The 2017 Racing Season is in the Books!
Races – 18
Podiums – 17
First place finishes – 3
Second place finishes – 11
Third place finishes – 3
Fourth place finishes – 1
Final National Standings:
200GP – Second overall
CB160 – Second overall
Dixie Cup final standings:
200GP – Second overall
CB160 – Third overall
It all started with our rainy trip to Carolina Motorsports Park Back in April. We had never been there before and my daughter and son-in-law joined us from North Carolina. The rain stopped. Worked on a bunch of broken motorcycles, including mine but came away with a 1st and three 2nds behind Gregory Glevicky. I did provide some competition for him until eventually fading. His bike was sick that weekend and he had one DNS. Broke more exhaust studs and destroyed my rear wheel, but finished all my races. I was riding faster than I’ve ever ridden this particular weekend. There is a built-in ‘how fast’ indicator on these bikes. It’s called 'chatter.’
At Gingerman, I was able to beat Greg in the CB160 class, finishing 1st. After a red flag, non-Le Mans re-start, I pulled the holeshot. He tangled with other riders and could not catch me. Repeated my finishing positions from CMP. Was a near-crash though in Sunday’s 200GP. I lost the front end, but saved it. Scared the crap out of me. Beautiful grounds and fun racetrack. Iffy weather that weekend. Our MR50 pit bike lost its bottom end bearing so that’ll be another winter time project.
The last-minute trip to Utah with my wife, Sheri, was a blast. No Gregory G. at this event, but there were three other fast riders from the West Coast, Mark Hunter, Stephen Gillen and Dustin Johnson. Mark and Stephen had bike problems and Dustin was too fast on his Yamaha CT1-powered Sloper-framed racer. Again, I finished with three 2nds and a 1st after a fun, weekend-long battle with Kevin Burns. He was the faster rider all weekend but I suppose I was the luckier rider. I was riding with a tiny bit of reserve though. I think the near-crash at Gingerman permanently messed with my mind, and my courage. Joe didn’t make the trip so Sheri managed the pits, and she was also my handler in both LeMans start races. The track here is an absolute blast.
Tally’s hurricane-shortened weekend was a bummer. Only one day of racing, and I missed registration so I had to start from the back row. It was a challenge to catch Scott Turner on the last lap to claim 3rd in the CB160 race. Greg was way too fast for me that day so I was a distant 2nd in the 200GP class after passing Kevin Burns braking into turn 2 on the first lap. It was all I could do to hold him off for 6 laps. This was Joe’s first race weekend. He did very well despite a faulty (new) ignition system causing a terrible misfire at 8000 RPM. I worked on many bikes, including his and my own. Fortunately, mine broke in practice, and not during the race.
Barber was another marathon of wrenches. Joe crashed hard on Friday and it took 6 hours to restore his CB175 to race worthiness. My bike broke again in practice. I worked on many others. Another hurricane shortened our weekend. I managed to holeshot the 200GP race and led until the final corner on the first lap. Finished 3rd behind the current national champion and the former national champion. A Barber podium! I was a proud ol’ fart. The ultimate accomplishment. Had lots of pals from Texas, California and Georgia hangin’ out with us all weekend. Joe raced 3 classes. He used good starts, his skill and big front brake to outbrake several riders going into Charlotte’s Web. He fininshed 11th in the 200GP and CB160 classes and an astonishing (with a stock motor) 5th in the F125. My CB160 race was the best ever. Battled with Damian Doffo for 3rd place the whole race, changing positions several times. I thought I had him on the last lap when I outbraked him entering Charlotte’s Web. But he slipped by me exiting the last corner and there wasn’t enough time to draft him to the finish. Dropped my lap times over 2 seconds from last year and turned a few 1:59s. I felt my courage level increased a little throughout the weekend.
We will build Joe a race engine over the winter so he’ll be able to run with the front pack. Three seasons on my bike now so the engine will have to come apart for inspection and a camshaft upgrade.
When I ventured into this vintage racing thing, I thought building and racing the bikes would be the most fun. But meeting all these great AHRMA racers, crew and staff runs a close second. And every weekend we ‘friend’ even more folks. It has been an amazing ‘ride’ so far. Can’t wait for next year.
