(7/3/00) The Bike Barn - Morrison, IL
(9/4/00) Crandon - Crandon, WI
(??/??/00) Heartland Park - Topeka, KS
(5/28/01) Spring Valley, OH
I spent some of Wednesday night and most of Thursday getting the trailer and van loaded for the upcoming weekend's race. Just for grins I tossed the YZF too. Thursday was horrible. If it could go wrong, it did. It was just one of those major stressful, worthless, terrible days. I finished loading and hooked the trailer up to the van, everything ready so all I had to do was hop in on Friday morning and head out to Crandon. Then came the phone call...
My mother, who lives just north of San Antonio, Texas, had been in the hospital with a lung infection during the week. Nothing too serious and she kept assuring me that I didn't need to head down to help her. Then, about 5:00 p.m. I get a call from her. "How soon can you get down here?" I, already having such a bad day, pretty much lost it. I unhooked the trailer and eighteen hours of driving later I was sitting in her house with her. She had been released Friday morning. I hung around 'till Tuesday, helping out around the house and making sure she was going to be OK. I flew home, leaving my van and motocross bike at her place. We already had plans of heading down in July, and I had planned on driving down with the bike so it didn't make sense to drive it home. Only problem was that now I didn't have a tow vehicle or motocross bike to play with for about a month! After all the stress, I was pretty much Brain Dead and not thinking too well. Oh well. It would give me some time to work on the Desert Car.
I'd forgotten about the race at the Bike Barn this weekend. Plus, I didn't have my van. I figured that I was done riding/racing/driving until I got back to Texas later in July. Then I see it on the calendar - Bike Bar Race the weekend of July 1st & 2nd. Ah, the seed is planted. Next, I see on the Pilot's bulletin board that the race is not until the second. Oh, the planted seed begins to sprout! I mention the race to my wife on Saturday afternoon and she says "Won't the Land Cruiser pull your trailer?"
"Sure, but it doesn't have the correct wire harness. It doesn't have a braking circuit."
She quickly informs me "That thing weighs 5,000 pounds! It shouldn't have any problem stopping the trailer." - I knew she was right. "How hard would it be to make an adapter for the wire harness?"
"Pretty easy" I tell her. "I can probably get the stuff at U-Haul."
"We go by U-Haul on the way home, why not stop and see if they have the stuff you need" she says.
Forty five minutes later, I had the Land Cruiser attached to the trailer, the wire harness adapter zip tied to the back bumper and all the stuff packed and ready to go. It was about 5:00 p.m. and I was off to somewhere in Illinois - I still had no idea where Morrison was. Six hours later I was sitting in a hotel room, ready for Sunday's race.
Sunday came and what a blast!
I had a couple problems, but still, nothing that's not/was not fixable. It started out that I had decided to try widening the rear end about two inches (since I had new axles). Not the good thing. A quick trip around the pits and boom, the inner right side CV pulled out of the transmission. "Ah, no big deal". I figured that I just hadn't seated it when I put it in last time. A quick "lesson" with Mr. BFH (Big ...... Hammer) and it was seated in the tranny again. Quick lap, quick pullout - again. I wasn't happy! NEW AXLES! NEW CVS!!! PARTS FALLING OUT!!! NO NO NO! I was totally frustrated and a few hits on the back of the car with the jack's handle and I felt a lot better! (yea, people around me were giving me funny looks, but agreed, sometimes that really did help) Then it hit me - "Dummy, you WIDENED the rear end!" A quick turn of the wrenches to narrow each side by half an inch and "Ta Da"! The rear end didn't give me a single problem for the rest of the day. FINALLY! My rear end problems were SOLVED!!!
I did chase jetting and carb problems through out the day. The Pilot's fuel delivery system works off a gravity feed setup. The top of the fuel tank is above the carb, so the fuel pump just pushes fuel to a small chamber and the carb's able to "drink" as needed. In the Moskito, the fuel tank's below the carb so I went to a pressure feed system with a restricted return line. Needless to say, the carb setup for the Pilot doesn't work with the Moskito. I worked all day trying to get the jetting right, but ran out of time, jets and some needed parts. I ended up running the Moskito with a very bad burble and nasty lack of top end. Hey, at least it worked partially! It won't take too much to get it working right.
OK, enough about the problems, what happened, you're probably asking - right? How about 4th place in my heat race (out of 7) and 4th place in the Main (out of 13)? Yes, the Moskito came home with what I consider "flying colors"! I didn't expect it to finish either race, but it proved me wrong!
