Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday Night At The Grand

The Grand is located in the City of Industry and I measured the trip back last night on the VW's odometer with a distance of 43 miles on the return leg. The drive back is never a problem but getting there is a giant pain as I must go west, then north, then west and every freeway change is another jammed interchange and the trip can take up to 90 minutes in the afternoon.

The race program starts at 7 PM and the schedule runs through September 30th with 19 race nights. The RACING HOTLINE IS (949) 640-0455 and the web site is

My neighbor asked if I leave early to get some practice time on the track but I leave early so I can get there. Speedway racing does not have practice before the races and the track changes with the weather and the watering but the Grand is under a roof which is very nice for everybody, racer and fans.

For those not familiar with Southern California The Grand is on a hill in The City of Industry and you could probably see downtown Los Angeles if there wasn't any smog blocking the view. The seating does not completely surround the race track and although the Grand is covered the area between turns two and three is open to the outside. There is also a huge TV screen that can replay the races, close finishes, and the crashes that happen. Last night one rider went down in turn 4 and the following rider was unable to avoid him. He hit the prone bike and launched him self and bike into the top of the crash fence.

Although I am old and quite rusty I avoided the ground and the wall and all my fenders are still intact and there isn't any rips in my jersey. My bike ran fine and the fuel petcocks always got turned on before the start of each race. I had a couple of second place finishes which moved me to the main event in my division but as I wear glasses and goggles too my brain forgot to function and I was unable to get my goggles on without upsetting my glasses and since I can't reset them with one wrist on a short kill switch leash and the other constantly revving the throttle to keep it running my seeing sucked.

It was a fun night and a full one considering I left the house at 3:30 and got back at 11:30 which is past my bed time and if all goes well I will be back next week.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Victorville Fairgrounds

Saturday the van was loaded up and set out towards Victorville with a detour through Riverside and San Berdoo. The bike I bought had a stock Jawa muffler on it and to race at the City of Industry you need a special quiet one so my friend Steve Murray let me borrow one he wasn't using and we headed there to pick it up. With all the development in Riverside you don't have to go far off a main drag to hit the dirt roads and for a while the van thought we were headed to a desert race. Steve lives on a hill that has a great view of the surrounding area and to the north the area had been cleaned off to build a zillion of tract houses until the bubble burst and the hills remain smooth after the money fountain went dry. Then the trip went toward March Air force Base and a swing up to view the new track that is being build next to the Orange Show by racer promoter Shawn McConnell. The track site is behind the main Orange Show asphalt oval and is in the same spot where speedway was raced a few years ago on Wednesday night and is a true work in progress.

There was a car race going on at the Orange Show and the parking lot was filling up and later there was more car racing at the Victorville Fairgrounds plus the racing at Wheel to Wheel Raceway where the speedway races were.

As we drove through the area around the Orange Show (which is not in Orange County) we passed several closed car dealerships that were boarded up and covered with graffiti. On the road again we saw more evidence of racing as Glenn Helen Raceway was holding an outdoor motocross national and it looked like a real big crowd.

Getting from my house to Corona is a giant parking lot but after that the traffic was light considering it is a holiday weekend.

At Victorville there are two dirt race tracks at the fairgrounds, one is a larger oval track that runs modified stock car and the small track is a dirt oval that has a slight bank which runs a small sprint car that is powered my a Jawa motorcycle motor. John Aden at http://www.wheel2wheelraceway,com/ builds the race cars and has been promoting the small sprinter for several years. I spent more time sorting out the bike new to me and a loose coil wire in the first race made for noises that would normally be held on the Fourth of July. In the last race I did manage to get a little excited and lifted the front wheel at the start but didn't crash and finished fifth out of sixth.

Steve Evans (310-309-9418) does the promoting for the speedway motorcycles here and he also promotes races in Ridgecrest and Perris Raceway. The races started promply at six and alternated between the sprints and the speedway bikes. It is usually hot and windy here later in the year but last night it was just plain windy. To make the program more interesting a large water pipe broke in the pits and made the return to the pits a water adventure,

The main event was called the Eliminapolis where the riders race one lap and the last one is out until there are only two remaining riders and they race a final two laps for the cash. The final finish was very close and was between Jimmy Fishback (won $500.00) and Austin Novratil ($200.00).
This is a very good payout for the riders, something that some promoters of speedway can't say. Three cheers for Steve Evans and three cheers for Ryan Evans (not related) the fasted clip board in the west.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Going Around In Circles

Well last Saturday the dog and I loaded up the VW and headed out to El Mirage to try and relearn out to make one giant left turn. Getting there was an adventure as any time you drive a VW van over a mountain pass it is an adventure. The stop at Staters Brothers market in Phelan was a flashback as several girls had a box of real cute puppies (free) balls of fur wanting to play saying take me home. Well we fell that for that line in this same parking lot several years ago but knowing better not wiser I left without any new additions though our mutt was very willing to take them with us.

