Saturday, January 26, 2013

Everything's relative...

That crazy free solo rock-climbing stuff? That's crazy. You could get yourself hurt!

This, on the other hand, looks like big, dirty fun:


George said...

The cops are pretty brutal there:

The Isle of Man TT is on my list.

Joseph said...

This is awesome, pure, unadulterated awesome.

Tam said...

Watching 'em catch air and land all crossed up at 170+ mph gets me squirmier than anything in those rock-climbing videos, in that I have a frame of reference for the bikes...

BGMiller said...

First, gotta respect the skill.

Second, pass. I'll take something slower, more stable, and capable of carrying a little gear.


Jay G said...

THIS is why I have an Electra Glide.

Because I would do this if I had a sport bike.

Man's got to know his limitations...

Wolfman said...

I'm at least a decade or so behind following racing, but Isle of Mann still on record as having killed more participants than any other motorsports event? I seem to recall something of the sort. My bike is old amd slow- 92 cb750 (the nighthawk, AFTER they neutered it) and I can still scare the crap out of meself. These machines are an order of magnitude different. It does look fun though, eh?

Anonymous said...

It's not for the faint of heart. 200mph through villages, with stone walls on either side. Probably the bravest ballsiest riders on the planet. Sadly, the TT claims about one of them per year.

Me not you said...

Hell yea!

global village idiot said...

My frame of reference came from the one time I ever opened up my '82 Honda 650 Custom - not a bike for zoom zoom. Got it to about 90 once and never did it again. The guy at 2:00 made me suck air in through my teeth.

Having said that, and for all their other faults, the Euros have the best racing:
o TT
o Grand Prix
o Rally
o Le Mans/Endurance


Angus McThag said...

I am utterly terrified by how the front wheel is oscillating and the handlebars aren't.

A lot more give in the forks than I ever would have suspected.

bedlamite said...

Just a video made by a few folks from WI.

Is it spring yet?

Weer'd Beard said...

I wouldn't even put myself on the sidewalk there!

Watching on screen is dangerous enough for me!

Firehand said...

Same here, Tam; first time I saw that parts of me tried to hide.

My current ride is a VFR800, and I've never had it near the envelope; as I told a friend's son, "I've yet to be in a place straight enough and empty enough to find that out."

the pawnbroker said...

Not only catching air at a buck seventy, but FEET OFF THE PEGS? Holy shit.

I remember riding MX on Maico's and Husky's in the late 60's with less wheels up than that; today they do double back flips and fly, landing softly on little cat feet. And Kaw 2-stroke triples pulling wheelies at 70 was living on the edge then; you could barely turn those things at speed. So I tell myself it's all in the hardware...yeah, that's it.

I feel so damn old.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure I saw the guys in that vid on I-4 last weekend.

fast richard said...

That guy at 2:00 had me thinking of my old Kaw H2. It had lots of power for its time, but would do some nasty wobbles at the slightest provocation.

Matt G said...

The hardware's amazing. Pulling the front tire up while accelerating to pass at 130 shows awesome torque.

I didn't mark the time, but there was some excellent example of countersteering in there.

My brain doesn't work fast enough to consider the curves that they were carving, at those rates. Not enough visibility. Now, where they descend into the moorlands, and you've got good visibility? That makes me want a turn on the sportbike, but bad.

Airborne while your pitch is off is bad enough. But when your roll and yaw are off, and we're into triple digits? Eff. Dat.

Henry Blowfly said...

Oh yes.

Anything that can outrun a helicopter on a public road gets my vote.

In an ever increasing nanny world, these IoM riders stand out.

rightisright said...

As someone who used to race motocross and a small bit of road track, my assessment is these guys are sick!

roland said...

The late Joey Dunlop was fookin' heroic.

perlhaqr said...

Yeah, I remember being into bikes the first time, when I was 16 or so, and reading the magazines all through about 25, and the literbikes were making 120, 130, 140 HP and the 'Busa was the ultimate crazy pushing 170 HP out of 1.3 liters...

