Ever consider Vintage bike racing? - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 134 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Ever consider Vintage bike racing?

I'd like to encourage one and all to consider getting into vintage motorcycle racing. Between AHRMA, WERA, CMRA, VRRA and others, there are PLENTY of opportunities to get in some track time reasonably close to home (especially now that AHRMA has added Texas to the schedule).

* Vintage Roadracing
* Post-Vintage roadracing (including Thruxton Challenge)
* Vintage & post-vintage Motocross
* Trials
* Cross-Country
* Vintage Dirt track

I know many of you have bikes that could easily be set up to compete, and I'm sure many of you are better riders than me (which means you know you won't be in last place, even as a rookie).

You lot with the Thruxtons, IT'S A NO-BRAINER; just yank your lights and sign up!

I'll help rookies all I can with freebie Triumph & Norton parts, I don't have much in the way of BSA stuff, sorry.

C'mon, what are you waiting for? e-mail me for an easy step-by-step guide to getting started.

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post #2 of 134 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 04:04 PM
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Funny you posted this because recently I have gotten a hair up my arse to build an early 70's CB350 track bike with the intention of getting comfortable enough on a track to maybe try some club racing. I have been looking at CB350's because Aerotech makes some racing tanks and seats for them. I have a '78 SR500 collecting dust in my basement that I may use instead even though the idea of trying to swap it over to spoked wheels seems like a pain. If you could post some websites with some getting started pointers that would be great.
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post #3 of 134 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Has to be '72 model or earler "or like design".

"Like design" means nearly identical mechanical configuration in MOST cases.

The new chapter in my book covers A to Z in going vintage racing, I'll be sending a condensed version (of the chapter on racing) to anyone who e-mails me on it.

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post #4 of 134 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 07:48 PM
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I've thought about it over the years, we've got some great races and fantasic bikes over here, have a look at http://www.ihro.org.uk/
but unfortunately I don't have the time due to working some strange hours in some stranger countries!
I'll have to stick to watching for the time being, but the social side is great as well

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post #5 of 134 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 08:17 PM
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Nice coincidence...I'm already planning my next venture based on a 69 T120 and building it up to where it can serve double duty.

In talking to the younguns at Big D, I was informed that one they race at their level can set you back $15K. I think I'll settle for something a little less competitive.
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post #6 of 134 (permalink) Old 11-08-2010, 04:49 PM
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Hey GrandPaulZ,
I've been interested for quite some time but always questioned my skills up against pros like you. I would hate to take-out the entire field making some boneheaded novice move.
With that being said, where does one start the process of racing?
I live in Atlanta and have an 06 Thruxton.

220, 221; Whatever It Takes!
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post #7 of 134 (permalink) Old 11-08-2010, 05:21 PM
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willow springs in CA is about 3 hours away from me. It would be nice, fun, but really impractical for must folks living in So-Cal
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post #8 of 134 (permalink) Old 11-09-2010, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by doublecafe View Post
Hey GrandPaulZ...always questioned my skills up against pros like you...
I'm barely a novice and have hit my limits at the point of being a mid-pack finisher in my class, the middle of the entry level in vintage racing.

It's not rocket science (really), and you won't take anyone out as long as you mind your own business and don't try to ride over your head.

You are closer to Barber than I am to Cresson...

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post #9 of 134 (permalink) Old 06-03-2011, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Here is the condensed version of the stuff you need to know to go vintage racing:



There are many things to consider before you can go vintage bike roadracing, whether you intend to do one or two races just for fun, or run an entire season and contend for a championship.

One of the first things to decide is what particular series you intend to race in; several factors will play into this decision including motorcycle classes available in the series and tracks where series events are held. Annual membership dues vary from series to series, and can be significant.

Depending on the series, fielding a bike can range from very inexpensive to ridiculous. Some of the sanctioning bodies with more liberal classes allow near-stock older bikes with nominal safety measures such as lockwiring and oil retaining equipment, with “street” tires; the cost to prepare a bike that will pass tech and maybe even be competitive in these series can be just a few hundred dollars for an old Honda 350, and a few hundred more for tires and preparation. On the other end of the spectrum are those classes with very strict vintage bike requirements where the cost of a vintage race replica bike is easily in the thousands, with much more spent on ensuring competitiveness and longevity.

The biggest key to setting up a race bike is reliability. The bike MUST finish the race, or it is useless, no matter how many thousands of dollars you might spend on trick race parts; build it by the book, and by the rules. If you do have the pockets to spend on race bits, don’t just stuff them into a tired old engine; they can’t turn a slug into a bullet. Concentrate on making sure every part and component is in good condition, and well within tolerances, then build from there.

Another major expense in racing a vintage bike is travel. Some sanctioning bodies have regional series where three to five races are run within a single state, or in close neighboring states. Other series are spread out from coast to coast. If you only intend to run a few races a year, this may not be as important as concentrating your resources on fielding a competitive bike.

