CBX Racing

CBXs, new bikes, old bikes, cars, trucks, general chat, off topic, this is the place to post it.
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steve murdoch icoa #5322
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Re: CBX Racing

Post by steve murdoch icoa #5322 »

My goodness, the costs you incur.
I hope you are not keeping track.

Please keep the updates coming.

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Re: CBX Racing

Post by Warwick Biggs »

You make a good point Steve, one that was raised at the very beginning of this blog. What started out as a project to convert a CBX and more substantially an effort to improve my digital dexterity after a stroke has now morphed into a complete lifestyle change.

I now have 2 race bikes and a dedicated track bike and I have sold my beautiful home and moved across the country to the cool southern latitudes, mainly to be close to a race track. I sold my lovely BMW road bike to feed my race habit (that is what is going to cover the cost of a full race motor for the CBX - not my kingdom for a horse but more my BMW for horse power).

Even my dedicated photographer and carer Fran Thompson is concerned for my mental well being as the racing obsession has fully taken hold. I spend endless hours in the workshop fiddling with the bikes, race preparation or researching related projects. All my friends are similarly addicted to racing to the point that many are atypically thin, spending all their money on their racing and eating poorly.

Yes, its a sad scene. Except its not. Most racers are exceptionally well balanced, fit healthy and happy individuals from a great variety of backgrounds and occupations, united in their passion for their sport. This translates to helping each other out. Those wheels and wets I acquired at a fraction of what they originally cost their racer owner and at least half the price he could have realised if he'd put them up for sale on the VFR/RVF web page.

So, yes it is expensive but there are ways to economise and to absorb the costs without having to mortgage the house. And lets face it, what else can you send your hard earned on at the moment. Certainly not international travel or just about anything other than food and booze. Racing has to be a healthy alternative and to prove it I recently obtained my full St John's first aid accreditation. So if I or anybody around me has a heart attack or stroke I know how to bring them back from the abyss.

I have meant to do this for years but kept putting it off until racing or more specifically race coaching gave me the incentive to complete the course. You can see how addicts justify their addiction can't you?

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swarrans
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Re: CBX Racing

Post by swarrans »

That's amazing and inspiring! I, for one, really enjoy reading your posts and the only reason I've never responded before (re your comment "am I talking to myself") is that I don't have anything interesting to say!!

Best Wishes, Simon from the UK

steve murdoch icoa #5322
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Re: CBX Racing

Post by steve murdoch icoa #5322 »

Thanks for sharing that side of your journey, Rick.
I understand a good bit of what you are saying.
I operate on an entirely different/smaller scale but did try to justify an addiction for years. Sadly, mine didn't bring me much enjoyment.

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Re: CBX Racing

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That pic of Mike the Bike reminds me of another racer of mature years and his response to aging and modest means. I've mentioned Rob b4 and there are some pics of him too. He travelled from regional Mortlake to the UK as a young man and ended up working on Aermacchis and with Mike Hailwood.

Many years later he returned to the UK as an older rider to contest the Manx GP. Now at 73 he races a push button modern Ninja 400 twin and is still quick altho' he does tend to tire a bit towards the end of a race. He chooses to live on an isolated 600 acres of bush altho' he rarely seems to be alone for long being a volunteer at his local bush hospital, manning the BBQ and occasionally riding in the local MX club and generally being an all round active 73 year old.

He did not want to be on the sidelines for the historic Championships and after finding Dave's Molnar Manx to be an uncomfortable fit wanted something more civilised to ride. Ivor (from whom I bought the wets) who lives in Horsham another regional town, told Rob of a local from the town who had a 1989 Honda 250 RR that was not running sitting out the back in a shed. Rob bought it more or less sight unseen for a few hundred. It fits into the P6 historic class with my NC30. He took it home checked it over and thoroughly cleaned the fuel system of the jellied remains of unleaded fuel and it runs perfectly now. He acquired a race glass fairing from another enthusiast and has fitted the shark fin and painted it all himself. He hasn't even changed the oil! (its still clean and he'll do that when he track tests it next w/e)) His biggest expense will be race tyres but all up he will have an easy to ride, 18,000 rpm swiss watch of a racer (no chains, all gears) for under $2K. Not a huge amount of money to race with some of the country's best.

And Simon you lie! I have noticed at least one post from you so you must have had something to say and thankyou for the kind words. As you can probably tell, I'm an inveterate scribbler (one fingered typer actually) and I always got told off for talking in class. So I tend to rabbit on even when I don't actually have much to say of any substance. Altho' I never aspired to be a lawyer (a much despised occupation) it was probably inevitable but that is another story altogether.

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Re: CBX Racing

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It looks like the International Challenge at the Island Classic has become another covid casualty and may not return which is disappointing.