It was warm, in the high nineties, windy with lot of dust blowing across the lake bed. The purpose of the trip was to try out my speedway bike that I picked up from another rider earlier in the week. The bike ran alright but I was not sure if I could still ride it. The dog refused all attempts to help me start the thing. Starting and riding it was not a problem but getting it to slide smoothly one corner after another was. The lake bed is super smooth but the surface is far from the dirt that one sees at a speedway track. Speedway motorcycles are just like other motorcycles except for a few exceptions: they don't have any gear box (transmission), they don't have any brakes, they only really turn left, you have to push it to start it. Most people seeing one for the first time usually ask what hell it is.
My neighbor across the street came over to the garage and asked what it was. A couple of years ago my teenage mutant and I would drive north to the fair ground track in Auburn to race there. At the rest stops along the way people would walk up to our pickup truck and stare at the two race bikes and say "Are those trials bikes ?" Trial bikes are also kinda skinny and have similar tires but are made for going over obstacles which a speedway bike will not do though I have seen many jump over a crash wall. For some unknown reason we have had seven of these things over the last eight or nine years. We buy them, race them, loose interest, sell them, then an evil spirit drifts by and I start over again. Since I don't own any firearms I can't shoot my self in the foot but with speedway bike the result are almost the same.

These thing get dirty just sitting there so after a trip to the dry lake it had to be cleaned again. I have signed up to race next Wednesday at The City of Industry and really need some seat time to figure things out again. My first thought would be drive all the way out to El Mirage again but the bike is clean now. So this Saturday night I will take it to Victorville and race there instead of using the dry lake for practice. The drive is about the same distance and after I done the cleaning will start all over again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day Traffic

For the weekend the traffic forecast was dismal so I rode my motorcycle to San Pedro to avoid the crush. Even with the car pool lane and lane splitting Saturday evening was stop and go from Long Beach to Santa Ana. Getting to and from me boat requires crossing over the Vincent Thomas Bridge and all the steel grating you must cross over makes a motorcycle ride over it scary.

With Mother's Day the traffic going to all the restaurants that line the harbor at Ports of call makes for more excitement with the grid locked car trying to find parking. The Swine flu has made a big dent in the cruise ship traffic that leaves San Pedro here. The auto parking lot next to where the cruise ships dock was empty and only one ship went out late Sunday afternoon instead of the usual two. From my berth in the marina I can see the passengers standing on the upper decks as the ship heads to sea. The ships always blast their mega horns upon departing and again later as they cruise down the channel. You can often hear the music playing on the upper decks even with the afternoon clock work wind blowing. This Sunday afternoon only a single cruise ship, no horns, no music and no one visible on deck.

The harbor was rather empty of smaller boats although I did see some Mother Day trippers so it was clear sailing. You must clear the breakwater that protects the harbor and the light house marks one end of it. Going out if I am close to the light I must keep out a watch for smaller power boats turning sharply around on their way back as they are blocked from view by the rocks and I am under sail and the wind direction dictates my direction. On Sunday afternoons before the money disappeared you would have to dodge the container ships coming and going but yesterday only one came in and lot of piers sit empty lined with the giant cranes that pluck the containers. On my sail back the winds took me close to the light house on one long tack and I saw a slew of seals sunning on the rocks. By the time I reached my camera bag in the cabin below and got the camera out I was too far past to get a real close shot and too lazy to go back for a close one. Getting through Hurricane Gulch in the afternoon fresh air can be a handful when you are singlehanding. Sunday I was able to sail very close to the wind with my 120 up against the shroud to make it without tacking many times.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Habitat Destruction

I have blogged before about the unnecessary cutting and trimming of trees and plants around where we live. Lots of the trimming is done by landscapers that are employed by home owners association but these pictures are taken at a city park. I have e-mail the City of Lake Forest, sent pictures, left messages numerous times and earlier in the week I called the city and asked to speak to the manager that is responsible for the park maintenance. Well the call never got to the party I requested but I was able to speak to his secretary. She listen to my simple diatribe, my first point; the unnecessary trimming, the second point; the arbitrary law enforcement that allows five landscaper employees to ride in the front of a truck (she suggested I should contact law enforcement) and then the touchy one: how can the city afford to do these things in the middle of current financial crisis.

The telephone exchange was friendly until I mentioned illegals then I was repeatably referred to address the mater via the city web site and someone would get back to me within 5 days.

Well the next day the cutters returned and hacked the remaining plants and proceeded to cut down the cattails. They are getting better at habitat destruction as one time it took three days to cut down the cattails, then two days and now only a few hours.
I have been given explanations for the cutting of the cattails, they don't want them to spread. This seems rather lame as the cattails cannot expand as they only grown in the water that comes from the storm drain and the daily front yard run off and can not migrate and start sprouting up on the grass. The original park planners may have considered the cattail for aesthetic but their primary purpose is to treat the water and one would think a healthy growing plant would function better than one that is repeatedly chain sawed. The plants when they are allowed to flower attract many bumble bees , butterflies, humming birds now they only gather plastic bags and empty cigarettes packages.

Del Taco Pleasure Pack

Just another trash day.