The Bike Barn is a very tight rough motocross track. I had the wrong tires, bad jetting, a terrible push and yet in the grand scheme of things I was tickled to death! It passed a true acid test of a race with a very small amount of seat time and with some work, I think it's gonna be a pretty darn good race car.
I need to tilt the seat back and move it forward a bit, make a new set of "holders" for the heals of my shoes, work on the carb and start tuning the suspension and get a bigger steering wheel - or just get smart and go to power steering. I feel that this is a pretty small list of things after looking back at all the work I've done. - oh, elbow pads are needed too. (:
I braved Labor Day traffic - including getting stuck in a traffic jam caused by three semi's and six cars that deciding to occupy the same space at the same time (this does NOT WORK and slows traffic down really bad) and Chicago Rush Hour on a Friday night - while pulling a trailer - NOT FUN!!! Eleven hours later I was in Green Bay, Wisconsin and ready for sleep. Crandon is about two hours north of Green Bay, so I figured I'd just get up in the morning and cruise on up. Worked great. - side note: It only took TEN hours to drive HOME on Sunday from Crandon. Really made me realize just how bad traffic was on Friday!
Where was I? - oh yea, racing in Crandon.
I get to the track right at 10:00 a.m. - and the door to registration is being shut! "LET ME IN!!!" I got lucky and the girls behind the counter took pity on me and let me get signed up. Whew... I got my pit set up with all the other Midgets (our new name for our class) and proceeded to do a bit of final tuning. The car was ready and so was I.
I had already moved the seat's position so that it leaned back more and changed the fuel system. I machined out a small bottle that is fed by the pump. The car is now gravity fed (like a bike's tank) from this bottle. It worked flawlessly. My biggest change from the previous race was to soften the suspension all the way around. Crandon is a very smooth, well groomed track, so getting the car to sit lower would help with cornering and help keep me from getting pounded too. I also put a new belt on too.
Time to race!
Because we don't run the full track (they don't send us down the back section) the promoters decided to have us use a couple of the table top jumps that are used in the snow mobile snowcross races. These are just off the driving line, but not hard to get to. To give us an idea of what the lines would be like, we took a parade lap around - what a killer place. Unfortunately, we lost one of the competitors during the parade lap. Kevin Beatty's car sucked an o-ring or something and died before we ever got to the line. Down to 11 racers.
The green flag flew and off we went. I went over the grand stand jump and moved from the back row into third place. I got up beside Paul Sutton and he and I went thru the sweeper side by side, bumping each other right up to the first table top. I got a bit squirrely and Paul pulled ahead. I was in a four way battle for second place. This kept up for the first lap and then I got passed, dropping me back to fourth. Three more laps of battle and then I decided to swing a touch wide to get a better drive out of the "Gravel Pit". What a mistake! I ended up getting pushed out into a huge mud hole and lost all my drive. From fourth to tenth in two hundred feet. CRAP!!! I got out of the mud and started to chase the field back down again. The Moskito was working great. It slid through the corners very predictably, turned well, had the horse power I was used to and was working really well.
One problem I was having related back to the softer springs...
Somewhere in my designing, I managed to screw up the full bottom out position of the front end of the Moskito. SO, each time I would launch off the spectator jump - at somewhere around 65 mph - the front end would absolutely slam against the ground and dig a bit. To say it hurt a bit is an understatement, but still, being in the heat of battle, I wasn't about to let off. The flight attitude was just about perfect - a little nose high, just like I wanted, but man, oh man, when it came back to earth...
A little past the half way point, I came off the grand stand jump and "SNAP", I heard something let go. I started to initiate my turn into the sweeper and NOTHING! "Well, this ain't good!" I'd broken the steering arm off the front left spindle (taking the brake caliper with it). Next idea is hit the brakes - NOTHING!!! "This is even worse!" I'm now in a small projectile that's headed towards a large embankment that defines the left hand sweeper at speed and I'm no longer in control. I'd gone from being a participant to being committed. The Moskito caught the edge of the sweeper and proceeded to "rail" the edge of the corner's berm and slide to a stop. I wasn't sure if I was going to roll off the edge or not - it was about six feet high where I finally came to rest. I waited for a few more laps of racing and then finally bailed out the side window. After the race, the track crew towed me back to the pits.
Inspection of the damage revealed that I had to make new front spindles - the arm was torn completely off, the rotor was bent and the bleed nipple of the caliper had punched a perfectly round hole in the rim. I guess it could have been worse.
