August 25-26, 2017
Everybody gathered at the jumping-off spot (my house) and decided who was riding where. With my wife Patty’s van and the Suburban, there was enough room, just the figuring out of who wouldn’t drive each other crazy over the 26 hour duration of the ride.
Once underway, we made our way across Iowa and Nebraska’s heartland. As we approached the western end of the state, things started looking up…….way up. The outside temperature was in the high 80’s and didn’t give way much as we hit the foothills of the Rockies.
In the approaching evening the hills got steeper and more unrelenting. As we approached green River Wyoming, the Suburban started to struggle. The transmission was working harder to pull the grade and we eventually had to stop and let it cool off. Nothing like being 800 miles from home and 600 miles from your destination with the driveline in doubt and mountains yet to come.
Once back on the road, Mike Dean was the pilot and we adapted our techniques to ease the stress on the transmission. This involved keeping four people in the Suburban and five in the van, and staying in third gear, not overdrive.
After a while things settled back into a rhythm and on we went.
The descent into the Salt Lake City valley is always one of the more spectacular scenes and we got there before the Friday rush hour, refueled, grabbed a fast food repast, and headed west. As we passed Tooele it was getting light out.
The jumping off point for civilization led to some more hills of long slight grades that got everyone nervous about the transmission again, but for no good reason luckily.
Coming up to Wendover, the wayside was the last stop before the road to the salt flats.
We pulled over and sprayed the vehicles with the Salt-Away solution to try and preclude the accumulation of salt in the usual inaccessible places. Then on to the truck stop, two bags of ice, and then to the salt.
The sun coming up on the salt is always an amazing occurrence that is appreciated anew each day it can be experienced, and today was no exception.
There was a bit of a wait and we took advantage of it after sitting in the vehicles for so long. We then had a walk to the check-in table, getting all the wrist bands secured and then heading out to the pits. While walking up to the check-in table, we met a lot of the competitors and had a chance to shoot the bull a bit. The line was well-populated with unique bikes and similarly unique individuals.
The rider’s meeting happened at 8:00 and all riders were required to attend. Nick and I always go to every riders meeting (even when I am not riding) because you never know what may be an issue dealt with that isn’t common knowledge yet, such as track changes, schedule revisions, etc. We next went to the rookie orientation, again for the same reasons as the riders meeting, since we had never run with this sanction before and needed to be sure we were in the right place at the right time. We toured the track and were shown the departure spots and then were shown the measured mile.
Once in the pits and having chosen our spot, it was off to Registration for Nick and myself. Having dug out our AMA cards and presented the credentials we signed the entry forms and went on our way to Technical Inspection, otherwise known as “Scrutineering” on the salt.
Photos by Mike Dean
This is where the basic safety items are verified (tires, steering damper, safety-wired items, throttle returns, brake works, deadman’s kill provision), and more. This is also where the dimensional rules of each class are verified as well as registration numbers and rider’s safety gear. It is an involved process and I am proud to say that both our bikes went through on the first go.
Now it was back to the pits with the bikes, put everything away in the trailer for the night and off to the motel for a well-earned rest before getting back on the salt for the first days action.
For me, this was an event with a couple of special aspects. Joining us for part of the time was George and Mary Lulling. I have been friends with them since the late 1960’s and we have stood up at each other’s weddings (one each, I might add) and kept in loose contact since. It is the first race they have attended, as I recall, of ours since the early 1980’s. Another special attendee was Mike Dean. He is who I started working on motorcycles with at Klein-Dickert Honda in 1971. We were the new kids and were given our own room to work in. It was promptly nicknamed “The Zoo”. Hazing had a whole new meaning back then as sensitivity training involved testing how much pain you could tolerate when moving crated motorcycles. We began motocross racing together while at K-D, with me always struggling to keep Mike in sight. Mike moved on to the automotive field, becoming a multi-licensed ASE certified tech. He was also a stand-up guy at our wedding.
The next installments will day by day as there was a lot going on once we actually go down to racing.