Below is the gridsheet for my last outing at the Island Classic on the Lump in 2018. Qualifying was in the wet so strangely I found myself in front of Steve Martin (World Endurance champion and ex Petronas team rider) Shawn Giles (multi Oz Superbike champion) and Cameron Donald (multi IOM TT winner) immediately behind Beau Beaton on his Daytona twins winning Irving Vincent. At that stage I think the Lump had around 110 rwhp, well down on the rest of the field (typically between 150-180 rwhp). In the wet the power deficit was obviously less of a problem but that was the fixed grid for all the races that were dry.

I was also on 17" slicks for the first time and had not managed to lift the bike up much to recover ground clearance and keep the cases off the deck. So that was a more serious problem and eventually led to me crashing out when the red mist descended. But not b4 I'd had some thoroughly enjoyable races.

Nevertheless, and despite the crash I remain proud of my effort. Putting aside the recovery from a paralysing stroke only 2 years previously I was still a 67 year old who hadn't been near a race track for 40 years competing on a lightly modified genuine production bike against professional teams on the worlds fastest P5 race bikes. Just qualifying in this company was a huge thrill.

I dearly hope they resurrect the Island Classic because I'd love to take the Lump back with a full race motor and the chassis now well sorted and have another crack at it.
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Re: CBX Racing

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My race report is back on page 16 of this blog if you have not seen it b4.

As a matter of interest Steve Leembruggen had his Kawasaki 6 there but it failed to qualify due to overheating (despite being liquid cooled) and he was forced to run his Katana based XR69 replica instead. He has failed to overcome the overheating of the big Kwacka over a number of years of trying.
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Re: CBX Racing

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Speaking of 'McPint' as McGuiness is known (due to his liking for that horrid English beverage), he has been quoted saying that his favourite race bike and the one he cut his teeth on at the Isle of Man is the NC30.

I have mine up on the stand preparing for the race in a few weeks time. Here you can see I've fitted the new wets while I wait for fresh slicks and just to make sure they fit OK. I think the bike looks much better with white wheels all round rather than black and white. In fact, it is hard to tell an NC30 from an RC30 at a glance. Even the RC45 is not greatly dissimilar. At some stage I will clean up my daggy fibreglass repairs and give it a spruce up altho' it is by no means the roughest looking racer out there. Some have been crashed so many times that they are held together with sticky tape and look like the remains of an IED attack.

Interestingly, when I changed the oil & filter the oil was still the same clean honey colour as when I last put it in. That means there is little oxidisation or blow by past the rings in over 100 laps at the track during which time it is almost constantly revving at between 8 and 16,000 rpm. That is very good and a testament to Honda tolerances and the V4 design which is now over 30 years old and still going strong.

I wish I could say the same for the Lump. On the air cooled CBX I have to change the oil after every outing including dyno sessions and the oil is Penrite 10W60, the best I can get at around $100 for 5 litres. On that front it looks like local lockdowns will end when we get to 80% of the country fully vaccinated in a month or so and I should then be able to take the Lump over to Roly for a strip down a rebuild of the motor with all the good stuff.
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Re: CBX Racing

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I took this pic of Sammy Miller at the TT in '04. He is astride one of his Gilera 4's on which he enjoyed considerable success. He raced against the other Italian multi cylinder exotica like the MV's and Guzzis and that is the cue for a bit of a racing mystery that I recently resolved.

When I was still very young the local ace in the Adelaide hills was a guy by the name of Kenny Blake who was a year or 2 older. Some years later I joined the Phoenix Club that he and a few others had started as bad boy public road racers. When Italian world champions Agostini and Luchinelli came to Oz in 74 to race at Laverton Ken beat thir exotic MV and square 4 Suzuki fair and square on his 350 TZ inspiring a generation of Oz road racers to go to Europe.

For years I had it in my mind that Ken was killed at the Isle of Man when he ran into the back of a Riley reversing out of a driveway when he was practising b4 the races. A few years ago I realised this version of events was wrong and my memory was faulty. Ever since it has bugged me and recently I made a concerted attempt to figure out how I had it so wrong.
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Re: CBX Racing

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The reason I knew my version of Kenny's demise was wrong was because of an eye witness account from that great Kiwi racer Graeme Crosby who was at the island that year. He recalls Kenny crashing during the senior race when he hit running water on his 350 TZ and aquaplaned into one of the endless hard stone walls that line the track. According to Graeme he returned to his motor home after the race where he was parked next to Ken's caravan. Ken's washing was still hanging on the line and he broke down and cried his eyes out. That was when he reckons he decided to retire from racing.

Back to Sammy. He has a great collection of famous race bikes including the machine that he reckons is the ne plus ultra of race bikes - the 137 kg Moto Guzzi V8. Remember that in the early 50's this bike hand built by a dozen guys at Mandello weighed half as much as a CBX but made about the same power from 8,000 rpm to 16,000 rpm. Good for over 180 mph at Spa in the hands of another couple of Guzzi works riders, Oz racers Keith Campbell and Ken Kavanagh. Campbell had won the 350 world championship for Guzzi (coincidentally I regularly race against his nephew, also named Keith Campbell after his famous uncle. Keith junior is also a multi champion in historic racing in Oz).

