Ultimate MotorCycling Amateur Race Report #4As you read in my previous installment, my season opener for AFM at Buttonwillow Raceway Park was a mechanical disaster. The failure of my YZ450F connecting rod resulted in the near complete destruction of my engine: crankcases, cylinder, piston, cylinder head, transmission gears, and oil pump.I knew from past experience that it normally takes about four weeks to remove/disassemble/clean/inspect/order parts/assemble/install a fresh engine. It would normally be much longer if I had to service the crankshaft or cylinder head, but fortunately I already had fresh parts on hand. I also had a serviceable set of crankcases, which were in the final phases of repairing a stripped drain plug hole.
Fast forward three weeks and the final parts needed arrived on Friday afternoon, exactly one week before I was due at the track for practice. All parts to be reused had been thoroughly cleaned, inspected, Ziploc bagged, and labeled, patiently awaiting assembly. Engine assembly went smoothly, with surprisingly little drama. It took me about 12 hours to convert this large pile of parts into a completely assembled engine. I really like the simplicity of the Yamaha YZ450F engine, and think that any reasonably competent mechanic that can read a shop manual and sling a wrench is capable of building one.By Monday evening the engine was ready to install into the frame and start buttoning things up. The bike was completed late Wednesday evening, simply awaiting gas, oil, and coolant on Thursday afternoon. Once filled, she fired right up with no odd sounds or leaks. I took the engine through two heat cycles while loading my van with all my tools, spares, and gear.It’s 5 a.m. Friday, and I’m off to Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, Calif., to race with AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association). AHRMA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to restoring and competing on classic motorcycles. AHRMA’s “mission is to recreate and preserve the vintage era of roadracing, including the sights, sounds, smells and camaraderie. Certain historical groups of machines are also included in AHRMA’s paddock.” Officially it is the 2016 AHRMA/CPL Systems Historic Cup Roadrace Series, and consists of 20 events held at 10 separate racing venues.The event is very different from a regular club road-race event, mainly because you don’t see any of the modern 600s or 1000s. The reason is simply because they are not allowed. The most modern 4-cylinder class they have is Next Gen Superbikes, and they are all 1980’s era specification. But what you lack in four cylinder machines, you more than make up for with the fascinating variety of 1, 2, and 3 cylinder machines which race in numerous vintage and formula classes. There are a lot of racers out there, young and old, having a lot of fun racing these “different” motorcycles.I got to the track by 7 a.m., and found the pit area I was sharing with some old and new racing friends. Old ones include Carry Andrew and Willi Scheffer of Team HyperCycle Racing, Jack Baker of N. Las Vegas, NV, and newer friends Pete Hokenstad (IA), Mark Hoyer (MT), and Darrin Gauvin (CA). Registration, tech inspection, and practice went smoothly. The only adjustments I made all day were a couple of clicks on the front suspension and adjusting/lubing the chain.My first AHRMA race was last year at this same track. My motivation for racing here, then as now, was primarily to race against one individual…Jack Baker. Jack and I first raced against each other at a Moto West Grand Prix event held in 2015 at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada.At that time I only knew Jack by reputation as a top AFM and WERA Expert racer with 45+ years of racing experience. At that event we raced hard for six laps, but in the end Jack and his potent Suzuki RM-Z450 Super Single showed me who was boss and took the win. We both agreed we had so much fun that we had to race again…soon! AHRMA @ Willow Springs was to be the place. Unfortunately Jack crashed in practice and his machine was damaged beyond track-side repair, so I went on to win both Sound of Singles 2 events. But now it is 2016, Jack’s bike is repaired, and the much anticipated rematch was about to take place.Saturday and Sunday both have the same schedule for practice and racing. 2 practice sessions in the morning, and 12 races to run in the afternoon. I was entered in two classes: “Motard” Class Race 9 and “Sound of Singles 2” Class Race 12. I use the same bike for both classes, but have to remove my handlebar fairing to run my Yamaha YZ450F in Motard Class.Saturday, Race 9 – Motard: I got the holeshot off the line, and rode to an easy win. Good warmup.
- 1st Place Motard – Rittner.
- 1st Place SOS2 – Rittner
- 1st Place Motard- Rittner
- 1st Place SOS2- Rittner
2.) Brought me and the bike home in one piece with engine intact
3.) Evened the score with Jack
4.) Got one-up on Jack (I’m enjoying it while I can)
5.) Took home (4) 1st place trophies.Four weeks until the next race (WERA @ Buttonwillow Raceway Park). Getting ready will be a breeze since no engine build is required this time. I have a scheduled track day two weeks prior, so I will be tuned-up and ready when race day comes.Marc Rittner
AFM Expert #129Action photography by Etech PhotoRiding Style
- Alpinestars Atem suit $1,499
- Alpinestars GP tech leather gloves $299.95
- Alpinestars Supertech R boots $499.95
- Arai Corsair X Statement White helmet $969.95