Obtaining a license to roadrace vintage bikes is unbelievably simple. If you can ride a bike reasonably well, and have the confidence to get out on a track with other riders in close proximity at relatively high speeds, you can attend racing schools where even the bike and leathers are provided; you just show up with cash, a checkbook or credit card. Most roadracing schools require riders to have their own bikes & safety equipment, typically full-face helmet and full leathers, gloves and boots. For racing school, you do not necessarily need to use the bike you intend to race; you can use any nominally prepared bike. Reading a few books on the subject, such as Keith Code’s “A Twist of the Wrist”, is a good idea if you have never ridden fast on a bike.

Depending on the sanctioning body and/or series, new riders are required to not only attend racing school, but also attend a minimum number of events and perform track worker duties before being allowed to race as a novice.

Something worth considering, especially for those on a budget, is Endurance racing. You can obtain a racing license and become part of an endurance team where the cost of the race bike is shared by the members; if you have really good friends, and are a relatively good rider, you might even be able to get a ride for free if your attitude and abilities will help the team be competitive.

Starting out by volunteering at the tracks, and helping your friends in their racing efforts, loading and unloading, setting up pits and campsites, working on bikes, buying rounds of burgers or pizzas; all of this will go a long way toward building positive attributes in becoming a future race team RIDING member, even though you don’t have a race bike of your own.

You never know when a racer is getting ready to hang up his leathers, but is watching people in the racing community, looking for a rider he can put on his bike so that he can stay active in the racing scene. One thing for sure is that when they are looking, they aren’t always just looking on the track where the fun and excitement is happening with the celebrities; they also spend plenty of time in the pits and around the track where the faceless, thankless work is done.

Sponsorship is something else to think about. The big race teams aren’t the only ones that get backing from manufacturers, suppliers and distributors; even small-time privateers manage to talk their business associates and friends into backing them up with a season’s supply of race fuel, tires, oil & spark plugs, spare parts and any number of other items that all add up such as race entry fees, travel expenses, food and lodging.

The key to being a good self-promoter is to being well informed about your entire racing program, from the sanctioning body & series, it’s sponsors, venues where races are held, to media that covers the events, etc. If you can put together a convincing sales pitch for your potential sponsor to get their name out in the public eye, you will be rewarded for your efforts. Drafting some simple ideas for sponsor exposure including proposed graphics on vehicles and racing leathers, pit banners, promotional flyers, and guarantee that you’ll mention them prominently in the winners circle, will help round out a good presentation to a potential sponsor.

Another great program is contingency money; different vendors offer contingency prizes for racers using their products, and prominently displaying their logos on bikes & equipment. Basically, free money for sticking stickers on your bike!

I am a firm proponent of doing regular business with local dealerships, even if I do a considerable share of my business on the Internet; this relationship will serve as the basis for discussion when the time comes to seek out potential sponsors. You stand a much better chance of snagging a new set of race tires from a dealer that knows you well, than you do from a shop where you’ve never showed your face, much less bought a set of spark plugs.

Something that gets overlooked sometimes is that you can have just as much fun racing a scruffy old 250cc Blue-Smoker on a tight little track as you can have on a 1000cc Vintage Superbike at Daytona (well, nearly as much fun). Once the green flag drops, if you’ve got a bike in front of you, the object is the same – to get in front of them!

Personally, I think if I can do it, anyone can do it. So what are you waiting for?

Paul Zuniga, Laredo, Texas
AHRMA rider #142, Historic Production Heavyweight, 1969 Triumph 650 Bonneville

Typical expenses and considerations when formulating your plan:
Track School, Roadracing License, Bike for obtaining license, Travel expense to racing school if not local

Expense for track workdays if required by sanctioning body

Racing bike & setup

Safety equipment including leathers, helmet, gloves, boots, back protection, etc.

Race bike consumables including racing fuel, tires, oil, spark plugs, etc.

Series membership fees / annual dues, AMA membership / annual dues (often required)

Travel expenses to races, Track entry fees, Race entry fees, Camping, lodging, food, etc. at race events

Links to resources:
American Historic Racing Motorcycles Association www.ahrma.org
American Motorcyclist’s Association www.ama-cycle.org
Central Motorcycle Roadracing Association www.cmraracing.com
WERA Roadracing Association www.wera.com
Lone Star Track Days www.lstd.com
A Twist of the Wrist
Bynum’s – Links to sanctioning bodies, schedules

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post #10 of 134 (permalink) Old 06-04-2011, 11:22 AM
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I went to my first mile flat track lasy year. Those guys must have skate boards to hual their [email protected] around on. Touching bars in the corners!!!!! It was something to watch. The Triumph out there did'nt do all that bad, I assume it had less cc's than the HD'S did. That triumph rider knew how to ride, just flying thru the corners, but just didnt quite have enough steam in those long straights. I think there was one bsa and one Trump at that race, I was at.
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