Sunday, February 3, 2013

Memory Lane

In the process of cleaning up my office/computer room/crap room/ etc. I came across some old racing photos from long ago.  Waaay back in 2004, Doug, Wilson and I competed on Wilson's EX500 in a 3-hour endurance race.  I'm pretty sure the bike used to be mine -- my first ever streetbike that I converted to a racer when I got tired of running the RD350/400 at the back of the pack (and having it seize, the ignition fail, the carbs gum up, etc..)
The plan was to use the 500 because Wilson (if I remember correctly) was going to be purchasing a new machine for the following season -- a TZ125.  We had the only non-600 / 1000 in the race, so a back of the pack finish was a guarantee.  Even though I had raced the bike in the past, I was running a 1999 zx6r that season, so it was like I had forgotten how to ride the wee 500.  During the race, the exhaust broke at the collector and so the muffler was made essentially redundant -- you can see Doug in the upper left hand pic checking out the damage.  The lower left pic was our entire team -- no pit crew, not umbrella girl, just us 3.  Our strategy was to go out for 20 minute stints so we all got to ride, and not crash the bike.  We called ourselves "Team Wallowing Kaw" due to the couch-like quality of the suspension.
The main goal, of course, was to have fun.  As a larf, I thought we should all strike a stupid pose before the start... Wilson brought us all breath-rite strips so we could mimic Rossi.  I thought it would be funny for us all to "pick our nose" with the strips on; however Wilson obviously disagreed and Doug had his helmet on, waiting for the start.  Soooo, I just am picking my nose in this pic.  Another strategy was not to get collected by bigger bikes.  I'd like to say the upper right hand shot is me going around the outside of an R1, but the truth is, the rider is looking for an opportunity to exploit his 100hp advantage on the straight.  On the lower right, Doug leaps off while Wilson jumps on for his stint.  With my green Joe Rocket Leathers I looked so factory!  We ended up in 7th place.  Not last, but I still dispute it.  I think we were actually 6th, and the 600cc team that finished in front of us was just too embarrassed to admit it.  The race was scored without the benefit of transponders... just a hardy group of volunteers braving a grey and windy (of course) September day counting numbers as bikes went by.  Regardless, we had a blast, and finished.  We did have the full factory look as well... Transcanada Motorsport lent us their cube van and canopy (you can see it in the nose-picking photo, behind the truck).  I think we made less than 10 mpg that weekend in that beast!
Of all the bikes I've raced before....  The top row is my old zx6r, 1999 vintage.  I bought it at an autopac auction, with 13,000 km.  It was a nice bike to ride, dead reliable, and fast enough for me.  At the time there were a few novices with 600/636 bikes (the 2003/4s zx6r had just come out with the USD front end), so I had lots of guys to race with.  More bike than I could handle, and I only ran it for one season, I think.  I sold it to Doug (who called it evil... I think it spat him off a few times) to fund my first kx500 supermono project (which was an evil bike in its own right!)
In 2006 I campaigned a 1998 Ducati 900ss.  It was a sweet machine.  You can see it was considerably tricked out, with airtech bodywork, Marvic wheels, a single EBC brake, and 748 forks.  When I purchased it as a write-off (on Ebay, in Kentucky!) the plan was to turn it into a street bike.  It became a racer when I spent all of the 2005 season dumping money into a tz125 which ran for maybe 20 laps.  This cured me of 2-strokes for good.  The 900 had a ring issue (only making 69hp on a dyno), so I rebuilt the top end (in the office I am typing in) over the winter of 2005-06.  The end result was 966cc, and with cylinder head work and 41mm fcr carbs, an 85hp "monster"... both of these figures were obtained on the same dyno, and was my first "built" engine.  It had some good pedigree, as Bruce Meyers did the head, and Martin Brickwood Performance sold me the Mahle pistons.  I won the 2006 expert championship on that bike.  Granted, I was the only expert in most of the races, but at times I did have some good battles with the faster novices, most of whom I race now.  Of the bikes I have owned, I do regret selling this one... it was actually a limited edition FE... I actually regret putting it on the track!  Just before I gave up on the tz, I had meticulously rebuilt the bike, had it all fly yellow, with a twin round headlight upper fairing.  Considering how long it took me to find these panels, it was (in hindsight) foolish to sell them all.  It was a great race bike, which would still be competitive today.  However, when I did sell it (parted it out), the rings were failing and it would likely have needed a rebuild every season!
So that brings us to today.  I am really liking the look of the bike as is.  Fairing-less it has a "bullish", short-coupled appearance to it.  I may regret not running a fairing, but the rs125 upper will be a good backup if need be.  The neat thing is, I am now turning laps faster on my 71 hp race bike than I did on the 99 hp 600, or the 85 hp 966.

Still not the fastest, but I have some goals for this season... mainly to get into the 1:04s, and to try another new track -- this time, Motorsports Park Hastings.  April long weekend will hopefully see me trying out this track to get some experience on other courses.  Should be a nice warm-up to the season.  I hope a big part of lower lap times (and ideally fewer crashes) will be the front end.  Along with the cartridge kit added, Racetech also added some stiffer springs... no wonder I was bottoming out the front forks!

That being said, I almost have a brand-new bike under me this season... new forks, new shock, lighter wheels.  Will the rad work? (or will it leak -- have to wait to try it out).  In my favour, however, this is that for 3 seasons in a row I am on the same machine.  Aside from the ex500, this is the longest stint I have had with the same bike.  The great thing about the Thunder Class is that a 2006 ex650 can be made competitive with a 2013, or a new Glaudius Suzuki.  I envision racing this bike for a few more seasons for sure.  The ongoing project, of course will be a stronger engine.  Also note the Cox Radiator guard installed on the R6 radiator.  Excellent insurance for what is now a custom part on my machine!


Greg said...

Didn't I see on the MRA forums that Wilson is only now retiring the purple technic leathers? :)

The Kids Cafe said...

Yes, that is true... although he is considering getting them cleaned and repaired to re-use... perhaps we should start a collection!

Greg said...

I think that's a good idea.... they are way too 90's! haha