Guest post from Pacific North West/Vintage 250 racer, Todd Marella.
Two weeks since, two races at Castle Rock, and seemingly, just like that we’re headed to Spokane, in neighbouring Washington, for sunshine and that cushion track magic. It’s all of five hours to drive there from Portland, and they’re having an early practice session from 10:00 to noon. For us to make that, we’ve scheduled a 5:00am leaving time, meeting at the Cycle Heap at 4:30 to load. The squad of vintage 250 riders is as big as we’ve amassed since 2019. Chris (@theironsociety) on his Panther framed Bultaco, Erick (@ethnic_foodwrap_aficionado) on his Ossa Stiletto, yours truly with the green machine, Yamaha MX250 (as featured in Sideburn 45), and Korry (@k_fitzpatrick_) with his Champion-framed MX250 (Sideburn 41 cover bike) will bring a class to Spokane. Nothing classy, just enough riders to have our own class.
It’s 2:06 in the morning, and after a bit of a dog fight to get the motor reassembled with the fresh top end courtesy of local engineer, the Bore Lord, Korry started the bike and the two of us called it a night to get those precious two hours of sleep before our meet time to load up and leave.
Sleep deprivation is low on the list of things you want to bring on a long trip to go racing. Korry and I had that in the top of our bags. After keeping Erick waiting for a spell, the two vans set out loaded up with bikes, gear, and gas for some cushion racing with pals.
The ride was beautiful, rife with expansive vistas reminiscent of a John Houston film, and the sounds of The Clash and Joe Strummer’s later music. Korry indulged me on the trip out.
'Four Horsemen' is the second track on the last side of 'London Calling'. It’s a nod to the biblical reference in the book of Revelations, but more importantly a lampoon of themselves, and an attempt to take the piss out of their imposed grandiosity as a band, and provide a little relief to the heavy apocalyptic tone of the album. I chose it for the title of this post, well, because there were four of us, and if ever there was a foursome of goofballs lampooning themselves non-stop, it would be us.
Our late start gave us very little of the remaining early practice time to spin some much needed and appreciated laps on the loose stuff. It felt great, even though I’d sacrificed the chain links needed so that Korry could run a big enough sprocket to run at Spokane. Thus, I had the pleasure of shifting four times per lap to get around. It was my pleasure, and would do it again if it meant my friend could race because of it.
As it turned out, my little four-link section of chain turned out to be the lease of Korry’s worries. Another sheared Woodruff key, and through a trip to the auto parts store for lapping compound, a new key that could be filed to fit the keyway, and the assistance of Aaron (aaronshelton84), Korry was optimistic about getting back out in time for mains. Ultimately, his problems with his clutch kept that from happening. He’ll be ready next race.
We all signed up for two classes: Vintage Two-stroke and Vintage Open. The latter, a mix of unlimited displacement bikes built to go fast ridden by folks who’ve been doing it for quite a while, and doing it well. Heat races went well, with Chris besting me in the two strokes, and a host of riders putting us back in the pack. We all had a blast just being out there.
Main events went well, with Chris taking the first place ribbon, 73Q in second, and unfortunately for Burrito, he got nosed out by Robert Trono aboard his works ’74 Noguchi YZ125.
After the races, stories flowed like water, as did the wobblies, and we were treated to some lovely chick quarters on the BBQ with peppers and squash, grilled up by our boy Korry. Our time at the track was a good one, as the weather was perfect, the acquaintances old and new were a treat, and heck, we got to race flat track with our pals. Perhaps the biggest bonus from the trip, is Erick’s renewed excitement over dirt track racing, and his declaration of intent to take the Stiletto back to MX setup, and get a proper dirt tracker together for next race.
We’re getting the band back together, and the four horsemen ride again!
The ride back was long, as I offered to drive, and my sleep deprivation caught up to me. Alas, fuelled by a giant cup of coffee and 16 oz. can of Bang”energy drink (please don’t make me explain), I was as alert as a speed freak on the 4th of July. We ended our weekend with a bit of a scowl on our faces, as rainy grey skies blanketed Portland. How fitting.
Castle Rock is running two weeks from now. See you at the track.
Your author, Todd Marella. In the background is the pit of Evil Hours racing, who we also feature in Sideburn 45.