For the first time in recent memory, I didn’t pack the bikes up in the rain. In fact, the weather was unseasonably gorgeous and as I rolled through Franconia Notch; taking in the warm air and fall colors, I decided that I’d have to get on the track Friday after all.
The 5th Annual TT & F1 Symposium was wrapped around a LRRS race weekend and would honor the memory of the late Jimmy Adamo with a display of two of his TTs, the final incarnation of the mighty bevel racer and the Cagiva GP bike as well as a commemorative race in the twins class. The Penguin Race School offered an opportunity for me to get out on the DB1 and learn the NHMS course on Friday.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was just happy to be able to be there, given the crazy summer season I’ve had. Packing my track gear was almost an afterthought and frankly, I was just looking forward to some time off to chill with the crowd for three days. No laptop, no cel phone – just a guy with a couple of old Pantah-based track bikes.
And that’s pretty much how it worked out.
Lou Saif, Mike Weber, Ralf Stechow and the crew had done all the heavy lifting this year; Mike having scored a couple of garages (including #26) and Seth Wollins sprung for a big tent along the entire length of the outside wall. Ralph brought Jimmy's Cagiva GP bike that he completed last year and just finished the restoration of the final incarnation of the Leoni/Adamo bevel racer in time for the event. Lou barely got the two Leoni/Adamo TTs complete enough to roll into the trailer. Bill Swensen brought the rolling chassis that will eventually become Jimmy’s 851. Enzo Assainte brought an amazing collection of Adamo/Leoni memorabilia and a collection of period videos that would run throughout the event.
Lou Saif’s factory Ducati TT1
Mark Curtin’s Romanelli TT2
Mark Curtin’s ex-Dr. Keifer Harris TT
Seth Wollins’ ex-Dr. Keifer Harris TT
Seth Wollins’ Lou Saif NCR TT1 Replica
Mike Weber’s Harris TT1
Mike Weber’s Ducati TT1 Replica (barely completed in time)
Mike Vogt’s Ducati 900-based TT1 Special (all the way from Oregon)
Scott Kearny’s Ducati TT2 replica
Jenya’s Ex-Bruce Meyers Ducati TT2
George Vincensi’s Ducati Bevel Twin Racer
Ron Spordone’s Ducati Bevel Twin Racers
Steve D’Angelo’s (stunning) Moretti-framed Ducati 350 Racer
Brian O’Shea’s ex-Cooley Suzuki
Brian O’Shea’s ex-Shobert VFR
A gorgeous F1A and a pair of
Dennis Sandrock' s 1991 Ducati 851
Enzo Assainte's 1994 888spo
…and my Ducati TT1 Replica and Bimota DB1 Special
And the P89 racers were pitted adjacent to the Adamo area:
Richie Paxson’s Ducati 750F1 (he’s been racing it since ‘88)
Chris Jenson’s Ducati 750 F1 (ditto)
Bill Swenson’s Harris TT2 (a multi-championship winning bike)
Bill Swenson’s Ducati 750 F1 (raced by Robbie Nigl)
Mike Dube’s Meyers prepped Ducati TT2
Arriving at this even is always great; hugs, laughs and lining up the the bikes while visiting with the group I only see once or twice a year. it's really a homecoming. We spend the year on the phone, trading emails and gathering on the TT & F1 Forum to build these machines, but when we get together I'm always suprised by how little time we actually spend talking about them.
So, I registered for the Advanced Class with Penguin and took a gamble on running the DB1 with the open exhaust Friday AM. While Eric Wood does a phenomenal job with the Advanced curriculum, it was geared more toward riders who know where the track goes and I was hopelessly lost. I simply needed laps, not a discussion on body position or the best line through a given corner. Don't get me wrong, Eric does an outstanding iand I learned some cool stuff.. This was really apparent during one of the track walks.. We were in the bowl – which is at the bottom of a hill and exits through a nice sweep over a blind crest. As I stood with the class at the bottom of the hill and what I wanted at that moment was to know what was over the top of the crest. So eventually I walked up to see that it led to a nice, tight, blind down-hill left. And so it went. Waiting on the hot-pit in my 3rd session, the DB1 suddenly started running funny – just like a switch was thrown. In the back of my mind I thought “a carb came loose” as I limped the bike back to our tent and pulled off the bodywork. Sure enough.. It's a bumpy track.
I skipped the rest of the classroom sessions so I could hang out with the TT gang and focused on breaking the track into manageable chunks so I could have some fun. I like it – in the way you like swimming in rapids if the weather’s hot enough and there isn’t a nice, calm lake around. And as a bonus, the DB1 with the open pipe only received compliments on the sound. A few clicks on the rear shock and an adjustment in my body position had the bumpy surface in check and the DB1 was a riot to ride fast. I’m really warming up to that bike.
What’s interesting about all this is that what NHMS lacks in terms of track surface, it more than makes up for with excellent facilities and great people. With rumors circulating about our days on the big track at Mosport being numbered, the 6 hour trip to go hang out with the always welcoming Northeast gang and ride a decent track starts to look pretty attractive. I’ll be back.
But, for an event focused on light, loud, fast and gorgeous Pantahs this Symposium was incredibly people-focused. With the Jimmy Adamo Memorial ceremony - Adamo Replica helmets presented to Jaime and Dainelle, the Lifetime achievement awards to Pat Slinn & Reno Leoni, Pat's birthday cake, the Jimmy Adamo Memorial Race and the trophies for top Amature and Expert P89 racers, the bikes took a backseat to the people around them. Carlo Leoncini came over from Italy with his wife Antonella took Bill Swensen’s Harris TT out in practice.
Lots of great memories: Watching Jane, Richie, Chris, Bill, Mike, and Robbie do battle on the twins..
Stumbling into a group of racers huddled around another racer who launched into a full-blown TV caliber weather forecast (he was indeed the local TV weatherman), Mike Vogt talking me through his Fiat Abarth scrap book, meeting Enzo Assainte in person after years of email, getting to know '70s superbike collector Brian O'Shea (he brought Wes Cooley's Suzuki and Bubba Shobert's VFR), hanging with Pat, Reno, Carlo & Antonella and the entire Northeast gang that I only see once or twice a year, meeting Jimmy's daughters. We were up talking ‘till Weber kicked us out every night at 12:30 (he was sleeping outside the display every night in his van).
A herculean effort by Mike W & Lou with lots of help from Ralf, Jane and a host of others. And a great way to honor the memory ofa great racer
We always wonder how we’ll top the next year – and Lou always says “never again”.
But we always come back.