July 23, 1989 - I remember this race like it was yesterday.
Tiny three eighths mile Amago Raceway packed something like 16 well paved turns into its miniscule footprint. Most of them were plenty wide enough for swapping paint and lead changes with regularity. Handling, braking, and acceleration were the name of the game.
I entered this race with my teammate - and one of the favorites for the #1 crown - Matt Dawson as my main competitor. Vespa Supershop's Curt Thom and Scooterville's Jeff Walker had ideas of their own in a four bike field. "Elsie"'s 32hp liquid cooled top end was in top tune, and I was feeling good about my chances.
Unleashing 30hp+ and ten inch tires on a postage stamp sized course meant low gearing and the hair raising antics that go with such a setup. Matt's aluminum framed Lambretta was by now a fairly reliable machine, and a real beast at that. This was going to be quite interesting!
Just before the race we had received a shipment of Surflex "B" clutch plates at WCLW by mistake, and I thought what better way to test them out than in my unlimited bike. They were a much harder material than the softer cork "C" plates, which meant less grab and a more precise control over slippage.
This turned out to be a blessing when the green flag dropped. With the really low gearing I was running (a DJ close ratio box with a 14t front sprocket if I remember correctly), I needed all the first gear finesse I could muster as that 30hp unleashed itself beneath me... YIKES!!! 2nd gear brought me back down to Earth just in time for Turn One, howdy!
In an instant Matt was all over my ass, and it became a battle of wits, guile, and a little luck. We're a couple laps in and all of the sudden my right ear is filled with the sounds of Matt getting sideways next to me in a frantic attempt to shave off speed entering Turn One.
This gets my blood pumping so hard that I whack the throttle wide open coming out of Turn Two, launch the front wheel in the air, come down all crossed up and sideways, and then the front end bounces right back in the air again, and comes back down crossed up the other way! And somehow I don't yard sale it all right in Matt's path... WHEW!!!
The DJ gearbox certainly didn't hurt either... I blew doors on him down the two short straights, which was loads of fun! Every time he would get close to me, I could put just enough space between he and I to breath a tad easier heading back into the twisties. The only problem was that those hard compound clutch plates just weren't up to this kind of thrashing. They started slipping partway through the race, and by the end the bike sounded like it had a variator clutch.
Still, in the end I was able to hold him off. I put some regular "C" plates in for heat #2, and thanks to all of that newfound grab, I nearly flipped the thing over on top of me at the green flag. By the time I landed back on Earth, Matt was looooong gone and never to be found, taking both the heat 2 win and the overall win for the weekend.
Even so, it was a blast!
Here is ASRA Newsletter #5 which covers this race. Click the image to see it full screen, or grab the multi-page PDF here: