Motorcycle race preparation: 2 amazing steps forward. 3 angry steps back.

The last blog post about motorcycle race preparation was pretty full, announcing my return, talking about building the bike, getting my race license, and blowing my engine at a track day.

Well, the drama continues, or history repeats itself or something like that.

First, though, I want to mention how truly thankful I am for all of you who’ve sponsored this effort. I appreciate everything you do for me, and hope that you find value in what I try to give in return.

Motorcycle race preparation – the bike

Now, back to our regularly scheduled motorcycle race preparation recap. I got the new (to me) engine installed in the motorcycle, and everything seemed good. It started, ran, revved, and went through the gears. In the interest of not racing a completely untested engine, I booked a track day at Jennings GP. Notably, that’s the same track where I took race licensing school and blew the engine, but it seemed to be the only track day I could find that fit into my schedule.

Motorcycle race preparation – track time

When I went out for the first session, everything seemed good. The engine ran fine, and in spite of the cold, I was feeling good. The tires were sticking and everything seemed all right. I had to modify a couple shift points due to some slight differences in the character of this engine, but all was good.

Next two sessions, I was on rails! I was running steadily a full second faster than my best prior times at this track, and was on the verge of breaking another second down.

Last session before lunch, I fire up the bike, head for pit out, and just as I’m getting out of hot pit the overheat warning light goes on. I’m running a little hot, which is odd because it’s barely 55 degrees outside. I get through the lap and pit back in. There’s a little water in the belly pan, and none in the radiator or the overflow. Then I see the oil through the sight glass. It’s overfull, and murky. Our day is over, as it’s pretty likely I’ve either blown a head gasket or I have a cracked head.

Back to the mechanical drawing board, apparently. While the head gasket is an inexpensive part, it’s a very involved fix. Half the engine pretty much has to come apart. Cracked head would be bad, but I’m pretty sure the cylinder head from the old engine is still intact, so at least we have the parts.

I ordered parts this morning. They should be here in three days. This upcoming weekend will be a make or break moment for us. If I don’t get this engine back together, it’s pretty unlikely I’ll make it to the first race.

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