Dave's Racing Journal
Year 2000 Race Story
Year 2001 The Race Oddity - Part 1
Year 2001 The Race Oddity - Part 2
Year 2002 A Race Too Far - Part 1
Year 2002 A Race Too Far - Part 2
Year 2003 The BIG Year - Part 1
Year 2003 The BIG Year - Part 2
Year 2003 The BIG Year - Part 3
Year 2004 Carrying The #1 Plate - Part 1
Year 2004 Carrying The #1 Plate - Part 2
Year 2004 Carrying the #1 Plate - Part 3
Year 2005 Experiments - Part 1
Year 2005 Experiments - Part 2
Year 2005 Experiments - Part 3
Year 2006 Extreme - Part 1
Year 2006 Extreme - Part 2
Year 2006 Extreme - Part 3
Year 2007 Back to Basics - Part 1
Year 2007 Back to Basics - Part 2
Year 2007 Back to Basics - Part 3
Year 2008 Race and Have Fun - Part 1
Year 2008 Race and Have Fun - Part 2
Year 2008 Race and Have Fun - Part 3
Year 2009 Triple One's - Part 1
Year 2009 Triple One's - Part 2
Year 2009 Triple One's - Part 3
Year 2010 New Decade - Part 1
Year 2010 New Decade - Part 2
Year 2010 New Decade - Part 3
Year 2011 Breaking - Part 1
Year 2011 Breaking - Part 2
Year 2011 Breaking - Part 3
Year 2012 Another Dimension
Year 2000 Race Story
Well inspired by Rick's trip report, I felt compelled to write an article for the magazine. After 15 years of club membership, I thought it was about time. So here is the story of my racing escapades on my H2R and H1R.
As you might guess after 15 years of being in the club I am not the spring chicken that I used to be. You might call it a mid life crisis but I like to think of road racing a Kawasaki triple as the natural thing to do when you have done most other things with them. So I decided that now was the right time and as I am a slight porker an H2 would be the ideal tool, having lots of power. I had been talking to a guy for some time on the East Coast (I live in CA), one thing led to another, and he sold me his H2R. The bike is built to race, it looks pretty ratty, has many non-R parts (easier replace if you crash), but the key parts were H2R. The bike had been campaigned for several years and had been put together based on the original owners many years of triple racing experience.
So the spec of the bike, C&J R frame, H2R close ratio gearbox and clutch, Gast crank with Yamaha rods, Kevin Cameron cylinders and pipes, 38mm Mikuni's, Marzochi front forks and triple disks. Just the bike for a novice racer. After finding out where to get 114 octane fuel and fixing a few set up issues, I took my first test ride up the road. First gear was super high (I later found out that if top gear is set up for 140 mph, then first would go to 70 mph), however, as soon as you hit the power in first or second the front wheel lofted into the sky. Hmm, this might be interesting to race.
I signed up for my local racing club, the AFM and enrolled in the racing school. As the school and first race day loomed up, I was busy trying to get everything ready. I had purchase a used set of Kawasaki leathers, they seemed a little tight. This turned out to be more of a problem, when I tried to fit onto the bike, with its extreme riding position. Either I could hold onto the clip-on's or sit in the seat, but given the constraints of the suit, not both at the same time. After calling around I found a leather shop close to my work, the guys at the shop openly laughed when they saw my 17 stone stuffed into the used leathers that were a size or three too small. They ended up renting a set of leathers to me for the weekend.
So, off I went to Sears Point for my first weekend of racing, the school was pretty slow, telling you all the common sense stuff, and then it was time to take a first practice session around the track. I took it easy getting a feel for the bike and trying to work out where the track went. The session ended too quickly but I was ready for the race on Sunday. My goals were don't fall off and don't finish last. Now Sears is a very technical course, almost all of the corners are combination turns and have blind apex's. After a hard battle with a 350 power valve Yam, I was happy to finish second from last and didn't fall off.
My first season went on, the H2 engine proved very reliable, however, there were a few issues along the way, the battery fell off in one race, all of the sprocket bolts sheared in another, and the brakes took super human strength to stop the bike. I raced at Sears extensively, but also at Buttonwillow and Thunderhill in CA. I even took a trip to race at Mosport in Toronto, Canada. I got better during the year, using more and more of the H2R's awesome power, I started getting regular 2nd and 3rd places in CA, got a 6th at Mosport (in a big field of more than 30 Canadian racers) and finished the season with a win. I also clocked the bike at 145mph on the back straight at Mosport, and dyno'ed it at 100bhp, with a great spread of power. I felt pretty chuffed with the year and I had only gone off the track twice!
I had a list of things to work on over the winter including, shocks that moved, new tires, and an engine rebuild for the H2R. I also decided that I really liked this racing thing, and that more racing is better than less (but more is never enough), so I wanted to race in the national vintage racing club AHRMA. Unfortunately, AHRMA ban the H2R, they said it was too dangerous, what they really meant was that it was too fast for the big four strokes. Anyway, I had kept talking to this guy on the East Coast, and he sold me his H1R, which is AHRMA legal. I'll show these guys.
The H1R spec is H1R frame and engine, again with Yamaha rods, 36 mm Mikuni's, Marzochi front forks, dual disks up front and a street bike drum at the rear. I do not use the back brake for racing. All was prepared for the next season. I even got my own leathers that fitted properly.
On the first race of the year, I took the H2R out; I was going well, getting quickly back into the grove after the winter. On the third practice session, I got stuck behind a line of 6 bikes. I came to the straight, passed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, I think I can make the 6th, oops, missed my braking point, too fast into the corner, but perhaps I can make it stick�. Well I didn't the back end slipped out and I ended in a blaze of dust at about 80mph. The fairing on the bike was trashed, the tanks had flown off and various bits were bent. I pushed the remains back to the pits. On closer inspection, the engine had inhaled a ton of grit due to the fact that the bike was running when it hit the dirt and it has open carbs. What a mess although my wife did catch it on video.
I spend the next 6 hours, the rest of the practice day, taking cleaning out the engine. After removing the top end I used Simon's trick, I got some guys to hold the bike upside down and I cleaned out the crankcases with carb cleaner. I also got enough parts straight get the bike ready to race the next day. The next morning when I woke up I was really stiff (no not in that way). I was much slower on race day but I still managed a 2nd and 3rd in the races. The bruises were pretty impressive, going from purple, to blue, to green, to yellow.
At the next event at Sears I took the H1R out for practice. Not the same power as the H2R, however, the handling and brakes were great. On this tricky course I managed to equal my best time on the H2R. During the races I took the H2R out, what a difference, the handling was evil. I had a big scrap with a FZR1000 (bad rider) and a Honda 500 single (good rider). Eventually beating both of them, after some desperate moves on the final lap, including the full use of elbows and knees. The Honda rider came to see me after the race, he said we wanted to go around me on a long corner but could not as the back end of my bike was jumping around so much. Not the best race tactic to use. Something must be wrong. After the weekend I check the bike out, the swinging arm had some play and it was also twisted after the crash, this must be the problem.
The next outing was on the H1R at the national AHMRA event. I thought I could do well on my home track at Sears. This was a great weekend, with a good turnout of local triples at the track. I was feeling good in practice putting in some fast times. In the first race I was in second, closing down the leader, then I lost power. With the help of John Ayler we found that the rotor had worked loose throwing the ignition off. A trip to the machinist in the afternoon got me ready for the next day. While in 3rd the next day, the same thing happened. Damn.
A better fix from the machinist had me ready for the next weekend at Willow Springs, home of the 40 mph wind. This is an interesting track, you come flying down the back of the track at about 120 mph, then need to keep the throttle wide open through a long corner, half way through the corner the wind hits you and it feels like the bike is blown from under you. You need to keep the throttle pinned open to keep the speed into the wind on the front straight. All I can say is you get used to it. I got a disappointing 5th and 6th in the races. Guess I didn't get too used to it.
I took the H2R out for another practice session at the next event, after straightening the swinging arm; the handling was still�interesting. The H1R felt good, so I raced it for a few events. I kept getting quicker, learning the art of holding corner speed and leaving the braking to the very last point, my lap times kept improving. Although, I was still finishing in my regular 2nd and 3rd places. I tried the H2R again at one of the faster tracks, where power was more important than handling. After a practice session a guy came over and told me he could see the two arms of my swinging arm moving independently. Oh, I finally worked it out, the swinging arm was twisting, and the non-solid suspension units that I put on over the winter had caused this. An easy fix, back to the really stiff shocks hence a rigid back end with no twisting.
The next race out on the H2R, lookout, 4 seconds off my lap times and a 1st and 2nd place. In the final event of the season, I had confidence in the handling and was using the H2R's power to the limit. I was pulling big wheelies in 3rd gear, even sitting on the tank to keep the weight over the front. On the start of the first race I nearly flipped it on the start, but finished 3rd in front of two guys that have beaten my consistently during the year. In the second race, after a big slide and small high side with cold tyres, I finished the season with a win. In the championship this year, I finished with a 2nd and 3rd in the two classes that I run.
So, here I am ready for the winter changes on the H2R, a stronger swinging arm, shocks that work, and 17-inch wheels to run the modern tyres. Given these changes I am looking to reduce my times by another 2-3 seconds a lap, and move up another position in the races. There is always something to improve.
So how would I describe all this, well, this is one of the most exciting things I have done, apart from rolling around with Rick at the rally, it�s one of the most frustrating when things keep breaking or you can't figure out what is not working. But, finally its the most satisfying when you win a race or beat some guy who has been beating you all season, and especially when you smoke a modern bike. I had a guy come to see me after a practice session, "what size is that bike?" he says, 500cc, "what year?" 1970. "Man you can ride, it took me 3 laps to get by you on my R7, then you took me on the next corner". It doesn't get much better than that.
Year 2001 The Race Oddity - Part 1
After my last article that described my racing escapades as I began racing my H1R and H2R here is an update for 2001.
Over the cold California winter some major work was performed on the H2R. The 17" front wheel was replaced with an 18", to be compliant with vintage racing rules, new stronger swinging arm, new shock set up for the bike, larger front disk rotors and some new Avon tires. It will be fun sorting all this out if it does not work! At the other end of the scale the H1R remained unchanged with just a top end strip down and rebuild.
Now 2001 was going to be the big year for racing, I was planning some racing across the US and the world. I had been talking to a chap in Australia and planned to send the H2R down to race at Phillip Island near Melbourne and the H1R was destined for Daytona. These events occurring at the end of January and the end of February caused some frantic work getting the bikes ready. The local events were also posted with some heavy activity in March and April with 4 race weekends over 5 weeks. I hope the bikes are going to make it! As you may remember the engines for both bikes were very reliable during 1999 and 2000 based on the strong cranks and setup.
Racing is tough work; however, shipping a bike to Australia for a racing event is a nightmare, despite the help from Neville Lush down under. I was told that I had to register the bike in Australia, but I am not going to use it on the road, well you will need to have the bike steam cleaned when it arrives, but I just completed a complete strip down and reassemble, the bike needs to be shipped in a box with wood treated for termites, but the box was shipped to me from the UK, ok well it may take longer to ship because it is hazardous goods, you should try riding it if you think it is bloody hazardous now.
The Philips Is event was great; we were pitted in shed 8, with Barry Sheene in 7 and Barry Ditchburn in 9. The H2R fired straight up and off I went with the highest gearing I had run. First practice, heavy clutch slip and weak jetting, second practice just the clutch slip. A trip round the pits found a couple of Z1 clutch springs to hold the clutch. Then the rain came down. Racing in California, means you only race in the dry, but I needed the track time. How would 100+ hp work in the rain? It worked pretty well, 15 years of riding in the UK really helped here and I spent the session riding around the outside of people who did not have the same upbringing.
I spent the rest of the day wandering around, chatting to the other racers and my shed mates, even got Barry D to sign my copy of Kawasaki Story. Sharing our shed were an H1 and an S2 prepared by Neville. There was one other H1 at the meet plus 3 TZ750's a TR750, a number of TR500's and of course a bunch of RD/RZ/TZ's.
The racing was great, I was totally outclassed by more power and skill from the Auz guys on big bore Honda's running Methanol. I got an 11th my first race, lost the chain in the second and a 9th in the third. Despite the disappointing results I had a blast. My shed mates won every race they were in! The bike ran great, the handling was on the mark and the new EBC pads and rotor gave modern bike like stopping power. Before shipping the bike back, Neville dyno tuned the bike; he tweaked it to 110hp at the back wheel with a much stronger mid range. Another set of hassles needed to be resolved to get the bike back into the US.
Onto Daytona, my brother-in-law drove my truck with the H1R to Daytona, I would then fly down before the race, he would then fly back, and my lovely wife and I would drive back. The warm up event for Daytona is Deland, an airstrip that is converted for the race. I arrived on Wednesday, practiced on Thursday and raced on Friday. There were about 20 Brits at the event, making the trip over with their vintage bikes. Also present were Yvon DuHamel and Gary Nixon. The track is relatively simple; I finished 2nd in the 500 race behind a much faster Yamaha and 5th in the open race. I managed the 2nd in the 500 race despite losing a carb on the 2nd from last lap and then holding the thing in place till the finish. I could close down the bikes on the curvy bits; however, I was down on power on the straights, Uhm....
On Saturday I checked out the beach and the bowl, wow and WOW. The beach was totally crowded with old guys (even older than Rick) riding Harley's, just thousands of them. The bowl was BIG; this 3.5-mile track must be about a mile from end to end, and fast, as I watched some modern bikes going through their paces. This was going to be fun. Sunday was wet and Monday was spent making adjustments to the bike, and chatting to John Ayler and some of the other racers. I got to meet Kevin Cameron and I listened to his racing stories, he is so knowledgeable, has so many experiences and has the driest sense of humor.
Tuesday morning I finally got to go on the track. I have never experienced anything like it. I came back from the first practice babbling (like Rick after he rode my H2R). You are flat out on the banking for about a minute, pulling your highest gearing at an acute angle to the horizon. It took me a while to become orientated to where the bike and I were and what I need to do to maneuver the bike. If I looked to the left, I could see the skirt of the bank and my lean angle seemed all wrong, to the right the wall looked, well, like a wall, and if I looked forward, I kept setting the bike up from the left turn that seemed to be coming. The technique that seemed to work was to focus on the road about 10 yards in front of the bike and then it seemed like you were just about to driving up a steep straight hill. Nothing like a steep hill to encourage you to hold the throttle open. Although lap traffic came up very quickly. By the second practice I felt comfortable with it and concentrated on trying to be very small behind the fairing, moving my elbows in gave me another 500 rpm.
Onto the race, I started well being 3rd in the first corner, but what the...., those Yams were going away from me on the banking, after the first few laps things settled down and I finished the race in 5th. Still down on power. For the open event I gridded next to Yvon and behind Nixon, those guys were so worried that after the first corner they drove off so fast that I never saw them again. I finished nowhere in the race, however, the bike was still in one piece.
After a quick load of the truck, we made the cross-country trip of 3000 miles in 4 days, despite a speeding ticket I was ready to race again on Sunday. I had a great one, a fantastic scrap with a XS650 gone 750 in the first race and exactly the same in the second. In each race we exchanged positions several times on every lap, again I was down on power, he came by me on the straights, I did some interesting stuff in the corners. We even captured the whole thing on video, I am proud to say it was nearly as exciting as the professionals. So where was the power?
I went down to the local dyno, 57hp, wow, no wonder I had a little trouble at Daytona. Some investigation revealed a broken wire on the charging circuit of the ignition. I fixed the wire then back to the dyno with some other pipes to try out, 65hp with the Cameron pipes, 76 with a set of H1R pipes. Peak power had moved from 8,300 to 9,400, a much better range for an H1. No question on which pipes to run going forward. Overall an increase in 19 hp or 30% over Daytona, watch out RD's next year.
In the mean time the first AFM race came up for the 750 at Sears. What could I do with 10 more hp, better handling and better brakes? The practice sessions on Saturday were a mess; the clutch slipped, slipped some more and kept slipping. Even worse the bike vibrated like a bugger. Not just the regular H2 buzz, but really, really bad. I was so pissed off at the end of Saturday, I could not even pick up my lap times. On the upside I had a great time holding tons of corner speed and out-braking modern bikes into the hairpin corners.
Sunday I arrived with replacement clutch parts and spent the morning trying to get the clutch to work. I picked up my times to find that I had gone 1.5 sec/lap quicker despite having no clutch, I must be able to do much better with a clutch. In the first race, as usual I started slow, the clutch suck and after the first lap I took first place, hacking through the field. On lap 3 I lost power, looked down and there was the left carb flapping in the breeze with half of the manifold still attached to it. A quick repair with super glue had me out for the second race, only to lose power again after lap 1. A very disappointing weekend. After checking the bike, the crank had twisted, causing the vibration and power lose, a very, very disappointing weekend.
After the Daytona events I was leading the AHMRA points race with the two California events coming up. These events were at tracks where I should place well, Sears and Willow. Did I have the chance to earn the #1 plate? Well yes, but only if I were able to attend some of the events in the mid-West. I would see how the CA events went and then make the decision.
Sears, I felt good in practice, nice and smooth. Up came the first Formula 500 event, always a slow starter I was 5th into the first corner but by the end of the first lap I had a lead of 20 yards, but out came the black flag as a rider had crashed out. After clearing the guy from the track, we lined up for the start again. Off we went, the bike slowed and stopped at the 2nd corner, f***. I forgot to turn the petrol on after the restart. I called the corner workers over to push start me. As the bike started I could see the whole field heading towards turn 7, a full half lap ahead. The term 'red mist" applied, I rode like a maniac, this was probably the closest to the edge I have ever been, by lap 3 I had started to catch and pass the field. There was no waiting for good places to pass as I came upon other racers; I drove by, on the outside, inside, wherever. On the final lap I passed the #3 and #2 placed racers and finished the race 100 yard behind the winner. Nearly a storybook ending. I had slid the back end on corners and lofted the back wheel under braking and lapped more then 2 seconds a lap faster than anybody else. This may be my best every ride. The rest of the weekend was a disappointment, I finished 5th in the open class on Saturday and then 3rd and 4th on Sunday, the "red mist" had passed.
The following weekend was Willow, after the week break and being really pissed off at my results at Sears, I was ready to go. From my previous article you may remember that Sears is a technical course and Willow is all about balls, how quick can you go around turns 8 and 9? Practice on Saturday said my balls were on the large size. For the first time, I was flat out around 8 and deep into 9. 135mph at a severe lean angle is "character" building.
The first race came up, I screwed up the start getting into the first corner in 8th, I rectified this by passing a whole bunch of people in corners 3 and 4 and taking 4th. The #1 plate holder was 3rd and I was determined to pass him. In lap 3 I passed him on the outside of turn 8, only to be re-passed at turn one and then taking it back at 3. After that, no looking back and I had 3rd, with local riders in 1st and 2nd. In the open race pitted against 750's. I has a great scrap with #1 plate plus my friend on the 750 Yamaha, despite the efforts of a confused back marker (trying to run me off the track) and losing my sprocket cover, I finished 2nd. On Sunday the racing was less intense and I finished 3rd in the 500 class and the open, behind the local guys.
Overall I finished the ARMHA events with a win in the Pacific crown, aggregate points for Sears and Willow, in both Formula 500 and Open. Not so bad, with 2nd, 3rd, 3rd and 3rd in F500 and 4th, 5th, 2nd, 3rd in Open, however, no first places. In fact no clear first places yet this year. Last year I would have been happy with this, in fact ecstatic, this year, as the Americans would say, it sucks!
But the year is still young!!!!
Year 2001 The Race Oddity - Part 2
So as I finished my last update, the West Coast National Vintage, AHRMA, events were complete. Lots of solid 2nd, 3rd, but no wins. After 8 events of 16, I was first in the championship, by a whole 9 points out of 4600. Still 1st is 1st. Due to my work schedule this was likely to be my last AHRMA race of the year, as all subsequent events were being in the East or Mid-west of the US, at least a 24 hr drive, each way. So now I would concentrate on the West coast scene, AFM.
The next race AFM race was Thunderhill, the week after AHMRA Willow Springs. I had won my last two races here, the track being big and suiting the hp of the H2R. I arrived on Saturday and then spend the whole day trying to get the bike to consistently run on 3 cylinders. (Sound familiar). It was an ignition problem that I eventually tracked to a pickup that went bad when hot. Having no pick-up spares, I drove home on Saturday night, picked up the H1R and drove back on Sunday morning, a nice little 300 mile round trip. The H1R was �fresh� from Willow, I had done nothing to it since the previous weekend. Practice went fine although my lap times were 5 seconds down on the H2R, at least the bike was running. In my first race I had a good scrap with a tricked out Honda 550/4 and finished with a win. In the second race against later vintage (1983) big bikes, I was holding 3rd until the last lap, I was revving the bike very hard to stay with the pace and on the last corner of the last lap it seized. I pulled in the clutch for 10 seconds, gently let it out again and a sick engine turned over, I coasted to the finish in 5th place. I had a win and two broken bikes over the weekend. At least I had two whole weeks till the next race at Sears!
Given my work schedule, I had little time for repairs, the H2R got a spare Krober ignition, good news here, no need to have a battery, this had caused me to DNF on three races in three years. The H1R was more of an issue, the piston on the center cylinder had broke just above the rings near the exhaust port, scoring the bore. Given that my cylinders were on the final overbore, this was going to require some thought, still if the H2R did not break I had several months to work this out.
Sears came very quickly. On Saturday morning I took the H2R out on the first practice session, I came across a very slow rider in the chicane, at full lean the guy in front was �parked�, I either ran into him or the hay bails, I took the bails, over the handlebars, got a big bruise on my calf and a busted fairing. Quick repair with duct tape (fairing not calf) got the bike ready for practice #2, the bike would not change gear into third or fourth, despite my best efforts. I took the bike home early for a gearbox level strip down and re-shim. Sunday morning saw me sleepy eyed, out in practice, it ran on three cylinders and changed gear, excellent! I cruised around the warm up lap for the first race as a neared the start line, I pulled in the clutch, no clutch, lots of swear words. At this point I declared defeat and went home to drink large amounts of beer. I was yet to finish a race on the H2R in the US this year and a good championship place was looking less likely. On inspection the clutch push rod would not come out, not the big one or the little one, even with some persuasion with a hammer. The engine and gearbox came out AGAIN and I found the two pushrods welded together with a big blob of melted metal, the first time I had seen this. Guess I am still surprised by the variety of ways these bikes break. Still at least the fix was relatively easy. Why do I always look on the positive side? Must be 20+ years of triple ownership!!!!!
At least I had a little time at this point; the leisurely engine rebuild was easily accomplished in the 5 weeks leading to the next race. The next three events went without mishap, two 1st places and a 2nd in Vintage and a 2nd and two 3rd places in Super Dino, improving my lap times by 2 seconds at Thunderhill and a second at Sears. I was also able to beat some riders (and put them in their place) who had been enjoying the unreliability of my bike during the course of the year.
The final event of the year ended with on a low note. The Monday before the event I went paint-balling, thinking I was still young I was diving behind barriers and generally throwing myself around as I was trying to shoot people. In the process I landed on my knee several times. By Saturday although I could walk fine, trying to bend my knee to fit on the H2R was painful, to say the least. Loaded with pain killers I was pushing as hard as I could in practice and went slower and slower. During the first race on Sunday I was chasing a ticked out KZ1000, when he lost it mid corner, having nowhere to go, I hit the bike and fly over the bars. Luckily I landed on my head (not the knee) an instant 5 beer buzz, although it passed much more quickly. Once again the fairing was smashed and a few other cosmetic items. Not a great way to end the season.
So looking forward to next year, the H2R is going to remain fairly unchanged with a simple strip down and rebuild and a little suspension work, the H1R is a different story. As I write this story it is on it way to Auz, for some engine re-work (extra hp) and the opening event of the season at Philip Is. I am hoping to get the bike from 76 hp to 82-85hp, which should be enough to show those Yam�s what a Kaw� can do at Daytona.
The year has been one of mixed emotions, my events with the H1R showed that I could lead the vintage championship in the US, however, I needed more hp to win more races. The H2R got much more lively (it is amazing what an extra 10 hp does for you), however, the stress it caused on the bike caused 2 DNF�s and half a season to fix. In the championship races I finished 3rd in AHMRA, 1st in AFM Vintage and 4th in Super Dino. Overall, I would have been chuffed with this last year, but my expectations have moved on, last year I wanted to do well, this year I needed to win! So next year, a more powerful H1R that is competitive against the Yam�s and a H2R that stays together, the rest will be just balls and the motivation to win.
Year 2002 A Race Too Far - Part 1
As I left my journal in 2001, I had made some big strides, winning a championship, leading another, winning a few races, but being total unsatisfied by my results. Lots of 2nd�s and 3rd�s but I wanted wins and only wins. The H1R had proved to be sweet to ride, handling well but down on hp, the H2R an hp beast but going all over the track at the slightest provocation, or not, depending on how it felt. The winter rebuilds proved very frustrating.
The H1R had seized at its last event, I sent the barrels and heads away to Neville Lush for a rebore and some more hp. On the routine strip down the crank was also in need of some work, one seal gone and on strip down two big end pins worn out. The first guy that looked at it said next week for 2 � months before I send it off to Paul Gast who had it back to me in 3 weeks.
The H2R came apart, despite heading into the dirt on the last outlining, with the engine still running and open carbs, the engine checked out fine, I just needed to replace one piston. Handling wise a couple of changes were made, the swinging arm mounts were reinforced and the seat was raised so that I could move around on the bike more.
The mobility thing proved extra important as I managed to hurt my knee playing paintball and needed some surgery to fix the cartilage and tendon damage, which would cause problems fitting into the cramped riding position.
As I had been messed around with my H1R crank I missed the shipping date to get the bike to Auz for Phillip Is, so Daytona would be my first event of the year. This was going to be tough on a new engine with new porting and a �new� knee that did not allow me to ride for the 4 months before the race.
3 weeks before Daytona, I attended the Freddie Spencer Race School in Las Vegas. After 4 months off of a bike, I was a little concerned that I would be off the pace, but what better place to get back on it again? We learned about trial braking, how to use the front brake to turn the bike and a bunch of other things. We used the Honda 600 F4�s of the school. On the first day I was in the top third speed wise, but had used up my tires. After reviewing the video, to my surprise, I was sitting squarely on the bike, not leaning off and had been pushing the tires hard to make good time. On the video I looked like a complete wanker! Day two, I was determined to improve my style and at least not look like a wanker, I started really slow, hanging way off the bike (for me), and trying to get used to the feel and feedback. During the day I got much quicker, staying in the same place in the group, however, not using tires and getting faster all the time. Even better, in the class was Nicky and Rodger Hayden, two extremely talented young guys.
The week after, flushed with my new style and the fact the I had ridden with some pro�s, I got slightly �happy� in a bar one night. For some reason I thought I was a famous racer and was quite happy to give people my autograph. More specifically, I was happy to sign women�s bodies. The most amazing thing, I managed to convince three women that this would be a good idea and signed a breast and two arses! Never ceases to amaze me what you get when you ask.
Anyway, back to the plot. I got lucky this year and a friend took my H1R to Daytona, so all I needed to do was turn up and race. The warm up event to Daytona is Deland, I arrived nice and early of Thursday morning and promptly got frozen. Florida is meant to be warm but this was far from it. Practice on Thursdays went OK; the H1R was running well apart from a misfire above 9,500 rpm. Given the new porting the bike was still pulling hard at this point. I messed around with ignition timing and swapped the plugs, but the problem persisted. On Friday morning with some close inspection I found the source of the problem, the earth wire to the engine was broke. A quick fix and I was out for the first race, Formula 500. I started well, being third into the first corner and the bike pulling hard to 10,000 rpm. With the bike running well, I found my next problem, I was only getting into 4th gear on the track, I was way over geared. I held onto 3rd place. The open event was up quickly so there was no time to change the gearing, against the 750 four strokes I was holding 3rd, until lap 3, I hit the brakes at the end of the start/finish straight and the petrol cap popped open spraying pre-mix all over the inside of the fairing, I pushed the cap down mid corner and rolled back on the power, there was none, in the frantic effort to shut the petrol cap, I had hit the kill switch, two bikes came by before I worked it out and I finished 5th.
Onto Daytona; with a pit crew, Rick and �Dave in FL� and pitted with John Ayler we were team green. After some quick math on my gearing, bike now revved to 10k not 8.5k I lowered the gearing from the Deland setup (now you know how wrong it was). In the first practice, the bike was pulling well going to 10,200 in top gear and I finished with the highest speed through the speed trap in the group. In the second practice, the bike was not revving out so far only pulling to 9,700, my guess, due to a change in air humidity as things started to warm up. As I finished the session I spotted John walking his bike back, the motor had tightened up. We pulled the top end, to find that he newly installed crank had chewed up a bearing. Again the Formula 500 race was up first, I was fourth onto the banking and closing in on the third place guy, then I lost power, I coasted back to the pits, I was out of the race on lap 1.
