• QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING: BEST OF THE BEST!

    Cool temperatures fail to lower motorcycle fever at the Quail and keep Jim Palam from delivering this photo report.

    Low temperatures, brisk winds and overcast skies did nothing to dampen the spirits of over 3,000 visitors to the 2017 Quail Motorcycle Gathering on May 6 at the beautiful Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, CA.

    Gordon McCall, motorsports director for the Quail Lodge, was once again the perfect ringleader for this 9th Annual gathering. It featured over 300 rare and historic bikes, as well as a generous sampling of custom and modified rides from some of the rising stars in the motorcycle enthusiast’s expanding universe. GEICO Motorcycles presented the event.

    Jim Palam, our man (and Triumph rider) on the West Coast was up and out early to capture the action. The show was so good that he forgot to eat his complimentary gourmet lunch – but he did take a big bite of The Gathering’s tasty essence – yours now to enjoy.

    Taking the Design and Style Award was Simon Waterfall’s super-clean and serious ‘75 Moto Guzzi 850T, Top, rebadged as Supernaturale. Designed and built by Hugo Eccler of Untitled Motorcycles of San Francisco (pictured) the bike features a custom aluminum tank, advanced electronics and fingertip controls. Its overall brushed satin finish will intentionally age gracefully, developing an individualized patina from the way the rider handles the bike.

    What do you do if you have a beautiful old Triumph race tank? If you’re Californian Bryan Thompson you build the quintessential ‘58 Triumph Tiger from ground up, around the tank. So good is this build that this Black Beauty has been racking up a bounty of awards – including First Place in the Quail’s Custom/Modified category. Well-done Bryan!

    Chris Carter has become almost as famous as the spectacular motorcycles in his amazing All Things Two Wheels collection. So thanks Chris for bringing your gorgeous ‘14 Jefferson Board Track Racer to The Gathering. It took 2nd Place in the American category.

    Considered one of the most innovative motorcycles ever created, only 10 hand-crafted Britten V1000 superbikes were ever built. This Britten, #10, resides in the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, just a few blocks from my home. It belongs to the museum’s owner Virgil Elings and he proudly displayed it at The Gathering. Virgil’s son Jeff rode it up onto the winner’s ramp to accept the Significance in Racing Award.

    I met Richard Mitchell as he was rolling this meticulously customized BSA A65 Thunderbolt up to the Entrant’s Window late Friday afternoon. When Richard is not designing for Tesla, his passion is motorcycles. His beautiful creation went on to win 2nd Place in the Custom/Modified category.

    Ole #38 didn’t look like much when from a distance when I spotted owner Gary Landeen trying to kick-start her for a bevy of patient judges. On what was surely his last kick she fired up – and like the menacing roar of a Coliseum lion she fired up the crowd as well! This bike is the legendary Ed “Iron Man” Kretz’s Pre-War Big Base Indian Scout FDB 381 that competed successfully on a national level from 1941 through 1967. What a thrill to see and hear #38 roar at The Gathering!

    Two For The Road! If you’re a Motorhead you find beauty in design, function and performance. So forgive me if my heart beats a little faster when I take in the sexy symmetry of John Stein’s ‘70 Twin Motor BSA drag bike – bared for all to see in the Competition On Road Class.

    The 750 Sport was essentially a racier version of Ducati’s first big V-Twin, the 750GT. Its Goldenrod Yellow and black paint scheme and lean, aggressive styling made this Italian beauty really stand out from the crowd. Robert Jordon owns this stunning and pristine example.

    Wake Me Up Before You Goggo! The Hans Glas GMBH Company of Germany produced the Goggo Motorscooter in the 1950s. They were dependable and offered better performance than their Italian counterparts. They were however a bit pricier and few ever made it to the States. Harley and Deb Welch brought this nifty ‘55 Goggo 150 to The Gathering.

