Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Crazy Horse Garage at The Ohio Mile

This was just going to be a quick "plug" for a couple guys who set a new ECTA (East Coast Timing Association) record while using my big intake valves and 5/16" stem guides for Knuckleheads. But as I write this, I can see that it will likely spill over into a second post. So be it.

It began just over a month back when I went into my shop on a Sunday evening to retrieve something. There was a message on my voice mail, so hoping that it would not be some sort of emergency requiring immediate attention, I took a listen. Lo and Behold the person leaving the message identified himself as Russ Hendron of Crazy Horse Garage; a name I had not heard in years. You see, Russ was the first person that Bobby and I met when we tried our luck at the inaugural Iowa Hog Drags back in 1985. His fuel Sportster was on a trailer just ahead of us in the line waiting for the track to open.

The reason for Russ’s call was to see if I could expedite a pair of the 2.060" Knuckle intake valves to him so he could install them for the spring ECTA meet (the Ohio Mile) the following weekend. "Cutting the time a little short," I thought, but "last minute" and "drag racer" have always been terms that, if not synonymous, then at least close cousins.

So I sent the valves, along with another of my "Lee’s Speed Shop Exclusive" items; a twelve pack of valve spring shims that actually fit Knucklehead guides and collars correctly. Receiving the parts mid week, Russ worked his magic and had the engine back together late Friday night. The Knuckle responded by starting on the first kick. Ya gotta love when that happens!

day before race day - big valve takes up all extra real estate

This might be a good place to insert a little background on the bike. It is owned by Mark Hutcheson, though Russ jokes that it is his bike and Mark only gets to pay for the parts and ride it. The engine started life as a 1941, but by the time it found a new life running the M/VG 1350 class, it was a matter of transforming a pile of junk parts into a fine racing engine. By the way, if you’re wondering, the M stands for modified frame, the VG for Vintage Gas, and 1350 is the maximum cubic centimeters (basically 80 cubic inches). Russ mentioned that the current right side crankcase is the result of grafting two blown case halves together to make one good one. The left case half also got a lot of attention as it now sports a heavily reinforced Timken main bearing.

As you might suspect, along with the Timken bearing goes a set of early 4-1/4" stroke Shovel flywheels which happen to maintain the same taper on the right side to allow use of a recycled Knucklehead pinion shaft. A set of Ross pistons with one inch domes running (with a lot of clearance) in OEM Panhead cylinders provided for 10:1 compression ratio for the Knuck’s initial record runs. They set the class record at 113 MPH, and then 124 at an ECTA event last year. Which brings us to this year...

One week before the April 31st spring ECTA meet Russ decided to freshen the top end on the record setting Knuckle. That’s where my valves came in. Along with the bigger valves, Russ shortened up the cylinders by .060". As already mentioned, the Knuck seemed to like the attention and cooperated by starting on the first kick ..., and it has continued to be a one-kick starter. Arriving at the track in Ohio, it seemed the weather was less willing to cooperate. Saturday was a wash out, with no speed runs.

at the track
the front view of a Harley springer w/o fender and headlight always looks like it means business

Sunday, on the other hand was an entirely different matter. Perhaps following the fine example of the race ready Knuckle, the weather decided to grant full cooperation with the exception of a slight head wind. The 71 year old Knuck responded with a 129 MPH first fun out of the van. A second trip down the track bettered the record to 131.5 MPH for Mark, Russ and his Crazy Horse Garage! Congratulations guys!

if you can't make it out, Russ's shirt says "Where the customer isn't always right"

Now, cool as all this is, its only a bit of the story. When corresponding with Russ for some of the details on the Knuck, he also reminded me of his years of racing a high gear nitro Sportster (most of which I witnessed first hand) as well as a number of behind the scenes facts. Stay tuned for an upcoming post to hear, Paul Harvey would have said, ...the rest of the story.


47str8leg said...

After the "rest off the story " gets finished will you cap it of with....."Good day !". Still keepin' in touch w/your blog out here. Always enjoy the info on what Jesus and knuckleheads are up to.


St. Lee said...

Oh, that's perfect. I only hope I remember to do so!