Keith senior's Guzzi team mate Ken Kavanagh solved my mystery shortly b4 his death at 96 last year in Bergamo where he had lived since retiring from the GP circus. His story was like this. He arrived at the TT as part of the Guzzi works team and immediately set off in his van to re-acquaint himself with the course. Arriving at Handley Corner he noticed it had been widened and re-surfaced so he stopped to have a closer look. He could hear a race bike approaching - an unbaffled single, obviously a Manx Norton when a Riley passed by with the driver waving. He recognised the Manx doctor who was the volunteer medic for the races and whom he knew well. The Riley slowed and then started reversing. Meanwhile the race bike was coming closer around the other side of the corner and as it approached Ken recognised his friend Laurie Boulter with whom he was sharing a hotel room in Douglas.

Laurie was a South Australian privateer who had enjoyed success at the TT the year b4 and had returned and with backing from Ray Amm and the Norton factory was an entrant in the Senior TT .... (to be continued).

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Re: CBX Racing

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Ken realised that altho' Laurie was on his unregistered race bike he was not going fast. He had his cloth hat on backwards and was just cruising around, doing what he himself was doing - re-acquainting himself with the hundreds of corners of the 40 miles of public road that made up the race circuit. Laurie immediately recognised Ken and raised his hand waving and yelling out some friendly insults drowning out Ken's own shouted warning about the car stopped just around the bend.

As Ken tells it Laurie didn't stand a chance and he still had his arm in the air as he slammed into the back of the Riley, was pitched over the car straight into another stone wall. The doctor leapt out of the vehicle and did his best to save Laurie but he died within minutes from massive injuries. There was a coronial inquest into the accident and Ken gave evidence that the Riley had stopped around the corner and Boulter had been distracted and did not see it. A crash expert gave evidence that the race bike was non standard and defective and probably contributed to the crash and a finding of death by misadventure was handed down.

However, that was not true. It was only shortly b4 Kavanagh's death in Italy that he unburdened himself with the true story. The Riley had not stopped. It was still reversing when Boulter came around the bend. For decades Kavanagh had kept a lie after perjuring himself at the inquest He did it he said because he did not want to ruin the life of the doctor whom he admired. Boulter was dead and in his mind nothing good could come from the truth. In his mind he blamed himself because had he not been standing on that corner the doctor would not have reversed after seeing him and even if he had Boulter would not have been distracted and could have avoided the car. Guilt is a terrible thing and the true genesis of the lie.

Now I only discovered this story after reading about Sammy Miller's V8 Guzzi and researching the Oz riders who raced it, many of whom were well b4 my time, legends of the sport that I had heard many stories about but never knew. Somehow I had heard about Boulter's accident and confounded it with Kenny Blake, both South Australians killed at the IOM. Memory can play tricks on you which is one reason why criminal lawyers will tell you 'that justice delayed is justice denied'. Testimony many years after an event is often unreliable.

However, whilst solving one mystery I have stumbled into another. If Kavanagh only confessed the truth just before his death a year or so ago how come I had it in my mind (and had recounted my version of events to others) over many years that the Riley (I had that right - my father also owned a Riley when we lived in the UK in the early 50's) had been REVERSING when Blake/Boulter hit it? How did I know that if Kavanagh only confessed the truth only relatively recently?

Therein lies another story.

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Re: CBX Racing

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A postscript to this story is that Ken Kavanagh was later approached by a solicitor who stated that he had a contradictory version of events from an eye witness who claimed the car was reversing and in the middle of the road at the point of impact. He asked Kavanagh to review his statement in the light of the other witness statement. Kavanagh merely stated that his sworn testimony was on the record and he would not change it. The solicitor went away and Kavanagh heard nothing further.

However, solicitors rarely if ever act on their own initiative. He must have had a client. Who was it? Boulter's family were not wealthy, were in far off Australia and had no reason to question the verdict so who had enuf' interest to privately employ a solicitor and who was the other witness? Apparently Kavanagh told only one other person the truth. That was Gordon Laing, Boulter's Norton team mate.

However, it was most unlikely to be Laing because he was not an eye witness and his testimony would have been in-admissable evidence under the hearsay rule. In any event Laing himself was killed at the Ulster GP within a month of Boulter's death. No, it had to be somebody else.

My theory is as follows; Kavanagh was not the only person to have lied at the inquest. The doctor must also have either lied or at the very least, remained silent. Was he even called to give evidence? There was another person recorded as being present. The doctor's wife was a passenger in the Riley. Was the doctor's wife the solicitor's client and the mystery eye witness? What happened to the good doctor and his wife?

Of course all the parties are now dead, the events in question occurring in 1954, so we will probably never know. Kavanagh himself died at the ripe old age of 96. Pretty good considering the typically short life expectancy of top motorcycle racers of the period. Apparently after retiring from the glamour of GP racing he established a small dry cleaning business in Bergamo and lived a very quiet unassuming life in his adopted home of Italy.

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