The BonnePan's best view.
After waiting a good hour in the building heat I squeezed into my helmet and consulted with both Tiny and Tom Evans (Chief cycle Inspector for the SCTA in orange hat). They both suggested I "go like stink."
Finally on the line for the first time. The bike started on my first kick (it NEVER does that) which I thought was a good omen. Here the chief starter is giving me the green light. Here goes nothin...
"Is it over already?" I only raced her through the first set of lights at the 2 mile point. I did not think she was gaining anything and I had no 4the gear. The timing slip said 110. Back to the pits...
After working until dark on the transmission linkage (it was hanging up on the inner primary) and swapping out a 54 tooth sprocket for a 52 we called it a night. The pic above was taken the next morning at scrutineering. The bike seemed to attract a lot of fans through the week.
Practicing my speed tuck before my second run on day 2.
I'm ready to go. About now I would begin to focus on the run at hand. When to shift, what part of the salt to use, my tuck and things like that. Just trying to kill the nerves and kill the time.
Last minute suggestions from the starter "don't hurt yourself". He could sense some of the tension in my crew as the week went on as our "D" competition license target became more elusive, so he began to tell me "we are all here to have fun - no worries. Try to enjoy this." He was great at what he did and I appreciated the cool vibes especially when the bike stalled once on the line and needed some heavy wrenching to come back to life.
The '39 made an appearence out on the salt and became our pit bike.
At 8pm the salt is closed every night. Here we are cruising back to Wendover for a much needed shower and food.
Back at it in the early afternoon with a cleaned up undercarriage and clip-ons dropped to the max. Focus Focus Focus. This was the run I ended up doing 125, nabbing the "D" competition license - our goal! But the bike was acting funny - misfiring and stumbling at high RPM. The weather was THE WORST for fast runs - nearly 100 with the air density up near 75. If I went 125 in these conditions imagine what she would do in the cool morning air! We decided to go for one more run early the next morning even though the mag was on the fritz.
The flollowing morning before my final run. We did what we could to improve our ignition issues. The mag had vibrated so violently over the course of the week that it had stripped out the threaded mounting holes in the case! We did everything we could (Thanks Rick! Thanks Spider!) and ended up hard wiring the mag to the engine cases. Unfortunately this would only work for about 3/4 of a mile when the mag stopped firing above 2500rpm altogether. I pulled off the course at the 1 mile mark and shut her down. Too bad because the air was 30 degrees cooler then the day before and Rick and I had experimented with the main jets in the carb and were certain we found the magic set-up.
OK, here we go with the basics. We spent 5 days on the salt and managed to get the bike up to the line for 8 runs through the traps. The BonnePan's top speed was 124 and some change - fast enough to qualify me for my SCTA competition "D" license. The D license gives you the green light to race at speeds from 125-150MPH. A helluva an accomplishment for a 60 year old girl in my eyes.
This first year was a HUGE learning experience. Almost every factor of racing at Bonneville was twice as hard as I thought it would be. For instance taking a bike you poured thousands of dollars and hours into down the course at red line for 3 miles straight without flinching is not as easy as it sounds. You are timed at three points along those three miles and I found out that there is a strategy as to when and how long you max your tach.
After my first run I realized I was geared way too LOW - the opposite of most newbee's move. The bike ran 110 @ 6500 RPM with a 54 tooth rear sprocket and got up to max speed way before the 1 mile marker. so we knew we were too low. After Tiny and I made a change to a 52 tooth sprocket we ran 118 @ 6500 so we realized we were going in the right direction. To my dismay (did I just type dismay?) we soon found out my 46 tooth sprocket was left in northern Michigan during the build. We had it overnighted to the salt but it ended up getting lost in the mail... Top speed would have to be improved by other means.
After a couple of runs you become more aware of how big a hole you and your bike are punching through the atmosphere. All week long I improved my speed tuck with higher top speeds each time I became smaller in front view. I lowered my clip-ons, cleaned up wiring and messy bits under the bike to aid in making the bike slipperier. The challenge of improving your top speed by making small tweaks to you and your mount became SO addicting to me - the salt gets in your blood as they say and now I can't wait to return.
In the meantime there is the Maxton mile in October - the East Coast Timing Associations answer to Speed Week. The ZON BonnePan crew will be there!
For all of you that have been keeping up with this series of posts I thank you!
I'd also like to thank the following people who signed on to help me with this project, donate parts, give advice, repair old bits, find old bits or just inspired me to do this. These people are:
My Family who had no idea it had come to this but continued to support me with love, food and humor. 3 things no one should be without.
My Crew on the salt, Tiny, Spider and Rick. Never would have got anywhere without you guys.
My Crew at ACME Vintage, Brain, Jon and Tammy. Without this crew my Panhead would have been nothing more than a pile of nice new shiny parts. The week up north building the engine and the bike has become a very good memory for me. Between the food, the humor, and the help we all became friends (close one's I hope). I'd like to give a special shout to Jon who not only donated his talents and time but also his racing boots! I'll get them back to ya buddy I promise!
My Hometown Vintage Crew, Art Farley who donated time, advice and even some parts, Joe Gardella who just kept telling me I was nuts for trying this but helping me any way he possibly could anyways (I think he's now building a dual carb knuck for some LSR action, hmmmm....). Tipsy for everything Tipsy does including giving me the time to finish the bike and time to go to Bonnie - A true friend in every sense of the word. Last but not least Sleepy who although stuck in OZ was there in spirit every moment! You are a brother.
Gene Payne, who not only donated major portions of time but also some absolute key parts. Gene has also put a roof over my head and warm food in my belly at many vintage shows. Some of the best times of my recent life have been experienced with Gene and I sure do appreciate it immensely!
Dave P. (aka Harely Dave), who provided the truck, trailer and anything else I could possibly ask for. A genuine stand up guy in world full of fakes. Thanks for everything Dave!!!
Gary Depa, for the concours ready paint and body work. One of the best painters in the D, if you are looking for the best paint you can buy talk to Gary.
Jeff Willis, for the amazing frame work that insured the BonnePan tracked straight and true. If you want top shelf workmanship on your vintage bike/frame seek out Jeff. He is a master.
Ray Drea, for the killer gold stripes that everyone who sees the bike keeps commenting on! Thanks my friend! Looking forward to many more rides to Sturgis.
Shoe and CrazyD, for the hospitality and friendship you guys have poured over my head. Helping with the build by providing both parts, tools , beer , food, laughter and even a Flying A gas station shop to finish the bike in! I love you guys and cant wait to create our next adventure together!
Dwayne and Big Tony from FMC and beyond , for all the perfect metal work, welding, polishing , grinding and bending you have both helped me with over the years. You guys are absolutely good peeps and I am honored (and a little freaked out) to call you both my friends. I owe you both a ton...
Last and certainley not least to Matt and Dean from DICE Magazine for their support. One day I hope we all can meet face to face so I can thanks you guys properly.
To those I may have forgotten I WILL eventually remember and add you to this list I promise.