We started to strip the bike down, eventually Rick finding a wire off of one of the ignition pick-ups. At this point the heads were off the bike and they made �first call� for my second race. With four people working on simultaneously, we soldered the wire, refitted the top end and put the tank and fairing back on in less than 5 minutes, I made the grid. With blowing base gaskets I was racing at the back of the pack, on the last lap, I ran out of petrol, I forgot to top up the tank. Oh well, next year.
Four weeks later I was back on the west coast on the H2R. A slightly damp track found the H2R making full power, alternating between spinning the rear wheel on the straights under full power and wheelies off the smallest of bumps. After another battle with my buddy on the 750 Yam, we exchanged places about five times, I won the Vintage event and finished 4th in Super D. Three weeks later at Sears, I repeated this placing and took a full half second off of my best lap time. A bad season start with the H1R but a great one with the H2R.
Year 2002 A Race Too Far - Part 2
With the H1R checked after Daytona, I was ready for the two West Coast AHRMA events, Sears and Willow. With Sears as my home track I was feeling confident. On Saturday morning things felt good in practice, I was moving around the bike and it was running strong. This was a big event as the West Coast triples guys were holding a rally at the track and I needed to keep the green flag flying. The F500 race came up, for some reason they started me at the back of the grid, I got a great start (for me) and went into the first corner in 2nd, chasing down the leader, I went super deep into turn 7 making the pass however, I could not hold it, then I went by him again in 10 and made it stick. With my head down, I quickly lost him and won my first national race, go team green. On Sunday morning during practice I had a new misfire, after messing about with everything during the day it just got worse and I could not race. The ups and downs of racing.
Once home I started to check through everything again, a bad coil was the cause. The following weekend was Willow Springs a very fast track. I took the bike out for the first practice, building up speed the bike was running great revving to 10,500, I was passing all kinds of 750�s and the bike was running better than ever. I was charging down the back straight heading into the fast (how big are your balls?) turn 9, I went passed one guy, then the exhaust note changed and I lost power. I cruised back to the pits, the center cylinder had holed a piston and I did not have a spare. About 20 calls later, trying to find a piston locally, I gave up. I chatted to Fran Golden for a while then packed up and went home. The downs and downs of racing, Fran excluded.
I relocated the H2R to a modified H1R chassis, frame 90006 no less, to try to improve the handling. The biggest part of the work being the pipes; getting them to fit and mount onto the new frame. I also took the chance and braced the frame in a few areas, particularly the headstock. At the first outing, Thunderhill, I took the bike out for practice, F**KING hell, this thing is really trying to kill me. If tank slappers were common before, now every time I pushed hard, slap, slap, slapper�d slap. Fully banked over in one corner, I hit a bump, slap, slap, I could hear the front tire squeal every time it went from lock to lock. Thinking cap back on, for the races on Sunday, I lowered the forks in the yokes and fitted the shocks from my H1R, a big improvement. I finished with a win in Vintage and a 2nd in Super Dino, my best combined results so far this year. During the second race down changes into 2nd became changes into neutral, causing a bit of quick footwork. Although improved from the practice session the handling was still worse with the H1R frame compared to the C&J. Changing the rear shocks gave me some ideas, I sent my shocks away to be setup with softer springs. Expecting the need to rebuild the gearbox, I was pleased to find the shifting arm broken, hence the over-shift into neutral.
With softer shocks and a big steering damper I was ready for the next event. I also took my H1R to get some bedding in miles on the new crank. On Saturday in practice I ran the two bikes back to back. Now this was the first time I had done this. The H2 was handling pretty well, but the H1 still much better, riding them back to back, I found the forks were much softer on the H1R, keeping the bike more stable in corners with bumps. On Sunday I started well, led from the off and all the way to the last corner on the last lap, I missed
a down change overran the corner and finished the race second.
Onto the next race at Sears with � inch of preload removed from the front forks, 1st practice no clutch, 2nd practice no clutch disengage, 3rd practice the clutch lever slowly came back to the bars and stayed there, returning to the pits showed the two push rods had welded themselves together, despite having a ball bearing in place. I took the bike home and stripped out the engine and then the gearbox. The push rods had welded themselves inside the gearbox shaft. So I stripped down another bike to get a spare gearbox and then put the whole thing together Saturday night, what a long night.
Sunday morning I am back at the track, I go out for practice, everything is behaving and I actual get some fast laps in. The clutch works and the handling is again improved. My race comes around, they waive the green flag, just as I start to let the clutch out it bites home fully and I stall the engine. I later discovered that the clutch hub nut had come loose. Everybody takes off and I am left at the line with no clutch. I get a push start and I�m off and driving like a maniac. After giving everybody a 20 second start I finish the race less than a second behind the winner and put in my fastest laps ever, more than 3 seconds faster than the rest of the field. The second place keeps me in the lead in the championship and finally the Beast isn�t trying to kill me all the time.
But now it tries another tact. At the next race weekend, off I head out on practice with just the clutch nut tightened from the previous event. I have a big misfire, which I finally identify as a bad coil, then, the bike won�t change gear, after multiple strip downs of the shifter mechanism for the whole weekend, I go out and cruise around in my race to get a few points. That friggin� bitch of a bike.
Onto the last event of the West Coast series, I was still leading the championship but the gap had closed to 7 points. On Saturday the H2R clutch blew, the spline on the inner hub ripped itself apart (a new first) putting the bike out for the weekend. Fortunately, I had an H1R that I had just put together and had never seen a track. The rest of Saturday I messed around getting the glitches out of the bike, on Sunday it was nearly ready. My first race, Super Dino, the bike was running and handling well but after a few laps I could not get 1st and 2nd gears, then I lost 5th and finally I could only get 4th. I pulled in. With 15 minutes till my championship race, off came the clutch and clutch cover, the shift arm had come out of the drum, quick fix, with some extra washers on the shaft to stop it moving more, and a very quick reassembly got me on the grid. I was 2nd off the line heading towards the fast turn 1, he backed off, I did not, I rode around the outside of him. The handling felt great and the power was good, after the first lap I had a 15 yard lead, then, just to keep my record consistent this year the bike stopped and I was out of the race and the championship was lost.
So to the last event of the year, a trip �down under� to race at the Australian Championship. With the usually shipping issues, my H1R made it to Neville Lush 4 days before the event and I made it 2 days later. We got the bike onto the dyno, tweaking jetting and timing, we had 82hp before things went bad. The rotor started hitting the stator and destroyed the stator. We fitted a new stator at the track on Friday morning, only to find that the rotor was off center, the crank had twisted. After a belt with a hammer (not for the faint of hearted), the crank was �straight� again. This gave me the chance to ride gently around the circuit in practice and find which way the corners went. On Friday night we drove back to Nev�s home, replaced the crank and then drove back to the track for the 8am Saturday morning start. If these bikes aren�t trying to kill me on he track, they are off! Race 1, they started me at the back of the grid (slow practice laps). On the first corner everybody slowed down, I didn�t and I was in eighth. A good move, however, not as good as Ginger Molloy, who went around me, going around everybody else. Over the course of the race I pulled up to 3rd, not so bad. In the second race all of my head gaskets blew (a mistake from the hasty rebuild) and I got a fourth, for a 3rd overall in the championship. For the final invitation event at the end of the day, gridded against the large Alcohol bikes, the bike nipped up.
This year turned out a very different season from last. Last year, lots of 2nd and 3rd places, this year lots of 1st places and lots of busted bikes. I had 4 nights during the course of the season where I need to split engine cases overnight to make repairs. So the changes this winter will be all about getting more reliability. The H1R will get some revised pipes to bring the peak power down the rev range, life at 10,000+ rpm is hard. The H2R is getting a new clutch using TZ parts to increase the friction area so I can use lighter springs, which will unload the whole clutch mechanism. The issues from last year were fixed, the H1R has power and the H2R handles, now I just need to get them reliable again. Racing triples is never dull!!
Year 2003 The BIG Year- Part 1
Kawasaki made their first big push in open class road racing in 1973. In 1972 they introduced the H2R and it turned out as a development season with many reliability problems and fixes. At Daytona in 1973 Kawasaki showed up with 6 factory riders. Despite poor results at Daytona where reliability was again the issue they finished the season with 8 wins from 12 AMA races.
In 2001 my year was one of reliability and many 2nd and 3rd places, 2002 was win or bust. So would 2003, 30 years later, be the BIG year for me? Now I had the power to win could I get the reliability?
Over the last five years I have had a number of problems. On the H1R the rotor came loose (Krober) (2), bad coil (2), bad ignition pickup connection, seized center piston/wrecked big end (not sure what happened first), crank separated, holed center piston (2), and broken engine bolts (2)
On the H2R, battery carrier broke dumping the battery on the back wheel, rear sprocket studs sheered on the rear wheel (2), clutch pusher shafts welded together (2), bad ignition pickup (Dyna) (2), torn inlet manifold (2), engine bolts (one per weekend, never a DNF), broken exhaust mounts (one per weekend, never a DNF), clutch hub unscrewed it�s self (2), and clutch splines broke from hub.
The reoccurring problem on the H1R being the crank and ignition holing the center piston, and on the H2R the clutch and numerous breaks caused by vibration. So the changes for the winter break were focused on these areas.
After the Australian Championships where the H1R busted a crank then holed its center piston, Neville Lush got to spend some quality time with the bike. Taking care and reassembling the crank with the Yamaha rods and new pins and finding the piston holing problem via testing on the dyno. And in the process moving the hp up to 86 hp. The H2R got some late model cases converted to use Suzuki GT 750 engine rubbers mounts. The dry clutch was reassembled using some clutch springs from Rick.
Feeling some bad vibes from the events in 2002 and being very slightly superstitious I decided that I needed some positive karma, so I named my race team Mojo Kawasaki Racing. This also helps when you are trying to get a bike through customs. And, as an added plus I picked up a casual sponsor in horneytoad.com.au, a Scottish guy who lives in Australia and has a mail order sex toy web site, called�. My Mum was impressed; I offered her as many samples as she needed.
The first meeting for 2003 is Daytona, with two warm up events at Jennings race track in North Florida. I planned to take the whole Mojo team to shake out any glitches in the winter changes. So, did I have enough Mojo coming into the season?
The lead up to Daytona was calm, slow then frantic. My H2R came together without too much fuss. The day before I need to ship them to Daytona, I was still trying to get my H1R back from Australia and through customs. At 11am on the day it needed to ship I finally got it. I took the afternoon off work to replace the center piston. What a mess the piston had melted pretty well, with alliminium all over the bores and it had distorted to the point where the piston pin would not come out. Four hours later I persuaded the pin out and had cleaned-up the bore and had the bike was delivered, just in time, for its trip to Daytona. That was close!
I arrived in Florida with a weather forecast showing rain, rain and more rain. My bikes arrive safely at Jennings. The first day was practice, for the first three sessions I ran the H2R, feeling out the handling and learning the track. The handling was great apart from chatter whenever I hit the brakes hard (felt like the head bearing were loose) and the track was fantastic. A nice fast section with fast kinks and a slower technical section with many combination turns. And, the people running the track were great, ex-motorcycle racers and the track was totally geared to bikes. During the day I refitted a Krober to the H1R, then took this out for the final practice. Usually after riding the H2R the H1R is kind off slow, this time it was running great and although acceleration was slower top speed seemed the same. Thursday was the WERA round, first race Formula 2-stroke on the H2R. Ever the slow starter I was 6th into the first corner, then blasted into 3rd at the end of the fast section, I started to shift down, no gears, after doing the ho-key-ko-key on the gear shift I coasted to a halt, the sprocket nut had come off (ever happened to you??).
For the second race Formula 500 (a preview of the bigger races later) I took out the H1R. After an even worse start, last into the first corner, I pulled managed to pull up to 3rd then to 2nd (when the 1st placed guy got pulled over as he jumped the start, I did not realize this). As I assumed my mid race lull, nobody in sight in front and nobody behind, Mr Stop-and-go came by me, I hooked onto the back of him with one lap to go, but could not catch him as we crossed the line 6 foot apart. The H1R was running great.
The meeting was well attended from a Kawasaki front with 3 other H1�s on the track and two others in race trim but sitting in the pits. One guy also raced an A1. It was great to meet some old faces and see some new e-mail friends.
Onto Friday, I had a good battle with 3 Yamaha RD/TZ 350/400�s. Seeing two of these guys leave the track I was in 2nd and the race was stopped due to another downed rider. As they restarted, the two fasted guys broke loose, I thought I had the speed on the straights, however, they seemed to jump forward out of the corners. I battled with a third Yamaha before loosing him, getting a 3rd. I also got an uneventful 3rd in the Formula Vintage event against the 750 4-strokes.
So far we had dodged the rain, but over the weekend we had nearly 2� and the forecast was for more on Monday and Tuesday. Monday was spent changing the gearing, going up 8% from last year and checking the bike out. Although the rain came down hard they still ran races in the �bowl�. On Tuesday morning it was still raining. I took the H1R onto the banking for my first practice. There were big puddles all over the track, after slowing down for each corner almost to a stop, I was pleased to see that the bike pulled to 10,200 in top gear (just right). I calculated this should be 135mph, 3mph faster than the winner of the race last year.
As my main event came closer it stopped raining and the track dried in all the important places. The green flag went down and I was 8th into the first corner as we mounted the banking I climbed high at the entrance and then dropped low at the exit, I flew past 3 bikes on the back straight into 5th, as we went though the infield section the 4th place guy went down just in front of me and I was in 4th. Unfortunately this was the way it stayed. I was not in touch with the guys in front, nor was there anybody behind. So, a 4th, the best recent result in this class at Daytona for at least 10 years, but still a 4th. I think the bike was competitive on speed, but acceleration seemed a problem.
Not a bad start to the season, and the bikes were still together.
Year 2003 The BIG Year - Part 2
After Daytona my next outing was an AFM event at Sears. On Saturday the H2R ran fine, and I put in some fast laps. Sunday morning, I took the bike out, it seemed a little down on power, then things got worse, it started to miss badly. I took it back to the pits. The center piston was a melted and the right showed signs of detonation. As my races were late in the afternoon, I drove home to pick up the H1R. I finished the vintage race with an easy win and in my step-up got a 3rd in Super Dino. The H1R ran well, but I was 5 seconds off the pace of the H2R. As I looked at the results and lap times after the weekend, I realized the H2R was now handling better than my H1R, after 5 years of work this was great news.
I took the H1R and H2R to the guy who was driving them down to Phoenix as part of a three-race tour, including Albuquerque and Pahrump in Nevada. The H1R was ready to race and the H2R with the busted top end. I arrived in Phoenix on Friday night and took to the track on Saturday. The H1R ran fine and I was ready for the first event. I entered the first corner in second but by the first lap took the lead for an easy win. In my second event I was against the 4 stroke 750�s. I thought I could show these 4 strokes a thing or two and looked forward to some close racing. Always the slow starter I entered the first corner in 5th, I rode around two riders and took 3rd, into the next corner I took 2nd. At turn 6 I block passed the guy in the lead to take first. After 3 more laps I had opened up a 75-yard lead and eased off to take the win. Big smiles :) !!!! Between races I stripped down the H2R and fitted a new top end, finding a slipped ignition rotor as the cause of the problem.
On Sunday I arrived late after a late night celebrating with many Margaritas, so I did not practice. I fired up the H2R to check it out and watched a Super Motad race with a friend who runs the Corona Suzuki Team. I won the Formula 500 event easily again and looked forward to wrestling with the 750�s again. An even worse start put me last into the first corner. I moved through the back of the pack and into 5th at the end of the first lap. These guys were moving, all having very similar HP and speed on the straight. I took 4th with another block pass, slipstreamed another down the straight for 3rd then an outside move on a corner for 2nd. The first place guy was on a Ducati 900. He was fast and had not raced on Saturday. He was moving pretty well getting good power out of the corners. I tried an outside move on several corners but did not have the drive to pull it off. I tried block passes but could not get close enough to make it stick, nearly getting my front wheel taken out. In the back section of the track I was being held up, but could not find the room to pass, I was sliding the rear wheel trying to get the drive out of the corners. On lap 6 of 8, I got a good drive onto the straight and was close enough to slipstream him, I pulled in front just before turn 1, then pushed hard in the back section of the track. As we went back onto the main straight I was pleased to see a 10 yard lead which I opened up to 40 yards before the checkered flag. A great weekend, 4 races, 4 wins and I had stuffed the 750 4-strokes. This was my best racing weekend so far��� It�s the Mojo rising�.. (I like the Doors).
Onto the event at Albuquerque. This weekend was going to be cool as Hurley Wilvert, was entered to ride my H2R. Hurley was one of the Kawasaki works riders in 73 and 74 and posting the best ever finish at Daytona for an air-cooled triple coming 3rd in 1974. Of course this is the home track for another Kawasaki guy, the famous John Ayler, or Moo to his friends. I arrived at the track on Friday morning for a day of practice. The track was small, lap times were in the one-minute range, but it was great fun, lots of banking and a good combination of fast and technical sections. Hurley was getting used to the H2R after 25 years of being off the track. On Friday night, I was pleased to find out that Hurley still likes to hang, as we downed a whole bunch of Margaritas and talked old race stories. On Saturday I checked the bikes out, the H2R ignition was off, and the engine did not turn over cleanly. I could feel some notchiness in the crank. As the bike was running, we decided to run it for the day and then swap the cranks in the evening. I had a spare crank, just in case.
I lined up for my Formula 500 race with big John, the flag went down and I was third in the first corner, keeping the power on I came out of the corner first and ran away for an easy win. In my second race I lined up with Hurley on the H2R and Jay Springsteen on a Harley XR750. 5th into the first corner, I moved through to 3rd and held it to the end. I was lapping in the 58�s, the lap record for a modern bike being 53�s, they were in the 57�s.
I collected my trophies and did a great job of soaking John with Champagne, then went to Hurley�s to swap the crank. We had the bottom end reassembled, just fitting the pistons, when I found the small ends were different. My spare was a different type of Yamaha rodded crank. With no option we decided to share the H1R the following day. I won the F500 race again and Hurley started moving good on the H1R to finish the open race. It was cool to see Hurley racing and my wife took the chance to interview him, stay tuned�.. A good weekend, Hurley on the track, two class wins, a podium with Jay Springsteen and wetting down the famous Moo.
A whole one week later the next AHRMA event was at Pahrump near Las Vegas. The bike continued to run great and I took four wins beating every bike on the track. �.. �.Rising, rising (more Doors). In the championship I now had a clear lead with 7300 points and had won 10 of my last 11 races. Championship fever was taking hold and I now need to work out how to attend some more events for a chance at the national #1 plate. After one event on the East coast, the next 3 events were in the mid-west over June, July and August. I made arrangements to ship the H1R back and for it to be moved between each event, it is good to have friends across the country.
But before those events I was out on the H2R two more times at with the AFM at Thunderhill. An uneventful first weekend gave me a class win in Vintage and a 3rd in Super Dino, beating my previous best lap time by 1.6 seconds, despite mucho front end patter. At the second weekend after some front fork tuning, stiffer springs and damping, I took another 1.7 seconds off my best lap time. After an easy win in the vintage race I gridded next to an 85 GSXR 750 in the Super Dino. For once I nailed the start and was first into corner one, I held the lead for 3 laps then the GSXR came by in turn 2, he was slowed by a back marker and I took both of then on the outside in turns 5 and 6 (interesting moves). I held the lead again until the last but one lap, when he came by again. As we went down the finish straight, starting the last lap, I was pleased to see we had very similar hp and he was not gaining ground here. At turn 8 I out-braked him into a fast left, but he came by me on braking into the last corner. I was right on his tail as we entered the final straight, my head was down, everything tucked in, 30 yards before the line I pulled out of his slip stream and crossed the line a wheel length behind. Close and lots of fun but not quite there. On the upside, I now had a clear lead in the AFM vintage championship and 2nd in Super Dino.
Year 2003 The BIG Year - Part 3
On to the final installment for the year. As you may recall from my previous postings, 1973 had been the big year for Kawasaki triple road-racing. Now 30 years later, this was getting close to be my big year. I had a significant lead in the point championships for both the national AHRMA and my local AFM classes. I made arrangements to attend enough races to clinch each class (provided I continued to win).
The next AHRMA outing was Grattan in Michigan, a very technical course with many blind corners. I arrived late Friday and took a quick 4 lap ride around the track. Of the 12 corners of the track, 5 were blind (you cannot see the apex points as you entered the corner). Tricky. On Saturday I had two practices getting better but not feeling confident. These types of track favor a lot of practice, although it did have a � mile straight that favored the H1R h.p. For the Formula 500 race 12 bikes gridded and the flag went green. After an OK launch, 4 bikes came by, however, with a long run to the first corner, I passed them to take the lead.
I pushed hard on the first lap and opened up a lead of 20 yards, then increased this to take the win. I guess I had learnt enough in practice. Even better, two other Kawasaki riders were in the first 6. For Formula Vintage against the 4-stroke 750�s, an even worse start put me at the back of the field entering the braking point for the first corner (well their braking point). I late braked down the inside and moved into 3rd, one bike dropped out and I finished 2nd. On Sunday I was able to repeat these results. Two more wins towards the championship wins in the bag.
Four weeks later I was at Mid-Ohio for a very bitter-sweet weekend. Let�s get the bad stuff over with quick. I was joined by the same two Kawasaki riders that attended Grattan, one left early as his brother was killed in practice and the other was taken to hospital with concussion after a crash in a race, bummer! On to the better stuff, Rick managed to coordinate a trip to pick up some bikes with the racing and showed up at the track, putting stickers all over my H1R. The track was very technical and the surface had a mixture of tarmac, cement and (it felt like) loose gravel, in each of the tough corners. A few gremlins allowed minimal practice on Friday. On Saturday my spirits were not high, virtually no practice and one of the fastest guys had turned up and this was his home track. At least I kind of knew where the track went and how to avoid the gravelly parts. As usual I made a crummy start (although in an alcoholic haze later in the weekend, I think I worked the problem out) I entered the first corner in 7th. I took two guys on the entrance to the Keyhole and then blasted two more on the back straight (the bike was running great).The leaders including, Mr. Fast, were just ahead of me. I quickly closed in and took 2nd, and there I was lapping just behind and gaining on Mr. Fast. On lap 3 (of 6), we came into a corner and a back-marker was just in front of us, he backed off and I snuck in front of him. He followed me for two laps until the final lap. We headed down the back straight, he slipstreamed me and came by, but hit the brakes early and I re-passed him. On the 3rd from last corner he got better drive and came by again, only to run wide on the exit of the next corner, and I slipped under him. The last corner onto the finish straight is slow, I made sure I got good drive and won the race. F**king excellent! Rick even kissed me, or was that Lorraine my wife, or perhaps both. Mr. Fast came around with a beer and we chatted about the race and I got slowly drunk. On Sunday after getting stuck in traffic I finished 2nd. Great racing and getting very close to the #1 plate.
Next up, four weeks later was Putnam in Indiana. If things went right I could clinch the national championship. It was hot and in practice the H1R was running like a dog, but the course was great, lots of flowing high-speed corners. Typically I go well at this kind of track. Race 1, the bike bogged down so much on the start, it took me 3 �clutch in�s� to get the bike going and so I was last into the first corner. Having got up to speed I started charging through the pack getting into 3rd by the end of the 1st lap. On the drag down the long straight, I took 2nd behind another H1 and this was his home track. On lap 2 I took him entering a corner and put my head down. On lap 3 he came back by me! Excellent, two green Kawasaki H1�s battling for the lead. I could close him down on the corners, but my bike was running so bad (and his good), he just stretched out his lead on acceleration and on the straight. As we went down the start finish straight we came up to a back-marker, he dived underneath him, making him twitch and wobble and I took him on the outside, the guy must have shit himself. Later that lap I passed him again. On the following lap, we came across another back-marker, I squeezed through, he didn�t and I broke the tow, and finished with a win. On Sunday, despite another awful start, I took the lead on the first lap and held on to it until the finish. Two more class wins, and (wait for it) enough points to win the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.
This was certainly becoming the BIG year. This was the first national vintage championship won by a Kawasaki 2-stroke (every other year Yamahas had dominated). Some of the faster guys had not turned up for every event, but I had won 11 out of 14 starts at 8 different tracks. Seven of these tracks were new to me, so each weekend I had to learn the track and be quick enough to beat the local riders. The bike had run without any mechanical failures and only minimal maintenance between races, despite being revved to 10.5-11k on every shift (THANK YOU NEVILLE LUSH). Chuffed, I am f**king ecstatic. (Show me the way to the next whisky bar, don�t ask me why�) Here is where the lucky rituals come in, name the race team for good karma and use same shirts for every event, my AFM shirt on Saturdays and my Sponge Bob Square Pants shirt on Sunday (I now have a big teenage girl fan club, if I stay out of prison this is a good thing!) (Show me the way to the next little girl, don�t ask me why�) Gotta love them Doors.
But the season is not over, still working on the west coast, AFM championship. My next event was at Buttonwillow. I prepped the H2R trying out some Dunlop tires. I really only needed to take it easy and get the points in my Vintage race, but ended up in a great race and a win (my first) in the Super Dino event. On the starting line and gridded against an 84 FZR1000, an 85 GSXR 750 and a 73 Z1 with modern suspension, I was ready to watch the action. I did not need this race. The flag went down and it was a drag race into the first corner, they jump 10 bikes lengths in the lead. As I got the H2R wound up, up went my front wheel and I flew off after them on one wheel. We entered the first corner together FZR, GSXR, Z1 then me at the back. After the first two laps the front two guys had swapped back and forth a few times but we were all still locked together. I was pushing but felt very comfortable. On lap 3 the GSXR pulled over with a mechanical problem. Later in the lap under a yellow flag (no passing) the three of us came on a back marker, the FZR went straight by and we held positions, he was black flagged for this move. So it was down to me and the Z1 After making a pass I put my head down for a lap then took a glance over my shoulder, no Z1, he had run off the track and I had the race. Still on a high I took an easy win in the Vintage race lapping the 3rd place finisher.
Now the gremlins started to strike. A few weeks later I traveled down to Lost Wages to race. In practice the H2R was misfiring badly, I swapped the plugs and tried all sorts of things. In the first race, Super Dino, the misfire turned into the bike only running on two cylinders, I came in. An inlet manifold had come off. I bolted it back on and won my Vintage race and took enough points for the AFM championship.
A week later I headed to the Barber track in Alabama for the final AHRMA round. This track was built in the last 5 years by a motorcycle nut, Mr. Barber. The track is fantastic, the best track I have ever raced. Last year�s national champ was attending on his RD400. I blew him away, looking at the video I was lapping 3 seconds a lap faster. On day two while leading the race the engine suddenly went dead, I coasted into the pits and found the rotor on the ignition had come off and torn apart the stator. Racing over. For the final race of the year at Sears Point, after winning my Vintage race, the bolts holding the rear sprocket came loose and I missed the Super Dino race and my chance for a 2nd place in that championship.
When you make a statement like this is the BIG year at the beginning of the year, it can go two ways, a BIG failure, or a BIG success. This one was a big success. In 22 class starts, I won 18, got one 2nd, one 3rd, one 4th (Daytona) and one DNF. I also got five other wins in my step up classes and just one DNF. Cool, 25 wins and two class championships, a great year.
So, what�s the plan for next year? The H2R won�t be changed much, I may fit a rear hub with a crush drive to prevent the sprocket bolts shearing. This makes a big change from last year, where I was swapping frames and suspension all the time. A few more changes are planned for the H1R. It needs to lose some weight; my goal is 20lbs from a 320 lb bike. This will be a challenge. I also plan to lose a similar amount in an attempt to equalize the acceleration differences with the fast Yams at Daytona. I need a fatter torque curve or/and make the power lower in the rev range, which I hope to achieve through some new pipes. Racing wise I am not sure if I can make as many national events next year as the schedule requires a lot of travel. I would like to attend a couple of overseas events, perhaps in Europe or Australia. But it�s going to be tough to beat this year where the triples ruled in the US.
Year 2004 Carrying The #1 Plate - Part 1
The winter rebuilds (this year) where pretty straightforward. The H2R got a general check up and a powder coated frame and the H1R got some new pipes and went on a weight loss program. When a bike weighs 300-ish lbs, taking off weight is not easy. I focused on the wheels and brakes, going down to a single disk and caliper on the front and trimming surplus engineering from the rear hub and backing-plate and lots of minor savings here and there. All in all I trimmed the weight down 20+ lbs, to a race weight of 280 lbs. In the scheme of weight vs. power, 7 lbs equals 1 horsepower, with the bike and my weight savings this equates to 5 hp.
On the power side of things, I received the new pipes, designed by Neville Lush and fabricated by Tomcat. These pipes were designed to give a broader spread of power. Even with the close ratio gearbox the bike would still drop out of the power band at Daytona. Putting the bike on the dyno and resolving a few glitches, like a slipping clutch, with the standard H1R, pipes, the bike ran 79 h.p. @ 10,000 rpm and the new pipes gave 77 hp at 9,250 rpm. However the usable power band had increased from a little over 1,000 to 2,000 rpm and engine reliability should be improved through a lower peak rpm. Huge! Now I was ready for Daytona.