And now the GSXR-1000 in 2012 lumps out 190 RWHP in a 450 lbs package you can buy for $14k and put on the street. Even with my 275 lbs butt on the seat, that'd be the equivalent of my '72 Satellite having 950 RWHP. Not impossible to achieve, but quite a ride.

og said...

Looks a hoot. Almost as sphincter tightening as the rock climbing, but requires, I imagine, more skill and not quite as much strength- though every bit as much endurance. Plus some well tuned inner ear, which I no longer posess.

These days, when I'm inclined to find something that will kill me, I try to have at least a middling chance to kill it back, and subsequently eat it. When the time comes that I gotta go, I hope the Lord lets it be on the horns of a cape, or under a big tusker. And not climbing out of a bedroom window, like my doctor says is most likely to happen.

TV in WI said...

I'ts on my list also - The TT or it's
'understudy', the Manx Grand Prix...
...except for wars, run since 1907 (so it even predates that oval affair near VFTP Central). Sturgis?
Meh. Daytona(the track, I mean)? Maybe. Assen? Spa? Now you're talking. Nurburgring Nordschleife?
Now I'm listening. IOM? Hell yeah...

Will said...


Riding like that requires more strength than you would think. Turning the forks against the gyroscopic forces of the wheels at high speeds is a real workout. That's one of the reasons racing wheels and tires are made as light as possible (well, as light as you can afford$$$).

When I was racing in the 80's, I would lever as hard as I could on the clipons while throwing myself to the inside, catching the back of the outside knee on the side of the seat to arrest my movement.

Granted, that might seem a little radical, but I was 5'7" and weighed only 125 lbs with all my riding gear. Then again, I was strong enough to do the things those free climbers do, barring the fact my throttle wrist only had about 1/2 the normal movement. Sigh...

Daddy Hawk said...

I'll be happy to fly the chase plane. That's as close as I want to get. Love bikes, but not enough to die on one courting fate intentionally.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

That looks fun, but this looks even cooler.

You drive, I want to be the monkey on the sidecar.

Nate said...

If I ever win a Powerball (note to self- buy one next time) I'm taking a couple weeks to go to the IoM to see this up close and personal. Might even rent a bike and ride a lap myself, say a 40-45minute lap. I have a very good Brit friend who's been racing in England an all over the continent for 3 decades, everywhere but IoM and the Irish road races. The wifey told him he could race anywhere but there. But I gotta go some year.

Unknown said...

As a some-time rock climber, and a daily motorcycle rider, I have a frame of reference for both those gods and little fishes, but the IoM guys are blazing it.

My current ride, a Vstrom1000, will easily get over a buck, but I start to feel the front end lifting at about 115, so...haven't had it much faster than that...can't imagine a buck-seventy; the wind buffeting alone would tend to tear you off.

Tam said...


"My current ride, a Vstrom1000, will easily get over a buck, but I start to feel the front end lifting at about 115, so...haven't had it much faster than that...can't imagine a buck-seventy; the wind buffeting alone would tend to tear you off."

I've been well over the ton more times than I can count, but the one I currently remember best was when a couple friends and I (an YZF-R1, YZF-750R, and myself on a TL-1000S) were heading home from The Dragon, and a Z-28 passed in the fast lane on I-140 with his foot in the water pump.

We all kinda glanced at each other, and he was almost immediately passed on both sides by three bikes, the R1 carrying its front wheel at a buck twenty plus and accelerating hard.

Good times, good times... :)

Scott said...

Hustling a bike at those speeds is not for the lazy or physically unfit. Done right it's an exhausting ballet done wrong and it's rougher than being on a football field with the NFL and no padding.
Matt riding fast is more about thinking than reflexes. The key is keeping your eyes up and far enough ahead so as to allow time for planning the right line through the corner. If you are reduced to counting on reflex you are probably in the process of crashing already.
Winter sucks, I miss my bike.

