Mosport (CTMP) has been creating entertainment for as long as I have been alive. This year’s VRRA Vintage Festival Aug.5-8, 2022 was no exception.
This blog is from a personal point of view but revolves around everything that happened to us as a team.
Heather and I left Alexandria, ON with the team trailer on Wednesday afternoon. We were off for the Riders Choice track day on Thursday so it gave us a full four days of riding and racing action.
We were just five minutes onto the 401 and a tire blew up. The toy hauler was heavily loaded with two bikes, sidecar, tools, spares, food, gear etc. and we were in the passing lane at the time. I got it shut down and back to the right without incident but installing a spare next to the live lane on the 401 is not a fun gig. Meanwhile, Heather located tires and we headed back home and over to Glengarry Tire in Glen Robertson. Kudos to a great team there. They replaced four tires and changed our spare in less than one hour. We went with 14-ply equipment trailer tires that should last for many more trips to the track. We only lost two hours total.
On Thursday, I rode Heather’s Ninja 650R twin for the track day. It’s a budget bike with bare-bones suspension and a perky little twin that has a good amount of torque. I think you could actually turn a very decent lap time without ever changing a gear. It’s just a solid fun bike.
It rained early in the day and I didn’t go out in the first session because the track was drying. After that, I got in some great sessions until 2:30 pm when someone went off in Turn 10. Their bike exhaust caught the protective straw bales on fire which in turn caught the rubber tire wall on fire. Alternate colours of thick grey and thick black smoke rolled towards the control tower as corner workers tried their best with very inadequate fire extinguishers. It was at least 15 or 20 minutes before any support equipment arrived and even then the efforts to control the fire were almost comedic. It’s surprising that, at a track of this calibre, there isn’t a better response system in place.
The track day was cut short. If they didn’t have staff to respond to an emergency, I guess it’s no surprise that they wouldn’t have anyone available to replace a few straw bales. It was quite disappointing as it turned out to be a beautiful day.
On Friday morning Heather had to leave. She was driving six hours north to attend an aunt’s funeral. She really didn’t want to go as she is a key member of the team, but death is never convenient. However, it did give her a chance to visit with family.
Friday is always practice day and Jen and I planned to run The Real McCoy race team’s beautiful YZF750 in the endurance race along with team owner Mark McCoy.
The day got busy. We were practicing as a team on the Razorback Racing sidecar and then swapping out and taking turns doing sessions with the YZF750. It was Jen’s first time on that bike but she looked totally comfortable and was turning in really decent lap times.
Unfortunately, at the start of her second session, she got tagged from behind by an inattentive rider. I say inattentive but mean so much more. I didn’t see the incident but the whole thing was unnecessary.
#1 It was a Friday practice session – not a race or even a qualifier.
#2 There was lots of room on the track and the situations for close contact that sometimes occur in a racing situation were just not there.
#3 It’s totally up to the overtaking rider to make the safe and competent pass. I just don’t believe there was a good reason for her getting hit from the back.
She went down and slid, the bike being on top of her leg for a while as far as we can figure. She sustained massive bruising on her right leg and three broken bones in her left wrist. Something (maybe a foot peg) chewed through her boot and did minor damage to her foot. Happily, she was wearing an air vest loaned to her by Mark McCoy. It probably prevented a lot of additional injuries. Her helmet, suit and boots will all have to be replaced. Sadly, Jen was out of the action for the rest of the weekend.
The YZF750 was quite damaged also and wouldn’t be back on track. After doing what we could to see Jen comfortable, we deliberated on our upcoming endurance race.
Back in the pits, Rob (The Real McCoy team support) repacked the air vest and installed a new gas cartridge. I had never used one before but, after seeing how effective it was saving Jen from additional injury, I asked to use it in the upcoming endurance race.
Mark then offered The Real McCoy’s Suzuki GS1100 as a backup endurance bike. I asked Tim Joyce to join me, riding the second half of the race. Tim has a lifelong history of winning championships in both the US and Canada in many different motorcycle classes and can just throw a leg over anything and make it go fast.
Now the big GS1100 is a bit of a handful. The engine has massive torque and horsepower and can reach 240-250kph up the back straight at Mosport. However, because of the older tube-style frame, it is not so agile in the corners. You have to slow it down to get through at speed. The frame designs of that era are nowhere as strong and well designed as modern ones. It also has to fight against the excellent traction of the slicks. It’s a bit alarming to anyone following through a corner because they see so much movement that isn’t linear. The twisting in the frame is quite noticeable. As a rider, I just got used to it and rode it at a manageable pace through the corners and tried to make up time on the straights. It’s a fun bike to ride but it is not restful. There’s always something going on down there.