Even with the bad results, I still had fun and am looking forward to getting the Moskito fixed and modified (so the front end doesn't bottom out) for the sand dunes or next race - when ever that may be.
I figure that because I had reached the end of my stick working on the Moskito that I pretty much forgot to update the racing pages. To put that much work into it just to have something else let go, I pretty much had washed my hands of the thing. I was tired of it breaking, not working, having problem after problem - especially after driving for anywhere from 8 to 16 hours to get to a race and then have it die again and again. Yes, I was done with it for a while, and Topeka's race was the reason for it. I don't really recall a lot of the weekend, but I'll put down what I do remember.
After completely redoing the front end of the Moskito - new a-arms, new spindles and such I figured that I had a car that worked - yea, right.... Topeka was a rough track. Lots of ruts, breaking bumps and nasty jumps. During practice, the car worked pretty well, but my new tie rod mounting points on the spindles ended up giving the car horrible bump steer and the input back to the steering wheel was overpowering on some sections of the track. I had bruised palms after the first practice session. - oh, I remember one thing - they wouldn't let us go out and practice if we didn't get to the line in time. I missed the green flag by about 15 seconds and was denied entry to the track! It happened to a couple other drivers too. We were one pissed group. Driving 14 hours to be denied track time for being 15 seconds late will put ANYONE in a foul mood.
Race time came around on Saturday and I finally had my problems fixed - well, except for the bad steering - so I thought. 'Radical' Rich Pierce, Paul 'The Instigator' Sutton and I battled for first place back and forth for about three or four laps - I remember my arms and hands hurting so badly that I was starting to have trouble hanging on to the wheel. I went thru a set of small jumps and suddenly the car started pulling to one side - I'd lost a CV. With in 50 feet, it quit pulling and slowed to a stop. I lost BOTH CV's! Here I thought that I'd fixed that problem! NOT!!! Needless to say, it was the end of the rope for me. I got pulled back to the pits and started putting the Moskito away. With enough encouragement from the guys at the track, I was talked into going on a wild goose chase (they roll up the sidewalks of Topeka about 6:00 on Saturday Night) looking for new CV's.
I hit three different auto parts stores, broken CV parts in hand, and finally one of them tells me that I need to go to some little shop that specializes in old VW stuff. Turns out that my CV's were off of a VW Bus. Anyhow, the little man that ran the place (it was one of those dives where you had to step over old engine parts, around new racing engines, duck under exhaust systems and the likes) was pretty much, for lack of a better description, was an old hippie. He was as nice a person as you'll ever meet, but he would go from one story to another to another. I learned the history of more than one of the engines sitting in the room! He was finally able to come up with a couple CV's, but the boots were another story. I had destroyed both of them when the CV's let go. Little rubber boots don't hold the parts in well at all. I took what I could and headed back to the pits. By close to midnight I had the CV's back on the Moskito, but I didn't think that they would last, so I packed it in the trailer trying to decide what to do for Sunday's race. Fortunately for me, it decided to rain cats and dogs that night and being that I didn't trust the car and I don't really care for the mud, I hooked up the trailer and went home. As far as I was concerned, the Moskito could sit and rot. I was tired of the whole thing.
After a while I came back to my senses and proceeded to get the thing running again. It went through a lot of front and rear end changes and some more testing before it went to race again.
I arrived about noon on Saturday - nobody else there yet. It was windy, a bit cold and NOT raining. I did a big "No Rain Dance" and it seemed to work for the day. Begged and pleaded to just hold out for about 36 hours. I got close.
Big Tom and Toyman showed up about 1:00 p.m. or so and so did the people that run the track. We were originally told that we weren't gonna be able to practice on Saturday, but luckily I'm a persistent pain in the butt and was able to talk the track people into letting us go out and "test" on the upper section of the track. I started out on the YZF - approached the track people "Can I just put around on the bike and get an idea of the layout? They said go ahead, have fun and play all you want, just stay out of the lower section. With that info, I went back and told Big Tom that if they approached the guys and said that they needed to do some "tuning" that I bet they would be able to run on the track also. Not long after that Tom and Toyman were out ripping up the track with me. Dune Pilot had arrived during this time and proceeded to join us on the track too. He was grinning from ear to ear, as he'd never been on a track before. I finally got off the bike then moved to the Moskito - which ROCKED!!!!
After two years of frustration and basic crap associated with the Moskito, it decided to reward me with an absolutely AWESOME ride! There was no double too big (then again, the doubles we were allowed to play on were pretty small). The handling is killer - NO PUSH. And, to make things even happier for me, the engine temperature sat at 180F and ran flawlessly. I did have one little mishap - the collar on the end of the throttle cable came loose from the slide, but that was an easy fix.