The �warm up� for Daytona is Jennings. Some �warm-up�. It was freezing, 40 degrees and then some wind-chill. After putting on all of the clothes Lorraine and I had, we were still cold and needed to buy some extra insulation. It rained for practice on Wednesday; I put in a couple of sessions to see how the single disk worked and how the power from the pipes felt. On race day it was cold and the rain was still coming down. Out for my race I launched off the line, a great start but as I went into the first corner I had no clutch, I fished around mid corner and found some drive only to have the clutch slip down the back straight, I still had enough speed to pass a number of racers. I was second as we went into a tight zigzag section and then I was on the floor low-siding on the cold wet track. Fortunately there was only minor damage to the bike but my foot was hurting like mad. I stripped the clutch to remove the dirt and then gridded for my step up event. I took a 3rd with a similar clutch problem. I hobbled around on a foot that was getting worse and back at the hotel I took off my sock and found some interesting colored toes, I suspected a broken foot. Back to the track for the WERA event on Friday, it was dry but still freezing cold. I took another 3rd in my step up event. In the Formula 500 event, I wanted to shake off the crash gremlins and make a point; from a slow start (to nurse the clutch) I pushed really hard found my rhythm and took the win by about 30 seconds. Back on form. The bike was flying out of corners with the combination of the light weight and extra go power, and the single disk, although requiring a little more squeeze was providing enough stop power.
We had quite a team green going at Jennings with Mark and Jim on their street bike based racers and another guy on a stock H1E in the production class. It was also good to see and chat to Thad and Rick.
Onto Daytona and the sun was out. I took the bike out for practice and it was pulling like a champ, no hesitation pulling out of corners and onto the banking, and revving between 9,500 and 10,000 on the straights depending on wind direction. A crap start for F-500 left me mid pack, I went onto the banking in 4th and took 3rd at the chicane and that�s how it ended. The fast guys were gone and I drove around by myself. For the step up F-Vintage, I was gridded with Super Dave Rosno on a H1 street bike based racer borrowed from my fellow team green racer Jeff Moyer. I launched hard this time and made it to first corner in a good position, but had no clutch, every time I wound on the power in the first lap it slipped, as did my position in the field. Finally it stuck and I was able to pull back a few positions, Super Dave was gone and I was alone again for a 3rd place. A sucky day! I drowned my sorrows and formulated a plan for the next day.
I stripped down the clutch and found the clutch basket had partially separated from the input cogs causing the clutch to hang up and not stick. I found a welder at the track to make a repair. It took me the whole morning to make the fix, so I was fresh for the F-500 race in the afternoon. I launched hard and made it to the first corner in 2nd. By turn 3 I was first and put my head down, trying to be the smallest person I could squeezing behind the fairing. I was flying and had a 20-yard lead on the first lap. Up on the banking again and one of the fast Yam�s slipstreamed by me, I followed him into the chicane planning to return the favor, right on his arse at about 90 mph he missed a gear, I had no where to go so I rode through the dirt and over the last cone marking the apex, I lost his draft and never got it back. Two laps later the 2nd fast Yam came by me and I lost his drag, I settle in for 3rd when on the last lap one the fast guys went down braking for turn 1 and I cruised in for a 2nd place.
In F-Vintage, I gridded with Super Dave. Dave and I both made good starts, him in front and me on his back wheel. We went onto the banking and I settled into his slipstream, pulling out and past just before the chicane. Dave was right behind me as we went around the track, through the infield and onto the banking again, this time he used the slipstream to go by before the chicane; I followed behind him as we went back on the banking and retook the lead just before the start-finish line. We lapped in tandem for the next 3 laps although I slowly eked out a small lead. After taking the checkered flag we rode over for the post race interviews, they were chatting to some other guys and then the post-race interview guys came to me, �Dave Crussell, congratulations on your win� the guy said, �What?� I replied in total shock, yep the one guy that was in front of Dave and I (none other than Jay Springstein) had dropped out and Dave and I had been racing for the lead. Wow, I had won my first race at Daytona
So I got a Daytona win, not the F-500 that I was aiming for but a win. The bike is hugely improved from last year, it accelerates much harder and the lighter weight has improved the handling. Special thanks to Nev for the engine setup and pipe specs and to Tomcat for his fabrication work. The pipes are a pure work of art and I lost count of the number of compliments I received on the pipes over the week. Also big thanks to Leo and Nev for the guidance on weight saving ideas for the bike. Rick, your idea of 10 pints of Boddingtons and a curry the night before the race was no use, I couldn�t find either in Daytona.
At every other track this bike is a going to be much more competitive. Racing so closely with the front-runners at Daytona has certainly shown a lot on where I need to improve. Last year as soon as we hit the banking they took off, not this year. This year the acceleration was very close, however, hey had the edge on speed on the banking. As another comparison a street bike based H1 also had very comparable top speed. We similar combined rider and bike weights; my 80-ish hp compared with his 60 ish should have made a bigger speed difference. The one factor to consider, which will be the area to work on, is aerodynamics. As I talked with the fast Yam guys they had done substantial development in this area and Jeff�s H1 has a nice smooth profile thanks to a full H2R fairing, so this is where I need to focus for Daytona next year. For the rest of the tracks this year, I am ready to fly the green flag.
Year 2004 Carrying The #1 Plate - Part 2
My first west coast event was Buttonwillow. The H2R, without too many changes, was ready to go and just for fun I planned to race a 96 ZX6R. The ZX6 is actually a quite an interesting bike, an ex Muzzy Team Kawasaki bike, that I purchased on e-bay last year. On Saturday I practiced on the ZX6. These modern bikes are strange; they have suspension, a rigid frame and brakes. After getting a few glitches out of the bike, I was starting to build up speed moving my braking points later and later into the corners. At the end of the day I was still 2 seconds a lap slower than my best times on the H2R.
On Sunday I took the H2R out, and man, you have to race a modern bike to fully realize how basic a 30 year old race bike is. I was bouncing around in corners and where did the brakes go? My first race was Vintage. I got comfortable with the H2R and took an easy win, lapping 4 seconds slower than my 2003 pace with no close competition. Towards the end of the race the bike fouled a plug and went down to 2 cylinders. Next up was the 600 Superbike race. Now this was a little different as the grid contained 50 bikes all starting in a single wave and I was at the back, the green flag came out, I got a good start, but there was no where to go with a solid wall of bikes in front of me. One guy went down in corner one and took out 4 others and the race was stopped. We went back to grid and my bike started overheating and leaking coolant, they threw me out of the race. I went back to the pits and started to get the H2R ready, but no spare plugs. I screwed up packing the spares and was screwed, so off we went home.
After getting rained out at Sears Point, my next event was Sandia in New Mexico on the H1R. This is a small track and with the extra acceleration from the H1R I was hoping to push some of the 750�s. After a few laps of practice on Saturday I was ready for the 500cc race. The green flag waved, I took off like a banshee and was first into corner 1. On lap 2 coming out of turn 2 I saw a wheel to my left from a local guy on an RD. Into 3 he broke first. For the rest of the race, I could hear/feel him close behind but I landed the win. We were waived to the winner circle, where the fans were still going crazy, he had been really close. Last year I had 3 second a lap on this guy. This year he had gotten much quicker.
My 2nd race was Formula Vintage against the fast guys on the 750 4 strokes, including Jay Springsteen. Green flag, oh my ***king god, I was into turn 1 first again, I pushed hard and at lap 3 I was still leading, although I could hear the big Harley XR750 on my tail. Springer tried a pass on the outside going into 3 but could not get by. Next lap, he passed on the outside into 1, but I got him back on the inside out of 2. Double, oh my ***king god, I was racing for the lead with a legend, who is still competitive at the professional level. Then he got by me. One lap from the end, I made a mistake and two other guys came by and I finished 4th, however, I was still pumped by my initial sprint and dice with the Springer.
After the race John Ayler and I went over to Jay. I leaned over and sniffed his shirt, he looked confused and asked �what?�, I replied �I was just seeing if I could smell my 2-stroke on you�. He cracked up. He then went on, �what�s wrong with the suspension on your bike; it�s OK when you are on the gas, but when you�re not, I could see air under both of your wheels as they were chattering so hard, that�s scary�. This is a guy that has raced flat track professionally for 25 years. I wasn�t quite sure if he thought my balls were big and this was a compliment, or perhaps he was just telling me I was stupid. My wife said he was right on both counts.
On to Sunday, no practice and straight out for the 500 race. Hole-shot, again, I got quicker and won without too much fuss. On to F-Vintage, I was not going to let this one go so quickly. From the start, a hole-shot yet again, man the pipes and weight reduction make a difference. On lap 5 (of 8) I am still in the lead, with big 4-strokes noise all over my ass and Springer comes by. I am determined to hold on, on the last lap after trying every corner to take me, a Triumph 730 triple, literally bangs into the side of me at the hairpin, screw him, I lean on him (elbows, legs and some steering) as I aim for the next apex, he backs off. I miss the corner and he gets better drive and passes me into 5, but to pass me, goes too deep and I take him on the exit. In the process the Guzzi behind us crashes out. I hold on and take 2nd place. Wow, and this was meant to be the fun, no need to do well, race. But that�s racing! I posted some 57�s, a whole 2 seconds improvement from last year and the video was great too.
Next race weekend was an AFM event at Sears, a weekend of ups and downs, which started a run of downs. First race was on the H2R in it�s step up class, Super Dino, an OK start put me 3rd into the first corner, the bike was running poorly, running on 2 and occasionally 3 cylinders, I cycled around and got a 3rd. I checked all of the ignition connections and removed the air filters as the plugs looked a little dark.
Next race was 600 Superbike on the ZX6R, at the back of a 60 bike grid, off we went, I went around the outside of a flock of riders in turn 1 then joined the queue for turn 2. Over the next 7 laps I moved up to about 25th, taking 2-3 riders per lap. On the last lap, I had � of a bike on another guy and went on the outside of turn 1. I felt a bump on my rear as he hit me, I lent further into the corner, hoping he would break off, he hit me hard again and I stood the bike up and started braking hard, heading for the side of a bridge, as I went up the banking still hard on the brakes, I hit a hole and was pitched off the bike and did a face plant into the bank. Moments later Mateys bike goes flying by me into the bridge. Seeing stars I pulled off my helmet and spat out the dirt, �OK?� asked the corner worker, �Sure, is the race over? I�m in the next race.� I reply.
A few minutes later he gives me a wave and I�m off, running back down the track and into the pits to get the H2R for the Vintage race, trying to shake the dirt from my visor.
I make the grid, the green flag comes out I am first into turn 1 and take the win without too much pressure. The H2R runs great and I suspect the filters being clogged was the problem. I pick-up my lap times, I was still faster on the H2R doing 1.46�s and the ZX6 at 1.47�s. I pick-up the ZX6R, it looks horrible but its not too bad, nothing that some 2x4�s to untwist the rear subframe and a big fiber-glass kit won�t fix. I had a ton of bruises, however, nothing hurt too much. This was now my 2nd crash of the year.
The following weekend was AHRMA at Willow Springs. I took down a Bighorn racer and another H1R for Hurley Wilvert to ride. Out for the first practice on Saturday, the Bighorn seizes it gearbox, OK that one is done for the weekend. During the day the spare H1R ridden by Hurley seizes twice and it is also out for the weekend. I am leading the F500 race and on the last lap I ran out of fuel and then coast over the line for a 2nd. In F-Vintage I have a good race with a Triumph triple and take a 2nd (the only good news of the day).
On Sunday I share my H1R with Hurley, he practices on it in the morning, I race F500 and get a win and he races F-Vintage and looks pretty darn good toward the end of the race. So 1835 championship points and two busted bikes, or 3 busted bikes in 2 weekends, I need to get busy.
So now I have 3 of my 5 race ready bikes broken. The next weekend does not help. I take the H2R out to Thunderhill with new air filters. As I practice the bike is running great, just charging down the straights. Then 5 laps into the practice, it seizes. The middle and left plugs look great the left is white and the piston has been eaten away. I pack up and go home, now with 4 of 5 bikes �down�.
The following weekend, the fourth racing weekend in a row, I am racing the H1R in Michigan for the next AHMRA round. The weekend started with a continuation of my bad luck. First lap of the F-500 event and the bike loses power, I pull into the pits and a fuel line has come off the carb and I am out of the race. Later in the afternoon, I take a 3rd in F-Vintage behind two Harleys. To say I am not a happy guy is an understatement. The next morning I am ready to race. I am further motivated by the fact that the trophies have my picture on them.
The green flag comes out for F-500, I am 3rd into the first corner behind another H1 and a young kid on an RD350. The Kid sneaks by the other H1 mid way through the first lap and I take him 2 corners before the end of the lap. I get a good drive onto the straight and slipstream the RD, just popping out before turn 1 and overtaking him. But he drives around the outside of my mid corner. I follow him for the rest of lap. At lap 3 I get a good drive onto the straight and come back by him 2/3 of the way down the straight. He tries the outside move again on turn 1 and we run through 1, 2 and into turn 3 side by side. I have the inside line and he falls in behind me. For the next 2 laps he is all over me, showing a wheel on many corners, I am sliding the H1R around, making sure I hold the lead in the tight sections of the track and taking ground wherever I can. On lap 5 of 6, we start to lap some back markers, (for me) we hit them just right, I take one into an S section and a second between corners without losing momentum. I get a gap and take the win. My hardest race of the year, and a nice 1st place trophy with my picture on it.
The next few weeks and weekends are spent repairing all the broken bikes. A new set of pistons and Kroeber for the spare H1R. A gearbox rebuild and a new top end for the Big Horn. On checking through the bike, I also found a broken clutch hub that needed re-riveting and I ordered some small 30ish tooth rear sprockets to help the gearing. After checking everything on the H2R I finally found an air leak around the inlet manifold and fitted a new top end on the H2R. I had definitely got the most out of the old one using the same bore for 6 seasons. In the meantime my H1R sat in the Mid-west waiting for the next event, Mid-Ohio.
2004 � Carrying the #1 Plate - Part 3
The trip from California to Ohio takes you through the mid-west of the US. In the summer the mid-west has some interesting weather patterns. Lorraine and I get to San Jose airport at 10am for our 11am flight. At 1pm, after sitting on the runway for 2 hours, we go back to the gate as Chicago is having some big storms. At 4pm we finally leave, however, there are no connections scheduled to Ohio that night. At 10pm we arrive in Chicago, to our surprise the last flight to Ohio has been delayed and we leave at 11:30 pm arriving at 2am in the morning. The rental car place is shut so we book into a hotel at the airport. �Wake up call?,� the receptionist asks. Yeah 5:45am. Should have paid for the room by the hour.
We get to the track at 7:30 very tired. I took the bike out for the practice in the rain and it is running like a dog. It dried a little for the first race, the bike is running really badly and I finish 5th, ugly! For the Formula Vintage race it�s pouring again and the bike barely runs after the first lap, I pull in.
The following morning I lean out the jetting and go out for practice, it feels a little better, but not that good. I struggle and get a 3rd. For F-Vintage, at the first corner one of the carbs sticks open and I am out again. Where has the good karma gone this year?
One weekend later we are out for an AFM event at Sears. The H2R has a new top end and I take the Bighorn out for a shake down run. Practice 1 on Saturday, I take the Bighorn out, its running rich (as planned) and I come in to lean down the mixture. Out I go on the H2R, after two laps it seizes, a gentle seize on the rh cylinder, ugh. Practice 2, I take out the Bighorn and it starts loosing gears. I clean up the cylinder and piston on the H2R, out again in Practice session 3, it seizes again on the lh cylinder. Off to home we go, coming back on Sunday with the H1R.
During practice on Sunday the H1R is running, but it�s still sick. As my first race comes up I try to start the bike, no luck, it will not fire. I go through the ignition and everything I can think of, we eventually start the bike on a set of rollers. As the second race comes up, I head towards the rollers, it starts then stalls and will not start again, game over!
One week later again and it�s my local national (AHRMA) event at Thunderhill. During the week, I am frantically getting the bikes ready, my H1R, a spare H1R for a friend to ride and the Bighorn for my wife Lorraine. As I check out the top end of my H1R, I discover a locating pin is missing from one piston, this has caused the ring to move and the cylinder to have a big groove down the bore, giving virtually zero compression on the rh cylinder. Given the time frame the best I can do is get a new pin put in the cylinder and smooth out the rough edges of the groove in the bore. I just hope it will make it the weekend.
On Saturday in practice, things get bad. My spare H1R is rattling like a bag of nails, the seizures that Hurley had at Willow Springs have taken a big toll on the bores. Coupled with lots of neutrals in the gearbox, this sidelines the bike for the weekend. Lorraine took the Bighorn out getting used to the bike, only to crash in a tricky corner, breaking her collar bone. Don�t worry the bike was OK. My H1R is running, down on power but still running.
Race 1, Formula 500, and I need some good points. A terrible start, the bike is really running poorly and I am last into the first corner. By the end of the first lap I have the lead, but on lap 3 a red flag stopped the race. On the restart I struggle again, last into the first corner, but I got through the field again and take a win. Later in the day, against the 750 4-strokes, I have a similar start, and I get through the first lap in 4th. Slowly work my way to 2nd in the next 7 laps. If it had gone another 10 laps I may have challenged for 1st, if the bike had lasted!
On day 2, I started F-500, a repeat of Saturday, last into the first corner, 1st after the first lap, however, on the last lap the bike lost power and the 2nd place guy rode by me. Oh well :). On the upside I had a very sick bike going into the weekend and managed to get a 1st and a 2nd in my class, great championship points.
I dropped the H1R off at a friends for its ride to Colorado for the racing the following weekend. Arriving in Colorado the bike was very sick during practice on Saturday, but being a very small event, only two of us had entered the race in my class, I just needed to circulate to get the points. Keeping the practice time down to a minimum I started the race, on the first lap, it seized mid corner and nearly threw me off. I grabbed the clutch and then gently eased it out again the bike fired and I completed the one lap needed to get points. I pulled the bike apart finding a big mess on the center cylinder and the bike was out for the weekend. This is where it�s good to have friends. I had 4 offers of a bike to ride on Sunday. I chose a Can-Am 250 which was fun to ride and gave me some more valuable championship points. In fact enough points to clinch the national championship again! Not quite the dominating racing from 2003 but a championship is still a championship.
Two weeks later was another outing on the H2R. Another new top end was fitted on the Friday before the race event on Sunday. After getting the bike together late of Friday night, I waited until Saturday to start it. It ran great, on 2 cylinders, the middle refusing to fire. I worked on the bike for 9 hours on Saturday, before giving up and canceling our hotel at the track, then 3 hours on Sunday and a further 6 hours on the Monday a national holiday. Along the way, I found, poor wiring between the stator on the ignition boxes, totally rewired this area, a broken HT lead, put new HT leads on the coils, a leak between the middle crankcase and the gearbox, pulled the engine apart and resealed the crankcase halves and lastly a needle that had become unseated in the middle carb. Finally on Tuesday night it fired on all three. After 18 hours of work and another missed race I was still waiting for my first successful race on the H2R this season.
The next race event was a fun outing (no championship points) in Reno. The H2R was ready to go and the Bighorn, fixed after its last event ready to go again. On Saturday I took the H2R out, it ran great, on the first lap of the race I had a 5 second lead and won easily, too easily, this is no fun. On the upside we shared the event with some vintage car racing as well as a bunch of Nascars and I posted the fasted time on the track.
On Sunday, I thought I would focus on racing the Bighorn. First practice, I started to get the feel for the bike, it was running a little rich, but as the laps progressed I started to get faster. A smaller bike really encourages you to hold corner speed! Up for the race I started on pole position, having no 1st gear, the 2nd gear start put me 8th into corner 1, over the next 7 laps I moved up to 4th, finishing a wheel behind the 3rd place guy. Much more fun.
One week later I took the H2R out for an AFM event. With a new top end and some seasonally cool weather, the bike was pulling hard. In Super Dino I took a 3rd behind two 85 GSXR 750�s and had a great time pulling huge 2nd gear wheelies past the grandstands. In Vintage, the bike went down to 2 cylinders again and I was out of the race.
The final serious race event of the year was the national event at the Barber track in Alabama, one of the best circuits in the US. The 500 championship was wrapped up, but the Formula Vintage still open. I also took the Bighorn for some fun.
At the Friday practice, I immediately started putting in some fast laps. The H1R was running great and the Bighorn had �enough� gears. However, the vibration on the Bighorn continued to cause exhaust problems, the muffler broke off and the header cracked.
On Saturday, I lined up in F500 against a very strong field. We went into the first corner 4 bikes wide, I came out in 3rd in a tight group of 6 riders. We had started behind a slower class (I have no idea why) and by mid lap we started to pass the slower riders from this class. At the end of the first lap I was 2nd a second behind the leader, as much as I pushed I could not close the gap, but on the upside I was not passed.
The next race up was F250, where I can run the Bighorn, a slow start in 2nd put me at the back of the pack. As I went through the first lap, it refused to shift gear, well with my foot, so I resorted to changing gear with me hand, which was fine. Over the course of the 8 laps I made it up to 3rd place. Not a bad finish for a hand shifting single.
Last race of the day was Formula Vintage against the 750 4 strokes. This was a big race as I still had a chance at this championship. 2nd in the first corner it stayed this way for 4 laps then I lost 2 places to a fast Yam plus Jay Springsteen. Over the next 4 laps, I had a big battle with a 750 Honda which I kept passing on the curve only for him to blow by me on the straights. At the finish he beat me by a wheel.
On Sunday, a detached throttle cable put me out of F500 and somebody had protested my hand-shifting on the Bighorn so no F250 race. It all focused on F-Vintage and I needed a 6th to win the championship. After another big battle with the Honda, I finished 4th and took the 2nd championship for the year.
Over the year, I won 2 national championships winning my class championship, Formula 500, for the second year in a row. However not in the same style as the previous year. Last year from 35 starts I had 25 wins, this year from 25 starts, 12 wins. Reliability had been a big problem.
During the race season, you fix many things on the bike, essentially fixing the things that brake and making minor improvements to the bike. Over the winter the major changes happen. The planned changes to the H2R this winter are minimal, however, the H1R was another matter, a new chassis and engine. The only parts remaining from this years� bikes being the front forks, swinging arm, wheels and brakes. For 2005 I have one goal yet to accomplish, a win at Daytona.
2005 � Experiments - Part 1
The winter rebuilds in preparation for 2005 ranged from the simple to extreme. On the simple side, the H2R got new bigger carbs, out to 41 and a bit mm and its ignition problem was fixed by putting in the correct stainless steel rotor spindle. 4 race weekends screwed up by fitting a regular steel replacement last year. Later in the year, the H2R will get some Tomcat pipes. After 6 years of racing, this is the first power upgrade to the bike.
On the other end of the spectrum, I took the wheels, forks and shocks off my 500 from last year and basically started with them and a pile of parts to make the 2005 race bike. Changes included, C&J chrome molly chassis, H2R style body work, an airbox, 38mm carbies and some trick engine work. Although the engine was not ready for Daytona, so I will use the 2004 engine, hopefully slotting in the new engine for Willow Springs in May.
In the middle was the Bighorn, with new rear shocks and engine work, including a lighter piston and rod and a balanced crank to reduce the vibration and give a little more power.
The plan this year is to attend less of the AHRMA (national) events, as many AFM (west coast) events as possible and make a trip up to Mosport in Canada for their big vintage event. Trying to economize I had reduced my race weekends from the 17 last to 14 this year.
The heavily modified H1R went off to Daytona and I flew in to meet it, as well as meet up with Rick Brett and some other triples folks. First lap out I started to get a little pinging and rolled off the throttle. After a quick pull in and some minor adjustments I did a second lap, same pinging this time it nipped up. I came into the pits and found a holed right piston. After cleaning out the cases (or so I thought) I went to fit the spare piston, it was the wrong size, dang. Thanks to Bill Baxter I had a new piston the next morning. I fitted this to the bike and went out for another lap, half way through the engine started to knock and I pulled in with another busted right hand piston. On strip down it looked like a piece of the original piston remained in the cases and cause the second piston to be trashed. Not a good start to the season.
With no warm up (Daytona) I scheduled a track day to get rid of my riding cob webs. I took my ZX10R out to Thuderhill and Lorriane took the ZX6R. Did I ever mention the 10 is fast, 158 mph on the straight fast. However, its handling left something to be desired, I was 5 seconds a lap slower on the 10 compared to my H2R. Still my webs were blown and I my brain was calibrated to fast with a capital F.
Our next race was at Buttonwillow with the AFM taking out the H2R (with big carbies) and the new improved Bighorn. On practice day the Bighorn was lapping consistently although it was not revving out and the H2R was going well, but by going down to a single disk, it had very limited braking. On race day I took a slow win on the H2R and was happy to get both bikes home without major rework.
Heavy spannering led up to the next event the AHRMA round at Willow Springs. I had to get back to the twin disk set up on the H2R and I had two H1Rs needing cranks and one a new top end. I needed to take the 2nd H1R for Hurley Wilbert to ride. Some long evenings and weekends had me ready. In the process I went back to the old carb setup on my H1R with the option to attach the airbox or run open carbs. Plenty to experiment with.
I hooked up with Hurley and we prepared for a practice day on Friday with races Saturday and Sunday. I was riding the Bighorn and my H1R, Hurley the 2nd H1R. Friday went well, all the bikes continued to run, the Bighorn was slow, always showing a rich mixture, despite leaning it out. My H1R ran great on open carbs and provided a little better mid range when I fitted the airbox. Hurley worked on his suspension and by the end of the day we both felt ready to race.
In practice on Saturday, Hurleys H1R blew big time. He came in on the crash truck and we pulled off the heads, with two pistons at the top of the stroke something bad had happened. The center cylinder had seized and then the piston pin had been ripped out of the piston, although in tact the center rod was toast. We decided to get Hurley on the slightly over-bored 500 (aka H2R), he would then run the races but pull out before the finish so he didn�t effect other racers points and placings.
My first race was on the Bighorn, I circulated for 4 laps then cut my losses and pulled in. I was not going to win anything until I had more power. The general consensus was the pipe was a complete mismatch to the engine tune. Race 2 was F500, I was on the H1R Hurley on the big bike. I got a hole-shot and led from start to finish, getting pushed pretty hard by a hot Honda 400-4. Hurley pulled off in 4th. Later in the day against the 750 4-strokes, I took a 3rd with Hurley right behind me. We pulled the broken H1R down and handed the crank over to a guy for a rebuild. At the end of the day we were pretty wiped out and sunk a few beers before turning in.
Sunday started slow, both Hurley and I did limited practice and I chose not to take the Bighorn out again. For F500, Hurley got the hole-shot and gapped me before nearly missing a corner on lap 6. I passed him and took the win in the class again. Hurley was definitely in the groove, riding the H2R in great style. For the final race Hurley and I exchanged positions a few times on the first couple of laps before he took off after Nixon who was leading the race. He took a 3rd and I finished 4th. Hurley took the 2nd H1R back home with him to complete the rebuild and run some races at his local Albuquerque track. Overall a great weekend, 3 of the 4 bikes still ran, Hurley was riding great and we had a ton of guys from �the day� stop in for visits including, Dave Roper, Ron Pierce, Dave Ray, and Reg Pridmore.
2005 � Experiments - Part 2
On to the next event, an AFM round at Sears Point. I had two plans for the weekend. On Saturday, practice day, I planned some H2R suspension testing, both the H2R and H1R have the same chatter problems on neutral throttle corners, it would be great to work this out. Then for race day I planned to take the H2R out in Super Dino racing against 1986 era �modern� bikes, and the Bighorn in Vintage, it would be slow enough to give me somebody to race with.
As usual the reality did not match the plan. On Saturday, the prime corner for chatter, turn 6, had been repaved and guess what no patter, although I did get to work on the carburetion. On Sunday, a friend busted his A1 race bike so I lent him the Bighorn so I got to ride the H2R all day. Race 1 was Vintage with a large field of 25+ racers, the H2R was the cream, and I took a win lapping up to the 5th place finisher. For Super Dino, a misfire started and I took a 5th.
Next up was another AFM event at Thunderhill, my goal was to eliminate the misfire on the H2R. I swapped the H2 coils for the ones on my H1R and brought along the smaller 38 mm carbs from last year. On Saturday the misfire continued, then at the end of the day after swapping back the smaller carbs I added an extra earth to the coils and shortened the plug gap and the misfire disappeared. Sunday, on went the big carbs and the bike ran like a champ, taking me to 3rd place in Dino and a clear win in Vintage.
Four weeks later I was back to Thunderhill this time with the H2R and Bighorn. Friday afternoon before leaving for the track I was fitting a new pipe on the Bighorney. At the track it was hot, 111 degrees hot. After a few tweaks the 350 was running well, however, the misfire had come back on the H2R and no swapping of coils and grounds would get rid of it. At on Saturday afternoon I left the track in search of a pool to jump in.
Sunday morning with a cooler (and clearer) head. I thought about the previous weekend and remembered that the H2R ignition cover had fallen off about the time the misfire disappeared. So I took it off and it was back on three cylinders again. I came 4th in the Super D race on the H2R then rode the B�Horn in the Vintage open class. After a crap start, I took 1st place on the second lap and the win. My lap times on the BH were just 8 seconds slower than the H2R and I realized how bad the handling on the H2R was in comparison. Looking at the BH after the race I realized I also need more ground clearance!
