Glad Bag Racing
What size trash bag do you wear ? 15 gallon, 30, 39 or triple X 50 gallon ! Well, there I was at 7 AM on November 22nd at the Quik Trip deciding what size I needed to survive the second round of AVDRA’s vintage motorcycle series at Speedworld. Our racing starts in October and ends in early May to avoid the intense heat of the summer.
My adventure began the day before when I deliberately chose to leave the “EZ-UP” shade and vented gear behind because the weather was predicted to be cooler. Plus it takes up too much room in the mini-van. Instead, I packed the standard assortment of tools, spares and gear including two cotton jerseys and spare gloves. Little else made the cut that would have made the day much easier including a jacket, warm socks and extra towels.
My alarm clock sounded at 5 AM and my son, Forrest and I were on the road by 6 with fresh Krispy Cremes and my first cup of coffee in hand. As soon as we hit the highway, there was a flash of light off to the North. “Must be an electrical transformer or something” I told myself. Yet it was raining pretty hard by the time we got off the highway, a few miles from the track. It was time for a rest stop anyway, last opportunity to indulge in modern conveniences for the day. I picked up a box of 30 gallon trashbags and a giant mug of peanut butter hot chocolate to ease my fears. Anyway, the track owner said it had not been raining long as he took our entrance fee and pointed out the “No rain check clause.” I parked in “Maico-City” with my good friend Bruce. Those bikes were so bright red and shiny, it would be a shame to cover them in mud, I thought. It was still raining, yet I gave the lady at sign-up 50 dollars, so I was committed to the battle.
I went to practice wearing my first trashbag. “Talk about Old School” was the comment I heard because more experienced racers had rain gear. I wanted to skip the Vintage practice because adding 20 pounds of mud to my 14 horsepower 1974 Suzuki TM-125 was not a bright idea. But the layout of the track was new and a few of these sections were tricky like the wide open flat track turn on the flat. When I got on the track, I found another new attribute of the rain. Traction was prime and just enough grease on the turns to slide around. And where were the rocks - - I guess they don’t come out in rain either. Or maybe, Speedworld did an extra fine job of track prep since this was an ARHMA regional event drawing California Riders who were expected Arizona sunshine. Even the famed Rick Dougherty from Vintage Iron was in attendance, but broke in the first moto and left early. I was impressed with my neighbor, Bill, who traveled from CA to camp in his pickup and compete in the 70+ class.
Forrest, my son, had cut a deal on Friday for a new “Game-Cube” for Christmas in exchange for pit crew services on Sunday. Bad deal for him. He spend all day scraping mud from between the knobs in my tires wearing his slick AXO boots and a trash bag, of course.
My first race of the day was moto 3 and the rain had slowed. On the line were two experts, my rival Cody, recently moved to intermediate after beating me out of the championship last season and four other novices including Scott Jones on a Honda, Bill on a Cam-Am and Bob Fredette on a Hodaka 100. I was the only Suzuki in the race, but that did not stop me from getting a great start, right behind the two experts. Cody caught me on the third lap, but I beat the other novice riders with the Can Am just a few turns back. But, the after race enthusiasm was quelled by the discovery of a major tear in my exhaust pipe. I worked frantically with Cody’s father to perform major metal surgery with out a welder. Silver foil from the hot dog vendor, high temp silicone, duct tape, safety wire and the biggest zip tie you can imagine did the trick. With competitors like that who needs friends. And I even got to repay them the very same day with two feet of stainless safety wire to repair Cody’s bike when he head pipe split as well.
The second 125 moto went off while the track was still in prime condition. My pipe repair got a few chuckles from my neighbor on the line and I did not get a great start. In fact, I was almost last. I had to work my way around Scott and Bob, who lead the class for least two laps. A Hodaka “Dirt Squirt” 100 in the lead ! But I could hear my bike getting louder as my pipe repair gave way, Bill on the Can Am caught me and past me on the new flat track style turn. Man, he had style, wide open and sideways. But I passed him back on the track. Yet, he was there again on the Flat Track section teaching school, passing me and taking the checkered flag and the overall win, Oh the agony of defeat, but what great action in those two motos.
In addition to the 125, I raced two moto’s on my 1981 Husquarva 250 that day. I had traded a trials bike for this steed with Ohlin shocks and massive forks, but hadn’t spent much time in the saddle. There were only three riders in the class which I didn’t know very well and I almost skipped the last moto. It was raining pretty hard by then, but I was so pumped after the second 125 moto. I was wearing a new trash bag but I definitely had the wrong goggles, dark lenses and no pin for extra tear offs. I duct taped one tear off onto the frame and it was gone by the first lap. Tossing the goggles was not an option, because my prescription is build into the lens & I am blind with out correction. So I struggled through five laps, even passing a rider on the last lap who probably was more blind than me. I came off the track with an extra 30 pounds of mud and an ear-to ear grin. Now that was fun !
Four more trash bags covered the van seats and floor mats. Forrest was wearing a new Glad bag jacket at the end of the day, and the rest of the trash bags were used for dirty gear, so my truck would not be trashed. Do you think “Glad” would consider a sponsorship?