    And now for something different: The ‘76 Hercules W2000. Powered by an air-cooled, single-rotor Sachs-designed Wankel engine, it was manufactured in Germany. Innovative for sure, but criticized for its high cost, insufficient ground clearance and low performance. And of course, now, in high-demand by collectors! Congratulations to Stephan Haddad for the bike’s 2nd Place win in the Other European category.

    Words & photos by Jim Palam, http://www.jimpalam.com/

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  • INDYCAR: SO YOU WANT TO DRIVE THE INDY 500?

    We’ve suspected this for many years and now it’s official. The Indianapolis 500 is no longer a reasonable aspiration for most racing drivers, blogs Stephen Cox.

    Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) president Doug Boles was kind enough to talk with me briefly at the annual PRI trade show in Indy. I asked him what his plan was to increase the number of entries at the Indianapolis 500. His answer took me by surprise.

    “We grew up falling in love with the sport when you had that number of entries,” Boles said. “A lot of those entries were guys who sat around in December and said, ‘You know what? We’re going to build a car in our garage and we’re going to enter it at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500.’”

    “But first and foremost in my mind is just really safety. I don’t think it makes sense for us to get back to fifty or sixty cars just from a safety standpoint,” Boles continued. “I’d love to see fifty or sixty or seventy cars entering and guys just being able to decide that they have a driver who’s running at Putnamville and we’re going to give him a shot to run at the Speedway. I just don’t think it’s practical anymore.”

    Let that statement sink in. American short track drivers – who routinely filled the field until the 1980s – are now considered unsafe and incapable of running the Indy 500.

    Don’t ever go back to the speedway and expect to find the next A. J. Foyt or Parnelli Jones. There won’t be one. Nor will you ever see another Stan Fox or Rich Vogler claw their way up through the ranks and make it to Indy. For that matter, we’re also unlikely to ever see another Rick Mears or Robby Gordon. Those guys got to Indy through off-road desert racing, not Indycar’s current ladder system. They would likely be considered unsafe at the speedway today.

    Boles countered by saying, “We have the best on-track product that we’ve ever had in the history of the speedway with the last five years. The number of lead changes we have, the number of cars in the field that have a chance of winning it.”

    True, recent events have had a certain NASCAR-green-white-checkered-overtime excitement to them. However, this was not achieved by eliminating drivers of sprint cars, off-road trucks, midgets, late-models or amateur sports cars from the speedway. It was achieved – if indeed, this can be called an “achievement” at all – through regulation.

    More teams are in contention because everyone is forced to use the same spec car. The additional lead changes were artificially created through “push to pass” legislation and turbo boost mandates. Using this logic, even better races could be manufactured by enacting a rule disqualifying anyone who leads two consecutive laps, thus assuring 249 lead changes in every 500!

    The bottom line is this – SCCA drivers are welcome to compete at IMS in the Run Offs. SVRA drivers are welcome to Indy’s vintage event. Short track drivers are welcome to buy tickets and sit in Turn Three.

    But the speedway has no intention of enlarging the field past forty cars and creating space that could be filled by new drivers from other disciplines. That is bad news for thousands of very good racing drivers worldwide. And it is even worse news for the Indianapolis 500 itself, whose relevancy continues to fade.

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  • Jorge Lorenzo wants MotoGP race in India

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    MotoGP World Champion has said that he feels India deserves to host a MotoGP in the not too distant future. 

    Lorenzo flew to India to visit the Vicente Ferrer Foundation which is based in Anantapur. The foundation was formed by Spanish philanthropist Vicente Ferrer who spent his life working to improve the lives of the poor in the mission he founded in Southern India. Whilst out there, he took the chance to do some promotional work for Yamaha. 

    Lorenzo was on track at the Buddh International Circuit where he took 30 owners of Yamaha R3’s out on a very special track day. A competition was run in the summer to decide who would get to share the track with the World Champion, and Lorenzo spent the morning with the lucky winners before going to visit some projects from the charity in the afternoon.

    India has a recent issues with world motorsport. Both Formula One and World Superbikes had brief spells in India at the Buddh circuit, but political issues has hindered future events in both sports. There had been talk that India wanted to join MotoGP when a big shake up of the calendar is expected, and the Spaniard said he would love MotoGP to come to India.