So the prep for the next race at Sears was quite focused, the BH got a reset pipe and raised footrests for more ground clearance and the H2R a swiss cheese ignition cover and softer rear springs. I did not practice on Saturday, so this left just one short session on each bike before the races on Sunday. Everything felt good in practice and in the races I took my regular 3rd in Super Dino on the H2R and had a great dice in Vintage on the Bighorn against a Honda 750, eventually taking a win in a shortened crash stopped race. Both bikes finished the weekend in one piece with the improvements working. This was lucky, as the next day, Monday, I started my trip out to Toronto to race in the big Canadian event at Mosport.
The trip to Mosport is long, 2,800 miles each way, I started driving on Monday afternoon, drove through Tuesday and all through Wednesday, then with an early start Thursday I arrived at the track in the afternoon and tech�ed the bikes. Friday morning, for practice, it was wet, but I needed the time to relearn the track. First practice session on the H2R, on the second lap, I came out of Mosses, a slow corner before the long back straight, the back slid out big time, then it gripped and I was flipped up in the air to come back down straddling the bike and crushing my nuts, a series of lock to lock slides followed before the bike start to go straight again. I guess it was a little slippery. On the third lap, trying to be careful, I did the same damn thing again. Very slippery and my nuts were not going to make it through the weekend. I returned to the pits and took the Bighorn out, nice and gently.
Fortunately the rain had stopped and the track was drying. Man, Mosport is fast, turn 2 is one of the best corners I have ever raced and turn 4 is close behind. Both are big, off camber, down hill corners you take without braking. On turn 2 you let the bike scrub off speed and turn 4 WFO. These also match up with turns 5/6, Mosses, a double apex corner and turn 9 a reducing radius corner at the end of the 140 mph+ back straight. In case you could not tell, I love the Mosport track, it is outstanding. After the second practice it started to rain again, very, very hard. So we left the track, shortly after, a Tornado warning was issued and it dumped more than 2 inches of rain in 2 hours. I did not realize how close the words Tornado and Toronto look.
On Saturday morning it was dry. Two practices sessions on each bike before the heat races in the afternoon. With the dry track alternating between the bikes I started to get the rhythm of the track. The first heat was Period 2 lightweight on the Bighorn. After a reasonable start, I was 2nd into corner 2. Going into the corner, the throttle was stuck wide open, gentle holding the front brake and going much quicker than before I made it through and was right on the back of the leader riding a Honda twin, I followed him through the first lap and took him going into turn 3, hauling down the back straight I was passed by a very quick Yamaha 250 and started to give chase. Going into every other fast corner, the throttle was sticking, make life very interesting. The leader slipped away and then the Honda guy came back passed me and on the last lap I was passed by a third bike. I was slowing downing trying to deal with the throttle, but I had a front row grid for the final on Sunday.
The next heat race was Period 3 Heavyweight on the H2R, this was my �bump up� class racing with bikes to the early 80�s. Another good start, I was 2nd into the first corner but took the lead going into 3. I checked out and by the end of the race had a 20 second lead. On the last couple of laps I started to get a misfire. I pulled in and found the rotor had come lose and was hitting the stator. I tightened it down for my next heat Period 2 Heavy. The misfire persisted and I took a 3rd. The rest of Saturday was spent fitting a spare stator to the H2R and resealing the inlet tract on the Bighorn.
On Sunday I was ready for the finals. It took the Bighorn out for practice, the �sticking throttle� persisted, now happening in every corner and I parked the bike. First race was P3 heavy, a great start put me first into corner 1, I was ready to checkout again. On lap 2 going down the back straight, to my surprise, two big 4 strokes came flying past, at least 20-30 mph quicker than the H2R. I exchanged positions with the 2nd place guy 3 times before he got away, and I took a 3rd. On the plus side I managed to reduce my lap times from the 1:41 minute laps on Saturday down to a consistent 1:39.
My last race and chance for a win was P2 Heavy. Again I got a flying start holding the lead until the end of the back straight when a fast 750 Honda came by. Over the next 2 laps, we swapped positions at least twice a lap, then the fun began, we started to lap people. This is usually interesting, but at Mosport with the high speeds it�s bloody interesting. At one point I got screwed by a lapper cutting my front wheel in turn 10 and he got me, then the same thing happened to him in turn 2 and I return the favor. We simultaneously passed a guy in turn 1, him on the inside me on the outside, we also jointly passed 3 guys in the dual apex Mosses corner, scary stuff. On the last lap, I tucked into his slipstream going down the back straight, I popped out ready to make a move just before the end of the straight only to find a back marker right in front of me. I came off the gas to avoid him and the race was over, I took a 2nd.
Overall it was a great weekend, the journey was a pain in the ass, literally, the track and racing were absolutely first class. My friend took 3 wins on his Norton Manx and I got to meet the Canuke triples guys and share stories.
2005 � Experiments - Part 3
As I enter my last installment for the year, let�s reestablish where the experiments have gone. The Bighorn is now a viable race bike, as we go into the final stage of the season, despite some glitches the bike can be a winnr! The H1R, took some strides, but as yet to provide itself as a major step forward. The H2R, well I shook out some issues and the suspension changes provided a great step forward. So for the remainder of the season, the plans are, Bighorn, win some races, H1R get the H2R handling benefits, win some races and the H2R, win some races. Single minded, yep!
My next outings were two AHMRA rounds in Colorado and New Mexico with the H1R and Bighorn. I had pre-entered 3 events F250 on the Bighorn, and F500 and F-Vintage on the H1R, with 2 races in each class. First up was F250, on lap 2 I was in a close race with a 250 Cam-am and a RD250, speed wise there was little between the bikes and we were swapping positions on almost every corner, I went for a gear change and the end of the shifter has disappeared, I pulled off. I took an easy win on F500 and then onto Formula Vintage against the 750 4-strokes, with Gary Nixon on a 750 Triumph triple.
Off the line the Triumph took the lead, going into turn 1 he braked first and I jumped ahead, on lap 2 going down the straight he came blasting by. The H1R was running well, but not fully �on song�. I followed him through lap 2, seeing where I was quicker before making an outside move on double apex right hander, just before the hair pin left. He then out baked me into turn 10 on the same lap. This was fun, we changed positions several times, I was quicker on the twisties he would blast me on the straights. On the last lap I was behind him looking for my last move, the bike lost a cylinder and I slowed and finished the lap to take 2nd. Back at the pits, I found the lead had come off the spark plug. I walked over to Nixon to congratulate him, he was standing next to Springsteen, I leant over and sniffed him (you know what comes next), �is that my 2-stroke oil I can smell?�, Springsteen nearly fell over laughing, as I used the same line on him last year, Nixon looked confused.
Onto the second set of races, F250, same battle with the same guys, lap 3 I snapped off a foot peg hitting a curb. The footrests needed to be raised on the Bighorn, it handles so well the lean angles are extreme and things just keep grinding down. On one corner I was able to hit an apex cone with my shoulder, that�s interest I thought as I clipped it. I had made a slight jetting change on the H1R and a baffle I had fitted in the air box was loose so I removed it. For F500, wow, what a difference the bike was flying and I again took the easy win. I took time to focus on my entrance line onto the main straight making sure I got as much drive and speed coming out of this key corner. I was clipping the cones on the inside, the cones on the outside and power sliding the bike through the corner over the bumps in the poor surface. I was ready for the big battle in F-Vintage.
Nixon got the jump again, however, I was right on his tail as we entered the first corner, he hit the brakes, I will still on full power and as we entered the corner and I flew by him. The next 4 laps were backwards and forwards as we swapped positions at least twice a lap. On lap 4 he made a big mistake missing a gear and I opened a small lead, the following lap we approached a back marker at a critical point in the lap, I made a �hair ball� pass and stretched the lead. Head down I rode hard and took the win! Gary is an excellent racer, I can only hope I look and ride as good as him when I am 60+, it was an honor to race hard against such a national hero, and it was damn satisfying to take a win.
With only a short 5 days to live in the satisfaction of the win, the following weekend we were at Sandia for the next AHRMA round. The weekend promised to be a bunch of fun with Hurley on his H1R and Nixon and Springsteen on their 750 Triumph and HD. I arrived at the track on Saturday morning. A very pleasant surprise, two of the fast guys in the Formula 500 class had also turned out for the weekend!
After practice the first race was F250 on the Bighorn, it would not shift even using my hand and I pulled off after a couple of laps and parked the bike for the weekend. The bike needed a gearbox rebuild. Next up was F500, 2nd into the first corner I took the lead by corner 2 and despite being dogged through the race I held on for the win, with Hurley going well and taking 3rd.
Next up was the big race of the day, F-Vintage against Nixon and Springsteen on the 750 4-strokes. Off the line I was 3rd into the first corner, behind Nixon and Bob Hurst (RD400), I took the outside line, went around Bob, pulled level with Nixon on the back straight, then out-braked him into turn 2. I led through the next lap before we ran into the first back marker. Running into, being the right description, hard on the brakes and banked over in a double apex corner, I literally ran into the side of a back marker taking an interesting line through the corner. Fortunately I bounced off and he stayed on, however, I lost the lead to Nixon. Still a little out of shape Springsteen came by on the start finish straight and I was in 3rd. I was able to close right up with them through the next lap and we had a close train across the finish line going into turn 1. I took an inside line, under Springsteen and dove for the apex, moving Nixon out and retook the lead. Over the next 4 laps I kept my head down and took a comfortable win, with Hurley getting a close 4th.
That was too cool. At the awards ceremony at the end of the day, I just listened as they read the results, 4th Wilvert, 3rd Springsteen, 2nd Nixon, and 1st Crussell, I generally shouted and danced around and felt really good about the world :>. We followed with a great meal with Hurley, his wife, Ayler his girlfriend and Lorraine at a Mexican restaurant, with lots of margaritas and beer. Just the right end to the day.
A little sleepy (hung over) I arrived at the track at my usual late time, missing the Sunday practice sessions. I managed to borrow a ride on a CanAm for the F250 race and took a 4th place in front of Dave Roper on an A1R. Not bad since I had only done 1 warm up lap on the bike before the race. F500 came up, I was 3rd into the first corner and through the first lap, took 2nd going into turn 1 with a late braking move and then quickly closed down the leader, by the end of the lap I took the lead and opened up a big gap for the win, I even got to pull a big wheelie for the fans at the end of the race. Even better Hurley took 2nd place right on the line for a Kawasaki 1-2.
For the final race of the weekend, we had another round of F-Vintage. 3rd again into corner 1 behind Nixon and Hurst, we headed down the back straight 3 abreast, I had the inside line for turn 2 and took the lead, I opened a small gap, but by lap 3 I could hear a big 4-stroke all over my back, Springsteen and the HD was on my ass. Through the next 5 laps we exchanged positions at least twice a lap. On the last lap, I led going into the back section and we closed up on a CBX in another wave, he (accidentally) blocked me once, then I rode around the outside of him going into the last corner. Springsteen was able to dive under him and took the win by a wheel length at the line. Hurley had a big battle with Nixon and which he won for a 3rd place finish.
I flew out that evening to go home with the bikes in a trailer going to LA before returning to my home. Disaster struck for the bikes on the way home. The trailer came detached from the truck, went down an embankment and turned over. The bodywork on both bikes was damaged as well as many minor parts like handle bars, foot controls, etc. Unfortunately due to my work travel schedule I was not able to fix the bikes before Barber. So I would focus on the last two West Coast events on the H2R.
First weekend at Sears, the H2R ran like a dog. Every time I opened the throttle I got extreme pinging. I got a slow 5th in Super Dino then a slow win in the Vintage race. On strip down I found the base gaskets were leaking. For the last race of the season at Buttonwillow, I achieved the same results, the bike was running much better, however, after a full season, the tires were shot.
Overall, a mixed set of results for the year, I won the AFM championship on the H2R, got a 3rd in the National AHRMA championship, winning every race I finished and a 2nd in the big race in Canada. The H2R proved troublesome with lots of minor issues, I took a step forward with the H1R, although the suspension still has issues and the Bighorn started to show it�s promise but with many minor issues.
I had some great races over the year and some great wins, I will probably be talking about my win over Nixon, Springsteen and Hurley till I am an old man!
2006 � Extreme - Part 1
2006 was going to be an interesting year; I am going extreme on two bikes, the BH and the H1R, seeing how far I can develop the power/handling of the bikes. And extreme, as I am planning my most intense racing season so far. All this with a new job, blah, blah, blah. After racing everything is just waiting.
Over the winter the H1R went through a quick rebuild, a new swinging arm with taper roller bearings and a bunch of repairs from the trailer crash. It was then shipped off to Neville for the setup of the new top end before the vintage event in Phillip Is at the end of January.
The H2R took a slower route with the same chassis mod then an engine rebuild. The Bighorn got an undercut gearbox and testing of a Tomcat (FAT) pipe. During all this I started the restoration on my S1R prototype and another H2R. I got the S1R engine rebuilt and the H2R to a rolling chassis with the engine fitted.
As usual the H1R got tied up in customs which shorten the time Neville got to work his magic. After a getting a few issues sorted out, the bike was dyno�d at 84.4 hp at 9,200. With a persistent high speed misfire. Last time the bike was tested using the ultra peaky H1RA pipes it had 86 hp, however, at 10,200 rpm. A good increase in torque with a broader power band and no significant loss in top end. Although Nev felt it might be worth shortening the headers to shift the peak power up to the 10k mark and perhaps push 90 hp. I should have just bolted on a Denco Cobra 90 top end J.
I traveled to Melbourne with a friend, Ron and arrived on Monday with practice scheduled for Friday. I stayed with a fellow triple nut and Indian racer, Steve. Steve was great, we checkout his warehouse of bikes and he lent us a couple of bikes to travel back into Melbourne to check out the local hospitality. After a number of un-write able experiences we arrived back home at 1pm. On Wednesday I traveled down to the Island where I met up with another triple nut of the three wheel variety who has brought my bike over from Adelaide and was my host for the weekend in his blue �mystery� school bus, Geoff.
On Thursday I took to the track, re-learning it with a rented Triumph and getting the H1R roughly dialed in. Given the conditions the H1R went up on gearing and down on jetting. On Friday for vintage practice it went back up on jetting and down on gearing. I was entered in two classes Post Classic (1972 cut off) and Forgotten Era (1982). I posted 7th fasted in qualifying for Forgotten Era then it started to rain. After half a lap in the Post Classic qualifying the bike was barely running and I came into the pits.
Saturday started with qualifying and a wet track, the H1R barely ran again in the rain and I ended with a back row start in the Post Classic and the 7th in Forgotten Era stuck. The first races came around lunch time and fortunately the track was dry. In Forgotten era I ran well but the fast guys drove away and I took a lonely 6th place from a field of 25. Next up was the Post Classic racing against Barry Ditchburn, his son Craig, Ginger Molloy, Steve and 15 other guys.
Starting from the back of the grid I got a good start passing people through turn 1 and into the Southern Loop and moved into 5th place. A hairball braking move jumped me 3 places and I took 2nd place going into Honda behind Craig Ditchburn. Heads down I pushed through the remainder of the lap, as I passed the start/finish line, Barry and another rider flew by me. Dang, they had a ton of speed on my bike. I pushed hard on the next lap but could not find a spot to pass. As we entered the start finish straight I tucked in their slipstream, but they pull away again, Double dang.
I closed them down as we went through the Southern Loop and trying another hairball braking move into Honda, this time on the outside, as they were guarding the inside line. With the back wheel well in the air I shot passed both of them, but I was a foot off the apex and ran a little wide and they both came back underneath me. For the next few laps I pushed hard but could not find a way past and finished 4th.
This was, unfortunately, the highlight race of the weekend; I remained a constant 4th in Post Classic and 6th in Forgotten Era. Now off the track was another matter. The stories I could tell�. Well perhaps just one, as I was still on a different time zone, after dinner and a few beers, 10-11pm, I was still wide awake, we were parked in a local camp site in the Mystery Bus, so after my host had gone to sleep, I went �Talkabout�, a slight variation of the normal Australian walk-about. So off I went into the camp ground and just sat myself down at someone�s late night party and joined in. Those Australians are very hospitable, I was never told to �go away�, and got to share every ones beer.
A couple of weeks later, back in the US, we had a Vmoto event at Laguna Seca. In early February, who knew what the weather was going to be. Well fortunately it was the nicest weekend you could image. The track was a little �green� on the first morning practice and I took it easy. The H2R was running great, pulling big wheelies coming onto the main straight. After the second practice, I went out with my buddy Brian for the regularity run. This is an open session where very part time riders take their street bikes around the track. Well it does not preclude race bikes, we has a great time, running at 80-90% giving the street bikes a wide line and finding all the places to overtake and swap positions.
Later in the afternoon, we had our �race�, I started slow, 4th into the first corner, then moved to 2nd behind Brian by the end of the first lap, we swapped positions for a couple of laps then I made a push and lost him in traffic on the last lap. Unfortunately, I had work on Sunday, so that was the fun for the weekend. The handling on the H2R had improved again, the back was a little soft but it had tons of feel, no chatter from the front, but I would like a little less dive under braking. Really just small refinements, I really need to see how it works at some other tracks.
Four long weeks later was the first AFM event at Buttonwillow, I planned to race the H2R in Super Dino and the Bighorn in Vintage. Before the event I tested the Fat pipe from Tomcat. It moved peak hp from 48 to 52 and the torque went from 32 ft/lbs to 40. The practice day on Saturday started wet and it wasn�t until the afternoon we got onto the track. First out the BH ran for a lap and was pulling hard, then it would not shift and as I cruised back to the pits at 8k rpm in 1st/2nd, it seized, dang!
I then took the H2R out, a smaller master cylinder made the brakes must more sensitive and I was mixing it up with the modern sports bikes, then rattle, rattle, bang. It seized, double dang. Back at the pits, I popped the heads, the right piston was toast and the big end had gone too, triple dang. End of race weekend. Less than 10 laps and two busted bikes.
2006 � Extreme - Part 2
OK, so far year, two bikes busted and one with a high speed misfire. Not a good start.
With the upcoming AHRMA event at Willow Springs and a warm up the weekend before with AFM at Sears, I focused on the Bighorny and the H1R freshly back from Australia.
I wanted to get the Horny to the extreme level and then start the cycle of getting the kinks out. On went the big carb, moving from a 36 to a 42mm, giving 30% more area. It took a ton of work to do this, case modifications, extreme welding and machining on the rotary valve cover and lots of changes to the clutch case. But when it was done, wow, it looked totally the business and even started and ran around the hood well. The BH was extreme with the potential for 55 hp + if it all worked together. This also required going back to the standard primary ratio, which meant I need to compensate for this via the drive gearing, so on went a 27 tooth rear sprocket. Also recommended for weight savings!
The H1R got some TLC, the front end was bent, Nev had discovered with after doing some fork mods, and this was fixed. The new top end was complete and the bike was nearly ready to run with 38mm carbs. I made some modifications to improve fuel flow, summarizing this was the high speed misfire problem, but packed a new Krober for the next event, with these mods the H1R should have hp in the high 80�s and I was hopeful for a big step forward in handling. Two extreme bikes ready for the US tour.
I took both bikes out for a shake down event with the AFM. The H1R with a straightened front end and better damping handled just the same, basically crap on constant radius/throttle corners. The Bighorn clutch just slipped and slipped despite adding an extra pair of plates and the biggest springs. I managed a win in Vintage and 5th in Super Dino. On reflection (and discussion with Nev) I figured the geometry was just wrong on the H1R and the BigHorney needed to go back to the modified primary ratio to un-load the clutch which meant going back to the smaller carb. A few minor jobs before Willow Springs AHRMA event one week later. Oh, but one thing, the H1R was hot, great power and no �brick wall� after 10k rpm, it even started to pull some power wheelies even though I had the Willow Springs gearing installed.
Off to Willow Springs, on Friday I got the jetting straight on both bikes, the Bighorn clutch was good and the only mishap was a failed rotary valve seal that I replaced at the track, it�s good to carry spares. On Saturday morning I took one practice session and everything checked out fine. The BH was up for Formula 250 first. Last into the first corner, I led as we went onto the start/finish straight a fast TZ250 blew by me, despite chasing him hard for 7 laps I could not catch him and to compound it I started to have problems shifting again. L Next up was F500, crap start again, I took the lead on the first lap and with my head down started to build up a lead, then the bike stopped. Back at the pits I found a big problem, the crank had snapped at the lh big end pin. That was the end of the weekend.
I fitted a spare crank to the H1R and found the problem on the Horny, the clutch nut had just loosened off. In a killer wrenching weekend, I also fitted the new crank to the H2R. A very long weekend. I delivered the H1R and Horny for their summer camp in the Mid-west for three AHRMA rounds.
The first Mid-west round was at Gingerman, in MI, a new circuit to me. Although the course was quite small it was also very technical and fun. In practice I had a persistent problem with the throttle sticking open on the Horny, the H1R ran great and by the first race I had learned the track. In the first F250, I got a crap start and by the 5th lap the bike started to misfire and I pulled off. F500 was next and I had a better start, although I was no match for a fast RD and came in a distant 2nd. In a hot battle for 2nd place in Formula Vintage, with a Z1, I ultimately prevailed took the second 2nd place of the day.
The next day after I little tweaking the BH was running better, however, still far from right, another a really bad start to the F250 and after the first lap I was the length of the start finish behind the leader, I put my head down and rode like crazy, on the last lap, I took the lead and gave the Horny it�s first national win. The bike handled great, the engine showing promise but still much, much more to come.
Next up was Grattan in Michigan 4 weeks later. I arrived on Friday afternoon and fitted the modified rotary cover to work with the big carb and the revised primary gear. I finished the mods late that night. On Saturday the BH fired straight up and I went out for practice, it was running well, however not shifting well and during the course of the day started to develop an issue where it started to cut out mid way down the straight. After some crazy riding during the F250 race where I overtook guys in all the wrong places, just to have them ride by me on the straight I came in very dejected. The BH was proving so frustrating, the bike had so much potential but I just could not get all of it together.
In the F500, the H1R started well but slowed towards the end of the race and I took a 3rd. On Sunday, the BH got worse and would not shift at all and the H1R slowed more. Oh well beer time.
A week later I was back in the Midwest in Pennsylvania. I re-shimmed the BH clutch and changed the jetting on the H1R, thinking the bike was too rich. Well the changes may have helped, but not enough, on the first practice the BH totally refused to shift and I came in after one lap of practice and parked the bike for the weekend. The H1R seemed a little better, however, it kept losing power over the weekend and in the race on Sunday it dramatically slowed and I came in to find the left and center pistons toasted and chunks of the cylinder platting missing.
The BH needed a gearbox rebuild and the H1R a new top end! The extreme year, was proving extremely challenging.
2006 � Extreme - Part 3
Well it was not getting any better, the body count for the year continued to increase. Two busted cranks on the H1R and one top end, two gearboxes on the Bighorny and a crank and top end on the H2R. Slowly I started getting the bikes back together. The H2R got a new crank from Neville and the BH got another gearbox rebuild with under cut gears, plus a different clutch basket. It turns out the mod to change the primary ratio on the BH is to fit H1 primary and clutch gears and et-voila, a 30% change in the ratio, the difference between a slipping clutch and one that works.
With these two bikes back together I headed to Sears for an AFM event. In the mean time I picked up an A1R basket case to put together to add to the Mojo team. My first practice was on the BH and the shifting problem was the same, after two laps I parked the bike. The H2R ran well and I finished with an easy win in the Vintage event.
At home I pull BH apart one more time with the clutch cover off, I could reproduce the non shifting, between 2nd and 3rd, one time in twenty. I replace the shift arm and also removed the shifter linkage and replaced it with a direct lever. Statically I could not reproduce the issue any further, so fingers crossed. In the mean time, my rebuilt H1R crank arrived and I put that bike back together.
With a direct gear change I headed off for the brand new Miller track in Utah. A super nice track with an extremely good surface. Despite a damp surface I felt right at home and quickly built up speed. The first race was F250, we started behind the Sportsman class (a slower class) and by the first corner the 3 fasted runners in my class were heavily in amongst this wave. Unfortunately I was in third and when you go through such heavy traffic, you lose ground very quickly and I lost touch with the two leaders. However, by lap 3 I had caught up with the leader in the Sportsman. For the next 5 laps we exchanged places. The BH was shifting fine and for the first time I was sliding my knee quite consistently on a left hander before the start finish straight. On the last lap he jump ahead of me with 3 corners to go, I then duck back under him going into the last one. With our head both down, it was a drag race to the finish and I beat him by a wheel. We both near fell off laughing on the cool down lap.
Next up was F500, again cutting through a slower wave in front of us, I took the lead on the first lap and held it to the finish, the H1R pulling well and running hard to 10k rpm. The last race of the day was the fast F-Vintage class, with a collection a fast bikes and riders, my buddy on his XS750 twin, a BSA triple, a CB900 and a Patton 500. Off the start I was in third behind the BSA and the CB. On lap 2 the BSA ran wide on the exit of turn 1 and ran off the track, I was in second, on lap 3, out braking him in turn 4 I took the lead, only to have the Patton come flying by me and leave me in his dust.
On lap 5 the BSA tried to out brake me in turn 1 nearly taking my front end out he ran of the track. Later that lap I saw the remains of the Patton off the track in turn 7 and I was back in the lead again. For the next 3 laps, I could hear a bike all over the back of me, I kept my rhythm (as Rossi would say) and took the win, closely followed by the XS.
On Sunday after one lap the H1R went down to two cylinders and I came in, no amount of swapping wires would solve a dead ignition on the center cylinder. The coil was good, the resistance on the pickup was good, I suspected the box and was parked for the weekend.
The next weekend was Sandia and I took a spare ignition box to fit to the bike. Saturday bright and early I fitted the box, no spark, dang, I was screwed. First race was F250, my starts were getting better and I was in 3rd place and in contention with the two leaders. Hard into turn 1, the front end slid out and I low-sided. I was bruised but no real damage, however, the bike was dead for the weekend with a badly damaged clip-on.
Feeling battered and dejected I sat in the pits when a friend ran over and offered me a ride on his spare Can-am 250 for the F500 race. Sure I said, might as well get back in this for the next race. So, off I went and came a respectable 3rd behind Hurley on his H1R and my friend on his other Cam-am. Hurley was kind enough to lead me his bike for the F-Vintage race and I got an easy 2nd place.
We had a great dinner that night with Hurley, stayed out late and arrived at my normal mid morning time on Sunday. I was set to ride the Can-am again in F500 and Hurley�s H1R in F-Vintage. I still had plenty of motivation in me and was ready to see what I could do on these two borrowed bikes. In F500, Hurley got a great start and just cleared off, I was hanging onto the back of my friends Can-am. On lap 2 I got better drive out of the last corner and pulled along side of him only to be passed back on the outside going into 1. On lap 3 I got good drive from turn 1 and squeezed by him into 2. All over my back wheel he followed me to the checkered flag and I took a 2nd place. The owner of both bikes was ecstatic and enjoyed the battle, I just had this big grin across my face.
Last race of the day was F-Vintage against Saturdays winner on the Honda CB. On lap 1 he pulled a 10 bike lead, by lap 2 I was getting up to speed on the bike and closed down the gap, on lap 3 going into the hairpin I saw a very small gap and block passed him. He got on the power well and we raced into the next corner, on the outside I had � a bikes lead and I just tipped it in front of him, being just a little aggressive. I held the lead to the end and took my first win of the weekend. An even bigger grin was across my face. Two pretty good results on borrowed bikes. Hurley had certainly done a great job setting up his H1R.
After much wrenching, I swapped out the stator on the H1R, still no spark and then out of desperation I fitted another new igg�y box, finally it fired. I took it out for a quick test run and it went down to two again! This time the right hand cylinder stopped. This time I replaced the rh box and the coils and it fired up. I packed all of my ignition spares for the next race at Barber. So heavy, beating also got the BH ready for this last event, Barber.
After a long business trip I arrived, from India, at the track on Friday afternoon. After quickly getting the bikes tech�ed I headed for the hotel to get some sleep. Saturday morning had me flying around the track mostly awake, both bikes were running and handling well. On the 2nd practice session, the H1R seized then rattle, rattle, rattle. A bad noise. Back at the pits, I found the small end pin had been pulled out of the right hand piston and the cylinder and crank were a mess. The H1R was done for the weekend.
I campaigned on with the BH, getting a 3rd in F250 and a 4th behind two Yams and Hurley in F500. I was having a ton of fun going quicker each round but down on HP to the Cam-Ams in F250 and of course the 500�s in F500. On Sunday I took the BH to another 3rd in F250, although very close to nabbing 2nd on the last lap, then a 2nd in F500. The BH was starting to show its promise.
The season ended, I guess the way it has panned out. The H1R was totally unreliable, with 3 crank, 3 top end and 3 ignition failures, I also came 3rd in the championship and the BH, went from bad to promising and I also finished 3rd in the championship. For next year, the BH needed a little more engine power/ride-ability and the H1R, handling problems now solved, just needed to keep running. There is always next year!