At about 30 minutes into the race, I was having an interesting duel with Andrew Cooney. Andrew is an amazing new talent who just started this year and is having great success. He rides a Ninja 400 very well and was railing around me once or twice a lap in the corners. It was kind of embarrassing but, as I explained earlier, the GS1100 is NOT a good cornering bike! I would pass him on the straight stretches and we’d do it all over again.
After four or five laps of this, something very unplanned occured. Andrew was following and has good quality video so we can plainly see what happened.
As on every other previous lap, I came up the back straight in 5th at full speed, let off going under the bridge, no brakes, just blipping the throttle, clicking it down into 4th and tipping it into the very high speed Turn 8.
The video shows oil and tire smoke just as I entered under the bridge. We think that the transmission somehow locked up. There is a short space with no smoke and no tire mark. That is where I down-shifted. Then the oil smoke and tire mark reappear again. I turned in to Turn 8 at 200 kph not knowing the rear tire was totally locked up.
I felt the back end going out to the left and my first thought was “Oh this is not good”. Then all of a sudden, it felt like I was riding a twin turbo, nitrous injected, mechanical bull that was doing all sorts of crazy stuff I couldn’t control.
I did not like that feeling.
My next thought was to tuck (I’ve had a bit of crash experience) and after that I thought “OOH I hope this air vest works”.
Then there was too much to process – my brain just couldn’t keep up. I was tumbling and waiting for that horrible grinding thud of my head and helmet hitting hard against the asphalt. To my surprise, it didn’t happen.
Then I’m thinking/hoping “this is the last tumble…noooo, maybe this is it. Nope! One more aaaaannnnddd, yep, just one more”. After six, eight or 10 times, it finally stopped.
At one point in the video, the bike goes over me and it gets very dusty. Watching it made me think of the old style cartoon fight scene with the big dust cloud and random fists and parts sticking out all around the edges.
I stood up, oriented myself, found the wall and walked to it, eager to get out of the impact zone. Other than a sore ankle, I seemed to have survived rather well.
The bike? Well, not so much. It started out doing lateral circles and then switched to end over ends. The front end snapped off and went another direction. Seat, tank and miscellaneous parts were strewn every which way. It was a very sad sight.
Somehow, in the space of four short hours, the Razorback Racing team had managed to wreck the entire bike lineup of McCoy Motorcycles. We also used, repacked and re-used the Hit-Air RS1 race vest twice in the same amount of time. And finally, we had ruined the riding weekend of owner Mark McCoy who now had no race bikes left for Saturday and Sunday. Quite an accomplishment and not one of which we were proud.
Just a word about the Hit-Air vest. It was the first time either Jen or I had used one. Both times it went off successfully and almost certainly saved us from head and thoracic injury. The collar poofs up like a vampire suit and reduces the chances of the rider’s helmet smashing into the ground or asphalt. After the crash, our track doctor took a look at my helmet and approved it for use immediately. That’s because there was not a scratch on it – at least the shell part. The visor had a couple of minor ones on the side.
Both Jen and I are quite impressed with the vest and would highly recommend it. I never intended to use it but, then again, I never intended on crashing. It’s not going to work for us as a team on the sidecar because of all the dynamic movement involved. It uses a static line to deploy it and Jen’s would go off before Turn One. We’ll have to find another solution, or just avoid crashing. Ya, that’s the best idea.
Terrifying Taxi, the team racing sidecar, was still in one piece and ready for Saturday and Sunday’s racing action. The only problem was that Jen was now not able to ride and I wasn’t exactly in tip-top shape with some bruising on the left side and left ankle area. However, Dr. Steve had cleared me so I thought “ just suck it up, get on and ride”. It’s a different riding position compared to the bike so luckily I didn’t have to constantly put pressure on my damaged body parts. I tried a few laps shifting gears with the bruised ankle and it was doable. Of course, we had to give it a go.
I was amazed at how many people offered to ride once they heard Jen was out for the rest of the weekend. There were definitely eight or ten but Jamie Richardson was one of the first and I was happy to have him on board. Jamie had ridden with Leslie Skinner at our Shannonville round. He hadn’t had any experience on an P2 outfit like ours and quickly found out it was a little more work than the P3 he had ridden before. He adapted very well, considering he got thrown in at the deep end.
Heather came back on Saturday evening and brought Ben with her. It was nice to have the complete team together in one place. It doesn’t happen often.
We did OK in the qualifier on Saturday, finishing 4th. We are fighting some carburetion issues that continue to plague us.
Sunday’s race was also fun for a short while. We started and stayed 4th and we’re having a good battle with two other teams when a broken/blown fuse to our fuel pump cut the race short and left Jamie and I watching from the inside of Turn 2.
We’ll get the problems all sorted and go at it again – Shannonville on Labour Day weekend.
I’ve promised Mark I won’t touch his bikes.