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June 2012

What’s in a Number?

The rules are a race bike needs number plates to compete. There’s rules, rules and more rules including rules about the height of the numbers, the color of the numbers and who gets to use which numbers. The rules for the AMA Grand National Championship are quite rigid where only the highest level riders get to have single or double digit numbers – Last year’s champion has the option of running the coveted number one. In vintage or AHRMA racing the rules are a bit more lax – “n) All machines must carry three 10×12″ (minimum) rectangular number plates—one on the front, and one clearly visible on each side of the motorcycle. Novice entrants shall have yellow plates, all others must be white. All numbers must be black, at least 8″ tall, with a minimum 1″ brush stroke. Any letters must be at least 3″ tall. It is the rider’s responsibility to be scored; legible numbers on the rider’s back and helmet are highly encouraged. All competitors must display their AHRMA-assigned number unless granted prior permission to run a different number at that event only.”

At the little local tracks where I hope to race, the rules are even less stringent, but keeping an eye on the future, I will prepare my bike to be eligible for AHRMA events, just in case.

The mechanic up the road had one of his helpers cut me some plates out of aluminum sheet, and I’ve brought them home, primered them with zinc chromate  and despite the man’s lack of confidence I decided to go against his suggestion of  buying vinyl stick-on numbers and try and paint mine by hand. I surprised myself that my first attempt turned out better than I feared, sheesh… maybe I’m a sign painter! I made a stencil from a font I liked in MS Word, used a sharpie to trace the numbers on the plate and then carefully filled in the lines. Very satisfying.


We will use Dzus fasteners to attach the side plates so they can be easily removed for tuning, etc.

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