The end of the season was less than spectacular. This whole season has been plagued with bad luck if I’m honest.
Barber was fantastic in terms of turnout. 60,000 people were at the Vintage Fest this year and the amount of riders in the races was the largest I’ve seen since I started for sure. That event just grows and grows every year. Unfortunately, I hadn’t raced since Grattan and was severely out of shape physically(need to start doing some kind of workout, I feel like a wuss). On top of that, I had massive clutch slip problems again. I was surprised really since I hadn’t messed with the primary since Grattan and it worked fine there.
I pulled my primary apart probably 3 times that weekend. Eventually changing out the plates, springs, pressure plate, and even adding a stuffer plate in the end. Finally got it to work and managed to take 4th both days. Really should’ve had 3rd at least. Race one, got the start as usual…this has been the one thing I’ve gotten right every race this year…then just kept losing places due to better riders and my own fatigue. Maria Costello came back over to race on Kenny Cummings’s bike in BEARS and Tim Joyce was on Mark Mitchell’s BMW. Tim broke down(he was having a much worse weekend than I did) and Stan Miller got around me at some point. I was holding 3rd most of the race before I just got so tired I slowed way down and Jerrett Martin from Big D Cycle got around me on the last lap. I should’ve dug a bit deeper I guess.
The next day it was the same sort of drill as the first day. I got the holeshot and led the first lap. Miraculously, I was in front of Tim on the BMW which still blows my mind. He passed me the next lap though, it was inevitable. He also brought Erik Green with him. Maria came around at some point in the third lap and I tried so hard to stay with her, but just didn’t have the motor, and now she knew what she was doing at Barber instead of just learning it like last year. By the end of the race, I had caught back up to Erik, but it was too late. I was right behind him on the last lap, but not close enough to get 3rd. The worst part about all this is that I didn’t beat my fastest time at Barber, which I thought for sure I was going to take at least a second off of it. I didn’t even match it.
Daytona went from decent to awful in a short time.
Sunrise at Daytona. Camping out inside Nascar turns 3-4 was pretty cool. Except for the damn bugs. I got eaten alive inside the van. Should’ve left the windows closed.
Me, Stan, and his friend Scott Turner shared a garage space next to Kenny and the rest of the New Yorkers plus all the Kiwi fellas that came over from New Zealand to race Barber and Daytona. So amazing they made it over here. Fantastic machinery and overall good people.
So practice was going alright. Took me a minute to get used to being here again. I haven’t been back to Daytona since my first full year racing. I still can’t get the hang of the last turn out of the infield onto the west banking. That kind of bit me in the ass during the race too…well if it wasn’t for another problem. The bike was running great, I tried a jetting change and it seemed better, went out again and it felt like it needed another but back in the other direction. I got it running pretty damn well and then waited around for the race.
We were gridded with F750 since only one of us pre-entered to bump up. We were behind them in the same wave, so it was kind of like running both. I got another good start and was 4th overall going into one behind Tim, John Ellis, and Kenny. Of course, they were the F750 riders. I was right on Kenny’s tail going through the infield when I got to that turn to go onto the banking and I overcooked it and ran way wide. I collected myself and got humming on the banking when Maria came past me. I knew that was going to happen, just waiting for when. If I hadn’t messed up the turn out of the infield, I probably could’ve held her off until at least after the chicane I guess. She passed me down the back straight and I hung with her for about a lap and a half. On the 3rd lap, disaster almost ended my Daytona adventure in a painful way.
I was flying down the back straight with Maria still in sight somehow, as I know the bike she’s on has at least 10hp on mine. I brake way late for the chicane and carry quite a bit more speed into it than I had before. I lean to the left, then to the right to complete the turn when my bike goes sideways. It probably didn’t slide as much as it felt like it was, but I swear I went through the entire middle section of that chicane sideways. It caught grip and slung me up in the air. I came back down straight onto my seat. Could not believe I was still on 2 wheels. I looked down and my oil filter is off the adapter and oil is all over the bike. I pull in the clutch and go directly off track before the next apex of the turn. I get to the apron and kill the engine. I was in shock, I was still not sure how I managed to save what would’ve been a massive and fast high side. When it started to happen, it was like time slowed down and I could remember every detail like it was happening over the course of an hour. I remember speaking aloud to myself in a normal speaking voice…”oh shit, this is going to hurt, here we go.”
As I’m coasting along the apron, bikes whizzing past me about 20-30 feet up on a 31 degree bank at 100-120mph, I’m just sick. I know it’s the end of the weekend for me. 10hr drive for 2 and a half laps. It’s highly likely, I destroyed the crank. The only positive I could think of was, I just survived a horrible crash…that was actually kind of fun! It’s crazy to think like that, and I definitely wish that the oil filter hadn’t came off and I was still in the race, but I was still buzzing a bit that I kept my cool when it started to slide and kept it upright. Now I know what that feels like.
Came home, tore the engine down out at Tom’s. The thing just looked gorgeous on the inside. Pistons were clean, rings were perfectly seated, squish band was perfect, cylinders still had crosshatch, plugs were clean, even the damn crank wasn’t bad off! The rod bearings were a little scored, and the right side showed that was getting hot, but not nearly the amount of damage that happened when the oil line came off while I was test riding it last year and had to rebuild it. Tom said the journals can’t be turned down anymore, but they should be able to be polished a bit and replace the rod bearings and still be good. Guess I’ll do one more season and see what it’ll do.
The plan for now…getting an aluminum cylinder from Pat Brown of Triples Rule, bumping up the compression a little, new head, and changing up the exhaust a bit after I see how everything else feels. I gave back the head and carburetors Tom was letting me borrow so I have to build my head now. Thinking about going up in carburetor size too. I only wish I could’ve dyno tested the old engine to see what kind of improvement I’m going to get out of this new one.
As far as other new bits, I got a Yamaha front wheel to replace my old one so I can have a bigger rotor. Thinking for now I’ll use the stock rotor on it drilled out, but eventually get one of the lightweight semi floating ones that some of the guys are using. Got to get a new rim and spoke kit for it though, so trying to save a bit since I’ll have the rest of the engine to build.
Oscar wanted to help me take the engine home after the tear down…
Now that work is about to slow down, I have a lot to keep me busy over winter. New street bike project, which is almost ready to be built. New race bike motor needs to be prepped for rebuild. And I just picked up a new toy, a ’95 Honda XR250 dirt bike. Finally have something I can go riding in the woods with again. Maybe I’ll get that training I’ve been wanting to get without having to actually work out.