My Velocity Squared

August 30, 2010

Miscellanous Hoonage I’m involved in.

Filed under: Uncategorized — smarmbeast @ 6:59 am

I specialize in doing stupid things. I specialize in doing the things that you shouldn’t do.

People think that it’s adventurous. Something to strive for, something they wish they could aspire to if they could pare down their life.

They are wrong.

It is an addiction. This is a single bedroom apartment filled a couple of computers, some guitars, and a whole lot of leather, kevlar and gortex. A triplet of canceled passports in the corner, and plane ticket stubs.

There is one person here. Me. There are no cats, no dog. Nothing that can’t be left alone for ten days or so and die from neglect. No SO, so no awkward discussions about thinking about being safe for “us”, being home on weekends, etc. This is a selfish addiction. It wants me, cash, and time. Like all addictions, it gives back something I need. A feeling of freedom. A feeling of what’s over there. A feeling of can it go faster, or farther?


SCCA Rally Cross and Road Rally.

Stopped doing road rally because it is only fun for accountants. This is America… we hate rally racing here, so we have castrated it. Rally cross is like a special stage rally, only put into a very small box to make if terribly unfun, and with cones instead of trees. Also unfun. Actually…. anything the SCCA is involved with is categorically unfun. I get letters asking me to join again. I would rather pound a dull nail through my foot and pour scotch on the wound.

Rally America events, US RC, Cars.

The good stuff. Used to do the Snowbowl rally in a Dodge Omni with a 2.2 turbo. Ended tragically on the second year, after my co-driver told me the turn was a increasing 2 left, and it was in fact, a decreasing 5 RIGHT. I flicked for the left. A nice pine tree put the fuel cel rather nicely between both seats. He blamed the pace notes, I blamed him for writing and reading the pace notes. We didn’t talk for 3 years. Also, stopped racing cars after this. Now have severe issues trusting co-drivers and co-navigators. This precipitated my move to motorcycles.

Note there is only one event, the PPHC in the entire state of Colorado. Even though we have more Subaru WRX’s than any other state in the union. Go figure. I would love to do the PPHC. On something crazy, like unlimited sidecar class.

24 hour of LeMons:

$500 car, $1500 in safety gear. You and three of your most brain damaged friends. Buying the car in Oct. May go British. I would consider it a personal point of pride to make any $500 British car last 24 hours in an endurance race. First foray into car racing in forever. Should be fun. No goddamn pace notes, no co-driver.


Drag racing

The great things about most motorcycles is math. Simple math:

Stock ST1300: 630lbs + rider (260) / 117hp = 7.6lbs per HP. $15,000
Ferrari 360: 2,976lbs / 400hp = 7.8lbs per HP. $180,000

Out of the box, you can go and turn a 12.28 in a $15,000 motorcycle. That has luggage, and tours. A Suzuki Hayabusa on craigslist is five grand, and it will do the same in 11 seconds. Add a 15×10 slick, swing arm and a tank of laugh gas for another five grand, and you can turn 8’s. An 8 second quarter mile is ludicrously fast.

I like drag racing. It is pure and simple, but underneath lies enormous complexity. There is a view that people at drag racing tracks are knuckle dragging philistines. This is about the furthest from the truth. See, you can read a couple of books, build a bike with a more experienced person for $10,000 – $15,000, and that bike will turn 8’s or maybe 7’s. However, in order to win, you have to think.

When confronted with the shock of a drag launch, the mind does crazy things. The first thing it can do is roll off the throttle. This is a flight response. Most people do this automatically in a 13 second or faster vehicle the first couple of times. This is your brain going “Oh, shit, we are going die, STOP, STOP, STOP!”

The second thing that can happen is that you will fight. Open it up, keep a death grip on it and go. This is a problem if say… you need to stop. Routinely, a fast bike without drag bars will get unsettled if you are inexperienced. It is very important that roll off the throttle at this point smoothly, but quickly. Highsiding twenty feet off the staging line is bad form.

Another thing is reaction time. A sportsman’s drag racing tree has three yellow lights, one green, and one red. The rules are simple, Stage, yellow, yellow, yellow, green, go.

Except that this is wrong. You lose. Reaction time or R/T is a huge part of drag racing. When the light hits green, my vehicle should leave the line as soon as close as possible to the lighting the green. If I let out the clutch when I see the green I get an R/T of from .5 to .7 seconds. That will lose you the race. So, you need to start going when you see the last yellow light hit.

Except this is also wrong. You now must account for rollout. The electric eye that stages the car is blocked, indicated you are “staged” by your tire. Your tire must roll past it. This takes time. Generally about .2 seconds. So ideally, you need to start hitting it when you think that last yellow is ABOUT to light. And now you have to be very, very careful. Because if you jump the green light, you get a red light, and your run is binned. So the question becomes, how close do you want to cut it to the red? Top Fuel pros can do .090 or better. My personal best is .153. My average is .25’ish.

Getting back into this with my stock bike. May use as LSR prep or put together a ‘Busa. Cheap fun. ETA, every Wednesday until they close for the winter or I do something my health insurance company will regret.