Scott said...

Bedlamite cool vid but not really comparable to the IoM guys. Winter sucks. I miss my bike.

the pawnbroker said...

After commenting this morning I couldn't shake the thought of wind in the face, so I rolled out son's little Shadow 750 and took a ride from Sebring up through Lakeland with a quick detour to Polk City and Fantasy of Flight; motored onto the tarmac and close enough to the Thunderbolt, Mustang, and Lightning sitting all in a row to reach out and touch them...very cool.

And speaking of cool, wearing just a light sweatshirt it was a bit chilly when I headed out; around 55 F. After a redneck breakfast in the cowtown of Polk City, the ride back home on two-lane twistys past the ponds and pastures, was in the toasty 70's.

Lotta bikes on the road, and I was happy to see a good mix of cruisers, crotchrockets, and trikes, with most tossing out a biker wave in passing.

It was a nice couple hours, and I probably wouldn't have taken a ride if I hadn't read your post, Tam, so thanks for that.

And Scott, don't spend your winter missing your scooter, just trailer it on down to teh fla, everybody else does. Much of the time I gripe about the lack of seasons here, but today, with a bright blue sky and a crisp ride under my belt, I remember why they come.

Anonymous said...

Will @ 2:03, 1/27 - Where'd you race, and what years?

On landing crossed up over the ton - leverage is good, which is why I switched from clip-ons to a Superbike Bar very early on. Also, modern racing steering dampers are quite good compared to the cheesy little struts used during my racing days. Properly set up, they make tank-slappers *almost* a thing of the past.

For those that are thinking of it:

If the IOM is on your 'to-do' (not 'to watch') bucket list, understand that you must pass a class and demonstrate, on the road, to the IOM instructor's satisfaction, that you know ALL the corners, and in which order they come. It is rigorous, and they will NOT let you on the course as a racer unless you pass the class. Now if all you want to do is ride the course, several ferry services leave the Britain formerly known as 'Great' on a regular basis.


NotClauswitz said...

I used to have an awesome little photo-picture book from a Brit bike magazine that went corner-by-corner and broke-down a lap of the IOM with written commentary by a racer, "Oot mon!" amazing stuff.

Spud said...

Ah the days when I used to race in open desert on a two stroke 500 at 120 mph. There was an obvious reason they called them pucker bushes at those speeds !
It is good to be older now and have those memories...yet wonder how did I ever get to be old...

Woodman said...

I did all my crazy driving at much lower speeds but at much higher angles. Driving a Hummer up a hill you aren't sure you can make it up is at 2 miles an hour is quite enough thank-you. Realizing there is no way down the other side and you have to back down it now was too much.

I I no frame of reference at all for the bikers, I've climbed a rock before, not like that, but still I can grasp the idea at least. But the bikes?

Any sport sufficiently advanced from your experience is indistinguishable from magic.

Will said...

Box Stock:

'83-'86, Open Twins, Heavy Mod Twins?, AFM and AMA. Sears Point (home track), Laguna Seca, Willow Springs.
Moto Guzzi 850 LeMans Mk1. It's final iteration would spin the tire in third gear.

'98, Open Twins, Over 40, AFM.
Mostly stock '96 Ducati 900ssSP. Amazing response when the flywheel is removed. (Custom external ignition system.) With the fairing lowers removed, I had trouble keeping the front wheel anywhere near the pavement for starting line launches. My friend with an identical bike with serious engine work was about the only one who could beat me to turn one at Sears. Unfortunately, there were a half-dozen others who could catch up by turn two, which is where the grass incident came about. (Race pace line is not appropriate for the first couple corners. (facepalm) I was a bit rusty...

BTW, I sent you a comment on your "light Rider In MotoGP"(?) article a while back. Either to your site, or by email.

Tank-slappers were no big deal on the Guzzi, quite common. Spectators at the left-hander after the Corkscrew told me it was a BIG deal for them, though!

