.

CMG Builds a ZX7 Vintage Racer, Part 2

Words: Richard Seck   Photos: Richard Seck, unless otherwise specified

(Read Part 1 here)

CMG and racing have proven to be a somewhat unstable mix in the past. However, for some reason we feel the inexplicable urge to carry on. Things seemed to be looking up in 2005 when our racing efforts started off well enough with our Pascal Anctil coming up with a very unCMG-like podium finish in the first round of the 600cc National Amateur series.

Of course, Pascal would go on to show his CMG credentials with a spectacular crash at the second (Calgary) round of the season. The resulting injuries (including a broken clavicle) meant that Pascal’s attempt at 600cc racing glory was over before it had begun.

Very CMG.

This left Editor ‘arris and myself wondering how to fill in the gaps of our planned season of racing features.

Team Write-On.

The answer came in the form of an idea simply called “Old vs. Older”. Team CMG (Old) would take another kick at the vintage endurance racing can with the ZX-7, and to make it a bit more interesting, we’d challenge Team Write-On of Steve Bond, Betty Boop, Mr.Tate, and Tony Vincent on their ancient KZ1000 (Older).

To add some real competitiveness, we added a wager of a bottle of fine Scotch for the winning team. ‘Arris suggested pink slips initially, but then the ZX is actually mine and I wasn’t looking to own an old KZ1000 either (no offence Bondo).

This all sounded pretty good. Regular CMG readers will remember that Team CMG (made up of ‘arris, Moffatt, and myself) made a fairly respectable showing at last year’s VRRA endurance racing event and we were confident that we could carry off a similar result (and bottle of Scotch) this year.

The result of Mr. Seck’s first foray into racing.

However, thanks to last year’s race being called early, yours truly never got to ride in the actual race, which may have helped with our overall favourable result. In fact, to date, I hadn’t actually finished a race … although I’ve attempted a few.

I’d been trying to do this since 2001, when my first attempt ended rather quickly, and with much carnage. With everything falling nicely into place it was beginning to look like 2005 would be the year that I would actually fulfill my goal!

WE NEED A RINGER

Of course, things never go as planned and Ronn Moffatt proved to be the first casualty of Team CMG. Bitten by the endurance racing bug, he’d gone out and purchased his own Period 4 vintage bike and assembled Team Rubber Chicken Racing for the event.

This left us one team member short (a minimum of three team members are required).

A morning session in the CMG Think-Tank (a rusting Sherman located at the secret CMG test facilities) yielded the name, Jeff Bloor. He had after all tuned the bike and just so happened to be an ex-pro racer – who better?

Mr. Tate was not impressed by our ringer.Photo: Stagman

A quick call to Jeff resulted in a fully formed and – dare I say – competitive Team CMG! Even better, Mr. Tate took great umbrage with our recruitment of Mr. Bloor and started the following “It figures” thread on the Soapbox …

I see from the News that ‘is Editorship and the dastardly Mr. Seck ‘ave ‘ired a ringer for the CMG internecine (or should that be interporcine?) contest at the VRRA endurance race at Mosport this coming Friday — namely, the excellent Mr. Jeff Bloor. What a pathetic attempt to promote themselves out of the lowest realms of racing mediocrity.

That’s okay. No matter what his talent (high), Jeff will be so irritated with his pitiful team-mates post-race that he’ll kick their sorry asses all around the paddock, of course not until ‘is Editorship surrenders the bet (scotch, single-malt, of course) to the Bondo-led team.

Percy Nils Alder swooped in where Editor ‘arris had crapped out.

University-level fighting words indeed, but we could taste the Scotch already …

SHITS, SONGS AND SABOTAGE

As the days crept closer to the event, our plans of racing glory were quickly unraveling. Editor ‘arris was the next casualty as he had managed to catch some sort of intestinal virus, and was now spending most of the day on the toilet. Unable to (literally) get his shit together, he finally announced that we would need a replacement for him.

Thankfully, we’d already planned for such and event and actually had a back up rider in place – Percy Nils Adler, the motorcycling musician. We’d met Percy at the track earlier this year, and with a similar skill level as Editor ‘arris, he was the perfect fit.

Then on the week of the actual race I received a voice mail message from Jeff Bloor. For reasons he couldn’t state, he would be unable to make the race on Friday …

JP (the ugly one on the right) came in to take the ringer spot.

