s) prior to their back to back redundant race schedules Saturday and Sunday. In 2016, the opportunity to practice at Tally on Thursday or Friday with AHRMA, then load up and travel to Road Atlanta to race on Saturday, and then load up again and travel back to Munford, Alabama to Lil-Tally for Sunday vintage racing to complete an exciting extended weekend of racing.

The October spectacular is the AHRMA vintage racing event in front of the 70,000+ visitors to the Vintage Motorcycle Festival hosted by Barber Motorsports Park. Back at the finest campus we have the privilege to race at while surrounded by 70,000 of the nicest people you’d ever what to meet again.

With one month’s rest after the Barber Festival, WERA racers return to Barber Motorsports Park in a totally different scenario. For the WERA Grand National Finals, the racers and their family members that join them constitute the spectators at the WERA GNF. Any showboating will be only for the special few that come out to join us.

Should be a very exciting season in 2017. I’m also a bit more hopeful, with the change of regime, that our economy has a chance to return to the prosperity levels that will take us back to the days of 12 to 14 races in a season, all with WERA.

Come join us on the track! Grab a 1968-1973 Honda 350 twin (CB350,CL350,SL350), strip it down, and join us on the track. There are lots of racers willing to help newbies get up to speed and join the mix of racers. Keep the motor stock with stock Kei-Hin carbs and NEVER break the 99 mph mark, but have a blast where your fun meter is pegged all the time.

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Perseverance: No Matter How Long it Takes

The story is a long one, but not as long as it has taken to finish this custom vintage motorcycle project. The devil is in the details, and it’s a long list:

Percy, the motorcycle I never gave up on.


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Correction about Attendance at Barber Vintage Festival

It appears that I had mistakenly assessed the traffic on the perimeter road at Barber. The parking arrangements, shuttle service, and off site parking made a significant difference at the 12th annual festival this year. It was such an improvement that I interpreted it as a reduction of my vintage friend’s attendance. We broke another record with the festivities this year.

So, I had a great time at the 2016 Barber Vintage Festival with 73,651 of my closest vintage motorcycle friends. Always looking forward to meet more.

Thank you Mr. George Barber for the nicest place to meet with a lot of the nicest people you meet on a Honda, or Norton, or any of the fine bikes made in years gone by.

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WERA GNF 2016 (Part II) GP350

From the end of the previous post: “…Tucking down behind the camera and making the smallest profile I could, I raced across the finish line. Less than 2 seconds after clearing the line, my motor just gave up all power… and my next race was just one race away.

I looked back to see Bucky fly by me only to realize I didn’t raise my hand or show a leg to acknowledge to other racers that I was having difficulties (my bad). With nobody else behind me I cut to the left side of the track, just past pit out. The corner worker came over to help direct me and push me towards the ambulance access road where Scott Hayes had is crash truck ready to load my bike. Just a few minutes later, Scott had me unloaded and was on to his next racer assist, thank you, Sir!

I put the bike on the stand, pulled my helmet, gloves and chest protector off and hit the bathroom. Upon my return, I found my bike had fallen off the stand and broken my front brake lever. First call for GP350, V1 and Formula 500 race! Up righting my bike and placing it more securely on the stand, I had also discovered that my technical difficulty was nothing more than having run out of fuel. I had more fuel and clutch lever that I could use as a brake lever. Second call for GP350, V1 and Formula 500 race! Filling the tank and replacing the lever, I donned my gear, started the camera only to find out the chip was full. A quick scavenge through my stuff I cam up with a chip and powered up the camera and  my bike and took it for a quick test ride on my way toward pit out. Third and final call for GP350, V1 and Formula 500 race!

With all appearing to be performing as it was supposed to, I joined the rest of the grid taking our warm up lap. Nothing felt wrong with Black Bullit so I was ready to go. We filled our grid positions as Ed Bargy, on his 70th birthday directed the number board from 3 to 2. Shifting our bikes into gear, we poised for the countdown sequence. The 2 was replaced by the 1 board, it was rotated sideways, then the green flag ripped through the air.