You forgot to mention there is an age cut-off for first time racers at IoM. Can't remember what it is, though.

Anonymous said...

Hey Will:

It's just possible we were on the same track at the same time in '83, but only during the open practices at Willow! :-)

I raced 450 Box Stock and occasionally, production, hidden behind the infamous #737 plate.

I didn't get the comment you sent on the article. Re-send please? The article was called "The Tribulations of Tony Elias". It is interesting that Bridgestone have actually gone a small ways towards my suggestions, although their incentive was to reduce the incidence of cold tire high-sides. Not in time for poor Tony, but it looks like it might work out a little better for Dani Pedrosa, although Dani is so unbelievably fast, any little extra help would just be gravy for him.

I had the same tire problems Tony did, and I had to try five different tire brands before I found one that would stick for my light weight. Unfortunately, a tire that would stick for me would only last two open practices and one and a half races. Not quite a whole race day. And yes, I found out the hard way. :-) Needless to say, On race day, I either dropped an open practice, or didn't run the Production class.


Anonymous said...

. . . and at the time, it just annoyed me no end that the guys who weighed 40 to 50 pounds more than I did could run the same set of tires for half a season or more, while mine would last just three and a half outs . . .



Justthisguy said...

Unfortunately, the borrowed system I am using right now won't allow me to see the video.

I have crossed riding in the Manx TT off of my bucket list, seeing that I am into my seventh decade and quite poor. I don't want to risk my chalky old bones on something like that, nor face a stress interview with Saint Peter.

I mind a site I looked up once, owned by a gal who rode in that race. It had a picture of her lying on her sofa, surrounded by her loving children.

Of course she had to recline, having a huge cast on one of her arms and an even bigger one on one of her legs. I do tip my hat to her, though, for even attempting to ride the course at competitve speed. I am not brave enough to do that.

Anonymous said...


If you can't do the Manx, maybe try something a little closer to home, say 'The Tail of the Dragon'?

311? turns in 13? miles (you'll have to look it up, my memory of the description is fuzzy).

I've seen pictures of everything from minibikes to full-dress tourers making the run! Definitely on my Bucket List!

Even if you go relatively slowly (say, 40 mph?), it'll still be a blast! Plus, I hear the scenery is nice too, although it would probably be a good idea to keep a watchful eye out both coming and going for the zoomi-go-fast crowd (both cars and bikes) and the attendent patrol cars.


red said...

That's my lottery destination too. If I win, I'll bring you along and supply the bikes.

Will said...


Holy crap, open practice at Willow Springs was probably the scariest time I had on a race track, and that includes crashing on the approach to turn 4 at Sears Point (brake failure seized the front brakes).

Downhill at the entrance to turn 8, I encountered a gaggle of 50cc-125cc(?) GP style bikes. Closure rate was ridiculous, maybe 50mph. I didn't expect them to be that slow, and blew through the group while doing my best to avoid a direct hit. I didn't notice any contact.

I think the small sizes fooled me into thinking they were more distant. That, and the GP type bikes usually had way more speed than me.

I was geared too slow for that track, and simply held it at 8K rpm after cresting the hill/turn that started the downhill section, until standing it up to brake for turn 9. That was 130mph. Should have put the wide-ratio gearbox back in it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Will:

Yup, open practice was fun. The slow 125GP bikes were fun to play with, but the fast 125GP bikes were annoying, in a "that's not fair" kinda way. I'd come slamming into turn 3 carrying my back wheel three inches off the ground, the front tire howling like a banshee, and vfffff - one of the fast 125s would come by me like I was tied to a post, run an extra 20 yards into the corner, kiss the brakes, flick it over, and be gone.

