Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Interview: Eddie Mulder, Racing Legend

[Slow Connection? Click to view the YouTube version.]

This year marked the 86th running of the "Race to the Clouds." We travelled to Colorado Springs to produce a series of video podcasts that would capture the buzz of this unique and exciting event.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) is the second oldest motor sports race in America. This annual automobile and motorcycle hill-climb, also known as The Race to the Clouds, starts at 9,390 feet and ends at the 14,110 foot summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado. The course covers a distance of 12.42 miles on paved and dirt/gravel sections. Racers must negotiate 156 turns -- many of which are lack guard rails -- as they climb nearly 5000 ft to the finish line.

The air density thins as racers approach the summits, slowing both man and machine. The reduced oxygen level robs engines of 30% of their power at the summit, and slows reflexes and strength of the participants.

I spoke with Hall of Famer Eddie Mulder in the first episode of this series. Eddie is one of the most colorful racing legends I've been able to kick back and chat with. Eddie was a leading TT Steeplechase and desert racer of the 1960s, and he's been racing for five decades. We talked about his early days as a dirt racer, his work as a stunt double for Clint Eastwood, and about his uncertainty in racing PPIHC because of altitude-related health problems he experienced last year.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Interview: Team MAX BMW at PPIHC

[Slow Connection? Click to view the YouTube version.]

The 86th running of the “Race to the Clouds” took place in Colorado Springs on Sunday, July 20, 2008. Hundreds of competitors on motorcycles, quads, sidecars, cars and trucks raced to the 14,110 foot summit in this event.

BMW Motorrad Motorsport sent a factory team to participate at the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) last year. The five-rider team of Gary Trachy, Casey Yarrow, Micky Dymond, Greg Tracy and Markus Barth secured the top five 1200cc class positions on the HP2 Megamoto.

For 2008, BMW Motorrad Motorsport decided not to participate. TEAM MAX BMW took matters into their own hands. MAX BMW principal Max Stratton and his brother Ben, along with two customers, decided to take on the PPIHC themselves. We interviewed this grass roots team of dedicated riders at one of the early morning practice sessions.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Interview: Alan Heffernan, Desert Racer

Alan Heffernan is primarily a desert racer, but he has been competing in the Pikes Peak International Hill climb the past two years. Last year he came with Faulkner Livingston Racing. This year he came on his own, armed with a 1997 CR500, which has been grandfathered into the 450 Class. “It’s like bringing a gun to knife fight,” explains Heffernan. This analogy is especially spot-on when he talks about his secret weapon: Holtzman Engineering’s innovative carburetor compensator, used to combat the horsepower-robbing effects of altitude.

What’s next for Heffernan after Pikes Peak? A little vacation, and then he’ll return to Costa Rica to do a little surfing and fishing. Heffernan runs a motorcycle and surf camp in Costa Rica during the winter months. Then he will begin preparing for the Baja 1000.

As you will learn in Girl Wonder’s video interview, his “vacation” will likely include a few cold compresses to help him recover from the race.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Interview: Richard Harrison, Race Engineer, ATK Supermoto

[Slow Connection? Click to view the YouTube version.]

The AMA Supermoto Championship series has been dominated by Japanese and European four-stroke motorcycles. There is a notable new player on the track this year -- actually a remarkable manufacturer with a tremendous winning tradition.

ATK, the only remaining off-road motorcycle manufacturer in the United States has added a new flavor to the manufacturer's mix. ATK likes to do things a little differently.

In this video podcast, we spoke with Race Engineer at the July 5th AMA Supermoto opener in Monroe Washington about ATK’s supermoto racing endeavor.

They are running big 700cc two-strokes in the unlimited class. And they happen to be the only two-strokes out there. ATK also have some very interesting light-weight four-strokes whose fuel and timing settings can programmed on the fly, with a laptop. Richard Harrison shared a lot of interesting information about the ATK motorcycles in this interview.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Interview: David Joy, Troy Lee Designs Honda Supermoto Team

[Slow Connection? Click to view the YouTube version.]

Mechanics and support technicians are the behind the scenes forces rarely seen by supermoto racing fans. These mechanics and technicians are more than just wrench spinners. They work closely with the rider, tweaking an infinite number of details so that throttle response, power delivery, and handling are matched to the racer's needs.

In this video podcast, I spoke with David Joy, a mechanic with the Troy Lee Designs, Red Bull, Honda, Supermoto Team.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Interview: Chuck Graves, of Team Graves Yamaha Supermoto Crew

[Slow Connection? Click to view the YouTube version.]

Supermoto is a sport that combines several different type of motorcycle racing into one very demanding, very competitive motor-sport. The courses are part asphalt, part dirt, with whoops, jumps and a bunch of right and left hand turns thrown in to make things interesting.

Supermoto racing has a relatively inexpensive price of entry for those looking to try a two-wheeled, go fast sport. This makes Supermoto accessible, with some racers operating their pit from a the back of a pickup truck. Other racers are sponsored by KTM, Troy Lee Designs, Honda and Yamaha. Despite the demands and competition that this hybrid form of racing put on a rider, the atmosphere is friendly. I ran into Chuck Graves who regularly makes the rounds to offer his experience and advice to other riders.

I spoke with Chuck Graves about Supermoto racing as part of my next series of video podcasts. Chuck is head of Team Graves Yamaha Supermoto Crew, as well as President of Graves Motorsports in Van Nuys, California. I caught up with Chuck at the XTRM / AMA Supermoto Championship in Monroe, Washington.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Profiles in Vintage Racing: Keith Speir

Keith Speir grew up with a passion for motocross and desert racing. His father wanted him to ride flat track, but Keith wasn't interested at that time. Keith's father died at a fairly young age due to a heart attack. He was only 50 years old.

A number of years later, perhaps fueled by a bit of nostalgia, Keith was browsing through a Cycle Trader magazine and spotted a Triumph 500 flat-tracker racer for sale. He drove over to the sellers house and bought it. The seller asked Keith if he was going to race at Ventura that weekend? "Ventura," Keith asked?

The seller told Keith about a vintage flat track race taking place at Ventura raceway. Ventura was close to where Keith lives, so he showed up and placed third -- catching the attention of Eddie Mulder. Eddie is known for being a mentor to many riders over the years, and he took a liking to the 48 year old first-time flat tracker.

And that is what this month's webisode is about; racing, mentoring, and the vintage connection.