The Thunder Diaries, Part 1

INTRO – Editor ‘arris

I think it’s taken all of us a bit by surprise at how quickly the inaugural race of the Canadian Thunder Series has come around. Thankfully it appears that all the important bits have come together, although we’re still in eleventh hour negotiations with some prospective sponsors. I guess it’s just a miracle that since the demise of the BMW/Buell series at the end of last year, we’ve not only been able to help get a new series together, but get a two man team together to boot!

As a result, for the duration of the summer, we will be posting at least eight reports on CMG regarding the adventures of our daring duo on the track, as well as any modifications/experiences with their motorcycles. Team member Costa Mouzouris will be competing on the all new Buell Firebolt, whereas fellow team mate, JP Schroeder, will be sticking with his tried and trusted BMW R1100S.

If you find yourself in the area during one of the Thunder races, please drop by and catch the action. The first race is THIS weekend at Shannonville, Ontario. Hope to see some of you there!


I’ve never cut it this close before. It’s one week before the first Canadian Thunder race and I’m not ready. I should be ready considering the wheels of team CMG were set into motion in October of last year – but I’m not.

Everything started fitting into place: the Canadian Thunder series was conceived to replace the defunct Buell/BMW series. Negotiations between JP Schroeder, myself and his editorship Harris concluded after JP and I signed on to team CMG for an undisclosed six-figure amount (Harris had us look at six paint blotches and asked us to figure what they were…we failed), and Richard Seck would look into mooching free stuff from unsuspecting victims…um…potential sponsors.


Mr. Seck nailed down a deal with Pirelli USA and got enough Dragon Super Corsa tires for both JP and I to ride the entire season on. I was very pleased to hear this, because I had won several races on Metzeler Rennsports last year, and the Pirellis are basically the same tire with a different thread pattern. Mr. Seck informed me he would soon be releasing Rich Munson of Pirelli USA, unharmed.

Fred Deeley Imports has a very interesting racing program available to those who are interested in racing their Buells. All you have to do, is go see your Buell dealer and let him know you’re going to be racing your bike; they’ll give you the information you need to get you on your way to the track. I did so and got their support package that includes a Buell pop-up tent, parts at below dealer net and even some cash! Those Buell people are real sports. You will need proof you’ll be racing the bike though, so don’t go to your dealer expecting undeserved freebies, they’re reserved for us.

Charles Gref of Moto Internationale helped out with the purchase of my Firebolt (and threw in a set of Frank Thomas leathers to boot). However, because of unforeseen circumstances at the factory, the delivery date of the bike kept getting pushed back from March to April and then to May. The possibility of showing up at the first race on May 4th, leathers and tires in hand, but no bike to race, was becoming a distinct possibility.

Being the greedy, demanding roadracer that I am, I hounded Duc Dufour (from the Harley-Davidson Montreal division of M.I.) to see what could be done to speed things up. Duc promptly proceeded to pass the hounding on to the Buell Canada people. We needed the bike sent ASAP. Thanks to his convincing fashion and the courteous co-operation of the people at Deeley, it arrived safe and sound, Friday, April 26th, one week before the first race. See why I say I’m cutting it close?

I would have liked more time to pull the heads and rework the ports a little. I also would have liked the luxury of going through parts catalogues and ordering the regular power enhancing components: an exhaust system, an injection system re-mapping program or even a high flow air filter, but unfortunately, the bike is so new nothing has been developed yet – not even by Buell. If I haven’t got the time to fabricate an exhaust system by the first race, I’ll have the quietest bike on the racetrack. At least we’ll be able to see how the Firebolt fairs against the competition, fresh out of the crate.

Choosing the new, untested Buell was a gamble and raised a few eyebrows among the sceptics. I got a lot of: “Are you sure? Those things break all the time,” or “You’ll be spending your time doing recalls instead of racing that thing.”

I want to prove them wrong. I saw the Firebolt for the first time at the Toronto Motorcycle show and knew that it was the right bike for team CMG. It is unlike any other Buell, or any other motorcycle for that matter. Shorter than, and as light as, a current 600 cc supersport, a steering angle matching that of 250 grand-prix bikes and a completely new engine mounting system, convinced me of the bike’s racing prowess. Even though Eric Buell himself says the bike wasn’t designed for the race track.

What it lacks in its stock form however, is racing type horsepower. Its claimed crankshaft output is 92 hp. That translates to about 80 hp at the rear wheel. The class limit is 95 hp at the rear wheel and I’m sure my rival competitors will be doing their best to be close to that limit.


JP and that “stunned look” after the last race of the BMW/Buell series 2001 (sorry man, couldn’t resist one last use of this picture).

My team-mate, JP will ride his trusty, rock-solid and fast BMW R1100S, a bike he finished second with in the Buell/BMW series with last year. He missed winning the championship by one point to Don Paquette on a Buell. JP still wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming, “NOOOOO!!!” He’s in therapy and slowly getting over it now. His bike develops 94 rear wheel horsepower and although the bike is long and hefty, JP is a master at riding obscure heavyweight motorcycles at ridiculous speeds. He knows his motorcycle well and will put up a good fight throughout the season.