I remember Wes Cooley on a big green four-stroke open classer with a full fairing going through turn two. He was trying to thread his way through a bunch of GPZ 550s, and I was going around them all on the outside. He kept looking at me, and I kept wishing that the lot of them would get the $#@% out of the way so I could get over to that safe six inches of pavement on the very inside, and get the heck off the off-camber bit, which was basically everything to the outside of the afore-mentioned six inches. We both arrived at the exit at the same time. I already had my throttle pegged . . . and then he pinned it. He disappeared so fast I was only half-way between two and three when he hit three, and all I was thinking was "Go, you piece of junk, go!". While trying to twist the grip off the bars.
:-) Never saw him again.

My biggest difficulty in open practice was finding a clean enough piece of track to actually use the racing line, which you can't always do when there are slower riders on faster bikes on track. They'd pass me on the straight, I'd go by at the entrance to the next turn. In a little bit, they'd come by on a straight, and . . . well, let's just say it was aggravating, especially if they held me up going into turn eight/nine combo, because they were always putting the brakes on going into nine, which meant that I had to brake into nine, which meant all my momentum was killed until I reached the entrance to one again.

I guess it's safe to say this here (wouldn't want somebody else trying it and getting hurt), but I'd set up within a foot or so of the outside of turn eight with the throttle pegged, and everything either dragging, or close to, and just leave it there. If I did it right and didn't feather the throttle going through nine, there would be a rather audible 'GROUNCH' when I hit the dip at the apex of nine, and then I'd drift all the way over to the very edge of the track on the exit, where my tires would kick up a little dust devil at the edge of the concrete where it turned to dirt, all the while, hanging so far off that my left arm was completely straight, and my left boot wasn't really touching the peg. Had to be careful there, as there was a drop-off of an inch or so from the track surface to the dirt. If I did it right, I would be pulling 11,200 rpm (1200 past red line - it was downhill there through eight/nine with a slight tailwind), and I'd carry almost all of that the full length of the straightaway, which allowed me to catch and draft the slower GPZ550s and even slingshot pass them about two-thirds of the way down the straight where it starts to go slightly uphill. Depending on whether one believed the tach or the speedo, I was carrying either 112 or 117 mph at the exit of nine and most of the way down the straight.

I caught more than a little bit of ribbing about my "600cc Hawk" from a few of the GPZ550 pilots because of this. If they had ANY idea just how bone-cold stock and tired-slow that thing was, they would have had a stroke. Especially since I was still running a 400, when everybody else in the class was running a full 450. I didn't get a 450 until the last half of my last season. What an eye-opener THAT was!

Of course, if I wussed out and feathered the throttle ever so slightly going through the apex of nine, I'd end up with a foot and a half of extra track on the outside at the exit, and about 700 to 900 fewer rpm in hand.

Ah well. Good memories!

Will, did you find my e-mail address?


Tam said...


"If you can't do the Manx, maybe try something a little closer to home, say 'The Tail of the Dragon'?

311? turns in 13? miles (you'll have to look it up, my memory of the description is fuzzy).

You know that used to be thirty minutes from my front door, right?

Anonymous said...

sheesh! my palms are sweating and my road rash scars itch just watching that vid. wow.

Anonymous said...

Tam said:

You know that used to be thirty minutes from my front door, right?

Yeah, rub it in. Sadly, I'm all the way over here in the Great North-Wet with all the gaia-worshipping, spotted-owls-are-all-dying-'cause-were-raping-the-old-growth-forests, glo-bull warmening true-believers.

I'm thinking it'll be a while before I get back there, but when I do, I'm planning on bringing a little 100cc or smaller motard (which I haven't built yet) so I can fully enjoy it with limited Smokey liability.


Will said...


That dip at the apex of turn 9 is what made it so hazardous, since the inside of the track wasn't visible soon enough to set up for the turn. At least from the lines I tried. Turning too late, or even too early, would put you in the desert on the outside of the straight, if you were running a race pace speed.

There was no saving it if you hit the desert at that corner. A big 4 cyl bike blew that corner in front of me, and all I could see was a dust cloud when he left the pavement. When it was brought back to the pits, it was condensed into the approximate size and shape of a coffee table. I doubt there was a single salvageable part.

