Sunday, September 19, 2010

Knoxville Vintage Flat Track Nationals

I got a call from Bill Hofmeister yesterday to report on Friday night's Knoxville Vintage National Flat Track race. If you follow my blog, you know that I am really a drag racer, not a flat tracker, so some of the details may be a little muddled, but the main points should be correct.

As I have mentioned before, I did a little top end work on Billy's old iron head Sportster engined XR. Porting, some pistons, and some modern coatings in the combustion chambers. Nothing super trick, but the things I did turned out pretty well. Bill raced the bike a time or two last summer with good results, but this spring we put a modern wet clutch in the bike, and that seems to have been a game changer. It always helps if the power from the engine gets all the way to the rear wheel!

So it was off to the vintage flat track races at Davenport, Iowa as part of the AMCA national meet. After sorting out some issues with the rear chain, Bill took his XL engined XR to the "Dash for Cash," which he reportedly was leading by half the length of a straightaway when he ran out of gas. He got beat by a wheel length, dropping from the first place $750 prize money to the second place $0. No, that's not a typo. Second paid zero/ zip/ nada.

But all that is just lead in for the real story. Billy brought the XR back to me last Monday morning so that I could work out a few bugs (such as aligning the rear wheel to prevent further chain problems). Since the bike showed such promise in Davenport, Billy decided to put a young gun on it for Knoxville. Since he also uses the old iron head to help promote his venture in producing street going XR replicas, he wanted all the press he could get.

The young man Billy decided to put on the bike for Knoxville is National #68 Josh Koch from Cedar Minnesota. If you are not familiar with flat track racing, earning a National number plate is a really big deal. In fact, I believe there have only been about a dozen Minnesotans to win the right to a National number in the history of Grand National racing. Now, Billy is one of those riders, having held several National numbers, as well as a Canadian National Championship, however Josh not only has earned a National number; he has another advantage. He is nearly 40 years younger than Billy!

It seems that Josh is presently looking for a team with an XR750 that is in need of a rider. It sounds as though Billy didn't have too much trouble talking Josh into riding for him with the lure that if he were to beat bunch of vintage XR750s while mounted on an old iron head, it should really get some attention. And that is just what he did!

I took a long time to get to the punchline, but here it is. Josh Koch won the main event in the Open Class at the Knoxville Vintage Nationals on the Grand National Replica/Lee's Speed Shop sponsored lowly old iron head XR by about the length of the straightaway. How 'bout that!

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