Suzuki Snapshots

Kris (Krash) Larivee

Shannonville Recap: RACE Series Round I

Posted by Artist still known as Krash on May 6, 2002

Overall it was an excellent weekend at the track, with only a few glitches of the mechanical and administrative type. Friday was cold, damp and cloudy, not exactly how I had hoped to start off my racing season. It had been pouring all week, so I decided to look at the ominously dark skies as an improvement, a sign of better things to come? The first problem came at the border, exchanging my money. The woman shorted me $40, my gas money to get home! I didn't realize this until reaching the track, by then too late. I decided to shelve this problem in the "Worry about it later" section of my brain, which is now overflowing into the "Damn, I forgot all about it" section, which is already in severe crisis due to a lack of staff and is now sending all inquiries to the "I don't give a rat's ass" department (currently on strike for lack of a contract). I came to race, and nothing else mattered.

We were to run the Nelson circuit of the Shannonville Motorsports Park, an over-glorified go-kart track, with straights shorter than President Bush's attention span, a carousel, hairpin, rapidly decaying pavement and slippery cement patches, the perfect place to test the adhesion limits of my new Avon front tire. First lap on practice day, I nearly missed the second to the last turn because I was unsure of the layout, which was not clearly demarcated. I held on, and the cold tires stuck well enough to get me around the corner and propel me to my next obstacle, a river of this week's rainwater running over the track in front of me, followed by the hairpin. I eased myself across this and continued on my way. The rest of practice was uneventful aside from a lost baffle and cap to one of my silencers, giving the bike a strange tone. I searched the track high and low and finally found it, completely flattened!. Never one to say die, I reshaped the pancake-like metal into a configuration slightly similar to it's once cylindrical glory and safety-wired the bugger back in place, robbing a screw from the other silencer to hold it as well. Either both baffles would remain in place or I'd fire the suckers off at the competition behind me, a warning not to mess with Krash of the Titan!

A chilly evening was spent reading Ray Bradbury in my one man tent, wondering if I could get a hotel chain to sponsor me in return for a free room. I fell asleep dreaming of tomorrow's racing glory, trying to block out the sound of the trains that run by the racetrack all night long. I awoke to sunshine and temperatures hovering just a few degrees above the freezing mark. As a rule, I try to stay inside my tent until I hear the first bike running, my wake-up call.

Practice goes well, and after a gearing change the bike is near perfect. I am hopeful of a good finish, and confident that the bike will not break. With worries about machine fragility out of the way, I am able to concentrate on the track and my riding. The dual disc set-up with pads from Vintage Brake and braided lines is magnificent, providing excellent stopping power and wonderful feel. The Avon 90/90/18 is very sticky, inspiring the rider to throw the bike in and never worry what the front end will do. Phil Lee and I had been doing a bit of tuning to increase the low end and mid-range, which seems to have paid off as there is noticeably more power in those areas. Power delivery is still somewhat pipey, without much below 5500, but freight train pulling power above until the 8200 rpm redline. Despite that peakiness, the power is not unpredictable or frightening, (like some two-stroke twins and triples of the same era who shall remain nameless), this is not a bike that will wheelie you over on the line or come on the pipe uncontrollably while leaned over in a corner, (or sieze the top end while cracking the ton on the back straight), but a heavy hand on the throttle can set the back wheel spinning in a corner.

The powers that be decide under these cold conditions and short track configuration that circumstances dictate a 2 lap warm-up, much to the relief of all riders. Far too many bikes and bodies have been wrecked from racing on cold tires, and it seems the officials are finally taking heed of this. The light system is working, so no need to watch the flagman. I start on Row 7 for the Club Cup heat race. Only two rules govern the machines in this class, they must be air-cooled and twin-shock. Every sort of variation on this theme has been run here. Many Vintage racers (myself included) run this class, even though we are down on horsepower and handling to the more modern bikes that fall under those two rules. The man to beat is Rich Wilson on his '83 framed, '98 motored Ducati 900ss. The combination of his experience and bike make him nearly a shoe-in. There's also the hard charging gentleman on a built KZ750 twin who is one of the most aggressive riders I have ever seen. He routinely beats faster, newer, better suspened and braked bikes by virtue of having a set of cojones so big he almost needs a sidecar to carry them. He intends to give Rich's Ducati a run for the money. I get a bad start and it takes me forever to get the bike singing. When I finally do, I pass a few riders and settle into a good pace. Saturday is not the time for heroics. There's the finals on Sunday for that. I finish seventh after being passed by a drum-braked Honda 350! That made me a little irate, until I find out the rider is Mike Burke, a gentleman with decades of riding experience and many trophies to his credit. It still stings, but not as bad.

