It has been a busy time with the Ducati. The 8.08 got us all revved up to go back and try and seal the deal.
Checking the motor after the session at Byron we discovered a huge leakage on the front cylinder exhaust valves. Imagining the worst, we pulled the head and I fully expected to see a chipped or burned exhaust valve. It came to be a case of not properly pickling the motor after the last run if the day. The motor is running so hot that there is basically nothing left to protect the valves from corrosion after shutdown. This corrosion was a case of rust holding the exhaust valves open and giving us the big leakage. Disassembling the head and touching up the seats got everything back in order and reminded us that not only nitro motors need attention at the end of the day.
Deciding to pursue the goal of the sevens, we decided to get back down to Byron on the 13th of July. This was the soonest there wasn’t a million things going on at the track. Waiting too long would put in a bind for time to convert the bike back to nitro for Bonneville, not to mention the heat of August. We hoped to get a bit more power at the initial hit of the throttle so we enlisted the help of Matt Peckham to add a bit of tuner car tech to our puzzle. Altering the two-step map and adding the anti lag to it made for a concussive racket with the button on the handlebars pressed and the throttle dialed up. Boost approached 10 psi., versus the 4 psi we left with before. Lots of noise and more boost…..sounds like just the ticket!
Once at Byron we went through the preparation routine (without leaving the ball in the intake this time). Rolling into the water, Nick hit the throttle to do the burnout and it sounded a bit like someone stepping on a duck. Nick looked at me a bit puzzled and I didn’t have a clue. So with our tail between our legs, we went back to the trailer and began unwinding the path we took with the two-step/anti-lag properties. Reinstalling an earlier map and revising just the two-step, off we went.
This time it sounded better. Sneaking up on things we saw an 8.48, a good place to start from. Checking the clutch, it looked surprisingly good in there, with little wear of the plates. A bit more two-step and back we went.
tired cars work it in. There were a few, but not enough it appeared. Cars with treaded tires tend to strip the area right at the line, making it challenging to get a grip. Trying to work around the bald spots we would have to run a bit off the normal line to hope for a bit of hook. Another element of interest is running too close behind a street car when the air conditioning is running, causing a discharge of water where they sit, generally right on the line. Well, putting Nick in what was hopefully the best spot we simply had to take the best given us. He rolled up to the line, started in on the 2-step and waited for the green.
We were rewarded by a 1.319 sixty foot time, one of the best to date of any of the combinations. It was surprise seeing that come up on the board and all we could do is hear the tire spin and watch the bike move around. Holding our breath, hoping Nick could hold it on all the way through, we waited for what seemed an eternity. Seeing the 7.99 come up on the board caused our group to lose it. The goal was reached and Nick was in the history books! He was the first to ride a Ducati to a seven second pass in the quarter mile in the world.
Being the quickest is great, but there will always be someone who will come along who is quicker, but there will only be one first. While it doesn’t equal Larry McBride’s accomplishment of being the first motorcycle in the fives, it is our own little bit of chest puffery. In 1982 we were the 10th bike in the sevens, period, we weren’t the first. That honor belongs to the late Russ Collins. But to get in the sevens with a gas turbo twin is something that makes me so proud of the guys. They didn’t quit, didn’t say no.
Well, of course we had to go back at it. The next lap was another 7.99 @178.54 mph! This pass would prove to be the only time the bike hooked up at the big end. It spun on the other runs going through the lights. On this pass, however, it picked the front end up and carried it across the finish line.
More fiddling with the tuneup in the ECU and another 7.99. This was spinning at the finish line as well! If nothing else, this proved the first two weren’t flukes. We still were seeing sixty foot times in the 1.36 range, which has been acceptable in the past. Later analysis showed the bike coming back on the wheelie bars and spinning the tire at the hit, leaving a black stripe pretty much all the way to 600 feet or farther. This is something we can address in the future, but required a better side shot of the bike to see how the tire pressure, wheelie bar height and weight transfer can be tuned to improve the front half performance. Looking at the data, we never had a hard hook the entire pass, so it was impossible to know what was good and what wasn’t with no stellar example to refer to.
True to form, our last pass was an 8.42, a dramatic slowdown of performance. Most of this can be attributed to the factors I just mentioned. It was at this point in time the track closed and we were forced to pack up and go home. We can’t seem to leave on a high note very often, but we learn every time the bike goes down the track.
Being able to accomplish the goals we set out to do this year at the dragstrip was very rewarding. Unfortunately we don’t have enough time and resources to pursue the further lowering of the mark we were able to set. Bonneville awaits. The conversion to and updating of the injected nitro platform will take well over 100 hours. The poor motor we have been running is the backup for the long bike and it needs some loving attention now, too!
To be honest, it was a tough choice deciding what to do next. The bike makes a lot of power and the record in the bare-fronted 1000cc turbo class is 193 mph. I think the bike is capable of that, with enough ballast weight to control wheelspin. The record in 1000cc naturally aspirated fuel is 195 mph, a bit more of a reach. The naturally aspirated 750cc fuel class record is 168 mph and we have qualified at over 172 mph with not much of a clue. The temptation to try for a 200 mph record and the attending red hat with the turbo is an enticement, but there isn’t a substitute for nitro at Bonneville, so 750 nitro it is. We will be using the Motec that was on the turbo to record data and control the ignition on the nitro motor. I am very excited about the possibility of actually keeping a motor alive over 172 mph, and not using as many pistons and 18 gallons of nitro.
Upon reflection, the seven second runs were quite an accomplishment. I can’t say I am surprised by the results of the efforts of those here at the store. To be able to work with the caliber of people here in this endeavor is inspiring and humbling at the same time. They make me so proud to be a part of it all.
Thanks to Nick Moore, the rider, tires and brakes, Facebook posts.
Fred Weege, the engine man and ECU guru. Those things make me break out in a rash.
Jacki Whisenant, Composite bodywork creation, paint, lettering, website.
Bill Shields, helping keep things going when we are running hither and yon.
And to you all for the interest and support shown us over the last two years.
Now to get back in the back and start the conversion to NITRO!