Red's Lounge, Electricity comes to the Delta


Son Thomas used to say to me "the blues ain't nothin' but a good man feelin' bad". Four hours in the saddle through the spine of the Mississippi Delta certainly will make a part of you feel bad... and sore. We rolled into the gravel lot outside of Red's, pushed open the wooden door and stepped back in time.  This may well be the last of the Delta blues juke joints. There were no more than 10 people in the place, Im not sure it could hold many more than that. When the slide met the strings, the guitar growled like a demon rising from the cotton fields outside. This was the reason electricity had come to the Delta. His voice began a call and response with the guitar that echoed the field chants of those days long ago. Ground zero, where it all began. The Mississippi Delta, mother church of all that followed. Jazz, rock and roll... everything. After a few cold ones to wash the heat and dust of the day away, we slipped back out into the Delta darkness trading Howling Wolf for a cicada symphony. More miles left to go searching for the ghost of Robert Johnson and looking to make a deal at the crossroads.

I'm in high speed pursuit...

The 2016 Speed Stable Racing campaign is in full effect. In late February we made the trek east to Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah, Georgia for the opening round of the AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) season.

The optimism which had been building all winter with an upgraded motor build quickly ground to a screeching halt during Friday practice when a holed piston brought our weekend to an early close. We packed up and headed back home to get a head start on prep for the next round at NOLA which was only a few weeks away. The plan was to swap out the new motor with our backup while we spent the next few months making modifications to the primary motor. We had sourced the parts for the primary motor and had even had the cylinders honed for the new pistons but had not reassembled it since our plan was to ship the head out to California to Charlie Hansen at Hansen Motorworks and let him work his magic on the combustion chambers.

That was the "Plan" anyway.

Unfortunately, during the NOLA practice round engine gremlins struck again. The left cylinder was not getting compression due to another blown piston! The conditions at the track were not ideal either. A lot of rain and dropping temps. I made the call early Saturday morning that we were going to pack it in yet again.

Two races in and we were not even close to making the grid yet. This was getting frustrating. The race director called a noon rider's meeting and a vote was taken to see if everyone would prefer to push both day's races to Sunday when the weather was supposed to be ideal. The majority ruled and Saturday's races were postponed until Sunday.

Before the meeting was even over I was formulating a plan to get back in the game. I asked Brent Faulkner, my motor builder and fellow racer, if he would be willing to help me reassemble the primary motor and swap it back into the bike if I made the run back to the shop to get all of the components. He said it would be a long night but that he was game. I jumped into the truck and made a Smokey and the Bandit high speed pursuit run back to the shop to retrieve the motor and of course a sixer of Coors. The normal 8 hour round trip drive was made in 6 and a half!

We moved the bike inside the camper due to the plunging temperatures and frigid wind and got to work. After several busted knuckles and cold brews, we finished up at about 11 o'clock. We rolled it out of the camper to the roller starter to see if she would crank and hopefully not disturb anyone during quiet hours. It fired right up on the first try! We shut it down after a few seconds, high fived and hit the hay knowing that tomorrow was going to be a busy day.

The CB160 Lemans start race came first thing at 8AM Sunday morning. We had jetted the carbs extra rich to try and avoid the lean condition that most likely led to the detonation issues we had experienced at Roebling. My goal was to just get some solid laps on the motor without breaking it. The first race wasn't perfect. The carbs were too rich and we were blubbering around the track without a lot of power but we finished.

We rejetted a bit leaner for the 200GP race which was the 3rd race of the day. The race was still not perfect but a little bit better with more speed and power. It was fun to make some passes and finally enjoy a bit of racing. We leaned things a bit more before the 2nd CB160 race with even better results on the track.

By the final race of the day things were starting to really come together. I had a great start in the 200GP and passed a few friends during the first lap that I hadn't been able to touch all day. They were probably as surprised as I was. The Black Flag racer finished the race strong and I lowered my best track lap time by 4 seconds from last year and I still feel we were only 90% there performance wise.

Overall this had to be the most frustrating yet ultimately satisfying weekend at the track I have experienced. On the way home I was already making plans to get the backup motor rebuilt and have it with me as a spare for the California races coming up in late April.

Some days just kick ass.

Great visit today in the ATL with Steve West of Silver Piston jewelry on the last leg of a family road trip. I am sure he was wondering what was up when our black mini-van pulled into his compound across the street from the US Penitentiary. Hey, at least it's black!

The man's enthusiasm and passion for his craft is there in spades. He truly is a good old fashioned made in the USA success story.  We plan on carrying the Silver Piston line in the near future here at The Speed Stable and I can't wait.

Not only does your jewelry kick ass Steve, you do too my friend!

More throttle, less brake.

The beginnings of any new journey are ripe with excitement and purpose (and a generous dose of fear and uncertainty). We hope that you check in often and allow us to share what is going on in our world. 2016 is shaping up to be brimming with new experiences. First is the launch of The Speed Stable on-line which will be where our adventures are chronicled and our curated products are featured. We are also ramping up a special moto restoration project in conjunction with the Governor of Mississippi that will honor Jack Lucas, the youngest Medal of Honor recipient in US history. Last but certainly not least, Speed Stable Racing is mounting a national campaign in 2016 with races in 8 states from California to New Jersey. The goal is a year end top ten national finish in not one but two vintage motorcycle racing classes. Ambitious? Crazy? Of course we are!