Saturday, August 29, 2009

IMS August 28

Hot day, hot night. I checked the weather before leaving and it was a mere 103 there at the track. Something was clogging the 91 Freeway in Corona and as I use the toll road to try and save time to get from Orange County out to 909 country I spent twenty five minutes coasting from the top of grade down to the 91 Freeway in a giant floating parking lot.

Before I tried using my IPhone for a ocean depth finder I could check the traffic flow on the screen and cuss at the red blockages on the south land traffic arteries. Now I first try the radio for information which usually isn't forthcoming or call someone for sigalert updates. This doesn't allow me an alternate route where you can get off the freaking toll road but it does tell you that there is an ambulance responding at 6Th Street in Corona.

I would surmise that no matter what freeway you use on a Friday night in Southern California you encounter stop and go traffic. This gives the occupants plenty of time to look at the endless miles of automobile, RVs and trailer lots that line both sides but the crappy economy does seem to be eliminating some of these businesses and
their ranks grow smaller every time I pass through.

When I did get to the track I found the parking lot looking like last week with a zillion trucks and trailer belonging to the mini-sprint cars parked in such a mess that the off-track betting lot looked inviting. The little cars help pay the bills and they have to park outside the normal pits so although they are a pain in the ass IMO, they make it possible for the track to operate.

There is plenty to do after you get to the track besides the effort of getting your bike, tools and kit from the parking lot into the pits. Speedway at one time paid enough in purses to allow for riders to quit their day job. I was reading on the Internet where Mike Bast was making 50K a year when speedway in Southern Cal was booming and that when a lot way compared to today's dollar after inflation. So the time before races is spent repairing the bikes and getting ready again as that is the only time for some to do it.

A lot of time is spent changing the rear sprocket and switching which side of the tire is used. As speedway bike only go left the sprocket side of the tire wears and the other doesn't. So you flip the wheel over or install another wheel as the night goes on. Most of the top level riders have two bikes because they tend to quit when you least expect it or they go slamming against the wall or through the wall like Jason Ramirez did last night. He made a nice hole in the wall and his crew were able to repair it before the next race and send in back out. He was not able to restart after the crash as he doesn't have a backup bike. He could have used someones else bike as many riders share in a situation such as that but the crash was in a "Last Man Out Challenge" and that payout didn't warrant risking a bike that might be needed for one of the two remaining mains.

I don't have a spare bike and last night I needed one. Mine quit after crossing the finishing line in my first race and I had to push it back. It had been running really good then I backed off on the throttle in turn one and it just stopped, no bang, or mechanical noise. I promptly took off my helmet and tried restarting. Steve Murray, who helps me out, pushed me but all I got was a little half -ass pop out out it. My ignition went away at the Perris long track races and it is like new. I pulled the side case and checked the ignition and it had not moved, tried another plug and all the wiring, disconnected the kill switch, took the carb apart, Buck came over had started to help and offered me his backup bike. I declined as his gearing and mine are worlds apart. Buck and I used to have two bikes, a short and a long stroke, and several times we switched bikes. back then I was not nursing my recent injuries and there was no reason for we to go out and wad his bike.

There was sufficient time to work on my bike but all of our efforts came up without any results. I was already listed in the main as when the program was made up there were not that many riders but at race time there was eight and I was starting on the twenty. It is obvious to me that I would have won easily as I watched from the wrong side of the crash wall.

There is no instant replay in speedway or sideline protests and challenges such as they have in pro football (American) and when some one touches the tapes at the start the referee is the law. In the scratch main more than one touched the tapes but Buck Blair was sent to the pits. From my point of view looking at the start from an angle but very close to the tapes Faria touched first followed by Shaun Harmatiuk but Buck got the heave oh. Buck did argue with Steve and so did I. Look at the picture and see how difficult it is too call. My shot does not show Buck's front wheel as it is blocked from view but his body appears to be behind the gate loader and to the rear of Shaun and Mike. My call is obviously not objective and that is why I started the "Buck Got Screw Again" Foundation...

Now it is back to trying to find what the hell is wrong with my motor and to remove what is left of the king size mattress I ran over on the freeway last night. It is bad enough dodging Beach Ball but now they are throwing mattress at me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Legends Night at Industry

Well it was hot Wednesday night at Industry as the temperature was close to a hundred, maybe 98, when I pulled into the pits and a couple of fires were burning in the nearby mountains.

Last week I shared Gene Stone pop-tent but this week he retreated to under the cover of the roof where there was a lot more shade but he let me use the tent again. Then Steve Murray rolled in with his wife for the Legends Night so I had company.

The track surface is always open before the races for inspection by the riders and the track was dry when I first looked at it. At speedway there are not any practice before the races so a walk around is it. Then the decision was made to water which makes the first who ride a slip and slide event. At Industry the second and third divisions ride first before the National Anthem and this blows of the top layer of wet dirt and usually place several riders on the deck.