2007 � Back to Basics - Part 1
After the Extreme year in 2006, where the bikes went extreme and the reliability went extremely bad, 2007 was going to be focused on getting back the reliability, racing, finishing and hopefully winning. The H1R had taken a good step forward in performance and a great one in handling, thanks to some different offset clamps. The Bighorney still handled like a dream just needed a better pipe for better power delivery. And, the H2R just needed some track time. I also planned to tidy up the bikes over the winter with fresh paint on the H1R and Horney, which were both looking even more tatty than the normal Mojo stable.
With the H1R busted I started with the BH rebuild, frame powder coated, new seat set up and the pipe back to Tomcat for rework and I had Scott, who had ported the bike work on a new pipe as a contingency. My Dad rattle canned a new paint job and the bike came back together quickly and looked sharp. I waited for the rebuilt crank and top end for the H1R and in the mean time, powder coated that frame and cleaned up the running gear. The H2R got rewired, as I had stolen its ignition system mid year for the 500. The bikes came together and I was anxious for the first race at Robling Roads in Georgia, the warm-up for Daytona. Last season had not quite quenched my appetite for racing and I was still very hungry as we went into this new season.
I took my ZX10R street out for a scratching ride to sharpen up my reflex on a canyon road. The reflexes were great until I started my return trip. I got into one corner a little hot, hit some gravel on the outside of the bend and the front washed out. I bounced down the road and the bike went off the edge and into the canyon. As I got up and peered over the bike was down 15 feet in a tree. Lorraine came to pick me up with my young lads and friend and we hauled the bike up. It was shortly written off.
The race bikes went to see the sun in Florida and I arrived ready to race. With Scott�s pipe on I took the BH out for practice, as I got into the power the clutch slipped although I could feather the throttle to keep accelerating. In this state, I was still able to motor past the #1 plate Can-am from last year. I took the H1R out and despite running quite slow to let the engine bed in it was pinging a lot. I upped the main jets and tried again, this time going a little quick, it seized and I came into the pits. The center cylinder had stuck and I suspected a leak at the base gasket. I had a spare piston so the evening was spent with some acid and wire wool.
Next day was race day. I tried AFT on the BH in the hope this would fix the slip. It was out in F250 in the rain. On the warm up lap, the clutch still slipped and I was having trouble changing gear. I tried a start in 2nd, but stalled it, race over. The H1R was then up in F500, I made a good start on the wet track and no pinging, I was flying and had a lead the length of the start finish straight, on the 2nd lap at the end of the straight it dropped to two cylinders, on the 3rd lap the 2nd placed guy passed me and I pulled in. I was later to find yet another Krober box had blown and it was done for the trip.
Onto Daytona, I managed to get some heavy clutch springs for the BH from Thad and fitted these hoping curing the slipping clutch which would fix the shifting problem. Well in practice the slipping was gone and the bike was fast, but it would still not change gear. For the F250 race, with the heavy clutch I stalled it again on the line for the race. Day 2, after some mucking around, I took it out for practice and a new problem appeared a snatching of the transmission on the banking. I came back in, the frame had broken under the engine below the front sprocket, I was double done!
The bikes went off to Scott to fit a new ignition system from Leo and to have the BH repaired before the next AHRMA event at Willow Springs.
In the mean time the first AFM event came up and I took the H2R out for its first outing for the year. In the first practice mucho pinging. This was a problem that had persisted form last year and was not resolved in the winter maintenance. Prepared for this possibility I swapped the carbs back to the over bored 38�s vs. the over, over bored items. The pinging went away and I was able to push the bike hard, the only problem surfacing was the forks bottoming under heavy braking. I won the Vintage race then had a great race with a 89 GSXR 750 in Dino, taking the win by less than a bike length.
Next on the schedule was the BIG West Coast event, AHRMA at Willow Springs. This was going to be special this year as we had arranged to have a 750 2-stroke demonstration event and I had a few guests coming in. Jim Evans planned to ride his 76 KR750, reunited with the bike for the first time in 30 years. And Walt Fulton was going to meet up with his 69 A1RA, again for the first time in 35+ years. Of course Hurley would be there and I also planned to take out my H2R to see how it faired against a TZ750. In prep for the meeting I pulled the KR out of the house, fitted some new tires added gas, oil and water and terrified the local neighborhood with the open pipes. Loud was an understatement. After a short ride my ear were still ringing hour later. I called Jim to tell him to bring ear plugs. Scott was busy with the other bikes and I planned to have a fleet at the event.
I picked Jim up from the airport, we loaded up the trailer and headed down to Willow. We passed the journey away with Jim�s stories about his racing career and his many events at Willow. We arrived at the track early and unloaded and tech�ed the bikes. Fortunately there were no issues and for the first practice Jim headed out on the H2R, after a long period off Jim was a little nervous, but by session 2 or 3 he was starting to get on the pace.
I readied the H1R and BH, first out on the BH, I could not get 5th gear, the shifting persisted, on one lap I found 5th and drove it hard down the straight holding onto the back of a Thruxton at full speed, he broke for corner 1, I carried on another 50 yards before hitting the brakes, downshifting and then the back wheel locked as the bike seized. I coasted back to the pits and jumped on the H1R on the second lap it locked up. The rest of the day was spent watching Jim circulate cleaning out the bores on both bikes and fitting new pistons. In the mean time we started the KR, I rode around the pits, however, the clutch was slipping badly.
On Saturday morning, I took the H1R out, it was down on power, it was just flat. However, I took the H2R out for the first time on this fast track and man was it fun, I clocked a 1:36 lap, the speed into the fast turn 8 and 9 was amazing and I came in buzzing. Jim took a few laps in the historical parade event during lunch and was clearly getting on the pace. The BH was sidelined and my first race was F500, my bike was so slow and I finished 3rd. We tried to start the KR again and it was locked up, I suspected a broken ring in the exhaust port (it turned out to be a bent rod cause by hydro lock with the leaking petrol tap). Oh well, two bikes out of four down and one sick.
On Sunday, Scott and I took another try with the ignition and moved it by about 20 degrees. The bike clearly ran better and was still running. First race was F500 and I had a good race with Hurley and took the win. I warmed up the H2R in a demo race before gridding for the F Vintage. This class puts F500 against F750 and the Superbike Heavy class. The H2R was not quite legal so I planned to pull off before the checked flag.
I got a (purposely) really bad start and went into turn 1 in 8th. By turn 5 I was 3rd and then took 2nd passing a fast BSA 750 triple on the start finish straight. In the lead was a Yoshi GS1000 ridden by the former professional racer and current race instructor. On lap 2 I passed him into 8, before being re-passed between 1 and 2. For the next 5 laps I chased him but could not close the gap, he was fast. Just before the white flag I pulled off, to make sure I placed down the pack and there were no protests.
This had absolutely the hardest and fasted I had ridden the H2R, I had had some huge rear wheel slides coming out of corners and thought I would lose the front end every time going into 3. And turn 8 and 9, were just insane. I love riding the H2R! A great weekend, Jim had a great time, I got to meet a bunch of old racers, including Walt Fulton who signed his A1RA. Mucho fun.
2007 � Back to Basics - Part 2
After some head scratching at Willow on the gear shifting problem on the Horney, the collective brains of Roper and Wilvert, both old hands with the engine, decided the shift claw was vibrating off the drum at high rpm. Yeah, I know it a wild idea, so Scott took the bike, balanced the arm, put some stronger springs in it and I went off to the next AFM race at Sears with the BH and H2R.
Well it worked and the BH shifted like a champ the whole weekend and I won the vintage race on it. The H2R detonated badly during Super Dino and I pulled off to find an inlet manifold had come lose.
A long drive out to Columbus, got all three race bikes ready for the back to back weekends at Mid-O and Mosport. I left the bikes at a friend�s house for their vacation in the Mid-west and flew in just before Mid-O.
Practice was Friday, a storm on Thursday night had soaked the track, however, it was dry by the afternoon. The BH was running strong, the H1R better (than Willow) and the H2R kept oiling plugs. On Saturday my first race was the F250, I was having a great race for first place when I shifted in the Carousel, a big grouching sound followed and I look down and saw the gear level at an odd angle. I pulled over and the bike proceeded to puke its gearbox oil over the side of the track. The chain had jump off, clobbered the shift shaft which had busted the cases. The bike was out for the weekend.
The F500 race was uneventful, an easy 3rd place, no one close behind me and I was way off the pace of the front two guys on RD�s. I started the H2R in Open 2-stroke, but pulled in after a few laps with the bike still running poorly.
I got to party a little with the Triples attendants, Kawasaki and Suzuki, on Saturday night include my old buddy Rick. Sunday turned out to be a repeat of Saturday, BH still dead, 3rd F500, H2R running poorly.
I was staying in OH for the week before Mosport, I had new BH cases mail to my hotel as well as the other parts I needed. I hooked up with my friend Jeff on Thursday morning and we drove up to Toronto, getting to our sleeping hole at 7pm. Well not just sleeping the guy had also offer the use of his shop to repair the BH. We started the moment we arrived and had the engine reassembled at 2am. On Friday morning we assembled the engine in the frame and the bike was running again.
Friday afternoon we got onto the track for practice. I swapped the plug caps on the H2R and both bikes were running well, and I was enjoying the big open Mosport track. Saturday morning saw the heat races, first up was the BH. At the end of the long back straight I dropped down a gear and the bike seized, just like Willow. I pulled straight into the pits. A very mild top end seizure, which thanks to my pit crew, was quickly repaired.
The H2R was next up in the Period 3 class, this was for bikes as young as 1980, I ran well took a 3rd and posted a 1:40 lap time. Period 2 was next, the right class for the H2R, despite a poor start, I took the win. The BH was cleaned up for the finals on Sunday and I had front row starts on both of the 750 classes.
On Sunday the weather stayed, well nothing short of perfect, in the low 80�s, a clear blue sky and no humidity. I started the BH for practice, large plumes of white smoke, it had a leak between the gearbox and the crankcases. After a number of attempts to find the leak and fix it, the bike was parked for the weekend.
The first final was then on the H2R in the P3 race. I was eighth into the first corner and 5th at the end of the back straight. As I went to shift down, no clutch, the clutch nut had come loose. I could still shift but it was hard work. That being said I managed to get a second place and posted a 1:39.
My final race and the final race of the day was P2 Heavy. Sixth into the first corner, I moved into second before the race was stopped by a red flag. On the restart, the same poor start saw me cutting through the field on the first lap and I was third. At the end of lap 2 I had moved into second and started to work on the leader on a fast 750 Honda. Down the back straight on lap 4 I overtook him and managed to hold off his move going into the final corner and I took the win, posting a 1:37.4 lap. This turned out to be the 2nd fastest time over the whole weekend in all classes. Cool. Mosport was a total blast, lots of smaller triples on the tracks and my pit crew of Jeff, John and Roger were outstanding. A long drive that evening got my friend and I back into OH at 4am and I still has a smile on my face!
2007 � Back to Basics - Part 3
Another back to back weekend trip was planned with AHRMA rounds at Miller, near Salt lake City and Sandia in Albuquerque. I loaded up my BH and H1R, a couple of friend�s bikes and my Ducati 1098 for a pit bike and headed east for the two week trip.
On the way out I stopped in at the Bonneville Salt Flats to watch the bike speed trials. I had previously traveled across the flats on I80 heading out to the mid west, but being on them was totally different and unreal. It really seemed like a different planet. The brightness is dazzling, you cannot go without sunglasses. All you can see around you is white flats and then finally, almost over the horizon, the mountains that surround them. And the bikes, a combination of high tech, meets Mad Max wrapped up in a Burning Man. Just radically different approaches to the same problem of going fast, and then there are the streamliners. If you ever get a chance��
When you watch the fast streamliners (only 250mph at this time due to the wet salt conditions), you look at the horizon looking for a small moving dot, a minute later you start to see a dot just moving, another minute and the dot actually seems like it might be moving quite quickly, 30 seconds later, the bike appears and flies past in a few seconds, then you see it disappear off into the distance and the announcement comes over �a speed of XXX�. So cool.
On to Miller, I was planning a BoHo week staying in my trailer. After getting into the track I made camp, the bikes in a garage me in on a futon mattress. Friday went well, both bikes kept running and tweaks to the ignition timing had the H1R finally making power. However, both bikes were having severe pattering problems on key corners. Adjusting the front tire air pressure made this better but the problem never went away.
On Saturday my first race was F250 on the BH, a great start placed me third into the first corner and I briefly took 2nd overtaking the guy in front on me before Roper came by me on an A1R then after dicing with a TZ250 for several laps I was relegated to 4th and that is how it finished. The BH was running well and I realized my fly-in, stop, turn and shoot out style that worked on the H1R and H2R was not the best for the less powerful BH.
The second race was F500, an Ok start had me in 2nd at the first corner and I quickly took the lead. On lap 3 a TR500 came by and we had a great battle for 3 laps, before he pulled off with a broken engine, with no one else in sight I cruised to a win. I was fortunately as the reigning champ had lost his chain on the start line and got the gifted win.
On Sunday, I went down several sizes of main jet on the H1R and also lowered the needles, in the process finding a missing holder for the center needle, no wonder that cylinder was showing a richer mixer. The BH was first up again and as I pulled up to the start line, I heard a feint screech from the gearbox. On lap 3 I was in 3rd place and as I rounded turn 1 I heard it again, every time I took a slow left hand turn, I heard the noise. I pulled in with a terminal gearbox problem. When the bike was later stripped down turned out to be a worn 2nd gear on the output shaft.
For the F500 race and FVintage the H1R was running well and I took a 2nd and 5th hampered by the handling and chatter on many corners. But at least one bike was still alive and ready for the next weekend. Lorraine shipped a new gearbox to me and I planned to fix the BH in the week between when I stayed with some friends.
On to Sandia, we arrived on Thursday night and I made camp again. I fitted the BH engine and swapped the front tire on the H1R for a lower profile Dunlop, raising the forks to keep the geometry the same. By late morning on Friday I took to the track, the BH was not shifting at high rpm again and the H1R front end was very vague. Off came the BH clutch cover and tension was added to the shifter spring, the forks went back down on the H1R and the shocks up at the rear. The BH now shifted and the H1R handled, well as good as could be expected. The bike steered well and no patter. I could still feel the frame tying itself in knots in bumpy sections.
The first race was F500 on Saturday and what a race. Hurley was present on his H1R and the reigning F500 champion on his RD400. It is tough to describe the race in detail as there were so many lead changes and passes, the whole thing was captured on video by Moo and is posted on Youtube if you are interested. Anyway at the checkered I won followed very closely by Hurley for a Kawasaki 1-2.
Next up was F250, a bad start put me in 3rd, and that is how I finished. For the final race F-Vintage, I was racing against the F500 champ again and a CB1000. Second into the first corner after several laps I was passed by the CB, on lap 5 of 8 I took the RD for second and then started to work on the leader, we crossed the finish line we me stuck to his tail. One heck of a fun day! I celebrated hard with IPA and Tequila.
Onto Sunday. During the course of Saturday, I had toasted the new front tire on the H1R, so another new one was fitted. In F500 we had the same 3 way battle, just as crazy, Hurley came by me and then took the lead, he was just hauling! On the penultimate lap my front brake stayed on, I had overheated the brakes and there was not enough air to take up the expansion of the brake fluid, I coasted around to a third. In F250 a better start put me in contention with the leaders and I eventually took a 2nd place. After comparing jet sizes with Hurley, I came down two sizes, picked up just enough speed and I took a clear win in the F-Vintage race to round off a great weekend and racing trip.
The final race of the year for me was a local event at Sears Point. After the run at Mosport, I wanted just one more outing on the H2R. It had done the business at Mosport, handling and running well, and riding the bike was a delight.
My last outing of the year was an AFM event at Sears, I wanted to ride the H2R just one more time in the year and what better place than my home track. The race was really a non event, just a few Vintage guys, but the weekend was fun blasting around enjoying the bike and the track. And, it stayed together.
Well wrapping up the year. This was certainly a development year going back to the basics for all of the bikes. The BH came apart after/between almost every race, with persistent problems with shifting and the gearbox. And, top end seizures when I shut the throttle at the end of long straights. It then finished the year with a good race, shifting like a champ and running hard.
I spent a ton of time getting the H1R to run fast after repeated ignition failures and then setting up a completely new unit. Front end handling problems were fixed with a lower profile tire. Now I could see a flexible chassis was my biggest issue, which would be one to ponder for next year. However, it ended the season on an up note with a win.
The H2R really received little tweaks during the year, but very meaningful ones. The carbs were replaced which cured a detonation problem. I played around with the front forks, to get a great compromise between high and low speed damping/spring rate. And the bike ran like a champ and handled like one too. The H2R over the last few years has gone from my worst handling bike to the best.
Looking forward to 2008, I would like to get the H2R over for Phillip Is, I did some 1:55�s there on the 500, with it�s dodgy handling and down on power and perhaps a 1:50 is achievable on the 750, which would put it in the running. And there is also rumor that AHRMA will run Road America, a great 4 mile course in WI next year.
Year 2008 - Race and Have Fun - Part 1
Last year I got the reliability back, well at last to the end of the season. The winter rebuilds turned out relatively easy. The H2R had a shifting problem so I stripped the bottom end and was fortunate enough to find the right hand main bearing on the crank toasted. Replacing it was straight forward and the gearbox we re-shimmed. The H1R got a once over and everything seemed in order. It also got some new ignition boxes to help starting. The bikes were loaded into the new acquired Sprinter van and I was ready for the trip to Daytona. On the way I picked up Hurley�s H1R, who was attending Daytona as one of the �Great Men�.
Additionally I had purchased a Z1R Superbike for racing, which required a little more prep to make it ready for the track. A smaller chain, number plates and a belly pan/oil catch pan.
The �warm up� for Daytona was at Roebling Roads. Warm, 28 degrees cold. The air density was off the scale crazy and both bikes were pinging during the practice day. On Thursday, during the first practice the Bighorn seized at the end of the straight as I closed the throttle. Out with the acid and some rubbing had the bike back together. I looked at the grids and found the 250 and 500 classes were in the same race. So I gridded on the Bighorn as was to be scored in both classes.
The flag dropped and to my surprise, I did a power wheelie on the Bighorn, wow. I was third into the first corner, out dragging a RD400 and a TD2. I passed another RD through the corner and settled in behind the current F250 champ, hanging with him through the back section of the track. As we approached the fast corner onto the front straight, I wound up the Bighorn and just drove by him. Race over, during the next 6 laps I stretched my lead and won by the length of the straight. 1st in F250 and 1st in F500. Not a bad start. For F-Vintage, after a bad start, the shift lever broke and I came in, looking forward to a warmer Daytona.
And it was warmer. Practice went fine, tall gearing on the BH had it revving to 8,500 across the finish line. The H1R went fine, with a slight misfire and the H2R was a rocket, easily maxing out at the finish line, so I added more gearing and it went faster still.
Practice was marred by Hurley crashing in the chicane, a change of master cylinder had messed up his braking and he went down hard, 5 broken ribs and a separated shoulder, hard. He said he never had much luck at Daytona.
First race was F250, after hacking through the slower GP350 class in the first lap, head down I started closing on the current class champ. The BH was super fast on the banking, but a dog in the in field, a snatchy first gear and bogging every time I put it into second. On the last lap I was closing fast, around the international hairpin I was 20 bike lengths behind, then� the chain jumped off. Dang, I would have had a win. I hoped the fence and got a ride back to the pits for the very next race, F500.
I started well, second into the in field and took the lead into the chicane on the banking the bike started to misfire and I went back into second. I hit the brake and got a huge chatter going into turn 2 and missed the corner. Turning back onto the track, the bike kept spluttering and I pulled in, the ignition had crapped out. Double dang.
At the end of the day I took the H2R out for a run in the Formula Vintage race. Boy the bike was fast, the difference from the H1R was quite surprising. Around the banking you could feel the centrifugal force just pushing you down. And across the start finish line the bike was flat out on my tallest gearing, way faster than the speeds achieved at Mosport or Mid-O. I pulled out after 4 laps wanting to save the motor.
We went over to the hospital to see Hurley, that guy is tough, no pain med�s, although I hope the beer we took over helped him. He was in good spirits and moving around despite the ribs and shoulder.
The next day I swapped out the ignition boxes on the H1R, hoping they were the issue, and re-checked the chain on the Bighorn. F250 came up and I was determined to get a better start and not lose touch with the champ. He still took a good lead but I was clear of traffic by the 4th corner, only to have another rider come by me as we neared the back straight. However, the Bighorn power allowed me to drive away from him and stay in front into the chicane. As we rounded the banking for the first time, the champ pulled in with a bike problem.
For the next 4 laps I battled with this red Honda, the poor pickup of my bike through the in field allowed him to come by me. I tried running corners in 2nd gear, but the bike was still bogging down and first gear caused slips and slides and then a bog when I changed to 2nd. Fortunately the speed of the BH allowed me to take the lead on the back straight or the banking. On the 5 lap I stayed ahead in the in field and got a large enough gap to take a win. Yeah, go Bighorney. This bike has been a 4 year struggle to get a combination of speed and reliability and Daytona is the test. Although the race had been fought with a Honda, I had also beaten half a dozen Yamaha twins. Just what Kawasaki had planned in 1973.
For F500 I took the H1R out, on the warm-up it misfired badly and I pulled in, the ignition stator was toast. Another year at Daytona where a bad ignition had put me out without a race.
Year 2008 - Race and Have Fun - Part 2
After Daytona, close examination showed the rotor and the stator of the H1R had touched and that the seal behind the stator had started to weep. A lot of head scratching came up with a thought about what was happening to the ignitions and these symptoms. If the left hand bearing was giving out, then it would allow the crank end to move, causing contact on the ignition and the seal to leak. I pulled the engine out and stripped it down. And there it was, the left roller bearings inner sleeve had move out, the clip was missing and the bearing was not doing it�s job. I fitted a new one and assembled the engine.
In the mean time, I needed another ignition, hoping I had found the cause of the ignition failures I purchased three new Krober boxes and fitted these with my old rotor and stator. After a morning of soldering and refitting, the bike fired straight up on three cylinders and sounded crisp. Before it could break again I loaded it into the van with the other bikes. This time the van was packed with green bikes, 4 races bikes including the Z1R and my ZX10R street bike, all ready for the big west coast event at Willow Springs.
I did not attend the practice day, so on Saturday I arrived early needed to test out each bike and get the Z1R on the track for the first time. First out for practice was the Bighorn, which checked out fine, I even remembered to hit the kill switch at the end of the straight to prevent the engine seizing. Next up was the Z1R, pretty darn strange, a big bike with its original seat, I felt like I was sitting on a sofa going around the track. I just needed a cup holder and a remote for the TV and I would have been all set. The bike handled pretty well, although it only ran on 4 cylinders occasionally. Lastly I took the H1R out and apart from needing to be jetted up all was well. Swapped jetting on the BH and H1R and found a loose coil wire on the Z1R. Time for racing.
The first race was outstanding; I had an epic battle against a TZ250. I got an OK start approaching the first corner I was second place in my class in touch with the leader and in the middle of a cluster of people in another class. I followed the leader around the long turn 2 gaining ground and together we cut through the other class. We headed down the back straight, I gained on him and drove by. The BH was running great. Keeping it pinned I overtook the last (first) of the other class as I went through 8 and 9 and onto the front straight to complete the first lap in the lead. For the next 3 to 4 laps I held the lead, he was super quick in the Omega and showed me a wheel several times and coming by before I retook the lead on the back straight. By this time we were lapping back markers heavily. I took every chance to push through at the last moment into a corner hoping to get some space and I led as we went into the last lap. The whole race I had been super tucked in, looking at the video, it is quite surprising how compact I look on this, the smallest of my bikes. Well on the last lap, I was trying to be super small hugging the tank through any corner where I was on the power, I was leading through the Omega, no wheel this time as we came through 8 and 9, we gained on three bikes from another class I managed a pass on the outside of one through 9, then cut back inside the other two on the exit. Like another layer of paint stuck to the tank, keeping everything tucked in and took the checkered flag for a win, awesome.
Back into the pits, I jumped straight onto the Z1R for the next race. I missed the warm up lap and gridded. Hmmm, from tiny bike to big bike, first time racing the big bike, cold tires and a head full of adrenaline, interesting. We were gridded behind another class but the Superbikes were faster, as we approached the first corner I need to hold back the instinct to push up the inside of several bikes, which I would have done on any of my other bikes. I was able to keep up a good pace staying with the leaders for the first 3 laps slowly pushing harder and picking up the pace. I started to ground the bike and then slowly lost touch. After missing a gear the bike started to run rough and I pulled in. On inspection bad things had happened to cylinder 2 and a couple of spokes were busted on the front wheel, the bike was done for the weekend.
I took an easy win in F500, the bike was running well and in FVintage, on the H1R, the shift lever broke. Two wins and two DNF�s on Saturday, not so bad. My usual late start on Sunday got me to the track with just time to run one practice, so I took the H2R out to get �the blood pumping�. Another super battle in F250, this time I took a second place and I won the F500 again. In the FVintage race I was in third when the H1R went bang, in the pits I pulled off the heads, two pistons going up and down the other stuck, I had busted a rod.
I quickly prep�ed the H2R and Bighorn and they departed in my Sprinter van for a four race trip to the mid-West. However, I could not get the H1R ready, it needed a new crank, new cylinder and lots of clean-up. Bits of piston had gone everywhere, into the carb, back to the airbox and had left a couple of marks on another cylinder. I would need to find another method to transport the bike, or Hurley�s H1R as he was done racing after his Daytona crash.
The H1R came back together and I headed to an AFM Sears event to shake it down, after a couple of practice sessions on a damp track, the rain started to come down and we were done for the weekend. At least the H1R was now run in and I located a friend to move it over to Road America.
We arrived in WI on Thursday night and were greeted with by the largest lightening storm I have ever seen and torrential rain. I phoned Jeff who was driving my van and bike to see if he had arrived to the track. He and the rest of the people at the track were just being evacuated to the basement because a tornado had been spotted. The driving was slow as the roads resembled rivers and people were pulling off left, right and center to wait for the storm to pass, we pushed on and arrived at about 10pm. The next morning was clear and we headed to the track for the Friday practice, the rain had swept mud across the track at many points and it was cancelled. We hung out for the day and got the bikes tech�ed.
I rotated between the BH, H1R and H2R in practice sessions on Saturday, BH was great, the H1R detonated badly at 9k, so I kept the revs below this point and the H2R was super fast, and just suited the track. Basically the track had 3 long and one short straights, punctuated by 90 degree plus lefts and sweeping rights, and oh, the chicane. On the second cycle of practice sessions I had stopped thinking about which way the track went and just on my riding.
As usual, up first was F250, after a long drag to corner 1, I out broke a couple of bikes, took the lead, after being closely followed for 2 laps, I broke clear and won. The Bighorn was fast. F500 was initially a big scrap, I was beaten into 4th place and lost to a Patton, 500cc Honda and a Yam 400, they drove away from me, apart from Roper on the Honda who out rode me.
On Sunday, I skipped the practice and my first out was F250. Over fricking confident, I took the lead from the start and cruised at 90%, looking back I could see the second place guy coming and thought it would be good to put on a race. He came by me on his Yam going into 5 but ran wide and I cross underneath him to take the lead. He passed by using the draft on the start/fishing straight and I out braked him into corner 1. Then on lap 4, the bike went brrrrrrrr, I looked down and the flat plate that was welded on the silencer had broken off, leaving a very big hole. I pulled in a DNF, dang. I really wanted two wins for the championship points. F500 was another war, this time of attrition, I got a second thanks to other guys breaking. I finished the day with a win in FVintage.
Next race was a small event the Grattan in MI, I arrived late Friday and got set up fixing the repaired pipe and a few other parts for the Bighorn. Saturday practice was spent setting up the gearing on both bikes, slightly lower than Road America. For the first race F250, I started well, led into the first corner and took an uneventful win. F500, the drag down to the first corner had me in first, as I went to shift down the shifter rod broke. I pulled out. But a quick fix gave me an uneventful win in FVintage.
Sunday produced another easy win in F250, screwed up by ignition problems in F500 had me spluttering around the track, although I still made a 2nd place.
Half way through the season and I am leading three championships, F250 by a good amount and also F500 and FVintage, since I was actually finishing races (and others were not).
Year 2008 - Race and Have Fun - Part 3
The Vintage Days at Mid Ohio was the next event. Around this time Jeff started talking about going for 3 AHRMA championships, I was dubious. Hurley shipped his H1R in for me to race and I was looking forward to getting back on my old bike. Previous shared rides had proven it handled better than mine and Hurley had also been working on the engine and it was strong. I arrived late Thursday night and planned to do minimal practice on Friday getting the BH gearing right and getting used to Hurley�s bike. I was surprised to see a number of TZ750s at the track, so I also pulled out the H2R to go play with them.
The BH checked out. The H1R did not rev out and the front brake took way too much pressure to slow the bike. I swapped the master cylinder from my H1R which fixed the brake problem. Checking the plugs showed a rich mixture despite a 290 main jet. So I jetted down to 270�s, very low, and reset the timing to 2.4mm. That was better. The H2R was another story, during the first practice it started jumping in and out of 2nd gear, the second time out I was going faster and the bike nearly spat me off as I rolled on the power, on the edge of traction, the back wheel started sliding then it caught. I parked the H2R for the weekend, it needed a gearbox rebuild and I did not want to risk damage before the Mosport event.