Now, we’re not sure how much the Team Write-On payoff to Jeff was – or whether they had some dirt on him that they were going to expose – but this last-minute ‘announcement’ had sabotage written all over it.

Editor ‘arris was furious, “How could this happen? What do they have on him? Is it time to release the Tate/Bondo/donkey shot? … When will I be able to get off this toilet? … I can’t feel my legs…”

At such a late hour, it was truly looking grim, but the answer came with a quick call to former Team CMG racer, JP Schroeder. With just three days to go before the event, he agreed to drop everything and join the team!

Problem solved.

Release the donkey shot!

GOOD TO GO?

The rider’s meeting was an omen of things to come.

Pirelli once again came through with a fresh set of Diablo Corsas for the ZX-7 and on the morning of the race I’d met up with JP and his lovely partner, Samantha, for a quick breakfast at 5:45 am.

Foreboding dark gray skies outside finally gave way to rain on our way to the track. Then when we arrived at Mosport, the VRRA gate staff actually tried charge us entrance fees (I had actually coordinated the requisite freebies earlier on).

Pay? Doesn’t anybody know who CMG is?

We managed to get over that hurdle and were soon faced with the chaos of registration – waivers, racing licenses, VRRA memberships, and then more waivers. And again, nobody seemed to get that we were the Team-CMG-cheap-bastards and that our actual race fees were supposed to be waived.

“Then I plunged forth and the Duke was dead”. Percy keeps moral up with youthful tales.

Once this was finally sorted, the bike was tech’d and we were off to the rider’s meeting. About this time the heavens decided to open up and everyone got drenched. If this wasn’t bad enough, we were then told that this year the endurance teams would have a total of just 25 minutes practice before the race.

WTF?

Oh well, we’re here now, so let’s just grin and endure it.

To add insult to injury, while we were wringing out our clothing after setting up the canopies, we were informed that there had been a mistake and we’d have to pay the race fees after all.

Another $150 for what was promising to be a very wet race.

A RAY OF SUNSHINE

With everyone wondering just how a motorcycle can make so much noise, JP points to the guilty party behind the camera lens.

Miraculously, soon afterwards, the clouds started to thin and the sun poked through. The mood under the Team CMG canopy started to brighten as well. Maybe this could end up being fun after all?

As JP and Percy had never ridden the bike, it was decided that they should take the first two 8-minute sessions, and I’d take the last. On a now dry track, both JP and Percy were flying and running mid 1:40’s and looking very comfortable.

I was now psyched and ready to go for my handful of practice laps. We signaled Percy that his time was up, and just as we did the checkered flag was waived – indicating that he session was over.

WTF, that wasn’t even 20 minutes?!!!…

As my teammates were in a good mood and pleasantly surprised with the bikes performance, I tried to keep my grumbles to myself. After all, I’d have an hour on the track during the race, so it would all come back to me … wouldn’t it?

READY TO RACE

Percy wishes JP a fond farewell before he heads out on a wet, slippery track.

As neither Percy nor myself had done a racing start, it was decided that JP should do the honors. However, in order to ensure that I would actually get to race this year, I put myself second up, and Percy (the new boy) would take the uncertain third place spot.

So JP would square off at the start against Mr. Tate on the Bondo KZ1000 and if everything went to plan, we’d each have about an hour of racing time.

Let’s get out there and kick some Write-On butt!

Wait a second, is that rain?

Yep, you guessed, five minutes before the start of the race, it started to spit, and shortly thereafter a steady drizzle ensued, thus turning the track into a bit of a skating rink … unless you had rain tires installed, which no one did. There was even one guy gridded on slicks! At least we were better off then him, as our Diablo Corsas had some wet weather ability.

JP gets a good start, but so does Mr. Tate (number 8).

JP got a decent start and was looking quite good out there despite the conditions and the nature of the ZX. You see, it’s best to keep the bike in the softer part of the power band under these conditions (about the 4-6000 rpm mark of this bike). This of course is also where the ZX has two slight power dips that create roughness in the power band. All clears up though once you hit 6000rpm, where the thing spools up in a hurry.

JP’s difficulties were graphically illustrated when he hit the 6,000 rpm meaty part of the power and the bike fish-tailed spectacularly out of the last corner and onto the home straight.

Slippery when wet.Photo: Stagman

Oh dear.