I had timed my bike revs to match the count sequence and smoothly let the clutch out and pulled ahead. This was followed by a clean shift to second gear, then third and fourth as I leaned into turn 1 noticing there was nobody in front of me. I proceeded to turn 2 waiting to be over taken but riding in a manner to prevent being overtaken. Down the mini gravity cavity, up the hill and through Charlotte’s Web and nobody passed me. The long straight that followed the web, I knew that someone was bound to pass me.

Doug Bowie was nursing a broken bone in his hand, but Bill Johnson and Bucky Sexton were bound to be battling it out for who was going to pass me first. As the window had closed to be safely passed before the museum hump, I lifted off the seat and landed from the hump jump and leaned into the right hander that followed. It was here that I realized that I hadn’t started the recorder, so I did.

Shifting and accelerating, I headed for the first set of zigzags. Once cleared, I looked back to see a serious gap to the riders  behind me. All I remember thinking was “I can make that gap larger!” The first lap completed and all the curves of the Barber race track behaving well for me, I continued pouring it on. This was the Grand National Finals GP350 race and I could change my standing with the doubled score of this race’s outcome.

I was nicely hitting the apexes late for each turn, just clipping the edge of the track. The second pass through the zigzags I climbed up the off camber hill and leaned right into the turn and it began. At about a 40 degree angle in the midst of the right hand sweeper I experienced a wobble in my steering. It was as if my little six season tired motor with now less than 26 horse power was experiencing an internal healing and refortification causing the front tire to become light and not sticking to the track… and I was down! Both I and the bike had cleared the curve and were in a short section of straight track, sliding forever.

The race bike then became a well choreographed platform for the camera which caught me in a back slide while it was rotating in an upward rotation (in relation to the bike) which then slowed and changed direction back to a downward rotation just in time to catch Bucky Sexton racing past.  Cue Doug Bowie as the bike and camera came to a halt pointing further down the track where the rest of the GP350 bikes were going to be passing shortly. Cue Jamie Brenton who followed shortly after Doug. Then, cue David Hurst from stage left to center as my race bike was lifted by the corner worker.

I immediately hopped on the bike inspecting the damage. Everything looked in good order. I inadvertently switched the ignition to off and try to kick start it. It was then that I noticed the throttle did not rotate. Looking closer I realized my Magura 1/4 turn throttle’s outer body had melded with the inner cable slider. My race was officially over and I had a blast. It was so much more incredible when I got home and saw the footage that Black Bullit had recorded.

Got a lot to do this off season and hopefully I’ll be lighter and the bike will be quicker. More soon.

Check out the video of what occurred in the excitement:

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2016 Racing Season Came to a Screeching Halt

Through out the “Summer of the 90s” in Atlanta things have been moving at a hectic pace. The few races available were only minor interruptions to the hustle and bustle chipping away at a very long To-Do list. And, if anyone had told me that I’d be happy about the crash that ended the season, I would not have  believed them.

On the road at 5:30 Friday morning, I was headed to the “finest campus” that we have the privilege to race at, Barber Motorsports Park. The bike was in the van with spares and supplies while the temperature was making it’s first nose dive after the most consistent temperatures of any summer before. Sunshine and 71 degrees, at it’s peak, is all we’d have to warm the track for the Friday Vintage races at the WERA Grand National Finals. It was not to be the hot track that summer normally has to offer.

Having just spent four days at Barber, just two weeks before, at the Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival, the only thing that was different was the number of people inside the park. The Festival didn’t have near as many as the few years prior, but we still had a great time at Norton Hill. The WERA racers used all available pit regions, but the top tier was very thin. There was definitely space for plenty more to show up, if they had.

Practice sessions included only one pass for each class on the track. As the Vintage 1 – 4 practice session was in progress, I noticed some really squirrelly handing issues and remembered that I hadn’t checked my tire pressure, so after two laps, I was re-familiarized with one of my favorite tracks that I can play back by memory, turn for turn.