The track was a blast. We allowed to run the upper part during Saturday, but the lower section was a mud pit, so they asked us to stay out. I tried not to go down there, but the big (probably close to 40 feet) table top on the motocross track was just too much fun to launch over - I did get busted for it too... :)
On the upper section there were two sets of doubles, a small down hill double double, a couple small jumps to nowhere, some good corners and a small table top that went right into a tight right hand corner.
The back double was very short - Live Wire wasn't able to get the run at it to go on over, but I still think that stock Pilot or FL350 would have been able to clear it with the proper run - at least I would have tried... I kept over jumping it in the Moskito, but it lands really nice - whew!
The front straight double was a bit harder - and it landed in a mud hole that doubled as a small pond. I had to clear it and the mud hole on the bike but then couldn't make the 90 degree left hander that was right after the mud. The guys finally cleared out the mud by rolling the jumps and splashing through the water. After that I could land the bike on the downside and rail on thru the corner. In the Moskito, I'd just pitch it sideways as I landed and roost on thru the corner.
side note: Hot400r's Pilot clears it very nicely, thank you. He's the one that I scared so badly at Silver Lake the year before by jumping his car off the side of a dune. This time, he came up to me and said "I trust your driving, you scare the crap outta me, but I want some pix of my car going over the doubles". I quickly obliged and hit the big double right off the bat. You had to get a balls out run at that one, as the landing jump was about 3" taller than the take off, but his LT Pilot is set up just about perfectly for the track. The fully modded 400 engine worked perfectly too. I forgot how well they run - don't have the torque or hit that the 500 does, but once you get them wound up, they fly!
I did discover one thing. The Moskito is really hard on elbows. In a Pilot there are no sides to worry about hitting your arms on. Not true with my car. After the first practice session, I ventured out into the North Eastern lands of Ohio looking for a Wally World (Wal-Mart) just to get a set of elbow pads. I scored on them and managed to find lunch too.
The down hill double double was pretty cool (and my favorite place to pass, both on the bike and in the Moskito). You came out of a sweeping right hand corner and then hit a little lip that dropped off about 5 feet and out about 15 feet. If you hit it just right, the front end would follow the contour of the landing and the back wheels would just catch the edge of the landing jump, compressing the suspension. This set you up perfectly for the little double right after it. If you didn't hit it quite right, it caused the back end to go high over the second double jump. I saw (and I'm included in this) more nose down landings off that second double than any other jump on the track. If you didn't get the suspension loaded just right, it kicked the back end up. Wasn't as scary looking from inside the car as it was for the spectators. (at least to me.)
Ramjet, Radical & Sutton showed up a bit later in the evening - darn, I'm missing someone else, I think... We ate, drank (Pepsi, in my case; this morning (Monday 5/28) reminds me why I don't drink alcohol very often) and were very merry until about 11:00 p.m. or so. Thanks Dune Pilot for the killer pork chops! Dune Pilot hitched a ride with me to the hotel in Alliance where we met Live Wire and his wife Ruby. Paul and Radical came in not long after us. After such a great day, I hit the bed and was down for the count - until 5:41 a.m. The MORON that was in the room before me had left the alarm clock armed and then I couldn't find the switch to turn the damn thing off - and it wouldn't come unplugged with a good jerk either. I finally did the deer in the headlights thing, turned on the bed side lamp and found the switch. Back to sleep until the 8:00 a.m. wake up call.
Sunday morning found more rain, but the track was in really good shape. The track people held a driver's meeting, we got the race order and then they had us do a parade lap and then go ahead and open up for full practice. I got to lead the parade lap and then went after it. At the end of my second lap, something felt like it was slipping in the drive train. I headed back to the pits figuring it was the belt or something. I checked the clutches, replaced the belt and everything seemed okay. (so I thought)
The stock class ran first. Dune Pilot, Live Wire, Stoneman's brother Joe, Cole (the 9 year-old), Dave (FL350Nut) and one other car (sorry, I can't remember the name) lined up and then launched down a short straight that went into a funneling left hand corner. It was a brutal first corner and a nasty "welcome to racing" committee for Dune Pilot. He got caught in the middle of the pack, let off the gas a bit got tagged in the rear end and then got a really good view of ground/sky, pulling off a descent nose ended flip/roll. A lap later he was back in the heat of battle and finished out his race. Live Wire also managed to pull a good flip in a corner right by the pits - landed on his wheels and roosted off. His wife announced his roll to the crowd with a quality scream. In the end, it was Toyman, from Kansas, that won the Stock Class. In fact, he pulled off the win both motos. Congrats!