Darren James, a fellow Buell rider and a contributing factor to the series’ emergence has continued development on his X1 over the winter, with the help of his tuner Mike Tapp. The resulting machine is capable of doing well in the highly competitive Buell Lightning series in the States. I saw the bike in Daytona this past March and quickly assessed that it would be a front-runner in the Canadian Thunder series. Darren is an aggressive, determined rider on the up stroke of his learning curve and will be competing in the U.S. series alongside the Canadian series. He will no doubt be the source of much of my chagrin on the racetrack.

Darren James gets fifty questions from Editor ‘arris.

Another rider that will be up front is Philip Durand, a transplanted French rider that was competing in the Ducati 900SS Cup in Europe. He is presently preparing a 2000 Ducati M900 Monster for the Canadian series. He’s used to the long, fast, sweeping racetracks of France, England and Spain and will have to get accustomed to the Canadian ‘point and shoot’ style of riding on our short, tight tracks but he’s got experience. Mosport should fit him well. He did very well in Europe, I expect him to do well here, too.

Although I haven’t received any news about Kim Thomson of Brampton Cycle, (who was instrumental in getting Ducati USA’s participation in the series), I’m sure he’s brewing something potent to take part in the series. After seeing the look in his eyes while we were discussing rules, and more precisely the engine modification rules, I came to the conclusion that whatever he comes up with will put the race scrutineers on full alert!


fter an initial one hundred and fifty kilometre break-in ride on the Firebolt, it feels like it could do the job. Even though it will only get a basic race preparation because of time constraints and will most probably start the season in box-stock form, I shouldn’t be too far behind the modified competition. All I can do in the time allotted (I have a day job that pays for my racing addiction), is safety wire the necessary hardware, remove lights and mirrors, make sure everything is bolted on tight and paste on some numbers. The Pirelli tires will be in soon and I should have them on by race day. Slowly but surely, performance parts will become available, I’ll get accustomed to the bike and hopefully later in the season, I too will be a contender.

In all, it should make for a very interesting inaugural season for the Canadian Thunder series. The motorcycles that will be competing are not the average supersports that people have become so accustomed to seeing on the racetrack, there will be sound to match that of the Nascar series, the riders are of a calibre that could compete successfully on a national level and interest in the series seems encouraging.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a race bike to prepare.


THE JP FILES – Race to Race

JP during last year’s BMW/Buell Cup.

Montreal, May 1, 2002 – I’m in a 777 that’s starting its descent towards Dorval International Airport, having just left England that morning. My mind was busy with the details about the coming weekend and that first race of the Canadian Thunder Series. All of a sudden, there’s a murmur of disbelief from the passengers as we pierce through the clouds and get a glimpse of spring in Montreal … with 6 inches of snow trying to melt!

What the…?

So the stage was set: it wasn’t going to be easy. England, work and Guinness Extra Cold fade away, replaced by a slight sense of panic as all the things that remain to be done before the race weekend pile up in my mind.

I have been practising though. On my new KTM Supermotard, to be precise – as my new $411 ticket testifies. Something about going through a corner, back end sliding, foot out, no mirrors… Actually, having no mirrors is what prevented me from seeing the poor patrol car trying to catch up to me for the last five minutes.

As I said, it wasn’t going to be easy, although I think I need more track time than road time. Even so, I’m super confident, since I know I have a proven set-up and my competitors are mostly on new machines.

Subframe break – before and after.

I have been campaigning a BMW R1100S on various race tracks since 1999. Unfortunately, in my first year, I hit a retaining wall after a lowside, which caused the two mounting lugs for the rear subframe to break away. The resulting welds held well … until last October’s Endurance Race in St-Eustache.

As a result, the first order of the week was to re-weld my frame. A desperate call to a recently-converted-trackday-addict and custom aluminum welder, led to a brilliant job. Check out the before and after pics on the left and appreciate the work. A huge “Thank you!” to Hugho Lasalle and his welder at Lasco Concepts Inc. (514-276-7717) for the race saving job! And in perfect Team CMG spirit, the job was free!

Next on the list are the tires. We had to pinch ourselves in disbelief when Pirelli agreed to sponsor us with enough tires for the season. As I write, the tires are still stuck at customs – a testament to their superior grip in adverse conditions? We may or may not have our rubber for the weekend! Then there’s my glasses: my 15-year-old prescription glasses and frame finally died forcing me into an update. The only problem is that my optometrist still hasn’t received them! A trend seems to be developing here.

R1100S finally gets down to the weight limit!

I’ll say it once more – It just won’t be easy!

At least my RSV (race support vehicle) is ready with a new ignition switch, fresh oil and filter and a new coat of flat black spray paint. Not bad, considering it’s got 410,000 km on the odometer!

So, all that remains is a few hours or so of pre-race maintenance on the “Maytag of Racing”, my loveable R1100S. I’m really cranked up for this season and I’ve stopped seeing my therapist after last year’s near-miss, so my aggression level is back up again. The Canadian Thunder Series is about machines as much as it is about riders. We should have a grand time and I’m convinced the Beemer will surprise a few unsuspecting lightweight twins with their cylinders in the wrong direction!

JP Schroeder
1999 BMW R1100S #81

NEWSFLASH – Thursday 2nd May.

Just got news that those fine people at Arai have just jumped on board with a pair of RX7-RR4 helmets for Team CMG.

JP Schroeder is currently weaving his way down to the Quebec/U.S. Border to pick up the Pirelli’s that have just cleared customs.


(Read Part 2 here)

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