One of the racers from Sears, riding a 900 Ninja, showed me his lines around the track on my first visit. He pointed out there was a small white x on the pavement at the 8/9 merge. Eventually, that became my "pitch it" point. When it came into view, I would stand the bike upright, hit the brake for a second, and initiate my turn as the wheel crossed it. Late apexing the corner like that would keep me away from most of the dip, and away from that far edge.

I discovered that I was faster in turn 8 than most all the bikes. Turns out that a lot of the big bikes were running one or even two gears down from high in that sweeping corner. Don't know why it was intimidating to others. Following that Ninja, he would run away from me going down that hill before the turn. But, right before turn 9, he would turn his head to fix my location, and I would be right on his tail.

Turns 11 to 2 at Sears was the same for me. Even the AMA pros would short shift through that section. The only bike I recall passing me in that section was Lucifer's Hammer. He came by towing several others in his slipstream, which sucked me right in. Non of the other bikes made it through turn 2, except the Harley and me. I suspect that they were moving faster than they could handle that turn. I discovered I was being a little too conservative, and pushed harder there in the following laps.

Didn't care for that bike/rider combo. He was normally slower in corners than I was, and we tangled a few times. I had to stand my bike on it's nose to avoid him in the middle of the Corkscrew at Laguna. Came close to centerpuching him there, as he would make a square turn at the bottom of the drop. My Guzzi would lift the rear wheel under hard braking, and I had visions of flipping like a bicycle on that steep downhill. Missed him, though.

Will said...

did you give up riding due to your leg damage?

My dad took up bikes late in life, late 60's, I think. He acquired a fleet of big and little Honda Automatics, for some reason. He was working on a BMW K100RT project though, when he got hit by a much older driver while riding one of the little 400A's. One leg got badly damaged, and the doc told him he might not be walking if he crashed again, so he gave up riding, and sold them all.

Anonymous said...


Yeah, nine was tuff, but the way I did it (if I remember correctly) was to stay all the way out on the last foot or so of the outside of eight until I could see through the apex of nine. I think. I don't recall what I used as a marker. the problem with using that line and actually going FAST through the eight/nine transition and nine, was once I'd committed, I couldn't touch ANYTHING. I couldn't touch the brakes OR roll off the throttle in any significant way (beyond slightly feathering it), because my ground clearance was already used up. If I did touch the brakes or significantly roll off the throttle, goodbye track, hello desert, and hey, Look! My bike has just re-defined the term "Smoking Heap"!

This actually happened to me once during a 4-hour. A bike with twice the cornering clearance came around me, slammed on the brakes, and I had to hit the brakes to keep from center-punching him, and wound up motocrossing out across the desert at 100+mph on the outside of turn eight.

I'm pretty sure that I survived because I remembered that a fellow racer, whose name I believe?? was Michael O'Brien, died in turn eight a few months before. He rode a Honda 400-4. The ARRA had decided to run the track backwards, and Michael ran off in nine, decided to try and save it by riding it out, and center-punched the insurance company's ditch on the outside of eight.

When I ran off (going the other way), I looked up, saw the ditch coming, remembered what happened to Michael, and bailed.

R.I.P. to Michael - he was a truly nice and decent guy.


jeff said...

Learning that Tam rode a TL1000S raises her a couple notches more in my book. That bike tends to be unforgiving at best.

Will said...


If your bike lost ground clearance when you backed off the throttle, that would seem to indicate that the rear suspension geometry was not common for a Japanese bike. Typically, they would squat under power. Had to do with the locations of the counter sprocket and swingarm pivot, and the angle of the arm itself. Moving things around could change the characteristics.

That loss of clearance was a problem with the swinging arm shaft drive Guzzi. Along with some serious jacking effect.Problem was when it started to make respectable power, the rear gears would slam the shocks to full extension, which is why the Guzzis didn't like bumpy pavement when they were pushed hard. No compliance at that point.