The Vintage race goes about the same way, with me running third until that blasted Mike Burke scoots his 350 past me again! I finish fourth, hot on his rear Dunlop, a quick glance rearward confirms that the rest of the pack is not in sight, which takes the sting out of getting beat by that 350, again. We aren't even running the same class, although we are gridded together. Still, when I'm out on the track I have no idea who is in my class or not, my only goal to beat every single bike I can. I watch some of the other races, eat dinner and retire early, going over every inch of the track in my head and wondering if my brother the stock car driver will show up tomorrow to watch me race.

Day 2, RACE finals, Mixed Bag
Posted by Need to lose this nickname! on May 6, 2002

In Sunday morning practice I noticed the clutch beginning to slip. I had abused it alot at Daytona, so this should come as no surprise to me, but I am worried, hoping it will hold for the day. My brother has shown up with girlfriend and some other friends in tow. I want to give them a good show.
That's exactly what I do, with perhaps the greatest start in all of motorcycle racing for the Club Cup final. I started on row 4 and was up with the Ducati and KZ750 before turn one. I'm so excited with this start I decide to go hard right from the onset and get some distance between me and those behind. The only bike that gets by me is Ralph Sholtes on his built GS750 16 valver. I am running fourth and mean to stay there. The bike is going great other than clutch slippage on the short straights. I continue in fourth for three of the eight laps when I miss my brake marker coming into turn 3. I turn in too late and end up wide in the turn, the outside of which is off-camber, strewn with loose pavement chunks and bits of rubber. I get the machine over nearly on the engine cases, but it's still slipping to the outside. Fearing a lowside, I decide to stand the bike up and run off, figuring I'll just get back on the track. The ground is full of water and mud, but I keep the bike upright and close to the pavement, light on the rear brake. When I had the bike down to about 20 mph I put my left foot down and started to turn left toward the track. My boot slipped in the mud and down I went, machine and all. Of course I was close enough to the track to smack my head and left side down on the pavement. I felt my helmet hit and bounce off the ground, then the bike swatted my left hip and elbow into the tarmac. I remember thinking three things as I went down, 1. I have broken something on the bike. 2. I have ruined my new helmet. 3. I have just embarassed myself incredibly in front of my brother. I picked myself up out of the mud and checked the bike out. Nothing bent or broken, apparently. Some mud here and there. The corner worker asked if I was going to go back out. I didn't realize that was ok, he radioed the tower and they said if I thought I could keep the bike up and if it wasn't leaking, I could go. I went back out and finished dead last, but I finished.

Back in the pits a quick check reveals the coil bracket has broken and part of my $500 ignition system is dangling, almost in the unfiltered carbs. Two zip ties and some electric tape put that lot right. It was at this point various officials began visiting me. The first were the tech guys, to check the bike and helmet. He said my head hit the ground pretty hard, but the helmet looked ok, aside from a few scratches. The bike was fine. They left and the next official came. I felt like Scrooge being visited by the ghost of Krash's past, now the ghost of Red Tape Present. This tech official, (from the VRRA, not RACE), said there were concerns and even a possible protest over the class the Sundial Suzuki was entered in, Vintage 500. Last year the registration people at RACE had put me in that class, and had done the same thing this year when I told them the bike was a 500. This learned official from the VRRA began a five minute lecture about why my bike wasn't legal for the class, how I would lose my points with the VRRA in the event of a protest and generally hurt everybody's feelings if I didn't have the bike moved into P2 heavyweight, a class where the Titan really doesn't belong, but due to the VRRA's rules it actually does fall into. I informed this pencil pusher that it was of no import to me which class I ran in, that he could put me in Pro Open Sportbike for all I cared. Then I asked him who was protesting me, as I was the only person on the grid in Vintage 500! He stuttered a little bit and said that I could be protested if someone were to show up (this is twenty minutes before the final, mind you!), and besides, he retorted, Vintage 500 is a very fast class and I would be much better off in P2 heavyweight. This squinty-eyed little chucklehead was regarding me with all the suspicion of a cop grilling a perp in a capital crime case. For an organization that only runs two events a year, they sure spend alot of time policing events run in conjunction with other groups. God forbid I receive points in a class where no one else runs, I might help to save an ailing class or even take home a trophy that will otherwise be thrown away! I told this pissant that if he wanted it switched, he could switch it. I came to race, not correct the mistakes of others, and again re-iterated my sentiment that I did not care which class I was run in, nor was I going go deal with the already stressed out people at registration, and that I would leave it up to him to decide what to do. He huffed and puffed and then scrurried off in search of some more red tape to bind me with.

