Cycle News

Cycle News 2004 Issue 23 Jun 16

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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By GUESr EDlrORIAI. MICHAEL RIGDON Good-Bye Mammoth: One Man's Memories t is really a shame to hear 2004 really is the last Mammoth. I hope some of you are adding to your Mammoth memory scrapbook and others are taking the opportunity to ride this legendary track before it is too late. Mammoth Mountain will always be God's country to any red -blooded American motocrosser who had the good fortune of racing there. Racing at Mammoth is something that every racer should have made a concentrated effort to do at least one time before retiring . The track is in such a beautiful setting 8400 feet up in the mountains, and the racing surface is black loam, the dirt providing the finest traction in the state. For those of you who never had the pleasure, allow me to take a trip down memory lane and share my experiences. Practice starts at 7 a.m. It is such a beautiful sight, watching the sun come up over the mountain while waiting to go out for practice. You'd better be in shape as the course goes from being billiard-smooth in morning practice to unbelievably rough by the second set of motos. Blasting off the concrete pad, you go immediately up a small rise then make a slight left-hander, followed by the toughest part of the track : heading up the mountain toward the actual first tum followed by a massive downhill. If you want a good start, you have to keep the throttle pegged going through this uphill, slight left turn, or you are instantly midpack. The toughest corner is a right-hand off-camber tree turn that only gets tougher as the day wears on . The track has changed slightly in recent years, but for the most part , it has remained the same, and I will never forget the dread I had every lap making the left-hand turn after passing the start, getting set up for yet another run up the infamous start hill. I also remember Roger DeCoster's perfect form around the tree turn one year. Hopefully you get the picture by now Mammoth is one fine motocross experience and understand why heading up the mountain held so much allure even though it is about 325 miles away from Los Angeles. Regardless of the occasion it is a treat to be in the mountains breathing the fresh mountain air. Bob Sullivan is my good friend and racing buddy. We also made the trek up to Mammoth Mountain for the annual motocross numerous times since 1989. We also seem to manage to return every I time with some type of a Mammoth story regarding some event or curve ball we encountered . In 1989 for my maiden voyage I towed my bike to Mammoth and met Bob at the hotel. After practicing my first day, I was pullingaway from the Texaco station with the diesel hose still in my car and ripped the nozzle completely off the hose, forc ing the attendant to hit the emergency shut-off. The experience was amusing until I saw the dent in my car. The gas station also charged me $85 to have the nozzle repaired, plus Bob reminded me of this event more than once during the next 12 months. The next year, in '93 , we had taken Bob's van to Mammoth . Put in a tank full of fuel in the Huntington Beach area near Bob's home and headed north. Things went smoothly until the Cajon pass , where the van started running poorly. Power was seriously red uced, and our top speed was less than 30 mph. We still had some 280 miles to go, so this was not good. We went into MacGyver mode and started to run through what it could be . I asked Bob if it could be the fuel filter, but Bob said he had just changed it two months earlier. Maybe the fuel isn't up to snuff, we won dered. Bob pulled over and dumped four since we no longer had the engine cover on , and he replied affirmative. We then settled in for the long slow ride to Mammoth involving speeds of 35 to 40 mph as the grade is increasing with every mile north to Mammoth . Eleven hours after we left Huntington Beach we finally made it to the Mammoth Mountain Inn and checked in. We were glad to be there, but we were in foul moods after this very tiring journey. After racing all weekend, we left early on Monday. It wasn't too long before we noticed the same top-end problem, but at least we were going downhill. Our first stop in Bishop was at Napa Parts, and In 1991, my '88 CRSoo Honda decided to blow the base gasket after racing at Carlsbad the Saturday before our Mammoth weekend . My main man Bob helped me out big-time with a quick topend job. In 1992, my CRSOO decided to lose a tooth off fourth gear during the first moto of the Vet Junior class the Saturday before Mammoth . The tooth's departure was aided by hitting what seemed like a con crete block while wide open in fourth gear on the famous Carlsbad uphill. Bob was truly a miracle man by splitting my cases and buttoning the engine back up in two days' time . gallons of race fuel into the van and hopped back in. Zero difference. Maybe it's the carbo We have now entered the Mojave Desert, and it is smoking hot outside. Our next stop we pulled off the engine cover below the dash and removed the air cleaner assem bly to check out the card . Visual inspection revealed nothing out of the ordinary, so we drove on without putting the engine cover on. Zero difference . I asked Bob again if he thought it could possibly be the fuel filter and got the same response regarding the recent new fuel filter. Asked Bob if he noticed the 100degree plus blast of hot air coming in finally Bob bought a new fuel filter. Bob went to work under the hood . Few minutes later Bob slammed the hood , and we jumped back in. Major difference as the van purred away. Bob goes , "Fuel filter... imagine, it was the fuel filter." I couldn't believe my ears ! Yeah, Bob, imagine that! My hunch was finally confirmed , and just to rub it in, I retrieved the old filter from the trash when Bob wasn't looking and gave it to him for Christmas the same year as a gag gift. Ah, Mammoth, why did you have to leave us? CN www.cyclenews .com CYCLE NEWS ��� JUNE 16,2004 95

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