I paid a lot of money to have a set of Ohliens custom ordered. Told them what I wanted, and they didn't work worth shit. Had the parts store manager who ordered them talk to the factory guys, and it turned out they couldn't (or wouldn't) do what I wanted to the valving and didn't even have springs light enough for what I needed. They refused to take them back, and the manager was so pissed, he stopped selling the brand. (He was AFM #16)

Had a buddy who loaned me a set of Muhollands(?) that worked fairly well. Sitting on the bike would take up half the travel, but at least I had some compliance when running hard, but didn't dare back off in corners, or it grounded hard parts. Had to be on the throttle before leaning very far. Made corners more challenging. As if they weren't already!

One of the problems with that bike was the wimpy front end. Reno Leoni stated you couldn't run a sticky tire on both ends, but which end was up to the rider. I chose to run a Michelin rain compound (PZ/2) on the front. Think they were much less expensive than the alternative.

Anyway, the combination made for some entertaining handling antics. Running AMA at Sears, I would come into sight of the corner worker stationed on the inside of turn#10 (he was the only one visible to me when the bike would be doing it's dance) and I could see his mouth become a circle. He would be reaching for a broom and a flag, as I was clearly crashing, to his experienced eyes. Except I didn't. Lap after lap, he would do the same "oh shit! a crash!" routine. I think he eventually stopped reaching for things when he saw me coming.

The front tire would be chattering very badly, actually skipping sideways, the rear tire was sliding, the peg was folded up and dragging, the LaFranconi reverse cone Production Racer pipes were dragging and leaving a trail of sparks, and the tip of the brake pedal was dragging.

In practice, I had borrowed an O/A torch, and heated the peg and exhaust mounts and bent them as high as possible. I heated up the side of the pipes where they had been touching, and hammered them flat for more ground clearance. Moved the brake and shifter pedals as high as I could. Got a lot of clearance, and then went out and dragged everything even harder. Those shocks were already longer than stock, which helped.

I was hitting the shifter in #1, and having to push it back in gear before #2, dragging in #3 and #3a, I think in #5, touching in the Carousel, in #9 and #10, and once I bounced the valve cover off the hot pit retaining wall after exiting #11. I think it was the cover that hit. I was chasing a BMW R100RS who passed me in #11, and shifted too hard while leaned over too far. (still had too much flywheel. For some reason, the machine shop couldn't get it as light as my previous Guzzi) The back end side-stepped about three feet, and when I got it straightened out, I was up against the wall.

It was wasted effort, as that BMW sheared something in his driveline a few corners later, and coasted to the side.

Practice was usually the best part about racing AMA, as I got to see how the Pros handled the corners. I always got faster from observing them at work. That, and the races were much longer than club races, maybe 3-4 times as many laps. Good value for the money!

Anonymous said...


I was using Boge Mulhollands too! :-)

The Honda Hawk had a unique (as in nobody else in the business did it that way) clevis top shock mount. The Mulhollands were the only shocks that I could get with a sufficiently light spring rate for my weight (I'm 5'3", and at the time, I weighed in at a whopping 110 pounds). With the Boge Mulhollands, I was able to run 88 pound straight-wounds, which was just about perfect for me.

S&W made a shock for the Hawk, but the lightest spring they had was a 125 pound progressive wound, which at my weight, wasn't much better than just running a rigid strut. I tried the S&W shocks once, but they were so rigid I never even took them out to the track. I took them off and sold them or gave them away, can't remember which.

The Boge Mulhollands had a larger shock rod, so I was able to drill out the stock Honda shock clevis and re-tapp it for the Mulholland rod. By using a slightly shorter shock, I was able to maintain the stock length necessary to be legal in the Box Stock class.