Now many of you will point out the glaringly obvious. The man was right. At least according to his rulebook. I would never dispute that a mistake was made, now that I understand how RACE breaks down the vintage classes, according to the rules the VRRA sets down. Last season, being new to RACE and VRRA I was not aware of this and I just thought RACE simplified the rules of class breakdown and put the 500s together, regardless. Oops!, sorry, I was wrong! So when they did it again this year, I was still unaware of the mistake. So my beef really isn't with the rules, (although I may not agree with them entirely), it's with the way the situation was handled. I don't enjoy being treated like a criminal by officials of the club I support with my membership and racing fees. It's not like I was going to walk away with unwarranted prize money, or a championship or a big name sponsor. I wasn't caught running fuel injection or turbo or a single sided swing-arm. Somebody made a clerical error and gridded me in the wrong class by myself. This is the second time I have felt a little sour in my dealings with VRRA people (the first being an incident last season with a VRRA person at the Mosport gate who referred to me as a [email protected]#$ing American). And the club wonders why membership is declining and the grids aren't full. If they continue to treat it like an old man's club, eyeing new, younger members with suspicion, then that's just what they'll be, a bunch of old farts holding wheelchair races in back of the rest home, talking about how great their motorcycle club once was.

So I was switched to P2 Heavy, but my spot on the grid did not reflect that, despite my fourth place finish overall on Saturday. I should have started second row in P2 heavy, but was gridded back on Row #10, almost the very back of the entire field. A good start ensured that I passed many riders before turn one, but not feeling too brave I hung back for the first couple of laps, picking off an occasional rider here and there, despite a slipping clutch and the pain setting in from the previous race's crash. I finished fifth in P2 heavy and 11th overall, not a bad job. I left for home feeling good, tired, and a bit sore (at some officials and in my body). Two weeks until the next one, I can't wait!

Kris- I think you ran into the hornet's nest....
Posted by Jim Winters on May 6, 2002

...after it had already been stirred up! If I understand the issue correctly you were running in the Vintage 500 (GP) class that has an eligibility cut off of 1967 and they bumped you into Heavyweight Super Vintage that has a cut off of 1972. This puts you up against 750s (including the TR750 which is really a T500 with another cylinder - explain how this is an even match??) and makes being competitive a tough job. I distinctly remember a VRRA member telling me that there has been a long, bitter, and recently fought internal battle over the eligibility of the T500 in the Vintage class. Despite evidence that the T500 was available to some markets in 1967, the VRRA (and AHRMA) won't allow it in the 500 GP class. This is only what I have been told - I am not a VRRA member and I have not been present at any of the eligibility discussions. I will say that this is why one T500 racer we know switched to a TR750 instead. If you HAVE to run in the Heavy Super Class, why not take advantage of the extra cylinder??? By the way, I also noticed that Mr. "Whittless" didn't leave an email address after his less than kind posting on the VRRA board although he didn't mention you by name. There's always at least one killjoy politician in every crowd!

Posted by Kris Larrivee on May 6, 2002, 10:59 pm , in reply to "Track Nazis is track Nazis....or scumbags, if you prefer."

It's good to know someone out there understands what I mean. I decided to let the whole issue rest until I saw the post on the VRRA board about "cheating", which, without naming me directly (cowardly, if you ask me) was intended for me, by virtue of some of the information he put in his post. He knew that most of the members would know exactly about whom he was referring. I think this guy was so excited to have caught himself a cheater that, after wetting himself, he had to throw his weight around and put the hammer down on me, snotnose punk-ass kid that I am. Instead of being friendly and helpful, pointing out my error, he comes up to me threatening disqualification, loss of points, and protests. What a self-important little busybody! I know it's his job to regulate this kind of thing, but where was he last season when I, unaware, entered this class twice with my illegal machine? Probably too wrapped up in his Senator Joe McCarthy impressions, witchhunting CB350 riders using non-OEM pistons and disc brakes that looked like drums. There's enough hassles with racing already than to have to deal with people like this at the track. I'm just getting to the point where I won't take their shit anymore. I could have sat back and quietly let this slip into the background, but that's exactly what the bureaucrats want, it just enforces and legitimizes their power. Yeah, I'm banging my head against a wall, but I think my skull is harder.

You don't want me to go there. But since you asked......
Posted by "Krashed" Larrivee on May 24, 2002, 2:55 pm , in reply to "Kris, what happened at Shannonville?"

It began as a typical race weekend, a late night in the garage preparing the racebike, followed by a dawn that arrived far too early (and a might cold if I may say!). The sky was dark, awash with threatening clouds, the mercury at that point where precipitation may fall wet or white. My wallet was exceptionally thin, so much so that I knew I wouldn't be able to afford the petrol for the ride home if I didn't sell the A7 Kawi engine I was bringing across the border for a guy. If he didn't buy it, I might be reduced to a "gas and go", something I have certain experience with. Yes, it was a typical race weekend.
I froze my ass off in practice. It was a National Weekend, meaning the top pros from all over Canada (hold the laughter please), and the entourages that entails would be crowding the paddock and the track. Bringing with them the groupies, pit bike antics, wheelies, stoppies, burnouts and leopard print hair. It also meant that the regional RACE guys would get screwed for practice time and that two sets of rules would be in effect. No practice starts in pit lane, no wheelies, burnouts or stoppies for the "regional" guys, and no rules for the "pros". There was still a large turnout for Club Cup (my race), and it promised to be a fun weekend.