On Saturday, the first race was F250, I blasted into the lead into the first corner, quickly getting a small gap. By lap 4 (of 6) I had someone on my back wheel, a Honda four stroke. He showed me a wheel at the left hander before the carousel but I held him off, I was now pushing really hard and we were running into back markers. On the last lap I heard his bike behind me at the end of the back straight. We came up to back marker riding very slow and all over the corner I slowed and went around the outside, only to see his wheel on the outside of me, I held him off again. Then on the left hander before the carousel he squeezed through and I had no chance to come back, he took the win. Wow, what a race.
I lined up for F500, as I cruised around the warm up lap and down the back straight, I heard a pop from the engine, the engine was not at load and I carried onto the start line. We started the race and half way through the first lap the engine lost power and I came in to find a toasted right hand piston. The evening was spent with acid getting the bore clean and assembling the bike with a used spare piston.
Sunday started bad then got better. A bike dumped a ton of oil on the track, specifically ��s of the track. The track officials applied �cat litter� to dry it off, but the surface was treacherous during practice. Fortunately they fixed it before the races and I romped to a win in F250 and in F500 when the leader pulled off with a mechanical issues.
Two weeks later we were out at Mosport. Friday was spent fixing the H2R gearbox, swapping in a new unit and fixing the H1R clutch, as it was snatching on power. This worked out well as it rained most of the day and fixing the bikes was better than riding the wet track.
On Saturday the bikes, the H2R and Bighorn, were ready, we tech�ed and headed out for practice. I had been working think about the track and how to go faster for sometime and I started to try this out in practice, I worked hard on corner entry speed, this is important at Mosport with a number of high speed technical corners. On the first session on the H2R, without trying, and only concentrating on entry points, I posted a 1:40, my best pace last year being a 1:38. The Bighorn was also running well with 1:45 lap times.
Later in the day I won the heat races for P2 and P3 heavy on the H2R, getting solid 1:39/1.38�s without pressure and a 2nd in P2 light on the Bighorn, being pipped by Dave Roper on the last lap.
After a night of drinking and mischief, it is a long story, but as a snippet have you ever tried sampling beer in a store, just open a can from the cooler and see if you like it, and see what the young girl does behind the counter? Anyway, Sunday morning was spent sobering up ready for the races in the afternoon, at one point I commented, �I need to practice to get rid of this hang over�.
I was in race 1, 2, and 11, perfect, not! P3 Heavy was the first race, I took the lead going into Mosses and then a Harris Kawasaki 1000++ blasted by on the back straight, I finished an uneventful 2nd. In P2 Light on the Bighorn, a 350 Honda romped off and I battled with Roper for the second spot. He had a gap, then, on the last lap, he ran into traffic, I returned the favor from Saturday and took him on the back straight for 2nd. Last we ran P2 heavy and after a long wait, I took an unpressured 1st.
At this point as the bikes were still mostly together, Jeff and I had decided to hit Miller and Sandia as part of the road trip. He would drive the van to Miller then Sandia and depending on how the championships were looking either bring it back to CA or head out to Barber. I also arranged an independent ride for the repaired Z1R to Miller. After the blow up at Willows I want to play with the monster more.
Saturday, the Z1R was running poorly, really down on power, but I circulated getting the feel of the handling on a technical track. The Bighorn was also playing up, spluttering and not running cleanly. Some adjustments were needed. First race was F250, I had adjusted the clutch, unfortunately badly, and it slipped the whole race but I still managed a win. The over revving, in retrospect, was keeping the plug clean. I also took an uneventful win in F500.
Onto FVintage and my good buddy Brian was out. He hounded me for 6 of the 8 laps, all over the back of me, showing me a wheel in many places, but unable to pass. I was sliding the H1R repeatedly, on the edge, on lap 6 he pulled off with a technical issue and I took the win.
On Sunday I substituted the Superbike race (badly running Z1R) for an Open GP race on the H2R against a couple of TZ750�s. The BH fouled a plug on the warm up lap and I pulled off. Then I totally trounced the TZ750�s on the H2R and took win in F500. FVintage started with the same recipe, me leading with Brian all over the back of me, this time I broke on lap 2 when the chain came off. The F250 championship was now in the bag, I needed one win or second place at Sandia to take the F500, and FVintage was real close.
Sandia was the very next weekend. The BH started sucking gear oil in the first practice so that was pulled apart, re-gooped the seal and left to set before the race. Hurley and John Ayler were wrenching on the Z1R eventually finding the cam timing was off. Tricky thing these 4 strokes with cams .
I won the F250 race chased by Roper in another class. I then went straight back out on the Z1R, it had power now. At the start line, the green flag dropped and the bike did a power wheelie to the first corner, I hit the brakes, but the combination of a heavy bike and squishy suspension had me wide in corner one. I got it turned around and started to get the feel for the handling of this monster. The bike ground pretty hard on several corners and the tires were passed their sell by date Powering onto the short straight had the bike sliding sideways then it caught. This was fun. I took a win, racing for the most time with a Super Motad bike in another class. F500 was a breeze and I took a win from Brian in FVintage. F500 clinched and FVintage was getting closer.
Saturday Hurley, John, Jeff, spouses and I, partied and I arrived at the track late on Sunday. I finished the day with 4 more wins for my best ever win rate of 8 from 8 races.
The next week the tired bikes arrive back with Jeff, after being away from home from April to September and hitting 6 race weekends. The BH was dropped off with Scott for a winter rebuild and my H1R had been dropped off earlier at Mid-O.
I had to wait for a couple of weeks to see if I had won the FVintage championship with the results from Barber. There was a chance that I could be bested. Fortunately I was not and I finished the year with three #1 plates! Doubling my record to six. I had dominated the F250 class, getting hard rides at specific tracks, but winning many easily. In F500, I had mixed results, I was not the fasted in the class but I won enough events, and in FVintage, the class I had treated casually for the year, I had picked up 4 or 5 wins and just did more races than the other guys.
For next year the planned changes ranged from the minor to significant, as usual. My H1R is getting a new Seeley style chassis, hopeful getting into a handling zone beyond my H1R and also Hurley�s. For the BH we are going for a few more revs to get more HP and a complete chassis rebuild shortening the wheel base to get better front end �stick�. The H2R will remain unchanged and lastly the Z1R is getting a new front end and more ground clearance. And in the wings, Hurley was rebuilding an A1R which is eligible for the pre 69 GP350 class.
Year 2009 - Triple One's - Part 1
The winter was quite strange, with the major rebuilds being placed with trusted sources, I worked on a few restoration projects, the Z1R and my Guitar Hero skills. Not quire sure where I was going to use those (Guitar Hero Skills). My biggest work was with the Z1R, I needed more ground clearance and the top end of the engine was quite noisy. I lowered the top shocks mounts an inch and found several threads that held the camshaft caps had pulled out of the head causing the cam to lift and clunk.
My entry for Daytona included 5 classes, my regulars, F250, F500, FVintage and the newer classes 350 GP and Superbike. My trip would involve packing Hurley�s 500, the Z1R and my street bike. Heading to Scotts near LA to pickup the Bighorn and a H1 race engine, then to Hurley�s to get the A1R. I would then head through to the warm up event at Savannah, meeting Jeff, who would have my Seeley H1R. We were going to have a busy time, the Seeley H1R engine needed a little work and we had a bunch of bikes to test out.
The long drive to Daytona was punctuated by picking up the Bighorn from Scott and the A1R from Hurley. Both bikes looked really sharp. I departed my house on Friday night and arrived at Roebling Roads in Savannah on Thursday night. I was in before the track �locked down� for the evening, unloaded the bikes and then spent 30 mins chatting to the lady at the gate to keep it open so Jeff could come in, he made it.
Jeff had my Seeley H1R as well as a Denco H2 I picked up on ebay. Friday we tech�ed bikes, the Z1R, Bighorn, and my old H1R. I practiced, the bikes ran well. Except the Bighorn had a strange problem, it was fat, but every time I got to high rpm it detonated. In between practices we lock wired the A1R and rebuilt the top end on the Seeley H1R.
After puzzling about the detonation on the Bighorn, I called Scott. After ten minutes of kicking ideas backwards and forwards, I pulled the ignition cover and found the left hand crank seal had popped out. At that time we heard first call for the F250 race. Frantically, we pulled the stator, then the rotor, fitted a new seal and put it back together. �Final Call� came the announcement. I jumped on the bike and headed out. Not revving the bike on the practice lap, hoping the Locktight on the seal would cure. It did and I won the race.
I came straight in and jumped on the H1R and took a win in F500. For the final race I took the Z1R out for F-Vintage, after a really bad start I had a great battle for third and took the flag in a cloud a blue smoke, something bad had happened.
On Sunday I arrived for Daytona tech, I could not get the Seeley H1R started, eventually finding the problem to be multiple grounding issues. However, the A1R just leaked gas from both fuel taps and I could not get it through tech. Two bikes down, but the BH and the H1R were good.
On Monday, the gearing was good on both bikes and I was ready for the first race F500. I lead around the first lap then on lap 3 Ralph came by on his TR500, his bike was just quicker on the banking and although I could make up time in the in field and the chicane it was not enough. I came second. Straight out again on the Bighorn, I stalled it on the line, game over�. Hmm, not too successful.
Tuesday, Ralph had blown his engine on Monday and I took an easy win in F500, my first at Daytona. Then out again for F250. I lead around the first lap, into turn 2 I shifted down and the engine locked solid, in dirt bike style I slide side ways, I grabbed the clutch and then was pitched off in a high side. Urg.
For the opener I had 2 wins and a 2nd in F500 and a win and two DNF�s in F250. Two busted bikes and one leaking fluids. I dropped the Z1R and BH off with Scott for repairs before heading to Willow. I would be working on the A1R and Seeley.
A Pingle tap on one side of the A1R and a blank on the other gave me a bike that did not leak fluids. After some carb adjustments the bike ran around the bike cleanly and I finished the lock wiring. I fixed a few items on the Seeley and also replaced another ignition box, the right cylinder was not running cleanly at Daytona, and with a little paint I was not ready for Willow and I was hoping Scott would get the BH and Z1R ready. Of course Scott got the job done, and the fleet was ready.
Lorraine and I drove down to Willow on Friday evening, we set up the pits and dumped the bikes. On Saturday things were frantic, I was in practice groups 1, 2, 3, and 4 on different bikes. First out was the A1R, it ran, but I found way too many neutrals in the gearbox, I came in after a couple of laps. The other bikes ran fine and I was dialed into the track. The Z1R was fast, fast, fast. I parked the A1R, gearbox issues are not a thing to race with.
The race schedule was just as crazy I was in races 7, 8, 9 and 11. Three races back to back. First out was the Z1R in Superbike, I was fourth into the first corner and started to ride around the outside of folks in the long turn 2, the Z1R just stuck to the track. On lap two I took the lead but could hear someone on my back wheel. On lap 3 he blew by his bike was much faster. I lapped on my own, getting fully used to the Zed. I found I really needed to pull myself as far forward as possible, putting my chin on the tach, to get the front end stable, sitting back caused a big weave even when going straight. I took the checked and raced back to the pits, off the Zed and onto the Bighorn.
I barely made the warm up lap and flew around to take my grid spot. After a slow start I blew through the field on the first lap and held the lead until the checkered flag. Racing back to the pits again. Onto the H1R. I followed Ralph on his Suzuki around to the Omega then down into turn 8, passing him on this fast corner, as we went down the straight he blew by. I took him on the outside of 2 and gapped him enough to hold the lead down the straight. I took another win. Back to the pits for a whole one race rest.
The best was left for last, I gridded the Zed for the F-Vintage race against the Superbikes, F500 and F750 class bikes. I got the Zed off the line well with a nice wheelie. I had melded with the bike and felt relaxed muscling the beasty around the track, trying to keep the weave under control and heading generally in the right direction. I had company, with a bike all over my back wheel. He tried an outside pass in 2, nope, an inside in 9, nope and an inside in 1, nope again. He was quick, but so was I, I was also very wide . For the whole 8 laps we dueled the Zed was power sliding coming out of corners, including the 100 mph+ turn 9, but fortunately I made no mistakes and he could not find a way past. I took another win.
I went back to the pits, ready for a post race beer. To my surprise, I found the guy who blew by me in Superbike had been disqualified, slick tires and an illegal engine. Four races and four wins, not a bad day. This year AHRMA had implemented transponders so now I could see my lap times. The H1R and BH both ran 1:40�s, the H1R a 1:40.2 and the BH a 1:40.5. Wow, the H1R was slow but I could have won the 500 event on the BH. The lap times on the Zed were impressive with a low time of 1:36.0. Cool.
On Sunday morning it had warmed up and the wind died down a little, I jetted the bikes down. In Superbike I had some problems, the clutch cable adjuster had worked loose and trying to downshift the Zed without a clutch caused some interesting, backing it in, type entries into corners. On the straights, I kept moving the adjuster but could not get it locked. On lap 3 I took the lead, only to hit the off switch as I tried to adjust the clutch. I got it together and took the win.
F250, a great start had me second behind Ralph on his 250 Yam, I closed on him and began an outside move in turn 2, as my shoulder reached his seat, I saw smoke from his rear tire. His bike has seized. Inches from him I went by, waiting at any moment expecting to be hit by him. He controlled it well. I put my head down, but was passed on lap 4 by Jeff on another 250 Yam. He gapped me and I pushed on. On the last lap the bike slowed and I was passed again and took 3rd.
In F500, the story was repeated, I took an early lap and was well out in front. On lap 5 the bike started to slow, I could only pull 3rd or 4th gear on the straight. I took the white flag just needing to hold on for one more lap. At turn 1 as I tipped in I saw Ralph flash by me on the outside and off the track. I was still leading, I was then passed by a Honda in turn 2, I followed him down the hill into 8 and 9. Pulling along side him exiting 9, but he just drove away from me to the line. I took 2nd.
The last race of the day was another epic in F-Vintage, this time I was dogged for 8 laps by a Ducati twin, he could not find a way passed either. I finished the weekend with 6 wins from 8 races and the bikes were together if not a little sick.
I was also now leading 4 championships! After some maintenance the bikes would now head for their summer road trip with my buddy Jeff. We were planning to hit a WERA event at Barber, followed by 3 AHRMA rounds and Mosport in Canada before returning West bound to Salt Lake City and New Mexico
Year 2009 - Triple One's - Part 2
With 5 rounds of 15 complete I was leading 4 championships. The next race was Road America in Wisconsin. Last year we had had big storms and rain before the event. Fortunately this year, the racing was dry.
I was entered into 5 events, with the new one being GP 350 on the A1R. Hurley has continued to work on the bike, unfortunately the work involved testing and as part of the testing the bike had seized and pitched the rider off. The left hand side of the tank was a dented and scratched mess, still the right looked good (the ebay side) and the bike was now shifting and generally getting dialed in.
Friday was spent swapping gearing and putting a new top end on the H1R, I used the cylinders from Hurley�s H1R with a fresh bore. Practice went fine, apart from the battery going dead on the Z1R.
First race was Superbike, I had two guys pushing me for the first couple of lap then pulled a lead and took off, the Z1R was hauling despite jumping out of third gear when shifting unless I was really careful. F250 went equally smoothly and I passed everyone in the class staged in front of us. In 350 GP, I was dicing for 2nd, not really in a good rhythm until the shifter shaft broke. Man, 4th time the shifter has broken already this year on various bikes.
In F500 I took an uneventful 2nd, just down on power compared to the leader and the guy who was also beating me until he pulled in. In F-Vintage I led from the start, a Honda 750 in contention behind, but not gaining. Three wins for the day and one second.
Sunday was a repeat with a few exceptions. On the Superbike warm up lap, the throttle stuck open, one of the rags was still in the carb, I use the on/off switch to control the revs around the track, darted back to the pits, pulled out the offending item and gridded at the back of the pack. Next problem, was the handle bars started to move, twisting down on braking. I went back into third, before changing my riding style to brake slower, not putting too much weight on the bars, then took the win, phew.
350 GP proved a bunch of fun, the still slow, not fully unsorted A1R was totally even on power to an Aremachi and we battled for third place the whole race. He was quicker in some places, I in others. As we went down each straight side by side we grinned at each other. This was going to come down to a last lap who could get to the line first. Now that was a problem, because for 5 of the 6 laps he had shown he could do it. Sure enough on the last lap he came by me heading into the last corner. I let it hang out carrying one gear higher through the last corning going into the straight. I was 30 foot behind him. The bike was picking up speed well and I made myself small tucked into his slipstream, slowly reeling him in as we went up the hill. I started to catch his draft and closed quicker, 50 yards before the finish I pull out and along side him. At the line I jumped up, leaning way forward on the bike, doing a sprinters dive for the line, I want to win by a nose. Of course this was all fun, as the scoring is electronic based on the transponder passing the line, still it was a lot of fun, I was laughing my head off as I did it. I took third by 15 thousands of a second . Three more wins for the day and this time one third and a DNF when a silencer came adrift in the F500 race.
The weekend after, we were out again this time at Gratten in MI. I was planning to fly in on Friday night, except weather played its hand. My flight from San Fran to Chicago was delayed by 2 hours and then the flight into Grand Rapids was cancelled. I rented a car, and started to drive at midnight when I arrived in Chicago. Yahoo said it was 3 hours, after some closed roads due to flooding I eventually arrived at 4:30 am and bedded down for a short nap as I was woken up at 7am as they announced registration was open.
Off onto practice, all of the bikes were geared down and the A1R ran like crap even after some jetting changes. Gratten is way, way different from Road America, RA is all about power and speed, Gratten is much more technical and requires a bike that handles and changes direction well.
Despites these differences, the results were much the same as RA on Saturday, pretty easy wins on Superbike, F250, F-Vintage and a distant second on F500. The A1R just died on wide open throttle in 350 GP.
On to Sunday, the A1R got further jetting changes and the H1R front suspension adjustments. I repeated the same wins from Saturday. Onto the F500, third into the first corner, on lap 2 the leader dropped out and I took the lead, very motivated for a win, but it was not to be, on lap 3 the engine went down to 2 cylinders and I went into the pits, finding a plug cap has came loose. Oh dear.
On the 350 GP race the A1R was running better and I was in touch with the three leaders as we came into the front straight at the end of lap 1. I missed a gear big time and lost touch with them before finally finding a gear and getting some forward motion. Over the next 4 laps I kept pushing forward, eventually taking the 3rd place guy for some more lowly wood. This was proving a hard development year for the A1R, it was far from dialed in and making good power, the gearbox had many neutrals, the suspension was way too hard, the brakes were uninspiring and the tires way past their race by date. The Z1R development had come relatively easy this was more of a challenge. However, I was still leading 4 championships.
Year 2009 - Triple One's - Part 3
When you get two thirds of the way through the season you cannot ignore the championship points. I was leading four championships, however, due to some long convoluted reasons two of the four remaining events would be double points. To put this into context, a perfect season for points would be 11 wins, each weekend you can win 2 races in each class, so with two double point weekends, you could earn 8 wins and nearly the championship. Almost enough for the championship in two weekends.
The first of these double point events came up next, VIR (Virginia International Raceway). I had not been to this track before and could not practice so it would be a situation where I would need to learn the track in two practice sessions on Saturday before racing in the afternoon. Fortunately I was racing many bikes, so I got to practice many times.
The track was interesting/awkward, a few interesting corners that took time to figure out the quick line, and three awkward ones that were 180 degree tight turns with no upside. The Z1R and BH were running great, the H1R has a misfire (again) and the A1R front brake was getting harder to pull in, although it was running up to 9,000 rpm before a misfire set in.
The first race was F250, an easy win on the Bighorn, looking at the lap times I had 6 sec advantage a lap on the next fastest guy. Two races later the A1R was up, fourth into the first corner, I slowly reeled in the third place guy. After a break of 10 years, I actually used the back brake to slow the bike down, as the front brake was really crap.
In F500, I was gifted the lead whilst in second as the leader went off the track, then the bike developed a rattle and a big misfire, I pulled off, later diagnosis showed a big end pin had snapped. That left the last two races on the Z1R. I took clear wins after battling with a Suzuki for the first two laps, the quicker I got the more the back end started to slide under power. A theme that was growing as the year went on.
On day two, the H1R was dead so I raced the BH in F500 and parked the A1R, repeated the wins in F250, despite the footrest falling off on lap 4 and then in Superbike and F-Vintage, the BH took second in F500. With the two wins this weekend for F250, Superbike and F-Vintage I locked up these three championships. Now only one remained in play F500, my competition winning both races for the weekend and my results pretty darn poor.
The weekend after VIR was the big Canadian event at Mosport. This proved to be one hell of a weekend. In practice I lost the silencer from the Z1R, it really sounded great, but with the fast sweeping turns it was obvious that the H2R was faster, so I parked it for the weekend. The first heat was P3 Heavy and I took an easy win on the H2R, then straight back out to P2 Light on the BH, where I was a distant second to another US based rider. The last event was P2 Heavy, the natural class for the H2R. I got a bad start and was boxed in through turn 1 by other riders. I lost many seconds to the leader. On the last but one lap, I took the lead and the race win. Turning my first lap in the 1:37�s, 1:37.9, a new class lap record. Saturday night was spent chatting with a bunch of guys and drinking enough beer to sleep soundly.
With two wins and a second in the heats I had great grid positions for the finals on Sunday. Race 1 was P3 Heavy, a crap start put me in third into corner 2 and then I quickly took second, the leader pulling a large gap. For the next 5 laps, I had my head down, but the gap was barely closing, I kept pushing, on lap 6 of 8, I could see the gap coming down, I was still getting quicker each lap. On the last lap I caught the leader and passed as we came onto the back straight, I held it through 8 and then 9. Just before the last corner, turn 10, he flew by me, attempting the block pass, I slowed down, squaring the corning and got enough drive to win by a wheel. I was pumped.
Back to the pits, I jumped on the Bighorn for the next race, P2 Light. A slow start again had me several seconds back from the leader as I took second place. It was taking me some time to get the rhythm on the smaller bike. Again I kept pushing, on the last lap, I was getting closer, I was 40 foot from him as we headed onto the back straight. I made no ground despite tucking way down and revving the bike hard. On turn 8, I let it hang out and did not brake, quickly dropping one gear for 9, I carried a ton of speed, and just as he was about to turn in, made the block pass in turn 10. I hit the brakes as hard as I could and just parked the bike in the middle of the corner, giving him no room to turn. I shifted down and drove for the line taking the win again. Amazing, two of the best races of the year, both won by a tenth of a second in the last corner of the last lap after being way behind. When I checked out the lap times I had hit a 1:37.0 on the H2R for another lap record.
The last race was P2 Heavy and this promised to be a repeat of the first race of the day against the same rider. After a restart I took the lead on the first lap and although he hounded me for the whole race, I took the win. Three races and three wins, an outstanding weekend.
My last race of the year was another AHRMA round in Salt Lake City. I was familiar with the track and arrived late on Friday night. On Saturday, shaking off a hang over and a short night of sleep thanks to a deflating air mattress, I quickly got into the groove in practice. I got down to the 1:54�s on the Bighorn, sliding my knee on all of the left handers. The Z1R took some more time as the tires were shot and it kept sliding the rear. I finished practice with only a 1:53.5 on the Z1R, just 0.5 seconds faster than the Bighorn.
First race was F250 and I took an easy win. Second race F500 was more interesting. I was running the Bighorn as the H1R was dead, on turn 2 on the first lap, the right footrest snapped and there was absolutely no where to put my foot. I was resigning myself to pulling in after the first lap. As I approached turn 11, I saw the leader in my class had crash out. So I was leading the race with no footrest, my left leg swinging in the wind, so I decided to push on. Well for the next 8 laps, I dangled my leg, in the left hand corners which was Ok, I could just stretch it out. Right handers were hard. In the faster ones, I sat to the far left of the bike (the complete opposite side) and lifted my leg forward, in slow corners I dragged my leg, using the knee slider and the toe of my boot. I have never been so please to see the half way flag, last lap flag and the checkered as I took the win. Dang my leg was aching, and the toe of my boot was worn away and I had just starting to burn through to my sock.
Fortunately the last two races were less eventful. I took the lead and gapped the field in both events. It was a big challenge coaxing the Zed out of the corners without spinning up the rear tire, but with a little finesse I made it and added two more notches to the Z1R�s winning streak, posting 1.51.0 then a 1:50.6.
I awoke Sunday, feeling like Rodney King after a night with the LAPD. In F250 I got into a good dice with a Yam 250, before securing the win and in F500 blitzed the field and the other classes. What a difference a footrest makes.
In Superbike Heavy, I took a win on the Z1R, now getting super slidey as I chased around a Super Motard bike, posting a 1:49.9 lap. In the final race I was leading with a comfortable gap, when liquid appeared on my visor, light rain I figured, a few corners later the front brake went soft and I looked down to see the front brake master cylinder was missing, I pulled in. This brought an end to the incredible 19 race winning streak from the Z1R.
Given my work schedule this was the end of my 2009 schedule. With the two F500 race wins at SLC, I had clinched this championship as well. This season had proven to be the peak (so far) of my racing career. Most wins, approximately 34, 4 US championships and 3 wins in Canada.
At this stage of the season I tend to get a little raced out, so I am not sure of my full plans for 2010. However, we are looking for some big power from the H1R and I plan to go down to Phillip Is to contend the Island classic. The Z1R and BH will remain mostly the same with a few small mods. The A1R will get a better ignition and some brake work. As a huge plus Lorraine now has a Honda CB160 to race, joining the Mojo (!Kawasaki) team. Maybe I will just get an umbrella and some tight shorts for next year.
Year 2010 - New Decade - Part 1
The 2009 season ended early. I had wrapped up 4 championships and due to the demands of my work schedule I finished my last race for the season in August. Lorraine and I did a track day in September; she was on her CB160 and I tried to test the limits of the traction control of my Ducati 1198S. In the mean time, the H1R was getting a �serious going over� from my tuning guru, Scott. As I had cylinders where the liners were trashed, I gave him the challenge: what is the most you can do starting with a core cylinder then putting whatever porting will make the best power in some new liners/porting? He worked up some serious hp on the simulator and also had a new crank design to try to keep it all together. I had broken three big end pins on my previous TZ rodded design.
After 4 weeks away from the track, I decided Phillip Island was a must. Now the deadline was set on the H1R engine as the bike needed to ship by the end of November. I got the crate for the bike ready, applied for my Carnet and FIM license, and booked flights. Scott delivered the bike to schedule, after one of the most extensive tuning projects that I/we had undertaken. Some frantic calls around my network of bike friends produced an excellent shipper. They specialize in sending old motorcycles, cars and boats to Australia from CA. Only one small problem, they were in Los Angeles, 400 miles away. An overnight drive and return fixed this but did little for my sleep. Phew, I made the shipping deadline and things were looking like they were on a downhill slope.
With the inevitable minor issues, the logistics came together. I arrived in Melbourne on the Monday before the race and was picked up by my friend Steve. We drove over to the shippers and picked up the bike. We had a crammed week planned, preparing for the event and visiting folks. Tuesday we visited and picked up some parts from Neville Doyle, what a great guy. Wednesday I started the H1R and rode it around some streets to make sure all was in order, the power delivery felt great. Thursday we headed to the track and got registered and tech�d. A nice surprise included me in the Kiwi team for the Trans Pacific challenge. At last on Friday I got on the track for practice.
The H1R was going like a champ, great power, coming in at 7k strong until 9.5k and then a tail to 10k. However the front forks were another story, I had them set up by a specialist, and they were crap, too stiff and I have no feel for the front end. I posted a qualifying time that put me 8th in my Post Classic 500 class.
I borrowed some new fork springs and was ready to go on Saturday morning. I upped my pace, getting confidence in the front end and getting the cob webs off my riding. I qualified 4th in PC 500, 8th in PC unlimited and 30th of 45 in the TP Challenge. In the afternoon my first race was PC 500, I left the line with a huge wheelie and shifted to 2nd, no clutch, I pulled in. After many attempts during the day, I could not get the clutch to stick. At the end of the day, with the help of many we squeezed one extra pair of plates into the clutch, a test ride on the road showed it was sticking well.
Sunday came and I was ready to finally race. The first race was a TP Challenge, another big wheelie off the line and we were off, at the end of the straight on the first lap, the bike went down on power and I grabbed the clutch as it seized. Dang. Off with the heads showed a problem with the left cylinder. Two hours of cleaning up the bore, fitting a new piston and upping the jets had me ready for the next event. Out again, the bike was running badly. Checking it out this time showed that the rotor was loose. Had that caused the seizure? Fortunately as time was running out, this was a very quick fix. We were now into the last races of the weekend. I was out of Motul so prepared some fuel with Castor oil.
For the final PC 500 race, the bike bogged badly on the line, barely running. A mile behind into the last corner, the bike ran crap and although I pulled back some ground I could not get to the leaders, I finished 4th, posting lap times similar to the winners. The PC Unlimited was a back to back race. Again the bike bogged on the line and ran badly. Back to the pits showed 3 black plugs and the 5 minute gap between races provided enough time to swap to smaller jets for the last race of the day, the final PC Challenge.
