Bill Anderson: The El Mirage Season Opener

Waiting to run.
Normally when May comes around and The El Mirage season is about to start I am fired up, itching to run as fast as I can.  This year was slightly different.   Having two 500 records at El Mirage I was wanting to change classes.  I got the idea of opening up the Weslake to be able to run in the 650 class.  SCTA rules state that whatever class you run in your engine has to be bigger than the maximum allowed for the class below you.  So you can't run a 500 in the 650 class.  I found a GM piston that was dimensionally the same as the Weslake piston but 3.4mm larger in diameter.  This would give me 546 cc and keep me legal.  I got a Weslake cylinder and bored it out to 90mm.  This left me looking at a cylinder with not a lot of meat on it.  The dreaded words cylinder warping started racing around my head.  So with that preface I headed off to El Mirage with more than my share of trepidation.

Jill Iverson's beautiful little 600 Indian.

El Mirage is one of those places that as soon as you pull onto the lakebed you know you are somewhere special.   It was a beautiful, cloudless, warm morning.  Got through tech without any problems and none were expected.  As I didn't run the last two meets at El Mirage last year due to the fact I was broke after Bonneville.my start number was pretty high.  Start positions are determined by points from the previous meet.  It was near the end of the first round when I got to run.  By that time the course was pretty chewed up.  But I really wasn't bothered by that.  My plan was to use the meet to break in the engine.  As my Dad used to tell me "When you build an engine with all new parts you have to give those parts time to get to know each other".  Very true words when you think about it.

Shinya's Knuck with some aluminum streamlining.
 El Mirage has four lanes for their line up.  You get to the start line and you wait for others to run and then its your turn.  Stand and wait and suddenly the starter looks at you and says you go after the next car (or bike).  Helmet on, into the sidecar, hook up the deadman, a last few thoughts on everything and next thing the starter gives you the start signal.  The engine fired immediately and I took a minute to let it warm.  You get the visor down sign and you are off.  As I said I was using this meet as an engine  break in meet.  I "rambled" up the lakebed.  It was pretty badly chewed up  I was listening for any strange sounds or the feel of the piston tightening in the bore.  None of that happened and I ambled through the lights at 93 mph. 

Len Jones' 600 Buell sidecar. Set 650 SC/PG record at 117 mph.
 While waiting for the second round to be called I was checking over the sidecar and I noticed a looseness in the handlebars.  A quick look and I saw the pivot rod had come loose.  As its buried under things there was no easy fix and I decided to call it a day.  I was happy with the engine and that was the main concern.  We'll be ready to do some serious racing in June!

Loaded and ready to go.
 Here are a few photos of the bikes there.  Only a fraction as I find trying to race and take photos more difficult than building an engine. A big thank you to my fellow Redliners for their support.

Dave Iverson's Knuck.

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