This year looked like it was going to really start out on the right foot. Gregg Spears of Spears Enterprises finished building my new motor in early January- well in advance of the race season. I really can’t express just how impressed I am with Gregg’s professionalism and attention to detail. He took the time to answer all my questions, create a detailed line item quote and took pictures of the build along the way so I could see how everything came together. I know I really shouldn’t be impressed when someone does the job right the first time, but it was a breath of fresh air after all the motor troubles I’ve had recently.
I was also able to work out a deal with John Stark of Stark Fabrication to redesign and build a new improved motor mount. The original prototype had a number of problems with its design that I wanted to fix and they were able to resolve all those issues and in the end I received a new mount which looked like it came off a factory race bike!
Building the new motor mount took longer then we expected due to some fitment issues related to my custom exhaust, but John and Ed at Stark Fabrication took the time to make sure it was done right which was fine by me. While that was going on, I had new Speedymoto rear set mounts welded onto the frame by the great guys at Pega Precision. I then took the time to cut/grind off various tabs on the frame which are no longer needed so it looks really clean. Finally, I had the entire frame powder coated yellow to better match the paint scheme of the bodywork and I installed new steering head races and went through the bike cleaning and properly lubricating everything. Whew!
Of course, I made sure to get my suspension serviced by Catalyst Reaction, installed new Woodcraft rear sets, Galfer brake pads and lines- including a custom line for my new rear thumb brake:
I ended up going with a thumb brake this year because when I switched to the Woodcraft rear sets I lost the rear brake (due to how the brake lever & master cylinder are mounted on the Ducati). As you may remember, I had clearance issues with my old “custom” rear sets & brake lever, so this combination solves my problems and looks great too!
Finally, just before the first round of the AFM season, I was able to get everything assembled and ready to tune the motor on Spears’ dyno. Unfortunately, we didn’t count on electrical problems with throttle bodies causing the motor to not run properly and Gregg wasn’t comfortable trying to tune it while it was in this funky state. I ended up taking the bike home to diagnose the issue and determined I had a bad Power Commander. Unfortunately, by the time I got a new Power Commander, it was too late to tune the bike for Round 1. :(
Fast forward a month and bike has been tuned and it’s ready to go for Round 2 at Sonoma Raceway which is also a Pro-Am event run with John Ulrich’s Superbike Shootout! Sadly, while I attended the event, the closest I got to the action was the grandstands and hanging out with my friends in the pits. I learned just a few days before the races from Dr. Ting that an injury I sustained a few weeks ago to my left hand had not yet healed and riding would likely cause further damage and increase the time it takes to fully heal. I talked it over with a number of my sponsors and I’m happy to say that they all fully supported me taking the time to get healthy before jumping back out on track. Even though I was sidelined, it was an amazing weekend with lots of great racing, a large crowd and tons of vendors who came out for the event. The paddock was literally packed full of racers and vendors!
My hand just after tearing the tendon in my middle finger:
So while I’m beyond disappointed that I’ve missed the first two rounds again this year, I still can’t help but be optimistic about the rest of the year. At this point last year, my motor had blown up three times on the dyno and so I’m far ahead of the curve. While I haven’t been able to ride yet this year, I’m still training with Integrate Performance and working on my fitness so I’ll be ready to go once my hand heals up. At this point, things are looking good for me to be ready for Round 3 at then end of the month and I can’t wait!