I was gridded back in position 30. A better start had me into the first corner with a mid pack group of 7 riders. The bike was running better although far from its peak. The group was all running very similar times with lots position swaps. Over the next 4 laps I managed to move through this group, hanging onto the slip streams on the straights and then out braking folks into Honda and MG. On the next lap as I cleared the group, at the end of the straight the bike seized again. Double Dang. Game over. This time the center cylinder had died.
Once back in the US, I focused on getting the fleet ready for the 2010 US season. The Bighorn had a simple engine overall, the H2R a new top end, both of which were straight forward maintenance and of course they both got new tires. The Z1R got a close ratio gearbox I found in Germany and a narrower rear rim to change the tire profile. The A1R got a Dyna ignition to let it rev without misfire. And of course, after another thrash getting the H1R back into the US. And the rotor was loose again, so that was the likely cause for the second seizure as well. Got it fixed along with some new pistons. A new battery in Lorraine�s CB160 had her ready and now I was ready for Willow Springs.
Everything came together for Willow, Scott bringing the H1R and A1R to the track. Lorraine practiced a little in the morning and I arrived in the afternoon. I took the Z, H1R and A1R out for a few laps to see what they were doing. The Z came in covered in oil, the head gasket had blown. Fortunately A.P.E. is now located by the track and they had the right replacement gasket. During a windy evening the Z got fixed. I practiced on Saturday, the Z had a mis-fire and the A1R a slipping clutch.
Lorraine had the first three races of the day, race 1, 3, and 5, and I was fortunate enough to get 5 back to backs in races 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. For the first race CB160, with a LeMans start, I got to hold Lorraine�s bike. She was off and steadily made her way up to a 10th place finish, in her subsequent races she got quicker and finished 7th out of 17 in GP250, not too shabby at all.
I took the A1R out first, expecting a slipping clutch and a slow race. Well the clutch stuck, I got into a battle with a guy and started turning some good laps and finished with a 2nd place. The A1R was now revving to 11k and handling well, it was even braking pretty darn good.
Next race with F500, I had a fantastic duel with a guy on a Patton it came down to the line and I lost by 0.04 seconds. The H1R was absolutely fantastic, engine was outstanding, running like a mildly tuned H2, chassis and front end great, just needing a little work on the rear shocks. Into the pits and back out on the BH I took and easy win.
The next two races were on the Z. Superbike first I romped away for an easy win, then I lined up for F-Vintage. The bike bogged badly on the line and after two laps I was at least 5 seconds behind the leader. The bike was running OK, but still misfiring on the straight, I put my head down, caught and passed the leader, then took a comfortable lead, on lap 7 coming through turn 9 the bike died and I coasted over the line and pulled off. Well it turned out I had lapped every one in my class and although I never saw the checkered flag, I still completed 7 laps before everyone else, another win.
On Sunday we were ready for more of the same. Lorraine was going faster and faster, in her CB160 race, she worked her way from 12 after the first lap, lap by lap up to 3rd place, I was going crazy each time she passed another rider, on the last lap she lost a place, but finished an incredible 4th place out of a starting grid of 20+ riders. In her next race she was going even faster, until, yes, she lost the front end and crashed. It is no fun to watch your spouse crash out. But she jumped up quickly and was still smiling as they brought her in on the crash truck. She had cut her arm, and bruised herself but apart from that she was OK. She had also posted the 2nd fasted lap time in the race. You go Girl!!!
My first race was the A1R, I gunned it from the start and was 3rd into the 1st corner then around turns 8 and 9 took the lead, I started to gap second place getting a reasonable lead at the end of the second lap, then pop, bang, bang, it felt like a holed piston. The bike was running really well and I was revving it at 11k, perhaps over revving it. I got a ride back on the pick up truck for my next race, F500. I finished second, losing touch with the winner on the Patton in traffic.
Straight out again in F250, I had a comfortable lead then on lap 4, got black flagged with the pipe hanging off the bike, the mount had broke. Oh dear. Back on the pick up truck again, had me out in Superbike. I took an early lead on the Z, it was misfiring still and now developed another problem with the throttle sticking partially open, I took it easy still won the race but was slow. Back into the pits some frantic work on the cable and its routing caused me to miss the warm up lap. I got a good start, but dogged it around with a somewhat less sticking throttle, but the bike was mis-firing more. I got nipped on the line for second.
Scott took the Z and A1R with him for some quick fixing and we sent Lorraine�s bent CB160 to a specialist for repairs. After diagnosis the Z had a bad coil and the A1R spark plug lost its electrode, go figure. Anyway we were ready for the next weekend in Portland.
For those of you who do not know Portland, it is famous for its rain. It rains all the time, just like the UK. I watched the long range forecast raining the week before, clear over the weekend, then raining the week after. Long range forecasts are never that good, and we are never that lucky. Well in this circumstance, I guess two never�s make a definitely, the weather was great over the weekend, and it rained through the week before and then the week after.
Jeff drove the bikes to Portland and Lorraine and I met him on Friday night the track. We unloaded and got something to eat.
This was a new track to me but running 4 practice sessions on 4 bikes accelerates the learning. A long start/finish straight, 3 combined decreasing radius right handers, sharp left, a sharper right, followed by a slightly curved back straight then a a combination, left, right and right back onto the straight. For a simple course quite technical.
Again I had 5 back to back races. The A1R was up first, the bike was not pulling well, I held 3rd, went back to 4th, got back into 3rd and followed the 2nd place guy over the line. I then took easy wins in F250 and F500. Next up was Superbike and we were gridded with the Battle of the twins, modern bikes. I was 4th into the first corner behind 3 moderns, but drove around two of them in the 1st long right hander(s). I held onto the lead (in his class) for 3 laps, he would pull away from me on the straight and I would catch him in the bends. I lost him, but took the win.
The last race of the day was F-Vintage, I got the hole shot and started building a big lead. On lap three I came down the back straight, the bike was running like a champ and I was doing between 130 and 140 mph. As I shut off and braked to make the left, the throttles were stuck wide open. Trying to shut the bike down, I pulled too hard on the brake and went down. I slid, rolled, slid, rolled, slid and finally rolled to a stop. I laid on my back and counted my fingers and toes, all seemed in order, so I sat up to see how my head felt, that seemed Ok too. So I stood up and followed the turn workers moving my bike. I was mostly together, my shoulder and knee hurt, and the bike and leathers were beaten up.
I had a quiet evening with friends, eating burgers and drinking beer. On Sunday, I need to be out again. My shoulder was hurting really bad (later found I had a torn rotator cuff) and my gear needed a little duct taping. I seized the A1R in its event, won F250 and F500 easily and prepped myself for F-Vintage, this time on the H1R. With an outside move I took 2nd on the first corner, then followed the leader on his Superbike around the rest of the first lap. I drove hard out of the final bend and tucked into his slip stream, popping out on braking, then as Rossi would say �I win�.
Lorraine did great again over the weekend, with solid mid pack finishes on this technical track beating many seasoned riders and many local. She had shook off her crash gremlins. Wisconsin is next on our race calendar.
Year 2010 - New Decade - Part 2
As we left Portland, Jeff took the rig and bikes back to the Midwest. The Zed went back to So Cal to get straightened out by Scott. 6 weeks later, our next event was Road America in Wisconsin. Jeff picked me up in Chicago, Lorraine in Milwaukee and we arrived at the track at 8pm on Friday. We unload the bikes and also got the Zed back from its repair job, which included replacing the worn Mikuni�s with some CR Kelhin�s, they looked great.
On Saturday morning I led Lorraine around in the first practice session on my A1R, she quickly learned the track and came by me several times in the first practice. In the second practice the A1R bogged down on the first lap and stopped, as they had gridded two of my races in the same races, I parked it for the rest of the day.
Lorraine was out first and did well getting a 4th in the 200GP. However, her excitement with placing so well led to her over revving the engine (trying to draft pass Polkabla) on the first lap of the 250GP race. She needs a tachometer (or rev-o-meter as she says).
My first race was F250, I took the lead on the first lap, only to drop out with a broken shifter on lap 3. F500 was next, I got a bad start and two of the fast Yam�s had a healthy lead going into the first corner. I had been flying on the Bighorn just a few minutes ago and took the first corner fast closing them down going into turn 2. I slip streamed and took 2nd going down the back straight. The H1R was fast, at previous races both of these Yamahas had significant speed on my bike, not anymore. I followed the leader onto the start finish straight, pulling along side of him to gauge the speed of the two bikes, dead even. I took the lead on the brakes going into turn 1, and led for the next lap. At the end of the straight this time, the bike had a slight misfire, I thought maybe a mild seizure. I backed off and it continued to run, I short shifted and finished the race in second.
In Superbike on the Z1R, I had a couple of fast guys in the class, a crap start (once more) gave me a bunch of time to make up, calling for a outside pass on 5 riders in turn 2, then out braking the leader at the end of the back straight. I monitored the lead and took the win. A win followed in F-Vintage.
We pulled the bikes apart, Lorraine bike was toast, a valve had dropped making a big mess. The H1R showed no signs of seizure, so I guessed it was an electrical issue. We jetted down the A1R
Day 2, Lorraine took the A1R out for a practice, on the second session, it holed a piston. Game over for Lorraine for the weekend. I had a bunch of fun with Dave Roper in F250, he was running another class out at the same time, GP350. I figured out that short shifting the Bighorn by 500 rpm made our bikes even and we had a great time swapping backwards and forwards. I won . F500 same misfire and I finished third, then I took two more wins on the Zed.
We scurried around the next week to find an engine for Lorraine�s bike. Big thanks to Ralph Hudson who found us a race engine from Andrew Gray which we could borrow. We shipped this to our hotel for the next weekend where we were racing Grattan. We arrived on Thursday night and went to the track at noon on Friday to fix the bikes.
The motor went into the CB160 without any trouble. I noticed that the rear tire on the Zed was beyond gone, one whole band of the tire was now a slick. I borrowed a take off from the previous year from another rider. Then I noticed the issue on the H1R, the cases were severely cracked around the right hand cylinder, it was spraying mixture out of the crack. This must have been the issue at Road America. I used a whole JB weld kit hoping it would last the weekend.
I went out for practice again with Lorraine to help her learn the track, Grattan is quite tricky, well once again she did not need my help and found her own way around. After the first two laps, I followed her and she was really quick and this was only her first practice.
My first race was F250, also gridded again with 350 GP. I had a fast rider in my class and also 3+ fast guys in the 350 GP class, I was looking forward to this one. Slow start, what�s new, by the end of the first lap I had pushed into 4th place overall, 2nd in my class. On the straight I went by the second place guy in 350 GP and started to close down on the leader in F250. I was really riding on the limit. I passed him in turn 1, was retaken in 2, then got by him again, I put my head down and took my class win 10 yards behind the leader in the 350 GP group. Boy that was fun!
In the next race Lorraine was out, she had done well in her first race. After a bad start she had worked through the pack running similar lap times to the leading CB160�s. She was determined to stay with them in this race. Oops, turn 4, trying to overtake she pushed the front end and went down. She came back into the Pits with a smile and a painful shoulder. The bike had only minor damage and would be ready for the next day, but would Lorraine?
F500, we gridded with F750, making this another great opportunity for some racing, an OK start had me into turn 1 behind 3 F750 bikes and the leader in F500. I hung to his tail and overtook him after the hill/jump. I apexed well on the right then wound the power on the left, the bike slid the back wheel then caught, the high side put me up in the air, and I crashed down on the fairing with my face near the front wheel. Somehow I stayed on and made the next right, throwing away a piece of broken screen. That was close. I slowed and took second. The Zed was next up with two more wins.
On Sunday Lorraine was sore and the bike was repaired, she went out in practice and felt OK, she was ready to go! We later found out she had a broken collar bone, that is my girl! She was a little more cautious but still finished 5th in her races.
In same battle in F250 until my shifter broke again, dang. Then in F500, again in a dice for the lead, he overtook me after the jump and lost the front end. I took the win. And, a win later on the Zed finished up the weekend. We had a made dash to the airport, I made my flight which was better than the previous week.
When I looked at the lap times between the bikes and compared them to last year for Road A and Grattan, I realized how far things had come, both in the bikes and my riding. I ran the same times on the Zed at Road A then dropped them by 2 sec a lap at Grattan, the carbs were not set up properly and the bike lacked both the quick response as I opened the throttle and some top end whumph, good progress but more to come.
The H1R was now a rocket, my laps times had dropped 9 sec a lap at RA and 5.5 sec at Grattan. But I am sure there is more to come. The cases braking slowed me, and also the front end feel was an issue, but I had a plan. The biggest surprise was the BH, which was unchanged from last year, I dropped my lap times by more than 5 sec a lap at both tracks. I was riding much, much better. After riding the Zed the BH is a puppy and I am now riding it super hard. At the end of the Grattan weekend, only 0.8 sec a lap separated my lap times on the Zed vs. the BH and it has a bloody long straight! As we went into the next race weekend, we were pleased with the 5 week gap, hoping both our shoulders would heal.
Next event was VIR, it was hot. Lorraine, Jeff and I arrived at the track mid day Friday for Lorraine to practice and for Jeff and I to reassemble the H1R engine into new strengthen engine cases. Well that was the plan and did I mention that it was hot. Lorraine crashed and hurt her ankle and knee, while Jeff and I struggled to get the H1R engine together, as we assembled the bottom end it would not shift gear. After 4-5 attempts we found the cases were warped and as they were tightened the shift drum, would not shift. Urg. By this time Lorraine leg started to swell and she was in pain so off we went to the hospital, she had broken her ankle, Double Urg.
After a bad start the weekend continued in that theme. The Bighorn was vibrating badly and would not shift at high rpm. And the Zed developed a misfire. The A1R was running well. On Saturday, I took a 2nd or 3rd in F250, way slow, then somehow won the F500 on the BH, I dropped out of both races on the Zed. Saturday night, found the issue on the Zed, an ignition pick up had come loose from the mounting plate. Took a 3rd in 350 GP on the A1R. Sunday, the Zed was running and took two wins, an engine bolt was bust on the BH so I vibrated to a 3rd and 2nd in F250 and F500. In 350 GP I hung with the two leaders then ran off the track trying to get through some back markers. Oh, and did I mention it was hot.
Pleased to see the back of VIR, I looked forward the next weekend and going up to Mosport.
Year 2010 - New Decade - Part 3
After the crummy weekend at VIR, Lorraine hung out with me while I worked in Atlanta. We had both planned to run at Mosport the following weekend. However, with her leg now in a cast that wasn�t going to happen. We flew into Toronto on Friday evening, it is pretty handy having a wife in a wheelchair, you get to go to the front of all the lines, however, trying to drag two bags as well as push a wheelchair was a challenge.
On Saturday morning we arrived at the track, excellent weather, making it three years in a row. This was my first outing on the H2R for the year and I had been running the track in my head with a plan to take a second off my lap times. Basically no brakes into turns 1, 2 and 8, the plan was to throw the bike in and let the corner scrub down the speed. In practice I started slow and went faster till I could do it at fully speed. Turn 8, was a challenge as it is at the end of a 140 mph straight. I also figured out how to get the BH to shift, by gently adding a little weight to the shifter it steadied the shift pawl from the vibration, then I could push it a little further to get the next gear. Of course the braking plan was not an issue on the BH.
First heat was P2 Light on the BH, I led from start to finish, no pressure and no issues. Second up was P2 Heavy. I was racing against Jeff, who I had had some outstanding close races with over the last 5 year and also Tim Joyce on his 750 Triumph. Tim had a rocket start with Jeff right behind him, after turn 2 I was right behind them. As we came to the back straight, I tucked down, caught Jeff�s slipstream and flew by him, a moment later by Tim as well. I led for 3 laps, then slowed to see who was behind me. Tim came by and I followed him for the next few laps and took second. In P3 heavy, I took the lead on lap 1 and then the win. Pushing harder through the race I was still holding to my plan. Due to a technical issue no lap times were posted.
Sunday turned out uneventful, I took an early lead and held it on P3 Heavy, then straight out for P2 Light, got the lead and won. Finally P2 Heavy, again got the lead and won again. On both Heavy races, Tim and Jeff were close behind, but did not come by. When the lap times were finally posted, we had all beaten the previous lap record by nearly a second and I took the new mark. A much better weekend, a totally turn around from VIR.
Three weeks later I headed to Miller near Salt Lake City. If things went well I could wrap up 3 championships and make the fourth F250, a head to head finish at Barber. As a plus for the weekend, I had a long term friend coming in from the Netherlands, Leo, and he was going to ride my bikes and share the fun.
I arrived Thursday night and Jeff and I immediately went to work, first fitting and hooking up the H1R engine in strengthened cases, then mounting Lorraine�s CB160 engine into the chassis, we got done at 10pm. On Friday we continued to work on the bikes, completing the CB160 and doing maintenance stuff on the Zed, BH and A1R. Leo arrived that evening.
On Saturday morning things got busy, I was riding all four of the practice groups and Leo, three of them.. My line up was CB160 (yes I was going to try Lorraine�s bike), Bighorn, H1R, and Z1R, Leo�s A1R, H1R (the bike Hurley had used) and H2R. We cycled through the bikes; every time Leo came back we put him on another bike, and pushed him out again. The bikes were running well and I was having a ton of fun with the CB160. It had absolutely no power and when you messed up a corner it took half a lap to make up the time. You had to run all kinds of crazy lines to keep exit speed, I learned a lot. All of the H Series bikes were having chatter problems, but the other bikes had none.
My first race was the CB160. This involved a Le Mans start where you run across the track to the bike to push start it. After a restart I finished in 9th and was pretty tired after sprinting across the track twice because of a restart. I did not realize this was an Iron Man challenge, and wondered where the swimming event came in!
The Zed kicked ass and I won Superbike, got a 3rd dragging the pegs around on every corner on the A1R, then won F500 on the H1R. Leo and I were now up in F250 and F-Vintage, I was riding the Bighorn and Leo the A1R in F250, Zed for me and H1R for Leo in F-Vintage.
F250, after the drag into the first corner, I took the lead by turn 3 and started moving through the Sportsman class gridded with us. Then the bike went �Borwa�, a plug had worked loose and come out, I pulled over. Leo pushed on and took an excellent 2nd on the A1R.
F-Vintage, I started hard on the Zed and led the class from turn 5, then started to work hard on the Sound of Thunder (Ducati and Buell twins) group gridded with us. I was pushing really hard trying my best to embarrass these modern bikes. On lap 4 I saw Leo�s H1R in the dirt, no ambulances around so he must be (mostly) OK. I pushed hard; took a 6th overall, beating 2/3�s of the modern bikes. Leo came back to the pits, the bike was a little sorry for itself and Leo had hurt his hand. We administer the essential first aid, ice on the hand and lots of beer. He seemed pretty happy through the evening.
In the morning Leo�s hand was pretty swollen and he had it checked out by the medics, a broken finger, which they bandaged up. Leo was done for the weekend. I practiced on the CB160 and got faster by changing the gearing and jetting. I was also wearing my knee pucks away, quite a strange event for me.
So for Sunday:
CB160: 12th place, really bad start when I could not get 2nd gear, however, dropped my lap times by 2seconds from Saturday.
Superbike (Z1R): Easy win, also beating the whole Thruxton group in front of us in the grid.
GP350 (A1R): Still a 3rd, dropped 2 seconds by jacking up the rear suspension.
F500 (H1R): Only one in the class, guess I won, got chased by Roper in the 500 Premier class until he crashed.
F250 (Bighorn): Easy win and spanked the other classes in the race.
FVintage (Z1R): Easy win, chased the SOT guys for a while, then backed off. On my 12th race of the weekend, I was getting tired and the Z1R takes some muscles to move it around.
At the end of the weekend, Leo had a great time, although he was leaving with a busted hand. I had locked up the three championships but the DNF on Saturday had hurt the chances of F250 title. At the end of the weekend I was completely drained, 6 races (plus practice) each day is quite a work out, let alone all that running across the track and I had lowered my fastest lap on the Zed by 1.4 seconds.
The last race of the season was Barber. I love this track, but normally am locked for championships by this stage of the season and just a little burnt out. But for this year I was not locked, and Lorraine wanted to sample the excellent technical and smooth Barber track. We hoped her ankle and knee were going to be ready.
Her knee and ankle healed and I signed up for an extra event, Open GP to pit my H2R against some TZ750�s and RG 500�s. Practice went fine, Lorraine did not crash and was having fun with the track. The rear tires on Zed and the H2R were shagged and slid a lot till they got thoroughly hot, the H1R holed a piston and we did not have a spare and I was having problems getting the Bighorn to shift again and was way off the pace 7 seconds a lap behind the person I needed to beat. Guess that is a statement of �fine�.
Lorraine was out first and in her three races worked her lap times down to a very respectable 2:06. My first race was F250, the one class where the title was not locked down. I diced with the contender for the title for 2 laps, swapping positions, then I missed a gear, then another and lost touch, he won taking the championship for the year. I did reduce my laps times by the 7 seconds needed from practice.
Straight back out on the H2R I gridded against the TZ�s. Green flag, big wheelie, I put the wheel down on the gas, up it went again. I made it to the first corner in the lead, in the second lap a modern TZ 250/350 came by me and I spent the rest of the race dicing with the Super Motard�s before out braking myself on turn 1 on the last lap and running off the track. Last event of the day for me was Superbike. At last some competition, I was chasing a Guzzi for the first lap then a Ducati went by me. These bikes were much more suited to this technical track, especially with the shagged rear tire on the Zed. I eventually got the Guzzi but the Ducati was gone, way gone.
On Sunday Lorraine continued to go faster posting a 2:03, super fast, on her CB160. I managed to work around the shifting issue on the Bighorn, winning the last F250 race of the year and lowing my lap times by one second to a 1:47.0. After some great racing in the other events, I finished with the same results as Saturday, avoiding the off track experience on the H2R this time. Best lap, was the H2R at 1:43.6 with the Zed 1.3 seconds behind.
Well what a year, with some fantastic highlights and some memorable experiences. First, Lorraine is now racing with me and having a ton of fun. Despite crashing 3 times, breaking her collar bone and ankle, she got back on the bike every time and just went fast through the year. A special lady. I took 3 championships and took the lap record at Mosport. My lap times were dramatically improved on all of the bikes; the Zed as I got used to its weird handling and just rode it hard, the H2R which now seemed tame compared to the Zed, the H1R through a hugely improved engine and the Bighorn as I improved my riding skills.
For next year I need to get the reliability back on the H1R, hopefully the major issues had been solved but we shall see. The H2R is getting the first engine improvement in 12 years of racing, now it was getting Scott�s magic touch. And as an add to the team for next year, I was prepping a TZ750, just to see what they are like to race.
Year 2011 - Breaking - Part 1
I spent some time with a multiple Olympic gold medal swimmer. He told me how his training had started 3 years before the event. He plotted how the world record for his event had improved over the years and then what it would likely be at the Olympics he was planning to attend. He then drove his training program and his personal best times to meet this time. He focused on the clock, if you can beat the world record, you can win the race. My goal this year was, beat the clock, beat the lap record and win the race.
As I travelled down to Australia, my winter rebuilds were partially complete. The H1R was freshened up before being shipped down under. The Zed got a top end check through, the carbs set up on a dyno and a new paint job, repairing the crash damage from Portland last year. My new race bike a TZ750 was completely rebuilt and looking pretty.
The H2R was still with Scott for an extreme tune over and he also had the BH engine for a routine strip down. Plans for the H2R included some new pipes. With a change in the AHRMA rules, I would be able to run the TZ750 and the H2R at each event. Based on the Dyno work and simulations, the Z1R and big 2-strokes would all have 120 hp, but completely different power characteristics. The year would be very interesting, which would be the quickest. I was betting on the H2R, I know the bike and it is also the lightest.
Anyway, the logistics for Australia had proven easier this year as an AHRMA buddy worked for a shipping company and that eased that normal cluster� My biggest issue was race gas, which was in short supply in Oz and incredibly expensive. Making the trip with me this year was my season racing buddy, Jeff.
A pause here, it has taken me a month after the visit to feel like writing the update. Things did not go to plan. The bike cleared flawlessly, we prepped it for the event. We picked up the fuel and had a good time hanging out with my friends. The racing did not go as planned. The fuel, US VP race fuel, was a big issue. The first can I opened made my eyes water and everyone in the garage questioned what the heck I was running. Well the bike ran like crap and then seized, upped the jets, ran crap and seized again. Day 2, I opened the 2nd can, this had little smell, the bike ran really bad and oiled plugs, jetted down, still oiling plugs. Day 3, I borrowed some Avgas from the NZ team I was pitted with. Bike ran better but was way too rich and would not rev, jetted down, better still too rich would not rev, jetted down again, posted my fastest time of the weekend but the bike was still rich. Race over.
After all the work planning, preparing and the costs, etc. I had been screwed by bad fuel which had cost me $20 a gallon to use. After my complaint to VP, I am still waiting for a reply. So all I can say is do not use VP racing fuel, if you can use anything else, use it.
Back to the rest of the season, the next event was a new track, new for us, in Texas. Now the rush was on to get all the bikes ready. Scott was wrapping up the H2R before I picked it up and gave him the BH to complete. I needed to finish off the H1R and get all the minors parts done on the other bikes. Lorraine CB160 went green for the season and The Z1R also got painted.
With a last minute dash I cleared the H1R through customs at 4pm on the Friday I planned to start my drive to Texas. I spent the evening making some minor repairs before loading the bike. I went to bed early and set my alarm for 2am. I headed to Scott to pick up the Bighorn and with a full van made the 1,700 mile trip arriving in Dallas by 3pm on Sunday. Urg. The following weekend we turned up for the race.
It did not start or end well but there were a few bright spots along the way. To cover the bad. Within 30 mins of getting set up, the wind caught the easy-up which was attached to the Sprinter van and two full 5 gallon cans of fuel. It hoisted both cans in the air and like a catapult hurdled one through the parking lot and the other on top of my van, putting a huge dent in the roof. The Bighorn had shifter issues and refused to shift, the H1R had a strange back fire that kept spitting off the center pipe, a pickup went dead on the A1R and also one on Lorraine�s CB. Oh and Lorraine crashed again, oops as she said, �it wasn�t a crash, it was just a low side�.
The up sides of the weekend were, the Z1R was much better to ride with the sorted carbs, really easy to slide the rear end and the TZ was an immediate pleasure to ride, fast but incredibly well handling. I won both Superbike races (Z1R), one F500 (H1R) both Open GP (TZ) and shared a win and a second in F-Vintage.
The following weekend I got to drive home, a half day Friday to get out of TX, followed by a grueling 1,250 mile 16+ hour day of driving on Saturday. But at least I slept in my own bed Saturday night for the first time in two weeks.
Our next outing was Willow Springs, only a mere 300+ miles away, I could drive there and back twice in one day if I wanted . We practiced on Friday, getting the bike set up for the track. Apart from a seized piston on the BH everything went well and I even ran my RG500 Mk7 around the track to get a feel for it�s power and handling. Actually it was pretty darn good, very close to the TZ750.
Lorraine did well on her CB, slightly down on lap times in the very high winds, but no crashes. She also started to get the hang of the A1R, however, it kept losing power after a short time on the track.
I won Superbike on the Z1R easily both days despite nursing totally worn out tire on Sunday, it had zero grip on right hand turns and Willow has a ton of those. I won Open-GP (only rider) both days on the H2R, but had a lot of fun totally blowing away the 4-strokes in the F-750 races gridded with me. And, in F-Vintage, on the TZ, I won easily spending my time battling with BOT riders and finishing 2nd and 3rd overall on each day. And., I beat my previous best lap time with a 1:33, without competition, with competition, there must be another second or two to take off.
F250/500 was the interesting races. First, they put both groups into the same race. So I had to race the 500 class on my BH, then I would be scored for both. Also in the race was 350 GP with some fast bikes and riders. As well as some fast bikes and riders in F250.
On Saturday, it quickly developed into a 3 way duel between a 250 Yam, a 350 Aremacci and my BH. On lap 2 I was second and the Yam missed a corner and I took the lead. Coming down the straight, I tucked in, but the Yam slip streamed by, I went to duck behind him only to find the Aramacci right there, we came together, him clipping my handlebar quite hard. I went up in the air, landed on the fairing and smashing the screen. I came down my nuts providing a soft landing on the tank. I was ready to hit the deck when the bike straighten itself out, shortly followed by me and I followed the other bikes with a very sore groin into 1. I composed myself for the next lap, waiting for the pain to die down, before getting up to speed again. I won by a good margin. On Sunday, try as I might, I just kept losing ground to the Yam on the straights and could not make it up on the curves, so I took a second.
Next up was a WERA event, I wanted to face up against some different opposition. I entered F500 for the H1R, F-2stroke for the H2R and V5 for the TZ. Not such a good weekend. In practice 4th gear disappeared on the H1R. Disassembly showed the dogs had broken. I was going well on the TZ, then coming out of the tight 180 degree turn 4, the back end let go without any warning and I ended on the ground. The pretty TZ was now not so pretty. In F-2stroke the H2R romped away to an easy win. Then in V5, now riding the H2R, I was leading easily when the center pipe came loose and I pulled in. Oh well�.
