Knowing the weather was doubtful for any activity on the salt at all, everyone was up and in the truck before daylight. It was still dark as we rolled out to the pits across the salt, but a faint glimmer of the beauty to come could be seen to the east.
We pretty much had our pick of the pits as there were only a quarter at most of the entries there on Thursday.
While unloading we were greeted by a photographer who called himself “Porkpie”. He was an engineer for Porsche living in Germany but coming to the salt for the SCTA Speedweek and the BUB events as well as the World Finals each year. He said he had adopted the name from the British slang for “second chance” as he had been a streamliner pilot and crashed hard a number of years ago. Realizing he had been given a second chance at living, he made it a point to return and enjoy the racing he loved and not “wait until there was enough time”. Using the backdrop of a spectacular sunrise (see the last photo in the gallery) he took photos of both bikes and the crew. We are waiting for him to send the CD of the shots at this time.
Following much the same routine as the previous two days we went to the starting with a jet change to make the first run of the day. The bike’s performance was sluggish again, even though the same jets that had yielded the one good run the day before were in it. The exhaust gas temperature stayed at a sluggish 1400 degrees indicated and the power just wasn’t there. I turned off after the first mile and we went back to try and figure out what to do next.
Realizing the weather was moving in, a slightly desperate course of action was decided on with a timing and a jet change being made. I figured we would at least try to explore the boundaries of good sense before we lost the usable course conditions.
This run caught me by surprise. The bike pulled away cleanly and keeping as much rear brake on it as I could without stalling it started to pull cleanly. Rolling on the throttle I started to see more boost than I had all week. Passing the 1 mile marker and shifting through the gears I was surprised that it was still pulling pretty well. Then the horrible realization hit ma that I didn’t remember how many time I had upshifted! Too fast and the run wouldn’t count for the license. Well the tach read 7,000 rpm and I thought I remembered being in 5th gear so I just let it stay there and ran through the Quarter. Once through the trap I wanted to see if it would pull any higher mph so I rolled up the throttle and the bike felt sort of strange, almost as if I had a flat tire. I later heard from the guys that the rooster tail went from 2 feet high to obscuring the bike. The tach went to 8,000 rpm and then I shifted into 6th gear. The bike just started to pull up to 8,000 rpm and then it shut off. Looking at the gauges there wasn’t anything amiss. Fuel pressure, egts and oil pressure were all good. I shut the throttle and then rolled it on again. The motor picked back up and took off. Back up to 8,000 rpms and it shut off again. At this point I decided that a sudden relighting of the power wasn’t a good idea at that speed and turned off.
The license run was valid and after getting the requisite signatures, it was back to the starting line for another try.
Removing all the tape from the front of the fairing and deciding to brave the spray after the run, we got in line but the course at that time was closed due to high winds.
Waiting around until the event was finally called due to the winds and impending snow, we headed back to the pits with the final question unanswered. Loading up, the winds went dead calm and the clouds stopped moving. Oh well, who could know?
The trip back was long and uneventful, returning Saturday afternoon and getting ready to show the bike at the Slimey Crud run the next day.
I want to thank again the following people for all their help:
Fred Weege, motors
Nick Moore, suspension, wheels and tires
WJ (Bill Shields), Trailer and procurement
Jim Haraughty and Team MS, coaching and procurement
Bob Crook, rig driver and mechanics
Chris (Louey) Lamour, mechanics
Ducati (John Paolo Canto) for an awesome, durable motorcycle
Without these and others I hope to have time to thank in the future it couldn’t have happened. Can’t wait to get back in 2008.
At the very least we licensed to 174mph and touched 180 and learned a LOT.