Race Report Follows
Thurs – Departed at dawn and trekked 628 miles down the interstate towards the track. 11 hours later arrived in the paddock, registered, and set up my pit.
Fri- Race School- After hitting the coffee truck, which was a welcome sight directly across from our pit, I push the bike over to Tech and completed the inspection without any drama. The bike has far more safety wire than is required, because AHRMA and AMA rules overlap, but not completely. The fire sleeve on the fuel lines raised questions, but there were no issues.
Race School students were called out during the riders meeting to report to class and the class was an equal mix of classroom instruction and track time. The first track session was a couple parade laps to just run the course and slowly ride the track lines. The bike fired and stuffed into my leathers I made my way to pit out. Even in second gear, the Corkscrew is terrifying. The entry is blind, the apex only comes into view as you crest the hill and you do not see the dogleg until you are at the apex. It is not like any other track I have been on and is a lot more technical than fast.
For the first time in ten years, the bike was pretty much uncooperative all day. I had lots of little problems from jetting to electrics to shifter linkage issues. During the school riding sessions I would get a lap in and have to come back in to sort out something. School was an all-day affair and I completed my test without any additional drama, got my certificate and blue shirt, and was turned loose on the racing society.
Sat – Practice – After a good night sleep, I elected to go out on one practice session after sorting out some mechanical issues the previous evening. The bike popped, sputtered and lacked power, but got around the course for a couple laps and allowed me to tighten up my lines a bit.
Sat – Race – I was assigned into race two, which on one hand I was grateful to get out early but the lineup was a bit lopsided. BEARS and Historic Production Heavyweight were lined up in wave two, however Phillip Island Challenge went out in wave one and was loaded with ridiculously fast big superbikes from the 80’s.
I am one of two in my class, so if I can finish I am guaranteed a podium. The other bike in the class was a nice BMW R75/5. Flag drops and we take off. BMW runs away and I am not catching him. I settle in and focus on running my lines and riding my race. I got passed and lapped by most of the field almost immediately, but all passes were clean. At some point I found my line through the corkscrew and it was suddenly not so scary. I finished my race and made my way back to the pits.
I got back to my pit and noticed oil dripping from the exhausts. Checked the plugs and they we also oil-soaked. My suspicion is blow-by through the rings since it was losing power on acceleration , but still had compression when I rolled off the throttle. Being done early allowed me to walk the paddock and check out the other bikes. There were a lot of interesting and rare bike in the pits and the vibe in AHRMA is actually quite friendly for the most part. I spoke with other riders and enjoyed the day. I attended the day’s awards ceremony and it was a riot as they went through the awards. They had the podium set up and folks made use of it. I collected my 2nd place placard and enjoyed my 3 seconds of podium glory. As the day closed, we all tucked into a bottle of vodka and told stories into the night.
Sun – I had made the decision not to run on Sunday. The bike was not going to runn any better than the previous day and I was not there for points. I had completed what I set out to do and there was no point flogging a tired machine just to get track time. I slowly packed up my pits, walked the paddock and talk to a few others about what the appropriate class would be to run my Gold Star in. I got a lot of positive feedback and direction for my next build.
As for the future of the Swiss Army Racer, I have been racing the bike off and on since 2011, so basically ten years. The engine is well overdue for a full rebuild, and will get it before going back out on the salt. The plan is to set it up as a permanent salt bike, go with a full period race fairing and run it in a faster class than I had previously.
As far as future road racing goes, I have the Gold Star as well as a small Rickman frame. Between those two bikes, I can build a couple race bikes that I can run a few classes in and have some fun. This was the only racing event I can afford this year and that’s OK. My company is my sponsor, so I will just have to hustle for more work to be able to get out more next year.
Other BSA's spotted in the Paddock