The weather was very "iffy". Sun, cloud showers. Changing to 5W fork oil helped the front end: much less chatter. Engine is now pulling very well. There were only two of us in 500 Vintage; a Norton Manx and myself. I passed him in a corner, winning my first race!
After our race, the rain began, so the meeting was cancelled due to the drag racers putting VHT on the dragstrip. Rain and VHT = an ice-like surface, unsuitable for any kind of racing.
In practice, my countershaft sprocket fell off. Not good at all. The nut had been torqued, and the locking tab used. I cleaned it all, torqued it down, loctited the nut, used another locking tab, and siliconed that. End of problem.
My bike ran very well, and handled OK too. I do want to go to a smaller front tire like some of the Goldstar guys are using. They use an Avon Roadrunner 90/90 F2 Sprint compound.
On Saturday's race I worked my way up to 6th, and ran out of gas before the end. On Sunday, I had lots of gas, and got that 6th place. My first motorcycle trophy!
On July 14/00 I headed for Spokane, to do a little vintage racing. I measure racetracks distance from my home in tanks of gas: Spokane is a three-tank track. I showed up Saturday morning for practice, and at 11am signed in for the half-day practice. A full day is $50, and a half day is $30. The ambulance was over an hour late getting to the track, so practice didn't start until 10:30, so the full day practice only got onto the track for one more session than the half day: I figured we got the better deal!
Spokane race track is next to the penitentiary, next to the cement factory, and the track itself has an automobile junkyard inside it. However, the track was in very good shape, and the weather outstanding. Which was an invitation to go fast. And everyone did, and a lot crashed, producing many red flags, a few ambulances, and a lot of bent bikes.
My first two practices were red flagged, and my last was going very well as I chased Dean down the straight on his CB350. I shifted into fifth, and my foot slipped off the shifter; I looked down and my foot and engine were covered in oil... The rocker feed line had broken at the banjo which attaches to the engine; now I know why the photos of factory race bikes all had rubber lines going to the rockers! I'd like to thank the following people for the loan of the following:
As you can deduce, I fixed it up, and it even looked sanitary. I couldn't have done it without this generous help, which is typical of the vintage scene, and one of the best things about vintage racing. We camped at the track, and had a BBQ of steak and prawns, plus ciders and champagne. The quietness was great and unusual: no drag racing because the timing lights were broken for two hours.
Sunday: race day. Another hot day. Practice went fine. The race only had four in the 500 class; Dean won, as usual, and I traded places with a Ducati 750, who got me. 2nd race my tach blew up at the start; it just went wild and finally died on lap three. I figured out how to pass the Ducati every time in turn 5, but on the final lap, backmarkers got in the way and I couldn't do it, so he got me again. And Dean won, again, as usual.
However, my fairing is almost done, and if I just shave down my cylinder head just a little more...
Aug 25/00 I headed out for Portland raceway. I was well prepared and very excited. As you know, I really wanted to beat Dean on his CB 350. We're good buddies, and talk on the phone quite a bit. I live in Langley; he lives in Seattle. I kept telling him I was getting a new sparkplug for the race, and he'd just laugh. What he didn't know was that I'd been building a fairing for the last six weeks, and 3 days before the race I'd milled my head down 1/16"! I had told everyone else, however...
When he showed up at the track, he could hardly beleive how much faster I was with the fairing. My engine was a lot louder too, and it was the first time I got called for breaking the decibel limit of 105. I hose clamped half a tin can over my megaphone, but it broke off a few laps later. I sort-of solved the problem temporarily by riding down the straight on the other side of the microphone, but I do have to build in a silencer because my ears hurt a lot after it was all over, despite wearing earplugs.
Race day. My expensive racing clutch with the sintered bronze plates has been a pain lately. It doesn't slip, and that's the problem. Obviously, I don't want it to slip during the race, but I did want it to slip for the start. It wouldn't. It grabbed and lurched me forward, very unsmoothly. But I was going. We drag raced down towards turn one, and I got there third. On lap two I passed a Suzuki 500 twin briefly, but he out-motored me on the next straight, and then did the same to Dean a few laps later. Pretty boring race. Results: Suzuki 500, Dean, me, then Chris on his CB350. In Washington, a Suzuki 500 can't run in 500 vintage, but we were in Oregon! (with different rules). Even so, Dean just didn't feel that was right; that Suzuki has 60 HP, and it SHOULD run with the 750's!
Race #2. Lurched away again, Dean is ahead with his constant great wheelie starts. Now I'm behind Chris on his CB350. I out motor him, but a CB750 gets between me and Dean. On lap 2, we're still in order heading for turn 7, a fast left sweeper, when Chris shoots by on the inside... so inside that he rides well over the inner curb which is definitely offcamber AND painted yellow, then goes wide forcing the CB750 off into the weeds! Very exciting! And right in front of me! The CB750 rides over the grass, back onto the track in front of me, and we all do turn 9 onto the straight. We both out-drag Chris for turn 2, and slowly catch Dean, who's being held up by Les's Norton 750. By lap 5, the CB750 is by Dean, and now they're both holding him up, and I'm 6 feet behind him. What I didn't know was that Chris was 6 feet behind me! And Dean didn't know I was 6 feet behind him. Now it's last lap. I drafted Dean all the way down the long straight, and as soon as he slows for turn 1, I shot by on the inside and never gave him a chance to repass. I even got the Norton 750 on the very last corner, too.