    “This was my second visit here, not only in India but also at this track,” said that 28-year-old.

    “I have to do six laps, not in a row, but with stops to change the group. I was leading three groups on the track and it was difficult as it was wet. Therefore I left a margin for not crashing and just enjoyed the track. It is unbelievable as it is so modern, so wide and so long. I just had to take care of the ones following and make sure they stayed safe and just enjoy the moment.

    “I would love it if MotoGP came to India because the market is so huge and it could be very important for MotoGP! There is a lot of love for motorbikes here, as there are more bikes than cars in the cities. They are lovers of motorbikes but they don’t have a Grand Prix where they can appreciate the best motorcycle racing championship in the world.”

     

  • Adrian Newey and the bar-headed goose

    The April edition of Motorsport Magazine contains a fabulous F1 season preview from Mark Hughes, which includes the news that Adrian Newey has recently been taking a break in the Himalayas.

    Now, whilst it’s likely that the principal purpose of this expedition was to enlighten the Dalai Lama on the importance of using large-eddy simulation to understand the interaction of brake-duct winglets with the spat vortex, it’s also possible that Adrian was drawn by the legendary bi-annual migration of the bar-headed goose.

    These birds are amongst the highest-flying in the world, and travel across the Himalayas in a single day. William Bryant Logan claims in Air: Restless Shaper of the World (2012), that “the bar-headed goose has been recorded at altitudes of over thirty-three thousand feet. This is the altitude where your pilot remarks that the outside temperature is 40 degrees below zero, where the great fast-flowing rivers of the jet streams set weather systems spinning. The air here contains only one-fifth of the oxygen near sea-level, where the goose winters in lowland India wetlands and marshes. Yet in the space of a few hours the bird can fly from the wetlands to the top of the high peaks and then out onto the world’s largest high plateau. There are lower passes through the mountains, but the goose does not take them. It may even preferentially go higher.”
    However, research led by Bangor University tracked the bar-headed geese with GPS as they migrated over the Himalayas, and reached the following conclusion in 2011:

    “Data reveal that they do not normally fly higher than 6,300 m elevation, flying through the Himalayan passes rather than over the peaks of the mountains…It has also been long believed that bar-headed geese use jet stream tail winds to facilitate their flight across the Himalaya. Surprisingly, latest research has shown that despite the prevalence of predictable tail winds that blow up the Himalayas (in the same direction of travel as the geese), bar-headed geese spurn the winds, waiting for them to die down overnight, when they then undertake the greatest rates of climbing flight ever recorded for a bird, and sustain these climbs rates for hours on end.”

    Furthermore, The roller-coaster flight strategy of bar-headed geese conserves energy during Himalayan migration, (Science, 2015), suggests that “geese opt repeatedly to shed hard-won altitude only subsequently to regain height later in the same flight. An example of this tactic can be seen in a 15.2-hour section of a 17-hour flight in which, after an initial climb to 3200 m, the goose followed an undulating profile involving a total ascent of 6340 m with a total descent of 4950 m for a net altitude gain of only 1390 m. Revealingly, calculations show that steadily ascending in a straight line would have increased the journey cost by around 8%. As even horizontal flapping flight is relatively expensive, the increase in energy consumption due to occasional climbs is not as important as the effect of reducing the general costs of flying by seeking higher-density air at lower altitudes.

    “When traversing mountainous areas, a terrain tracking strategy or flying in the cool of the night can reduce the cost of flight in bar-headed geese through exposure to higher air density. Ground-hugging flight may also confer additional advantages including maximizing the potential of any available updrafts of air, reduced exposure to crosswinds and headwinds, greater safety through improved ground visibility, and increased landing opportunities. The atmospheric challenges encountered at the very highest altitudes, coupled with the need for near-maximal physical performance in such conditions, likely explains why bar-headed geese rarely fly close to their altitude ceiling, typically remaining below 6000 m.”

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