My first ride was in Race 5A and the track was a lot drier by then . My grandson was track side and he had never seen me ride Speedway so I won my first race for him. His mother started going to Costa Mesa at an early age when you used to be able to haul your own cooler into the grandstands and wanted to see Sonny Nutter again. I am not sure if that dates her more than myself but since I lie about her age it is okay. She had never seen sidecars before and I offered to get her one but it would not fit in her little VW.

I can't get my son to go to speedway anymore though he does help me load and unload my bike but that is only because my right arm is still mending and I can't lift it or the bike. So maybe I can get the grandson on a bike or maybe his mother on one too, she is no stranger to riding a motorcycle but that is another story.

Billy Gray was there to ride on a two valve and had a match race with Steve Murray. Steve rode a laydown but he has a garage full of older twin cam uprights. My first Jawa was a $900.00 twin cam I got a Cody's and I met Steve at Arrowhead where he was riding one also. There is a restored twin cam sitting on the floor at Cody's that Bobby Cody refurbished that is really sweet.

In my second race they put be on the ten yard line but there was a gap in the middle. The starter didn't know I was supposed to be handicapped back and motioned to be to move forward so I did. That didn't work very long a two riders protested my present on the starting line so I moved back to the eight yard line.

My mistake in the second race was trying to pass Stone on the outside and he finished second and my third moved me into the consi. Sometimes, but not always, the consi become a last chance so I won my remaining race but didn't get to ride the main as I was told it was "only" a consi. This is what I commonly refer to as the "Buck Blair got screwed again" paradigm and in the future you maybe able to purchase a "Buck Got Screwed Again" shirt if we can come up with appropriate graphics.

Speaking of graphics: Check out my Index Ink hat and shirt, I stole the cup.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

IMS North vs South August 21

I returned to IMS tonight after missing last week races because: Nobody would help me load my bike, I was invited to the Playboy Mansion as a replacement stud (my grand daughter said I was "A Stud" in a FaceBook comment), I was attending a White House Meeting in hopes of solving the current financial problems or I forgot there was a Friday. What ever answer for you works is okay.

It was the North vs South and several rider took the trip down but the North Team included Buck Blair (North side of the Hunington Pier).

Several of the young whippersnappers were attending some convention up north at Auburn in hopes they would be future stars in the speedway world and of course several riders from the north rode here that have never been on this track. Yarrow was a little unsure for a few laps then he started to ride really well. Yarrow used to ride here when this fixture was Charlie's Arrowhead track and he was quick then as a whippersnapper. Bobby Hedden was also a quick learner and the track was blue groove inside and heavy and soft outside with some ruts and holes.

Shaun Harmatiuk was fast on the outside. Shaun started going to a gym a couple of weeks ago and if he getting faster you will probably see him on cable doing a weight strengthening video.

Buck Blair was up, down and everywhere. Fishback was leading when he pulled the kill switch lanyard. I was looking the other way when that happen so I am not sure why. When TrickVideo finishes editing the nights races I will find out.

As I approached the parking lot I thought I was in the wrong place as where I normally park my Nissan and trailer the lot was full of a zillion little cars, little race cars, not too different from what the Shiners drive in parades but probably with a lot more horsepower, some were using Jawa 500s and I quickly decided that they were more welcome than a fleet of Harleys at Harley night. Those who love Harleys please understand that I can say what I may about them as I was once a proud owner of a nice sporty. Nice is a relative word and I will leave it at that.

Someone tried to sell me a little sprint car powered my a Jawa motor tonight and I declined as my vice is of a two wheel variety. When I was in Junior High School I got a job at a bicycle shop and the head mechanic who was a senior in Samohi had a 32 3 window coupe. This got me into hot rods and I had my first deuce before I had a driver's license. Actually I had a five window and a roadster before I could legally drive. I would be rich today If they were in my garage now.

But the riders that came into the Cycle and Sport bicycle shop in Santa Monica were not only hard core bicycle racers but also hot rodders and bikers. One lad that was going to USC had a three window couple, was an excellent climber on his bicycle and he had a Matchless 650 Twin. As I was a mere fifteen year old weighting maybe a 120 pounds with my pockets full of wet sand he let me ride the 650. If you can imagine switching from an Italian ten speed to a bike faster than almost any legal street car, it was unbelieveable.

The war between the North and South went to the North by one point in the final hard fought race. Aside from the furious action between the two teams there was the Third Division Main which is the real reason the stands are filled with screaming fans each week. After seeing a night filled with Blair and McConnell banging each other and the wall, Bobby Schwartz riding like a kid after the ice cream truck, two very fast Heddens, the real test of skill is to get around "Beach Ball Brown" when you start ten yards behind him as he takes up several lanes and to avoid Chris Thomas when he falls down. Ed Lynch went around me at the start and everybody else to win (no photos of Ed as he doen't need any additional encouragement). Chris Jones didn't flip his bike once during the night and Mr. X was icing his body after two crashes earlier and was a non-starter. I should have started a database of Thomas vs Mr. X in the number of falls as that would be very interesting number. My database of falling and injuries are not currently available but I keep trying.