Sunday, May 29, 2016

First Curbside Treasure of the Summer

R has the best luck finding stuff that people have put out to the curb on trash day.  I think it is a combination of the fact that the wheels on his truck are always spinning so he covers a lot of ground every day AND he has the ability to spot something even when going fast.

I remember there was a time when he was racing cars and I had to be somewhere else that night. Circumstances changed and I was able to make it to the race rather late.  I figured it was a waste of money to get a pit pass so I just paid for a ticket and sat in the stands.  He knows at most tracks I favor sitting in the area coming out of turn 4 and that is where I was sitting.

The race was in progress when it looked like he slightly turned his head towards the grandstands. The next time he came around I saw him turn his head again and lift his fingers slightly off the wheel in a slight wave.

He later said that he wasn't exactly looking for me but something caught his eye and when he knew it was me he acknowledged it with a slight wave.  Now with the HANS  device and other safety equipment it is harder to move your head to the side.  This was pre HANS era racing so he could turn his head.  He later wore a HANS device when he raced sprint cars.

When R raced motorcycles, I was always admonishing him for looking back (mostly to see how much of a lead he had) because not only does it affect the flow of air when you are in a tucked position on the straightaway but your shoulders slightly rotate and it turns the handle bars which turns the front wheel ever so slightly.  I figured it wasn't worth the risk when you are doing 130 mph plus with only a layer of leather to protect your skin and a helmet to protect your head.  So he developed a modified version where he looked under his armpit when he was tucked on the straightaways.

As crew chief and mechanic and R as the rider we kicked butt.  I can honestly say there were only a handful of mistakes that I made when I was wrenching.  I knew his style and what set up worked for him and I had a great ability to read new tracks and make gearing changes where at the most we were only one tooth off after the first practice.  It saves your rider's strength if you don't have to practice time and time again especially when it sunny and 90 degrees and you are wrapped in leather straddling a hot engine.

What mistakes?

I was one tooth off at a National where he came in second.  It was a new track for us but it was his favorite kind of track.  Flat, packed clay, no berm, and slick.  Unfortunately I did not know that it was treated with sodium chloride that made it tacky when the sun went down.  He was set up to slide but he kept getting a bite and it was throwing off his entry into the corner but not affecting his exit where you want bite.

Another time we received a new ported and polished Amal carb from our sponsor with a new rubber manifold to attach it to the head.  I should have used the large thick braided rubber fuel hose that we always used but I wanted the pretty new part. On the white lap, R had a straight away lead in his heat race when the bike died.  The high octane race fuel had dissolved the stock rubber manifold.  Not having the old piece with us, I rigged a set up of duct tape around the damaged rubber manifold and used safety wire to hold it in place and relieve some of the weight off of the rubber.  R barely made it into the main and started on the back row but when the white flag dropped he was almost a straight away ahead of second place when the bike started missing.  It was sucking air in through an opening in the rubber/duct tape set up.  He reached down and tried to hold it in place but ultimately came home 5th. The next day while I was at work I had an epiphany.  When I got home I measured the race van's radiator hose and it was the exact inside diameter that we needed.  I only needed 3 inches so we could have still used the existing radiator hose to get home.

At another national I forgot our entrance tickets at home.  Despite being prepaid on the entry list the promoter still made us buy two 2 day passes.  R won the national but I still to this day remember the guy's name.  It was in Hanover PA and that was in 1983.  Funny the things that you remember.  R flipped the promoter off as he rode away with his 5 ft trophy after the presentation.  It wasn't a very polite thing to do in retrospect, but the other riders loved it because he treated all the riders horribly bad every week. They knew we drove all the way from Michigan and were on the prepaid list but just didn't have our entry tickets.  You know why??? He mailed them to us along with a flyer for an Elvis impersonator the night before the race.  I thought they were tickets to the Elvis gig and I am sure that was his plan all along.

Another PA mistake happened after the York, PA national.  The track there is crushed limestone.  I remember someone crashing and sliding through the pit gate opening and right into a lovely brick show barn filled with animals that were at the fair.  No animals were touched. We raced and did well and came home.   On Monday I washed the bike and did routine maintenance.  On Thursday I chose my set up for the upcoming race track and decided I needed to flip the front tire as it was worn and had already been grooved and no fresh edges were available.  Well I learned a little masonry lesson that week. Limestone dust and water equal cement and the axle was hardened inside the hub of the wheel. On a side note the track was a half mile so we took the 500cc Honda instead of the 750cc Harley XR.  If you know Harleys then you know York is the home to a Harley factory.  We had a little trouble leaving town after the race when some bike enthusiasts (I'm trying to be nice) noticed that we had a Honda inside our van.  Good times....LOL

Another time I filled the gas tank all the way to the top because R didn't like the weight transfer of sloshing fuel later in the race.  Most riders only put just enough fuel to get through the race because of the added weight.  R weighed 128 so we had a few lbs to play with.  The temperature was over 100 degrees that day.  We were at I 70 speedway in Missouri and it was hot and windy with blowing dirt and no where to get out of the heat.  Because of the temperature they delayed the start of the race.  I left the tank sealed and the bike sitting in the sun for 5 hours.  R went into turn one in second place and came out of turn two in last place.  He only had one hand on the handle bars and he was using his other hand to cover the gas cap hole.  Despite having a small hose to relieve pressure so the tank does not get vapor locked, we believe between the tank being full and the fuel expanding due to heat and hitting a hole, the fuel hit the gas cap and blew it off.  Fuel splashed up inside his helmet and onto his crotch soaking his leathers and burning like crazy.  For several laps he barely stayed on the lead lap until his eyes cleared.  He thought about pulling off but since it was a national and he was in a tight battle for the number 1 plate in the nation he continued on.  He ultimately finished 5th.  Little did we know that the next week he would crash, total his 750cc Harley XR, tear his shoulder to smithereens, pull neck muscles that saved his neck from being broken, and sustain a concussion so bad that he could hardly talk for two days because his head hurt so bad.  He never raced a motorcycle after that and ended up 3rd overall in points.  He took one year off and then transitioned into race cars.  Believe it or not we have only attended one motorcycle race as spectators since then. It was in Las Vegas and neither one of us enjoyed the race.

Those were great times and on a weekend like this Memorial Day weekend we might race 3 nights (Friday/Sat/Sun) in a row.  That is a lot of wrenching and cleaning air cleaners and carbs in motel rooms.  I bet there were a lot of maids that thought what in the world happened in this room?

But back to the curbside treasure.  R said he was driving along when he thought he saw a power washer hose and nozzle/gun.  He figured he could use the parts for our power washer so he turned around and picked it up and put it in the back of his truck.
It wasn't until he arrived home that he saw the note on the handle.
SCORE!  Our other power washer is a huge gas model so this one is perfect for small jobs.

Here is the only oriole photo that I have been able to take so far.  The females must be on their nests because the male orioles are chasing after a lot of the starlings, grackles, and black birds/crows.
Isn't he magnificent?