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Dec 23, 2012

And… We’re off !

After nine months of preparation, the race bike is ready! Here’s a video of the first ride

Obviously… the bike exceeds my expectations! On this brief first ride, I realize the bike fits me perfectly – not too big, not too small – light, nimble and powerful. Great mid-range torque and then it’s up to the top of the RPM range in a snap! What a great bike!

The following weekend is my first opportunity to go racing. Racing on my very own, custom built – built-for-speed awesome hotrod! The track is closed for the usual pre-race practice session because one of the world’s premier racer’s is conducting a clinic that afternoon before the races and I sign up. Count me in! I need some laps on my bike and I can use all the help the professionals can pass my way. Joe Kopp AMA National #3

The big day arrives and I load my bike on the trailer and head out for the 50 mile drive to Salem.

I arrive at the track and there the other students are assembled for the ‘beginner’s’ class of the Secrets of Speed. The coach begins his training session with a hand-out and lectures us for a while imparting some secrets which I’ll keep (otherwise… they’re not secrets ; -) The class members hit the track to practice some of what we’ve been told and I join in, only to discover my bike runs like crap – gas is pouring out the side of the carb and the teacher pulls me aside suggesting I park my bike and use his 100cc Honda pit-bike for the training. I go through the drills, barely able to keep up with the youngsters in my class and after a while, Joe calls one of his crew members over to see about addressing my bike’s problem. I am introduced to Ronnie Saner, crew chief of Team Latus Motors Racing  AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Triumph squad who promptly gets down to business on my bike. He pulls the carb and after asking his sweetie to hand him a napkin, begins to take apart my carburetor on the floor of his van. He quickly spots the trouble… crud in my gas tank has fouled the float valve and he meticulously cleans out the valve and passages – blowing air through the openings and wiping away the grit. Tasting the residue he asks me “What kind of oil are you mixing, Blendzall?” I open my eyes wide and ask “You can taste that?!” “Sure” he says. “The old-school caster oil based stuff is kinda dirty, but nothing protects better. Good choice.” I inwardly thank the builder for knowing his stuff. Ronnie puts my carb back together and warns me not to run it until I get an inline filter, because there’s probably more dirt still in the tank, but a filter will get me through the night – then I have to clean the tank.

Back to the race-school – Coach Kopp wants to see me on something with more speed than his pit-bike and asks Ronnie if I can borrow Ronnie’s Yamaha 450 motocross bike. They wheel it over to me, and let me tell you. That sucker was tall. I am a very short man. Used to lie and tell people I was 5-7 or 5-6, but in truth I am actually only about 5′ – 4 1/2″ tall. The saddle on the motocross bike came upto my chest. I could not swing my leg over it. They hoisted my up there anyway and held the bike steady while I kick-started it and out on to the track I went. Petrified what my happen if I dumped it, or what would happen when it was time to come in. Well it took a lot of courage, but I put in some laps on it, doing what I was told – to go as fast as I dared without using the brake coming into the corner. It was pointed out to me that I was ‘ridding the brake’ and could I try to slow the bike down just be rolling off the throttle and pitching it into the turn. Well, I was scared – that’s for sure, and took only about a dozen laps on that monster, before calling it a day. The rest of the  class was spent observing the others and planning where to get a filter for the night’s racing.
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