Vintage bike race at Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin)


Jan 15, 2008
Country flag
I'm running my 69 Triumph Bonneville 650 in Novice Historic PRODUCTION Heavyweight (up to 750) class in AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Assn.). We're doing back-to-back race weekends, this week was at Road America, a FOUR MILE natural terrain road course.


Arrived in a DELUGE, near biblical proportions. Many small towns flooded out, coincidentally arrived in Des Moines the night the boys were killed by a tornado.


Track practice was flooded out due to cleanup activities.

We got a 2-lap tour, 4 people at a time, in a track worker's truck (the guy knows his stuff).

Fantastic track and should be fun if the forcast holds (good to excellent chances).
SATURDAY, Practice & Race 1:

Practice was unbelievable, I stayed with the pack and started passing some of the other group 1 guys (well, I OUGHT to by now). Bike performed flawlessly, never put a wheel wrong other than ALMOST picking which gap between cones at the new chicane! (I made the turn)

In the race, I launched well, but as usual, started getting passed pretty early on. however, the bike ran strong the first lap and others were not so fortunate. Second lap was still solid, then the go-fast lever stopped working so good. The engine started flattening out and struggling, I'd back off and it would "come back", 3rd place got around me somewhere in there.

I put up my left hand and started to nurse it to a good run-off area with an access road, and it "came back" again; I looked behind me and nobody was in sight, so I eased my way through another lap, but it was sour.

WHITE FLAG! it was rough, then not too bad, then rough, then nearly dead, so I waved my way into the designated short-track hot tech area and barely made it back to the pit.

After a burger & a Coke, it was cool enough to screw with, so I popped the new gold-tipped plugs - perfect burn. Opened the left side valve adjustment caps - good enough. Left side caps - THERE'S THE PROBLEM. About 20-25 thou instead of .002 & .004!

Nipped 'em up, re-wired the caps and ran thru tech - good to go.

Leaving tech, I headed for the open tarmac and wicked it up to see how clean it would spin up, it responded in it's usual manner with a good healthy wheelie. Turned around, pointed it at my pit and hammered out another bit of front-wheel air, it settled in and I pulled in the clutch to cross the west side pit lane slowly. IT DIDN'T DISENGAGE. No traffic, no worries, but my pit was approaching pretty quickly even with all the brakes brought to bear. Yanked on the lever, and it was then that I noticed that it hadn't retracted; the thin strip of steel between the open side of the cable root had separated, and the cable lug was jammed in the gap! The kill button did it's thing and I rolled into the pit uneventfully.

When the results were posted, I was credited with a 4th place, much better than I expected with 6 riders in the class.

$20 later, (new clutch lever assembly) and I'm all set for tomorrow and hopefully ONE MORE STEP UP in the scoring!

...Some weather moving in, I hope it clears through overnight...
My riding is improving, but I wish the bike was running as good NOW as it had been when I was learning and relatively slower!

This track is every bit as good as Barber as far as being a racer's track; not quite as near perfect of a SURFACE, but every bit as nice for variety, challenge and speed (maybe higher on the longer straights). The facilities are almost as nice, too.

SUNDAY, Practice & Race 2:

Beautiful day today, but for some reason, AHRMA decided to step things up and limit practice to one round only.

I immediately got to work on replacing my clutch lever. Well, right after getting the coffee pot brewing of course. I had to drill the cable root hole bigger to acommodate the larger cable nub, then drill the threaded hole for the adjuster to allow the larger Triumph style captive adjuster to slip into the smaller modern style adjuster hole. I got it done right as the first group was headed onto the track, tossed on my leathers and helmet, and just made it out.

The bike seemed okay out of the pit lane, but was still sour on the top end, so I pulled in after one lap. Yanked the plugs-normal. Scratched my head for a minute and pulled the carb bowl drains - Yipe! Both drain plugs were full of crud. Pulled the bowls; one was nearly full of scale, must have had a bowl full of water sitting in it from the time between races. I'm guessing flakes were swirling around and plugging the main, in an on-and-off scenario.

I cleaned everything up real well, nipped the bowls up and safety wired everything. In hindsight, I should have at least glanced at the new clutch lever...

Our race came off second after the lunch break, so it wasn't long before the call came. The grid was set the same and I slotted in right as the first wave went green. I launched really well, as the row in front of us was short one man so I had a nice hole to shoot for. I went into the first turn 2nd in our class, but got passed in the second turn, then again in about the 4th turn. After that, I held my ground pretty well as the problems seemed to be cleared up. About the 3rd lap, the bike seemed to be a tad flat on the top end, so I was winding it out, then backing off just a hair to keep it carburating cleanly.

I kept 4th place in sight, but couldn't gain on him. I got in a good dice with a 250 GP guy, but on the 4th lap, I lost the keeper bolt on my new clutch lever! For the last 2 laps it was totally clutchless which was pitiful. Anyway, I managed to keep the GP guy behind me and never got lapped by our class leaders (all weekend).

So, all told, a 4th and a 5th. Looking at my tires before loading up, I see that the chicken strips are nearly gone now, even though my overall speed seems to be down due to the bike's issues. I've got more than 2 months to pop the head and make sure my valve seats aren't getting sucked in, have a look at the cams & pistons, and just clean it up really well and replace the rocker shaft o-rings once and for all.

Looking forward to Grattan, Michigan next weekend!

By the way, never saw norbsa all weekend, although I left him a free admission pass at the registration desk...
It sounds like you had fun, Grandpaul, and that's what racing is all about. I do hope Michigan is more successful for you.

I wish you could have stopped in Tulsa for dinner on the way!

We flew North through Oklahoma on I-35 from my son's house in Killeen, TX, to our friends' house in Winfield, KS, with a mighty tailwind. I think I stopped once to empty the "used coffee" and refill the coffee mug & gas tank.

Maybe on the next trip!
Well I made to Grattan had no plans for "The Road" this time. Had a ball and Paul did well. The track is great fun.
Greg, it was fun having friends in the pits, and in my "cheering section".

It was UNBELIEVABLE getting a Formula 500 ride, and topping that with a PODIUM FINISH!

Lots more details later.