We were honored to have Ed Bargy as our race starter, on his 70th birthday. Mark Morrow played his horn with a rousing round of “Happy Birthday” for all to cheer. The racer’s meeting was a roundup of all the usual vintage suspects where we got to see those who pitted far away from the “hang out” where John Cook, Bucky Sexton, Bill Johnson and I pitted on the third level. Doug Bowie was racing with a broken had after it was run over at Road Atlanta, the month before. James Walker was the only other racer that John had to play with in the V1 class. Jamie Brenton and his son were down on the lower level representing the rest of the 350 Honda guys. Jerry Duke was there on his Ducati, and David Hurst wasn’t parked too far away with his Yamaha DS-7. David Clark is a fairly new guy who’s on the track with us on his Yamaha 400 two stroke. And of course, there’s David Rutherford not far from us on his BSA 500 single that has been experiencing “leaky head” issues.

Unlike most years where we are getting off the track just minutes before the awards ceremony was to begin, this year were races 1 & 3. Many of us had decided to take off and work our way homes after race 3 in hopes of wrapping up the day at a reasonable hour and I was one of them. As such, our social time had been cut short and the celebration was going to be something we read about later.

I’d like to make a special note that we had the pleasure to meet both Raven and Natalie. Raven is lady vintage motorcycle racer who lives in San Diego, California. She had sponsorship for this year’s racing and hopes to wrangle up support for next year. Natalie is with Roadracing World Magazine and she spent some quality time covering the magazine’s features, her brother’s exploits as a motorcycle racer for decades, and generally sharing some fun time cutting up with the old guys on old bikes gang.

As things were just beginning to settle down, we had the inspiration of Mark Morrow’s horn proudly sounding out the National Anthem over the PA system, followed by the announcement for first call for the GP500 & Vintage 2 race. We were on deck and suiting up. Engines started in our area waking up others to the fact that the vintage bikes were taking the track. Racers on machines paraded around keeping their motors warm and their tires scuffed. We were motioned onto the track and the warm up lap began.

I (and my camera) were gridded behind and between Bucky and David on his BSA. The start was clean. The light pack of racers courteously worked our way toward turn one and neatly meshed into a fairly matched of machines blending our way around the first few turns. The transition into turn two was uneventful, but there was a blatant oops that can be seen for those who know what their looking at. It could have been a mess start to a race that would have to have been restarted.

As turn two faded away, a line had formed and we were headed toward Charlotte’s Web. Jerry and I played a quick game of chicken before the web and we swept through the turn beginning to heat up our tires. After the web, Jerry went full on throttle and his Ducati pulled away easily. At this point, most of the grid was in front of the camera as we headed toward the “museum hump”. Just in front of Jerry was David Clark. Hoping to get around Jerry and David, I lifted off the seat for the hump and leaned through the museum turn and followed the two of them. As we sped up and straitened out, Jerry found himself a bit to close to the edge of the track. I passed as he eased off. Following David through the first zig-zag I closed slightly. As we entered the second zig-zag, I was gaining as he was slowing for what is a great GP set of curves. As David went wide, I cut to the inside holding the throttle wide open and passed him at the portion of the track that we had watched throughout all of the Vintage Festival, weeks before.

Bucky had developed a bit of a lead and David’s BSA, even further ahead.  Bucky was next on my list. Bucky was close on David’s tail, so I had two targets to chase. Turn after turn I could swear I was getting closer. Then lap after lap, I was getting closer. The closer I got, the further David’s lead from Bucky grew. The closer Bucky was in reach, the more impressive each of his power pull-aways seemed. Within two laps of the end of the race, I was trailing Bucky and drafting him through the turns, then he’d pull away. As we got back to Norton Hill, I continued to get even closer. Then, my opportunity came when Bucky took his path so far to the edge of the track he was riding the rumple strips and slowing down rapidly, so I pulled ahead.

By this time, David’s BSA was in sight, but at a significant distance. Completing the last two turns before the main straight, I looked back to see that I had taken a nice lead on Bucky. Looking forward I saw the white flag. One lap to go. The best I could hope for was to play my cards right, dot my T’s and cross my eyes (;) to keep Bucky from taking my position. For one full lap, we all did what our bikes would allow and nobody changed position. Tucking down behind the camera and making the smallest profile I could, I raced across the finish line. Less than 2 seconds after clearing the line, my motor just gave up all power… and my next race was just one race away.

WERA Grand National Finals, GP500 Race

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