The modified class proved to be even more interesting in the start. I lined up second from the outside, hoping to just avoid the mess that usually happens on the inner part the corner at the start. It worked pretty well - I ended up in fifth. Radical got the hole shot, followed by Mike C in his Drak, Steve ? in his SODA lite, Petelyco (?) and then me with Sutton and the rest of the crew following. The dust that Radical was kicking up out in front was pretty bad and Steve stayed off over to the left side of the sweeper. The problem was that he was about 10 feet off the track and just to the left of Mike C. Steve came out of the dust and was pointed right at a 55 gallon plastic barrel. He hit jerked the car to the right and hit the barrel dead on. It caught under the car and turned him right about 45 degrees and put him straight into the back left wheel of Mike. As he hit the Drak, he started an awesome barrel roll. Mike, in turn had the Drak turned almost 90 degrees to the left and the tires dug in. He did a perfect barrel roll about 6 feet off the ground, landing back on the wheels.
I got lucky enough to see Steve attack the barrel and then have his direction change, so I just pointed at the spot where Steve was. As I passed Steve and Mike, they were both in the air. Pretty wild! One of the other mod racers (sorry, I can't remember his name!) actually went under Steve as he was flipping! Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
I was now sitting second and starting to close in on Radical, then the dreaded slip started. I was able to make it to the next corner and then lost all forward drive. Big Tom and Paul Sutton had to dodge me (whew - for once Paul DIDN'T hit me!) I came to a stop and my day was done. But that was okay, as the Moskito had proved itself the day before, so I was very happy with it.
The problem ended up being the torque clutch in the Pilot tranny. The nut had backed off allowing the inner section of the pack to move out. This let the clutch plates disengage and start slipping. By the time it was said and done, I had toasted the pack. I tried to get it back together for the second moto, but I'd burnt the plates too badly and the Moskito was a no show for round two. Radical won both motos.
All in all, it was a KILLER weekend. I'm so satisfied with what the Moskito can do, that the minor problem with the clutch was no big deal. And to add icing to the cake, it was something that I didn't cause!
I think that I've passed on the "Spoon of misfortune and bad luck" to Hauss - poor guy drove all night just to get to the track late, barely make late practice and have the engine seize up. He's had the same sort of luck with his Pilot that I've had with the Moskito. Sorry Hauss!
I apologize for not getting everyone's name listed, but I'll try. Here's who was there:
Dune Pilot from Michigan- Welcome to Racing! He earned the "Most Rolls" award
Toyman from Kansas - Great Guy! Quiet, but knows when to throw in the punch line with precision
Big Tom from Houston - Iron Butt Drive Award (shared with Toyman)
Ram Jet from Ohio - Local Boy, sort of
'Radial' Rich Pierce from St. Louis - Seems to win just about everything (right now....)
Paul 'The Instigator' Sutton from Kansas (Kansas City area?) - Don't know where to start on Paul....
Mike C. from Illinois - Our Fearless leader of NORSA and new official Drakart Crash Tester
Jeane - Mike's "Better Half" - She finished both of her races!
Live Wire and Ruby from Michigan. - Ruby screams really well when Live Wire rolls his FL350
Hauss from Indiana - Bitten by the I'm gonna break again bug
Steve ? from Wisconsin - Mr. Flip and take out a Drakart in the process - look out for that barrel!
Don (the old man) from Illinois - Our great designer and racer from way back
Fubar from Ohio - Great going getting our race set up. Thanks Alvin!! Thanks for the food too!
Dave FL350Nut from ?? - check out his Pilot Roof - it's a nice piece (so is his other stuff too)
Moskito from Ohio - Uh, "Mr. Pain in the butt?"
Bill Hot400R from Michigan - who actually asked me to take his PERFECT Pilot around the track (he didn't race)
Stoneman from ?? - Let his brother Joe run because he promised - even though he didn't get to
Cole from ?? - the 9 year old that SHOULD NOT BE RACING - yet....
Victor from Ohio - Just missed being IN the nasty modified crash!
I can see a lot of other faces, but I can't put names to them (I'm really bad with names...) - sorry if I missed you!
The burgers were great - thanks go out to Fubar and crew for bringing all that stuff out and cooking for us!
Anyhow, it was an absolutely killer weekend and if you had planned on going but backed out (Hoser!) you missed a great one!Return Home