Racing Recap: 2016
After an arduous 2015 racing season, we were all set to try and make 2016 a little less strenuous. The ‘arduous’ part of 2015 was the build schedule for the bikes, finishing both of them the day before we left for the racetrack. The 350 worked out fine, but the 175 was a pain.
The first stop was NOLA. I have that track pretty well mastered and was looking forward to racing my CL175 (Little Silver) there. The CB350 (Ol’ Red) was officially retired after Barber. I didn’t fare so well in 350 Sportsman there after taking a 2nd and a 3rd in my first two 350 Sportsman races. I didn’t know the Barber track, I nearly high-sided in practice and my face shield fogged up going into turn 1 at the start of the first race. I had to race one-handed until it cleared up. There were some fast bikes and riders to deal with too. My plan all along was to race it once at Barber, and then convert it back to a street-legal café racer. I made some changes to the CL175 oil cooler removing the clumsy oil lines and faulty crankcase fittings. I designed a new fitting/crankcase cover and installed shorter oil lines.
The bike was ready for NOLA, but Ma Nature turned b!tch. Heavy rains mid-week flooded the Sabine River, closed down IH10, and forced us to detour through Toledo Bend Reservoir. Added 5 hours to the trip. Joe drove his big Dodge truck so Sheri and I relaxed and enjoyed the backroads. Old friends from Georgia, Neil and Yoly Mullen, were headed to NOLA. He’s an expert videographer, and an ex-Team Honda Roadrace technician from the ‘70s and ‘80s, and would be filming the activities.
It rained most of the day during Friday’s practice sessions and limited our time on the track. I decided to brave the elements and see if I still retained any of my rain riding skills. I did. I went fast in the wet. I also changed jetting 5 or 6 times trying to sort out the engine. The AHRMA folks studied the forecast and the decision was made to postpone the race program until Sunday; race the entire schedule, without practice. Dang. I was ready to race in the slop. My brother Phil drove down from Picayune to watch the races on Saturday. So we were all extra double-disappointed.
Saturday was leisurely after some practice the postponement. I spent some quality time with Sheri, ate some delicious local tamales, drank some beer. That evening, there was a huge crawfish boil, done right, with swamp rock music and more beer, and lots of racers. We had us a Cajun good time. But it was cold, and the wind was howling. It was tough to keep our pit area dry and prevent it from just blowing apart.
We were the first to grid at 8 AM Sunday, the CB160 Le Mans start race. The weather was cool and clear, and the air dense. My bike was jetted for Saturday, and I didn’t realize that it was running too lean. I held my own in 3rd place with a sizeable gap over Jeff and Mark in 4th and 5th. I didn’t know it at the time, but my engine was overheating and losing power. They both passed me on the final lap, right before the finish line. Same thing happened in the 200GP race. I looked at my lap times. I was losing 2 to 3 seconds per lap in the final 2 laps. I should’ve gone with my instinct and re-jetted, but I didn’t. My screw-up. I ended up with 3 5ths and a 3rd after passing Scott Turner on the last lap of the second CB160 race. Neil’s video was a big hit. My son, Joe, as always, provided mechanical and moral support. I couldn’t do it without him.
I tore Little Silver’s engine down. My next race was September, in Alabama, so I had plenty of time to spare. Just too far to drive to the other tracks. The engine was a mess. The pistons were overheated and one exhaust valve seat was damaged. I installed a racing camshaft during re-assembly; I had been running a stock cam and needed a little more top end power. Ready for Little Tally.
Little Talladega is a short, 6-turn circuit with a pavement surface that resembles a nasty rasp. I took a spare rear tire. I geared the bike down. I stayed in the top 4 in all 4 races that day. The bike didn’t bump-start right away in the first CB160 Le Mans start race and I got away last, but finished 4th. Jeff and Greg both crashed in the first 200GP race, Jeff knocking his F37’s carby off in the process. I was giddy to find myself in first place for a change and had to hold Mark Hunter off for the remaining 4 laps. Jeff re-entered the race, with a barely secure carburetor. In the last turn of the final lap, his carb dislodged itself, again, right in front of me. I slowed to stay out of his rear wheel, and Mark nearly nipped me at the finish. By the end of the day on Sunday, my rear tire was gone and the ass-end was sliding out the last 2 laps. I came away with a 1st, a 3rd, a 4th and a 5th, and a rear tire with no meat on the left side. Bike troubles on Saturday though when Joe discovered something dragging when spinning the rear wheel. We tore it down and found the brake backing plate rubbing the hub. A few filing minutes later, and it was back together spinning smoothly. Thank you Joe.