Year 2011 - Breaking - Part 2
From the WERA Barber event, we had a number of fixes to make. Big thanks to Jeff for getting through these before our next race at Road America in WI. Fiber glass work on the TZ, BH and CB, welding repairs on the TZ and rear tires on the TZ and Z1R. I pulled out a spare crank and gearbox for the H1R and mailed them to Jeff. Our plan being to assemble the engine and fit it to the bike in the hotel the night before RA.
Before this event, Lorraine and I planned a little schooling to improve our riding, so we signed up for a Keith Code school at Barber. I pinpointed some areas that I wanted to improve and Lorraine kept it simple with the goal to go around corners quicker but not fall off.
The Keith Code school was great, I started at level 1, a little (lot) slow, but had fun riding the BMW 1000 sport bike. I was pulled off the track several times for being �dangerous�. On one occasion, leaving big black lines from the rear tire on corner entries. Which corner I asked, most of them came the reply, I guess I was consistent. Compared to a vintage bike, things were very stable. We had a good time and I learned some good techniques, I thorough ally recommend the course.
Road America was the next weekend. Jeff and I rebuilt the H1R engine on Friday night in the hotel room and then we fitted it on Saturday morning. I took the bike out for practice only to have another gearbox problem. I was later to find out that a tooth had broken off another gear, perhaps residual damage from the previous issue with the dogs. The H1R was out again for the weekend.
Due to some bad weather and a wet track, I practiced just once in each group, the BH, H1R, H2R and Z1R. That left the TZ without a session. So I took it out on a scrub lap to get rid of the sheen from the new rear tire. As I came down the first straight, the back end was way loose, sliding all over the place. What was up? On the next corner it slid again. I nursed it around the carousel and then blasted down to Canada corner, the backend slid then high sided me off the bike. Dang, two crashes because of rear tire issues on the TZ, I needed to find an alternative to the Avon.
The events were straight forward with wins on the BH in F250 and 3rd places in F500 (tough track to win on the BH), then two wins on the Zed in Superbike. F-Vintage was more fun. My H2R was pitted against a very fast TZ750. On Saturday after swapping the lead on most laps, including an interesting outside pass into turn 1 (you have to know the track to appreciate that one), I came away with the win. On Sunday, despite some hairball moves on the last lap (this time a pass between the chicane on the back straight, not before or after, but between, you have to know that track to appreciate that one too), I came in second.
Next weekend was Gratten. Another Friday night was spent putting the H1R engine together with a new gear box. On Saturday the bike ran poorly and I nursed it to a win and then a 2nd on Sunday. The BH ran great for a win on Sat, then stopped shifting on Sunday, Second place both days with a shagged back tire on the Zed and 4 wins over the two days on the H2R in Open GP and F-Vintage.
And then to complete the 4 weekend marathon we went racing at Road Atlanta with WERA, which was my first time to this track. With 12 laps of practice, I went out for F500 on a H1R that was still running poorly, the center carb came off on the warm up lap and I came in. In F-2-Stroke, I lined my H2R up against a bunch of Yam 400�s and a couple of Kawasaki 750�s, with an unusually good start I was first into corner 1, I never looked back, taking the win by 7 seconds. Not bad considering my lack of track knowledge.
For the V5 race, I got a good start, chased the leaders hard through the first half of lap 1, taking the lead on the back straight which I held for a win.
Three weeks later we headed our for an AMA/WERA event at Mid-O. A tough choice as this was the same weekend as MotoGP at Laguna. Lorraine made the choice, obviously she has the racing bug, so cool. We arrived on Friday and rotated through starting the bikes, not good, the H2R and H1R ran rough not firing on three and the Bighorn was making weird noises after getting a new clutch hub and gear. Fortunately Rick was around and after a late night the bikes came together. Unfortunately they did not stay together.
After practice on Saturday it started well, my first race on the H2R against the other 750�s. After pushing through the pack on the first half lap, I chased down the leader after the 2nd lap, he pulled off and I settled into a rhythm, a slow one until the last but one lap, when I was hunted down by the second placed guy. Woops, I put my head down and took the win. Lorraine did an excellent job in the 250 race and took a 2nd. The rest of the day, we watched the rain come down then stop, then come down some more and stop, Mid-O is not track to run with damp conditions.
The next day, after a great evening drinking beer and eating BBQ with the Brits, followed by a wheelie session on a golf cart, a short practice on a rapidly drying track, set us up for the day. The H1R was out for the first race, it ran like crap and I finished 3rd. Next the Bighorn, which ran OK, just not right and after some good racing I finished 2nd. Then big time gremlins, I pulled up to the start on the H2R, the clutch came lose and I pulled out, then I went to go out on the BH, lots of smoke, the seal between the inlet tract and gearbox had failed. Game over.
I always look forward to the Mosport event, and this year was no different. We made an easy trade off against the AHRMA event at VIR. My bike stable was focused on the 750�s and the Bighorny, Lorraine on just on the A1R. We arrived on Friday evening and got the bikes tech�ed. On Saturday we discovered that we had just one practice session. This was going to be tough for Lorraine as it was her first time on the track. The bikes ran well in practice and we had our heats in the afternoon.
I took heat wins in all of my classes, with a really good race in the P2 Lightweight class on the Horney. Actually not with a bike in my class, but one in P1-500 which was gridded with us. We exchanged the lead every lap, he came by me on the straight with speed and I did some interesting outside overtaking moves. When I looked at the lap times, I had just taken the lap record in the class by a whole second, awesome!
On Sunday we got just one more round and I lead Lorraine around showing her the lines. Then I took a run on the TZ still getting used to its handling and potential. Our first race was P2 Light, with the BH and the A1R. I had another great battle with a different P1-500 bike and took a class win. Lorraine�s bike crapped out with a bad battery. Lorraine then took an excellent 2nd place in P1-250 posting a lap time just 2 seconds behind the record set by Roper. Outstanding!
I lined up for P2-Heavy next on the H2R. I got a great launch then nearly flipped the bike in a power wheelie and then got stuck in traffic. On lap 1 I was 6-7 seconds down on the leader. After riding the great handling TZ, the H2R was all over the place. I eventually reeled in him on lap 6 of 8 and took the win. As a bonus I squeezed down the lap record by 0.2 seconds. The last race was on the TZ, I took the lead on lap 3, then a shifting problem started. I pulled in. Not a bad weekend, two wins and two lap records.
Our next race weekend was in Salt Lake City at Miller. A fun track with a lot of grip. Lorraine practiced on Friday making sure this time that she know the track before the races. I worked then swapped the gearing on all of the bikes. The weekend provided uneventful, I took 9 wins out of 10 races, not too much competition. In the 10th I lost a lead on the battery on the Z1R. Lorraine had some great races and continued to get comfortable with the A1R, even getting her knee down much of the time. And even better the bikes stayed together apart from the CB getting a puncture.
Year 2011 - Breaking - Part 3
The last two events for the year were back to back at Barber and Daytona. And, these had been marketed as a “world” championship held over the two races at Barber and one at Daytona. The bikes were mostly together from Miller and Lorraine, Jeff and I arrived at Barber on Thursday to get set up.
Originally we did not intend to practice on Friday, however, the practice sessions on Saturday before the races were very short and we both needed to check out the bikes. It was a mess, during the course of Friday there were 57 crashes and 13 red flags. People were going nuts and there were many inexperienced riders on the track. But our bikes were running well and neither Lorraine or I got into any trouble.
Saturday came around and Leo joined us, this year just riding the H2R. I was racing the TZ750 in the OpenGP class.
Lorraine started well in 200GP, and then her CB stopped running in the Le Mans race, why she was dicing for 3rd spot, by far the fastest real 160 on the track. She had snapped the cam chain. My first race was Open-GP, a small field, joined by another TZ750 and Leo on my H2R. I took an early lead taking my time in passing the modern 2 strokes in the class ahead of us. On the last lap, to my surprise the other TZ came by and I needed to pick up my pace. I got him before the line for the win.
Next up was F250 on the Horney, this was going to be a great race. After clearing the field on the second lap the battle developed with two other guys. We were all pushing really hard. Then my throttle began to stick and I look down to see the top of the carb had unscrewed itself. I was out of the race. The Z1R was next, a good start had me leading the first lap, then I hit some lap riders and a Guzzi came by. We worked through the traffic swapping places, when the red flag came out. On the restart I took the hole-shot and lead until the last lap when he came by with a block pass at the hairpin, I tried to take him back at the museum corner, but could not make it. I then made an outside move on the AL rollercoaster (yes that is a corner) and held it to the line.
In F500 I took a distance 2nd, not sure what was up and then for the final race I took a 4th or 5th place in F-Vintage, the tire on the TZ had gone off.
Day 2, with a new tire on the TZ things were a little better, however the results were mostly the same. I got screwed up on the Horney again, but in a different way, a racer from the class behind, jumped the start and then proceeded to drive by me on the straights on park in the corners. By the time I got by him the two leaders were long gone. I did post the same lap times as the winner, that would have been one heck of a race, next year. We borrowed a spare engine for Lorraine’s CB160, it was not fast, but at least it was running.
Off to Daytona, just one practice session for each bike made the jetting and gearing a guess. Fortunately, despite ambitious gearing guesses we hit the mark. OpenGP was my first race on the TZ. A TZ750 at Daytona is something else, man that bike is fast. This was the first bike I have ridden at Daytona that you need to aggressively lean into the banked corner. I led around the first lap, crossing the finish line at 100 and a lot, when something hit my right leg, I looked down, my leg was soaked, the TZ had dumped all its water on me.
Next was F500 leading across the line on the first lap, suddenly no drive, I thought the chain has come off or the front sprocket. It turned out all the bolts on the clutch had sheared. Two races, two DNF’s, this was getting to feel like previous Daytona’s. F250, the Bighorn ran great and I took an easy win in my class, taking an outright win by passing Roper in another class on the finish line on the last lap.
I then had an excellent race on the Z1R against a very fast Ducati, I had the speed on the banking, he on braking, into 2 and the chicane and of course through the in-field. We swapped positions for most of the laps until I had one of the largest slides in my race career. I had passed him coming into the chicane, and the back end let go, off the power. I thought it was going to flip me off, then the front let go and somehow the bike and I kept going. I finished second.
After a ton of work we fixed the H1R clutch and tried to fix the TZ, it was pressuring the water system. Despite resealing the heads, it still pumped out water.
For the next rounds, I took another win in F250, in F500, the bike mildly seized finishing the first lap. I took the H2R out for OpenGP and finished 2nd behind the other TZ750 and another 2nd in Superbike on the Z1R to end the season.
This had been by far the most successful racing year. I took 5 US championships and 3 “World” championships. I won 2 of the 3 races at Mosport and took 2 lap records. The TZ750 had dumped me off twice, due to rear tire issues, but I had enjoyed taking on this new challenge. And back to the original goal of the year, on the same tracks with the same bike, I went faster 11 times and slower 11 times. Not too shabby.
Talking of challenges, looking forward to 2012, I am preparing for a trip to Europe, I have purchased a P&M Kawasaki in the UK and plan to race the Vintage endurance race at Spa and the IOM.
Year 2012 - Another Dimension
2012 was going to be a quite different year. I closed 2011 with 5 US championships and a bunch of other wins, after this kind of winning, where do you go next? Well, it turned out that I could take some extended time off with Lorraine. So along with some vacation to some previously unvisited locations, I planned to race Spa for their 4 hour event and also the ManxGP at the Isle of Man. Sprint road racing on circuits is one thing, an endurance race and a race on (small) public roads should be something else.
Late in 2011 I found a P&M Z1 that I had been looking for in the UK. The plan was to race this bike in Spa, Belgium, and the IOM located between England and Ireland. The bike was delivered to my parents’ house in England after Christmas and then some heavy planning began, both for our race trip and vacation.
The season started with a long trip out to Florida to compete in an AHRMA event at Roebling at the end of Feb. Friday the weather was beautiful, on Saturday we had tornado warnings and it was raining hard. Not a big wet weather rider, I had doubts but rationalized that it would probably rain in Spa and IOM, so I might as well get used to it. I splish splashed for 3 races taking two seconds and a third before a “funnel” was spotted near the track, the start of a tornado, the racing was stopped for the day.
Sunday, the track eventually dried and I took 5 wins from 5 races. Lorraine with a greatly improved CB160 took two solid second places and then a second on the A1R. Trying another bike a G31, the bike seized, oops.
The second AHRMA event in April was my local track at Willow Springs. Saturday, Lorraine has an outstanding race on her CB with another 2nd and then a 4th in the 200GP. She then crashed the A1R and broke her collar bone, bummer a bad break with the bone shattered into 5 pieces.
I seized the H1R badly and broke a con rod, then won F250, FVintage, Superbike and OpenGP. I followed the next day, with the same class wins and a second in F500 on the Bighorn.
By this time, the Spa and IOM prep was in full swing. I found and started to order all the parts needed for Spa, lights, batteries (total loss on the bike), special fillers, etc. And then started the long process of obtaining a license for the IOM, finally getting a break through by joining the Irish racing club and using their sponsorship to get a mountain license. Sometimes just getting everything ready is the hardest part of the race.
Up came the third AHRMA event, the last before the summer of fun, at Road America, a super-fast track. The H1R was still being repaired so I was doing double duty on the Bighorn again, which took me to two distant 3rd places in F500 and a win followed by a seize in F250. Superbike was much more interesting, on Saturday, the right footrest fell downwards on the start line, so I had nowhere to put my foot. I held the lead for 7 laps before getting overtaken on the last lap. Dang. On Sunday I had a huge lead from the start as a serious contender had stalled on the line, I lolly-gagged around and he nabbed me on the last lap again, with some outstanding riding. I also sneaked a race on Lorraine’s much improved CB160 and took a 2nd in GP200, that bike is good to carry me around!
Then the fun really started with our European trip. Everything had been staged at my parent’s home. After a cup of tea and saying hi to my Mum and Dad, I went to check out the bike and the parts. The bike looked great, but it did not fit me and there was nowhere to fit the second battery for the lights. Fortunately my Dad is a welder and we made some mods to the frame to move the seat back, relocate a frame cross brace and fit another battery under the seat. The day after my buddy Jeff arrived and we mounted all the lights, switches, fuses and added the wiring loom. Then the first test, how long would a large Shorei battery last with all of the lights on. Well it last 70 minutes, which meant we needed some careful battery management.
We headed over to Spa, via the Chunnel on Wednesday for registration and tech on Thursday, practice Friday and Saturday and the race starting at 8pm on Saturday night finishing at mid-night. My co-rider was another Jeff, he and I had shared some incredible races at Mosport and we had struck up a friendship chatting over the races and moves over beers. His father and brother joined the team as well as Mike and Hurley, who happened to have a European vacation planned at the same time with his wife Brenda. We all met at a café in Spa and had a few beers and a meal.
Registration and tech was long, different, but eventually non eventful and we set up our pit in a garage shared with two other teams. Some AHRMA friends in the next slot. Well, our garage mates had obviously done this before, they had full cooking equipment, picnic tables, even a tent in the garage…. We had chairs but little else. They had sophisticated pit boards, we planned to use the top of a folding table, we just laughed at how relatively unprepared we were.
Friday we made it on the track, the bike ran OK, not fast, but OK, but the forks bottomed badly on the brakes, we added preload, thanks to some modified sockets. Then a misfire started, the bike spitting and popping quite badly. Despite this we managed to qualify about 25th about of 70 teams, including the mandatory night sessions. The P&M although not fast was very stable and, I guess was fast enough. The lights were not super bright but bright enough.
Saturday came around and we practiced more, the misfire got far worse. Thanks to some other Brit racers we diagnosed the issue as the ignition box and they lent us another unit. It worked and the bike ran well. We fitted LED lights to the bike to make it easier to spot and mounted a small clock on the tach, our plan to pit on each hour. We practiced our pit stop made more complicated by the fact we needed to swap batteries on each stop for the total loss ignition and lights.
At 8pm we lined up, you start with a dead engine pushing the bike to fire the engine. Jeff took the honor of the first leg, unfortunately the new ignition made the bike very hard to start and we were 67th out of 70 bikes into the first corner. Over the next hour Jeff pulled us back to 32nd, excellent!
On time he pulled into the pits and our team did a great job, 4+ gallons of fuel, two battery swaps, screen cleaned and bike checked over in 45 seconds. I jumped on happy to be in the race. I quickly got into a rhythm, still working my line on El Rouge the signature corner of the track. After what seemed like many laps, I checked the clock, it was 25 minutes into the hour, just the length of my normal sprint races! A couple more laps in, the “Headlamp on” sign came up, so I flicked on just one light, I would have been fine with nothing, but I guess people need to see me. As the light continued to diminish, the red flashing LED on my helmet became an issue, the reflection on the screen was way too distracting. I pulled in as my hour came to an end. I had moved us up to 16th.
Another quick pit stop and Jeff was off. I sat down stretching out, but Jeff returned, the bike had stopped. We tried for the next 90 minutes to get a spark, but there was nothing. Dang, game over, the ignition had completely failed. We opened up some beers and celebrated anyway, getting an early start on the riders coming in at the end of the 4 hours.
Looking at the lap times, at the pace we were running, we were on track for a top 10 finish.
On the way back from Belgium I called around and found someone to fit a new ignition on the bike and check it over before we headed back to the US for a break in our vacation. As I tracked the repair progress over email, the ignition went on and the dismal 98 hp initially was tweaked to 112. I thought the bike was a little sluggish at Spa. Then a week before the IOM during another dyno run the bike dropped a valve and on strip down the crank was worn. New (used) crank, new piston, new liner, new valves and a repaired head later, I was happy to pick up the bike back on the way to the IOM.
We arrived on the IOM late on Thursday night, to the greeting of Ade, a buddy we were staying with, and Ronnie who had generously provided a ZX6 for my use on the Newcomers race, it was raining hard. It had been for several weeks. On Friday we trudged through registration and all of the other admin items, it took the whole day. It was still raining and the mountain part of the track was closed due to parts of the road being washed out.
Saturday morning, I had a Newcomers tour of the track via bus, still raining. The bikes were tech’ed in the afternoon with a supervised lap planned for the late afternoon. It started to dry, although “some” wet sections were reported on the track. Oh dear, at this stage I had completed only one lap of the track in any form at a very slow speed in the bus. Well at least it was a follow the leader lap behind a marshal. As this was a newcomers event, I rode the ZX6. After ¼ of the lap I lost my group and was totally lost, I had no idea which way the track went, let alone how fast I could take a corner, did I mention there are many blind corners out of the 200+ on the 38 mile course, most lined with things that would hurt you. I came in stunned, knowing I needed some prep and quickly.
I borrowed a road bike from Ronnie, Ade took me around for four laps on Sunday, then on Monday I completed another five, by this time I had figured out the major corners and where the track went, well at 80 mph on the fast sections and 30-40 in the towns. On Monday afternoon, another practice was planned, however, it was raining again. They delayed the session due to fog on the mountain and eventually I ran one half a lap on the ZX6 stopping at Ramsey due to the visibility issues. That half a lap was better, I knew where the road went, I was still slow as I worked out the line using both sides of the road but I was making progress.
The weather improved on Tuesday and we were scheduled for practice on both bikes. I started out on the P&M, these were my first two fast complete laps of the track. I came in then went straight back out on the ZX6 for another two laps.
On the first lap on the 6 another bike blew an engine right in front of me near the start of the lap, just before Greeba Castle, covering my helmet screen with oil. Only a minor visibility issue normally, but the sun was low in the sky and I was heading directly towards it. I was blinded by huge rainbows of light. I tried to clean it with my hand, no luck, then raised the visor and ran a couple of miles until I turned away from the Sun at Ballacrane. I was sure I would come in after the first lap, but as I came over the mountain, I saw the sun was going behind some clouds, so I continued for the second lap.
As I got off the bike after four laps my brain was “on overload”, I had been riding at speed on tiny roads which I half knew, for nearly 2 hours. Although I generally knew where the course went, each corner still needed to be identified, assessed, and the bike setup whilst pushing as hard as I could to build and keep the speed.
I did an 88mph lap on the P&M and 91 on the ZX6. Ade tried to pull me back to the local for a beer, but I just needed alcohol right then to calm me down. I was shell shock and babbling. Three beers later I was ready to move again, but still a little overwhelmed with the whole thing.
In the morning after a good beer induced sleep, I started to target where I could go faster on the course. I had a top 8 corners for improvement and another 8 behind them. I took the road bike out again and worked through these completing another 4 laps in traffic. The P&M forks were too stiff so we made some changes.
Off we went on Wednesday afternoon for another 4 laps of practice, the corners I had tagged were working much better. My debrief with Ade and Ronnie was now about the places where you take off and the huge wheelie points. They smiled as they knew I was going faster. I posted a 98 mph lap on the 6 and 94 on the P&M. I was still generally weak on the mountain section, but felt better on the section from the start to Ballacrane then Sarahs Cottage to Ramsey. On the P&M the forks were much better, but the strap that holds the petrol tank in place came off, which meant I needed to keep the tank in place over the jumps, etc. using my belly and legs. Not ideal, but I got around.
After a little more road work, I had another 4 laps of practice on Thursday. I was starting to get my confidence and was blocking out the violence of the track, happy to keep the bike heading in the right general direction. I posted 98.6 mph on the P&M and 100.2mph on 6. I achieved my 100 mph lap!!!! Zero, absolute zero to 100 mph in 7 days on one of the toughest tracks in the world. That felt darn good.
The next event was the Newcomers race on Saturday. It rained hard all day Friday and through Saturday until early afternoon, the road was a mess, some flooded areas and some streams across the track. Oh dear, I hate riding in the rain and was not looking forward to the race at all. I hoped it would be cancelled and scheduled for another day when the weather would be better. On time we assembled on the line and the start was delayed one, twice then three times due to poor visibility on the mountain. At least the sun was out by this time. Just before the final time for cancelling the race they announced we were going to start, but the visibility on the mountain was still poor and we should also look out for wet sections of the track.
I started carefully, looking for the wet track signals from the marshals, quite surprisingly the track had dried pretty well, although it was still quite wet around Glen Helen, I started to work up my speed as I headed to the mountain, as I climbed up towards Mountain Box the fog was bad, down to 50 yards of visibility. Although I was learning the course I realized that I still needed huge visual cues to help me around. The fog cleared at the 32nd and I sped up again. I was faster on the second lap, now more confident in the conditions, but slow again on the mountain.
I pitted to get more petrol and started my third lap, still going faster but slowed again by the fog. I pulled in happy to have completed my first race for an overall speed, including the pit stop of 93 mph, but certainly no 100 mph laps in the set. I had finished 19th out of 38 starters. Certainly not at the front of the field, but not at the back either.
On Sunday we went to Jurby for their motorbike festival and parade laps. Ade was riding his TZ250 and Ronnie had brought a ZX7RR and an H2R for other riders. It was a beautiful and sunny the best day of the trip by far. It was also quite uneventful and low key. A fun day.
I had an oil leak that had gotten progressively worse on the P&M, I suspected the sump gasket so we stripped the bike on Monday. Metal chunks were in the sump, something was getting eaten, after pondering this for the remainder of Monday, we stripped the top end on Tuesday and found that the cam chain tensioner was broken and the cam chain was chipping the cases. I ordered new parts from England for delivery the next day. They arrived at 1pm and Ade and I then reassembled the engine, taking it to a friend for cam timing setup and a dyno test. By 9pm on Wednesday the bike was ready to go again.
I had missed the practice sessions on Tuesday (delayed from Monday) and Wednesday so the next event was the Classic Superbike race on Friday, the big one. It rained hard on Thursday night, but the track was mostly dry on Friday morning. I had been running the track in my head to keep it fresh.
I had a good start, working up my pace on the first lap, it felt good, on lap two I started pushing hard, the bike feeling better now that it was lighter with less fuel. Shortly into the lap, the tank strap came off again, dang. After messing around I got it wrapped around the fairing mount so it was not flapping, then worked the belly and legs drill again, this was much more of an issue as my speeds were increasing, the tank was lifting at the front. All tucked in at 140mph on the Sulby straight, I looked up to sight the last kink, still trying to hold the tank down, I missed my brake point and then t-boned the bridge at 5 mph. I pulled the bike back which cost a long, long minute before continuing. I pitted at the end of the lap getting fuel, the strap fixed down and additionally loaded with a rag under it.
Off on lap 3, rain flags started to appear, as some showers rolled in. By Ramsey it was raining hard, but my tires were hot and the track still grippy. Lap 4 more rain, but it was clearly just showers, it would be raining at one place on one lap and somewhere else the next. I just tried to convince myself it was a dry track. Over Ago’s Leap, the front wheel flew up, the fairing screen hit my helmet and smashed, I was trying. As I headed up the mountain it was raining hard but then stopped again by the 33rd. I pushed on completing the race without and major incidents.
I finished 11th out of 25 starters and took the top newcomers award, presented by Mick Grant that night. My overall speed was 98 mph with a best lap of 99.6 mph on the wettest lap, lap 4.
The Isle of Man and the ManxGP are something else. There is no closed circuit that compares to it, just none. These are small country lanes, there are many places where you maintain speeds of 140 mph, and you have 200 corners to figure out. At 95 mph you need to figure out perhaps 75 of these at 100 mph another 50. The faster you go the more complex the circuit gets. It is very bumpy with 140 mph wheelies and jumps. The most intense experience in my racing career.
My Sulby bridge incident was unlucky, it would have been my 100 mph+ lap on the P&M, but lucky too, this was the biggest mistake I had made, and the price was small. During the week’s event two riders lost their lives, a simple mistake and the course bites and bites hard.
The IOM is out there, it is tough, challenging and exhilarating, I would encourage others to experience this pinnacle in racing. But you really, really need to want this or you will be blown away by the intensity. You also need some buddies on the Island to help out, people with experience of the course and who know their way around bikes. As a rider you need to focus on riding, just the riding that is tough enough. Mega-thanks to Ade and Ronnie who kept the bikes under me and working well, they also kept the beer in my hands. Thanks guys!
The final event for the year was Barber, Lorraine had recovered from her collar bone break at Willow and I was ready to push the short track experience on my trusted bikes. Scott had fixed the H1R so this was back in the mix for the final event.
Lorraine started the weekend on Thursday but had bike issues and unfortunately these persisted through the weekend. She had a few OK laps on the track but had no chance to build up speed.
I arrived Friday and cycled through the bikes, putting 2-3 laps in on each bike in each session, getting the feel for the bikes and the track. My IOM experience put me in a good place, relatively the track was slower and I could easily block out the minor slips, slides and wobbles of the bikes. To my surprise I beat my best lap times on the Z1R and TZ750. I was also dragging my knees around everywhere, I still have no idea why, I don’t usually do that.
Saturday, I started with a heavy dice in F250 racing with two other bikes, I took a second. F500, I was in second when the front brake started to stick so I came in. Superbike, I lead for 5 laps then was taken by a fast Ducati. The last race was F-Vintage and I was riding the TZ750 against Springer and the Duc that beat me in the Superbike race.
I started well behind Springer and the Duc. We diced for two laps before I took the Duc and started to working on Springer. On lap 4 I took him, getting better drive out of the back S’s, he took me back on the last corner. I pushed on, only to be over taken by the Duc, I got him back. On the last lap, close but not close enough to Springer, at the last corner the Duc overtook me, but I drag raced him to the line to take 2nd. Springer came over after the race all pumped up and we enjoyed a beer. Nice!
Day two, Sunday. F250, I was dicing hard again and got pushed off the track, took a 4th. F500 led for 5 laps then was overtaken by a fast single, the brake stuck again and I coasted for the last two laps. Duh. Superbike led this time for 7 laps, the Duke got me again, but before the end of the lap the red flag came out and I took a lucky win. And to finish the weekend, I made an adjustment on my gear shift, which seemed simple, but made it very hard to downshift, so I took a distant 2nd place to the Duke.
I had been away from my AHRMA circuit for the summer and I was shocked by the number of people that came up to me and talked about the IOM. Most of them had read my message board posts. I did not expect this, and it was quite surprising, how much people respected the fact that I had done this.
Overall, this has been quite different year and an invigorating year. For many years I had been pursuing how to race and find competition in different classes and different types of bikes within the contained world of short track racing. I experienced something quite different this year, and loved it, totally another dimension.
I loved the experience of endurance racing, the taste from Spa whet the appetite but left me wanting more. The experience from the IOM was something else, it grabbed me, scared me, thrilled me, pull me in and then threw me out wanting more. I will go back to Spa at some time, but I will go back to the IOM next year.
The preparation for the IOM is already underway. I am not taking the P&M Z1, although it served me well, I going the 2-stroke route with a purpose built TZ750 and if the class rules permit my trusted H2R.
The TZ750 has Spondon like chassis modified to take modern wheels and rubber. The engine will have a bullet proof bottom end (I hope) plus a top end with broad power band. It will be quick, super quick, my speed traps of 140-145 this year will be smashed with 160-170 mph. This will make the course many times more complex. Scary, yes, challenging, yes, crazy, probably, do I need to do this, F’ yes.