I kept my footpegs and brake lever when I got rid of my Hawks. They're in a box somewhere around here. The brake lever was ground half through (it ran UNDER the exhaust, and was the first rigid thing to drag), and the footpegs were ground down to about an inch and a half on the top, and nothing on the bottom. The only thing holding the rubber on what was left of the folding metal tube was safety wire. Honda actually made a sport kit with a brake lever that did NOT run under the exhaust, but it wasn't legal for Box Stock, because it didn't come on the bike to start with. :-( I actually know for a fact that taking the rear brake completely off increased the ground clearance enough to take two full seconds off my lap times, but I never did that in a Box Stock race.

Was it Mike Baldwin that ran a Guzzi in the Superbike?? class and put it on the podium a bunch of times back in the midwest? I seem to remember him beating the all-conquering mono-shock BMWs a time or two back when the beemers were fast. I always loved the look of the Guzzi, but it was so far from the seat to the bars that I couldn't even reach them. It was actually even too far on the Hawk for me for regular street use, but on the track I was always tucked in, so it didn't matter.


Will said...


I think I was modeled on an Italian body, since I fit their bikes so well. Long arms, and torso too, but short legs. My baby sister is the same height, but when she sits down, her head is shoulder height to me. I joke that she got my legs, that I should be 6' tall.

I think it was Dr John's Guzzi who had a rider your size initially. They built up the seat back to get him closer to the bars. He was good, but at some point, a different rider was given a chance to run some laps. The new guy was seconds faster, and came back to the pits complaining that something was wrong, that it turned differently from one side. They tore it down, and discovered the frame was bent. After fixing that, he was faster again. Think it was 7 seconds per lap, total. They kept him.
I had a Norton with a bent (twisted) frame, and I could tell this on the street. Then again, I was a Norton mechanic in a previous life, so I damn well should have been able to notice!

Frankly, if I had it to do over, I wouldn't. I made two major mistakes when I decided to go racing. Can't remember which came first, though.

I should have kept the last 750 V7 Sport Guzzi I had. That would have made a better racer.
The Sport had the best frame, according to Reno, and he built most, if not all, of his Guzzi racers using them.
It was a better engine also, as the cam was gear driven.
The 750 Twin class was much more popular.
And last, the engine was built by Reno Leoni. (facepalm)

Number two: I should have bought back my old 750 Norton, when a former girlfriend offered it, and raced that. It already had most everything needed to be competitive, I think. Might have needed to change brake systems, and maybe wheels, for the track. Maybe not.
Already had the adjustable Isolastic sub-frame mounts added. Oil cooler and filter.
Very light 2 into 1 header (Cycleshack). This was the absolute best hp making exhaust for the Norton. No clearance problems, either.
Teflon coated hi-compression pistons.
Megacycle camshaft and followers.
Head ported by a guy who did engine work for Kenny Roberts early on. (He had family, so he wouldn't travel the racing circuit.)
Frame was braced at the steering head.
High output ignition system.

This bike would have been fun to race, as it was the most powerful 750 Norton I have seen, and there was a ton of Nortons racing in the AFM.
I could run away from a Suzuki 1100 ridden by an AFM racer, on the street, with this bike. (hiway 25, out in the boonies) (That was prior to getting my competition licence)
I was hoping the girl would go racing with it, but she never did. The guy who bought it sold the Fastback bodywork to a collector in New Zealand. It was off the original Fastback brought to the US by the Importer.

I actually bought the Reno built Guzzi for this girl, but then discovered she had really gotten into doing drugs, and I got pissed and sold it to a co-worker. Later, I tried to buy it back, but he refused to sell it. Probably still sitting in his garage. Think he only rode it a couple times, and then parked it. Didn't like the drum brakes. I was going to swap my Lemans brakes and wheels onto it for racing.

I used to complain about him letting that bike sit there and rot, but then I've gone and done the same thing, since. And nearly as long! I sold the Eddie Lawson Replica maybe a year after the first stroke. It was only sitting for about 16 years, but some of that was before the original owner sold it. Still got two Laverdas, which I hope to get ready to sell soon. The 1000 has been sitting since '86, I think. The 500 since '89?