But we had a blast hanging out in the paddock with all our racing family and fixing fellow racers’ ailing motorbikes. Steve Foster and his wife, Sandy, drove out from San Antone, and we hung and ate and drank and fixed bikes. John Scales was having a bad time with his carburetors and Rik Gould’s clutch lifter was letting him down, among other things. We spent enjoyable hours tinkering with their bikes and they were both able to race the following day.
Next stop: Barber Motorsports Park. I bought me a shiny new racin’ trailer for the event and spent 3 days before we left for Alabama getting it race-ready. The bike was ready. I had it dynoed at Ronnie Lunsford’s Northwest Honda shop in Houston just 2 weeks prior, to sort out the jetting. I was also hoping for some good horsepower numbers. My goal was anything over 20. It made me proud: 22.15 RWHP, and 13.40 on the torque. The 13.40 was the biggest surprise coming from small cc, high revs.
I didn’t practice enough on Thursday. Friday, we spent swap meeting and taking in all the other events, and running into old friends I hadn’t seen in years. We drooled over messes of mint motorbikes including 3 nice CL72s. And I finally met facebook pal Barry Shoenberger when he rode up on his CL72. I broke an exhaust stud and had to search the paddock for an easy-out. Thank you Kevin Burns. Mark Smith, Randy Hamilton, Ed Blocker and other pals showed up from Texas and Kansas. We had some good bench racin’ sessions. We brought lots of food and a grill and ate pretty darned good. We drank beer with Rik and his crew. I sold t-shirts. Ol’ pals Greg and Arlie came by the pits. I talked a bunch with Dave Roper and Mike Matthews. I helped Mark Hunter with his cantankerous clutch. We helped fellow Texan, Steve Foster (4F) with his newly acquired CB350 HLWP bike. It was a mess. Out-of-round front tire, a fuel tank full of rust, overly stiff shock springs, engine noise, engine vibration and rules violations (too much to try and explain). We enjoy hangin’ out with Steve, regardless, so, what the heck?
Saturday, I got a great start in the CB160 race, but overshot turn 5 battling for 3rd and braking late. Ran off in the grass but recovered for a 5th place until the next lap when I ran off all the way into the gravel and stalled the motor. Recovered and finished 9th. Sh!t. I managed a 5th in the 41-rider 200GP race. I didn’t practice enough. Those fast guys just have more corner speed. I didn’t practice enough. Saturday night I stubbed my toe, bad, walkin’ in the dark, all beered up. I couldn’t get my damned racin’ boot on the next morning, but somehow gutted it out. Steve keeps tellin’ me ta wear some danged shoes. In Sunday’s Le Mans start CB160 race, I had 3rd in the bag until Kevin Burns and Leah Orloff decided I was in their way. And I was. We finished 3-4-5 (me 5), a bike-length apart. It was a great battle for most of the race and the best race I’ve contended so far in my second coming as a roadracer (the first way back: 1979 to 1984). Thanks Kevin Burns and Leah Orloff. I was hangin’ with the lead pack in the final 200GP race, but eventually fell back out of contention. I did manage a 4th, and to my surprise, they paid through 4th place! Wow. A Barber trophy. Another bucket list item fulfilled. The plaque I received had a nice image of Charlotte’s Web. And in the foreground? A permanent reminder: the gravel pit I stuck myself in when I ran off the track the second time.
It was a good year for me even though I only raced 6 of the 20 races. I finished 9th overall in the highly competitive 200GP class and 10th in the CB160 Le Mans start class. We will try to make 4 races in 2017: CMP, Gingerman, Tally and Barber. And I will practice my butt off.
We found 2 CB175K7s in a barn back in September and Joe bought the pair for $650, with a spare, clean fuel tank. We plan to build him a competitive racer. He’s been bitten by the bug, and it ain’t fair that the old man gets to have all the fun.
I have 2 race engine builds going right now for other racers; a side business I had planned to engage in only after retirement. But duty calls. Check out my website at: joeshondas.com.
Many thanks for everything AHRMA crew and AHRMA racing family.
See you at tech.
Joe's Motor Company
945 Wesley Ridge Dr.
Spicewood, TX 78669