I’ll be honest, I was nervous and getting more so by the minute. I’d never ridden the ZX in the rain, and I had no idea of what I was in for. This wasn’t helped by the fact that 20 minutes into the race, a half a dozen riders went off the track and the red flag came out.

Thankfully none of them were JP.

It was big enough to restart the race at the grid, which seemed to take forever. By the time they did, it was announced that the race would now be cut down to 2 1/2 hrs.

JP stayed on for the restart, as he was required to do a minimum of 30 minutes and had only done 20 so far. Hmhh, ten minutes Mr. Seck. Yikes!

JP and Tate trash-talk while waiting for the restart.

As JP roared off at the restart, I zipped up my leathers and prepared myself mentally for the wet ride ahead. Would I ride carefully like somebody’s grandma or get caught up in the festivities, with the likelihood of ensuing carnage? Don’t think too much Seck, just ride the damn thing! If this my time to go, so be it …

With that revelation there was an accompanying massive thunderclap. Initially I thought God was agreeing with me, but it was another cruel episode in the sad, sad racing life of Mr. Seck. Thunder means lightning and lightning means that the marshals get called in. With no marshals, you don’t have a race and so the checkered flag was waived, indicating the end of the race …

That’s right race fans, for the second year in a row; Mr. Seck was denied access to the race.

End of story.

EPILOGUE

The fatal pass. We should have known better than to send a non-drinker against a Scotchaholic, with a fine single malt at stake.Photo: Stagman

To add salt to the Team CMG wounds, Mr.Tate – who’d ridden the Bondo Z1000 like a crazed (yet skilled) teenager – was quick to point out that he had come in ahead of JP and was claiming a Team Write-On victory, and was wondering where his Scotch was.

If that wasn’t bad enough, we had to load up the bike in what can only be described as monsoon-like conditions – soaking us all. Then the final icing on the cake came with me snapping the same foot-peg bracket as I had done at the end of last year’s racing attempt while strapping it down …

Anyone want to buy an almost never raced 1989 ZX-7?


THE TROUBLE WITH ENDURANCE

By Rob Harris

With trumpets blaring and the crowds roaring, Editor ‘arris makes an appearance just before the start of the race.

To me, the VRRA Endurance Race is the type of event that makes for the best kind of racing. Unlike a sprint race, you are able to get into a groove, pace yourself, and work on consistent – but fast – laps. The chaos and all-out aggression of the sprint is tamed just enough, and you’re also not working alone – there’s a team, all in the same boat, all trying to achieve the same goal.

Add to this the mix of bikes and types found in the VRRA circles, the glorious Mosport track and you have all the perfect ingredients for a grand day out. So what could possibly go wrong?

Well, as you’ve just read in Mr. Seck’s account of the 2005 event, delays, crashes and mother nature herself can all put a damper on the day, but are they all the inevitable unavoidables of any racing event? Now before I go any further, I should iterate that I am consistently amazed by the dedication of the volunteers in this organization to make things happen, and I have no fault with any of them.

There’s a lot of work goes into prepping for an endurance event. (team Write-On)

My beef is that it appears that for some reason the endurance event is being given short shrift over the sprint races of the weekend. Super short practice time and bumping the start of the race in favour of other class practice sessions certainly didn’t help when it all came to a premature end at the first thunder clap. Add to this the relatively high cost of getting a team and bike onto the starting grid (not to mention time off work, accommodation and travel costs) and you have a lot riding on a Friday going to plan.

It seems to me that there are a growing number of people attending this annual event just to be part of one of the endurance teams. Once the race is done, so is their weekend, and if there is one thing that I’d really like to see the VRRA change, it is to give the endurance race the attention and importance it deserves.

When all is going well, everyone’s having a blast.

They have probably THE best recruiting tool for new riders in that one race alone, and with just a little change in emphasis, could ensure that (barring a whole day of torrential rain), all riders should be able to go home with a big fecking grin, desperately working out how to do it all again next year.

I know I did last year and I hope I can again in 2006.

Hey Bondo, do you need an anti-ringer to slow down that Tate?


THANK YOUS

Pirelli NA and Orion Motorsports for their help in getting us fresh rubber for this ill-fated race.

Comfort Inn in Belleville for the accommodation during the Shannonville track testing session.

The Residence and Conference Centre in Oshawa for our Mosport accommodation.

Join the conversation!