Sport Bike Track Racing

I must confess, I am terrible at this. Motorcycles handle like shit in curves. Too little rubber on the road, too few points of contact. Too many physical laws begging for a third point of contact, of which it would love to use your skull. Technically, the track sliders on the sides of your knees provide a third point of contact. Who the hell thought of this. “Well then… let’s put a plastic puck there, and slowly grind it away. You know, just so people won’t forget what it is like slide along the road in between near fatal accidents.”

Oh, and until you have wired a track bike with racing wire, you have not experienced true hell. Take a close look at a sport bike. Note all the small bolts on the engine. Now imagine drilling carefully through every single one, routing wire though them, and twisting till you never want to see another pair of safety wire pliers in your life. And if you have to repair anything, you get to do it again. You have to safety wire a few things on a drag track, but here, everything has to be wired. Everything.

I do not track race anymore. Too much risk, too little psychological reward for me. I see bad accidents at almost every event, some of them serious. I have no plans to get back into it.

LSR (Land Speed Record Racing.)

Did this once. Bonneville. Will probably do again. Basically, we had a prepped P-P(Production Chassis, Production Engine.) bike that met the AMA class for BUB speed trials. Decided our bike would easily hit the meager record, registered, and drove to Utah.

Dumb fucking decision. Truely, stupid, Truely Arrogant.

This is not a event of horsepower. Or road traction. It is a race of Voodoo. Absolute Voodoo. This is how it went:

Pass tech. Great.

Make pass one. Whoah. The bike was all over the place. Must have been REALLY fast. Get timing slip. Flip the fuck out. 98MPH.

Spend the next two days getting advise from every “Salt Guru” around. Loose this, add that, set the preload lower, set it higher. Put air in the tires, take them out. A hundred contradictory opinions. We don’t now where to start.

Two days later, we are taking tire pressure out each time. Slowly. You can’t go fast on a bike. We cross 115MPH. We are addicted. We have the fever. We have to go faster. We know we’ll never hit the record, but we have know…. how fast can we go?

I found out that you can go over the handlebars fast. Very fast. Especially when an under inflated rear tire hops the rim, jams the rear axle at 100MPH plus. I don’t know how fast I was going. I flew over the bars before the timing mile. Best crash of my life. Nothing to hit. Some anxiety as I noticed the motorcycle bouncing after me like an over eager golden retriever in my peripheal vision, but otherwise, very pleasant. There was a herioc repair attempt. We passed tech…. but the frame seemed to be warped a bit. Not that we would see, but it was hopeless, something was skewed on our test run. We packed up our kit and headed home.

Anyways, wisdom learned: Suspension is worthless, more or less. Lock it up if you can get away with it. Let the bike sculpt the salt, not the other way around. Don’t run super street tires. We thought the sipes would help, nope. Thin slicks are best. Also, going fast in a non aero/streamliner class is amazing hard. However, doing a streamliner is dicey if you have no proper knowldge of aerodynamics. When things go wrong with amateur aero experiments, they go very wrong. We saw two streamliners do somersaults, both of which seem to have been caused by the vehicles getting very light, very quickly. Possibly late August 2011. Have to find the bike I want to run in a class that is competitive. I would really like to set a record. But realistically, alot of people have been going for 10+ years, and have never had a record in their name.

IBA (Iron Butt Association.)

The most grueling motor event in the world.

1,000 miles in 24 hours. Or 1,500 miles ins 36. In a car this is no great deal. On a motorcycle this is grueling and dangerous.

And it gets worse.

A couple of times a year, they do 5,000 miles in 5 days, and 10,000 miles in 10 days. The Iron Butt Rally (10,000 in ten days.) I am convinced is the most grueling endurance test in the world. I have done multiple 1,000 in 24 hours. Never bothered to get certified. On my list to do this year. Best endurance 3 consecutive 1,000 mile days. Did attend the conference in Denver this year. Planning on hitting a few 1,000 rally’s and doing the 5,000 mile rally this year. Prep has already begun for that. ST1300 is the defacto IBA vehicle. BMW’s used to be real popular, but they decided to start creating shitty final drive assemblies that like to blow up randomly. Need a new saddle, and to pin down navigation system and the audio system on the bike for endurance. And a quieter helmet. That Nolan is loud. I should have known better than to expect anything Italian to be civilized or quiet. Or practical for that matter. God I hate Italian products. ETA, Aug 2011.

Miscellaneous crap


Is there snow in the Rockies? Then I am in Summit Co. It is nice to be snowboarding again. Missed it alot. Still can’t really feel the sole of my right foot, but I can crack black runs now, so it’s shaking out o.k. Made alot of progress in the last year. A few years ago I didn’t think I would be able to do it again. I am truely happy with the progress here. 5 years from walking with a cane to snowboarding. Still need to shed alot of weight, but slow and steady does it. Ran a 5k this year as well. Unbelievable.

Weird side note, I find my guitar rack makes a great snowboard rack. My guitars are now mounted on the wall. Odd, but it works.


Like doing this. A bit disappointed about picking it up again. If I can drop about 30 more pounds I think it will come back again. As it is, I cannot roll, and after a bad experience in Apple creek getting cut up on rocks, and I have developed a bit of the fright.


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