Back in the pits, Dean was pissed! He's not used to losing. I took this opportunity to let him in on the secret that everyone else knew: I'd milled my cylinder head. I'm not sure he appreciated my sense of timing. He packed up and left. Here's an excerpt from our closing conversation:
Paul: do you want me to pick up your trophy? Dean: what trophy? Paul: you got third! Dean: whatever... Paul: c'mon Dean, be positive. You're going to talk to Les (Norton 750, his travelling partner), and you'll get fired up again! Dean: I gotta get a fairing...
The saga continues... When I talked to Dean on the phone, I asked if he was going to put on a fairing. He said, "Probably next year."
When he pulled his bike out of his trailer, I was so puzzled by the huge grins on his and Les' faces, that I didn't even notice his new fairing, at first. When I did finally notice his BRAND NEW FAIRING!, I guess my jaw dropped, and they both thought that was pretty hilarious.
Dean even dropped one tooth on his rear wheel, and after practice kept commenting on how fast his bike was.
Race One had John Munns rocket to the front on his (before now never quite running properly) Honda 350. The T500 Suzuki twin passed him before turn one, but John retook the lead with a beautiful swoop to the inside on turn 2, and never looked back. Dean and I chased the Suzuki who held us up in the corners, and then rocketed ahead down the straights. I was planning last lap strategy when the race got red-flagged on lap 5. I was told later there was a big gap back to 5th place.
Race Two was a repeat, except the Suzuki had leaned out his jetting. Dean and I couldn't match his speed, nor he match the speed of John Munns, who was once again flying. In the middle of the race, I screwed up on turn 3, and Dean got a gap on me. I had to work hard to close it. Going into last lap, his bike didn't seem quite so fast, or was it just my carbon-fibre duct working to cool my cylinder head and increase power??? We'll never know for sure, but Dean knows his brakes faded and that's probably why I passed him going into turn 1, relegating him to 4th.
I did buy some 2.5" ducting today, so don't worry about my clothes dryer. I saw the photos from Italy of two very well-prepared 350 Aermacchis. The owner claimed a 3HP increase by using ducting to channel fresh air to his carb! Of course, I have to try this for the last race of the Season (for me), at Seattle Raceway on Sept 30. Dean's already talking about Kawasaki EX500 forks with Gold Emulators, new black anodized rims (wider for the back), different tires, knocking 15 lbs off in weight, etc. It's getting very interesting, to say the least...
The weather forecast was bad, the traffic heading down there was bad, and the weather was bad. However, a lot of vintage iron showed, probably helped by the fact that Team Obsolete was there to give a rider school and participate in the event. Dave Roper gave the classroom, with Eric Green and Cal Rayborn (the third) helping out.
Race Morning was cloudy, but no rain at all through signup, tech, classroom, but as soon as we headed for the track the clouds opened up. In practice I almost lost it braking for turn 2; my front wheel was locked and sliding... We followed Dave Roper around trying to copy his lines; he goes into corners VERY wide, to get the biggest possible radius (and the highest possible cornering speed), he apexs LATE also, to get a better drive coming out. It was hard to copy his lines in such crappy conditions. Oh yes, I forgot to mention there were leaves all over the back part of the track, and lots of pine needles from the big tree in turn 3!
Race One: I think my ducting of air to the carb might have something to do with me getting the holeshot to turn 1; I've never done that before. Alas, Team Obsolete were soon past, followed by Dean, John Munns (CB350), then Brett on his Triumph. My inexperience in the rain was showing. Dave Roper pulled out with some mechanical gremlin, so I scored a 5th.
Race Two: Dean got the holeshot this time, with me right behind. Dave Roper and Eric Green got by shortly, followed by Brett on his much improved Triumph. Dean pulled out with electrical problems, and John Munns closed but never caught me after his bad start. I scored a 4th, giving me 4th overall.
I dumped my oil after the race, and it looked like cream. I think water must have entered the crankcase from the breather tube near the rear wheel; I'll have to check that out. My venting to the carb must have had water coming down it, but I can't believe that water could get into the crankcase past the piston rings! Comments, anyone?
Probably the most amazing thing about this whole race day was that no one fell down, despite the rain, leaves, and pine needles. On other days when conditions are "perfect", sometimes you can hardly do three laps without a red flag or an ambulance halting proceedings.
In conclusion, it's been a great season, better than I could have expected. I ended up 2nd in the 350 and 500cc SOTP Championships. My only DNF was at Sears Point when I ran out of gas. My little Aermacchi has been ultra-reliable and a blast to ride. Yesterday I used up one gallon of race gas which cost me 5 bucks, and a set of tires has lasted me the entire season. If any of you are going through a mid-life crisis, or need a little more excitement in your life, I highly recommend vintage roadracing on an Aermacchi.