Saturday, heat race day, was still chilly and cloudy. I was gridded dead last because of a mishap in the last round involving a low speed get-off in the mud and a last place finish (but a finish nonetheless). I wasn't worried, as the Titan is a rocket off the line and I knew I could beat many of the bikes gridded in front. This proved to be true as I found myself in sixth going into turn one. The Titan didn't let me down, murdering nearly a dozen bikes off the line. The rest of the six lap race had me chasing down a 16 valve CB750 for third place. He was very erratic, never holding his line. I could get a wheel up on him in the corners, but as soon as I did he would weave and punch the gas. Deciding a heat race is no place for heroics I kept pace behind him waiting for a chance that didn't come. I finished fourth, putting me on the second row for Sunday's final. Not too shabby. The bike was running and handling excellent, aside from a few traction problems due to the cold pavement. I spent the night in my tent planning strategy for the final. I knew I had to lead the race going into Turn One off the start and I was confident the Sundial Suzuki could put me there. There were faster bikes behind me, but I hoped opening up an early lead would put me on the podium, preferably the #1 spot.

We were given a three lap warmup due to the cold temps for our Sunday final, which meant I was going to charge hard from the get-go hoping the tires would be warm enough. The red light went green and off went the cannon that is my Sundial T500, easily pulling the holeshot and me into the lead. I would stay there for the first lap, until a crazy gentleman on a KZ750 squeaked by, using his superior torque on one of the slow corners. I chased him for several laps, resigning myself to second spot on the podium. The bastard is just fast! There were a few laps left, the 750 and I came into the slow left hander before the haybaled righthander known as Allen's corner. I was taking a wide line to avoid a slippery concrete patch and maintain my drive for Allen's. I leaned over, hit the apex and was just preparing to get back on the throttle when the noise of an engine distracts me. I shift my gaze down and left, only to see a mag wheel come into contact with my bike, just behind my boot. I felt the bike go out from underneath me. I remember hearing the sound of metal, plastic and leather grinding on pavement, then I saw sky, ground, sky, ground as I went tumbling, landing on my head, neck and back, finally coming to rest on the outside of the corner, my bike somewhere off in the weeds. I got up after what felt like a lifetime and tried to find the bike, which was off in the mud. Corner workers were running madly at me by this time, shouting "You allright? You OK?". A quick check revealed my shoulder was not quite where it should be, having been dislocated in my "fat man's waltz" across the tarmac. At this point other injuries were not yet surfacing due to the extreme adrenaline rush I was experiencing, along with the fierce desire to kill the mother####er that ran into me. With some assistance from the corner worker (they are great people, hug one today!) my shoulder returned to it's original position (it's happened before) and my bike was pushed away from further danger. I had to remain at the corner worker's station, pacing like a rabid panther, until the race was over. Whereupon I pushed the mangled motorcycle back to the pits, and went looking for the spineless cur that just ruined my day, my bike and my brand goddamn new helmet.

By the time I found the gutless pig, his leathers were off and the bike was loaded into the back of an enclosed trailer, and covered. I ran around the pits salivating until he was located, pointed out to me by someone else. I asked who was riding the black GS750 #104, and this skinny dork comes up to me and says it was him. I lose my shit, screaming and spitting all over this little puke. My face is about a hairs' breadth from his and all I can see is red. Every ounce of self-restraint I have is being exercised to keep from tearing out his throat. The most this lilly-livered pussy can do is stutter a few "I'm sorries" and a few tears running down his cheek. What pissed me off the most was that this ####head didn't even have the balls to face me, instead packing up his shit and trying to hightail it out of town before I caught up with him. I would have driven all over Canada to find his ass, only the consequences would have been much worse had we been off the track. Turns out this bozo was a rookie on his second race ever, on a bike way too fast for him, riding way over his head. I made many mistakes my rookie season too, but I never endangered anyone's life but my own. What he did was unacceptable. When I checked with the track photographer, he had photos of the jerk-off hitting me and my resultant flight. I can e-mail them to anyone who wants to see them, just send my your address. Maybe Zooke will post them here for everyone to get a laugh out of. So now I have a few weeks before the next race to fix the bike and my body. Aside from the dislocated shoulder, I cracked two ribs, got whiplash and two broken fingers on my right hand (from punching my pickup truck repeatedly, it was that or that shit's face). That little ####bag better just stay out of my way, or next time I won't be so nice. That's my story, have a nice day. Jesus, I guess Stephen will accuse me of playing the victim again, damn.



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