Written by Moore Good Ink
NASCAR maintains Demolition Derby at Talladega
Each October tens of thousands of race fans appear in Alabama. The first call to action comes from NASCAR, who runs an autumn 500-mile race at the Talladega superspeedway.
Built in 1969 and located on just less than 3,000 acres 40 miles east of Birmingham, Talladega is 2.66 miles in length, NASCAR’s longest track. It was here in 1987 that Dawsonville’s Bill Elliott achieved the fastest qualifying lap ever recorded: 212.809mph in a Ford Thunderbird. Beginning the following year NASCAR imposed restrictor plates, in an attempt to reduce the engine’s air supply and accordingly retard such excessive speeds
This month’s event, like many others at the superspeedway, ended in mayhem with almost 30 cars being smashed—more destruction than you’d encounter on a rough Sunday afternoon in Baghdad.
Barber’s annual celebration of vintage motorcycles
This is Barber Motorsports Park, October 12-14, the weekend following Talladega and over 57,000 vintage motorcycling enthusiasts are packed into Barber’s delightful park setting located at Leeds, 17 miles east of Birmingham. The record-breaking crowds, 11 percent greater than in 2011, were here to enjoy the action on the track as well as the exhibits in the museum which now number in excess of 1,350. The latest display is a fabulous cutaway of the Matchless G50 racing engine.
In production from 1958 to ‘62, the allure of the G50 Matchless was simple: it was a 500cc, air cooled, single cylinder, four stroke machine that was competitive, inexpensive, and easy to maintain. A derivative of the 350cc AJS 7R engine, that was created in Britain in the post war 1940s, the G50 returned to prominence in the 1970s when resurgence in national and international classic racing took hold.
The cutaway, prepared by former G50 racer Chuck Huneycutt, who heads Barber’s race team and restoration divisions, allows viewers a unique insight into most of the functioning parts behind the magnesium Elektron alloy castings. Elektron was used to save weight and the anodized gold finish was used to protect it from oxidizing.
Unsurprisingly, under George Barber’s development and racing program of the 1990s the G50 was transformed. With Huneycutt’s influence peak power increased by over 25 percent. The single Amal carburetor was replaced by a 44mm Mikuni VM round-slide-style. Although the original Amal produced slightly more power at full throttle it had a tendency to hesitate while cornering at maximum lean. More significantly as the compression ratio, engine rpm, and power output increased, the original 35-tonne-steel flywheel, now working beyond its design capability, began to crack. The solution was to replace the original design, a pressed-together crank, with a one-piece style. Further development involved the addition of a second spark plug, which led to a reduction in ignition timing. Maximum power now occurs at 18 degrees before TDC instead of the original 32-degree setting.
Until just a few days ago you could savor the deftness of a G50 in action at the Isle of Man. Resurrecting its deep sounds of ancient Gods, this fascinating G50 footage showed the remarkable Dave Roper, the first American to win an Isle of Man TT, displaying his prowess around the 39.75-mile road course. Alas, the footage has been removed. Nonetheless, to give sense of this unique event and some of its challenges click on this link to watch Roper on a Benelli four.
Bold plan from Motus Motorcycles:
Performance car guys develop comfortable American sportbikes
“What’s the one thing more American than an air-cooled V-twin?” asks Motus president Lee Conn. He paused for a moment then answered with much satisfaction, “A small block LS-inspired V4. We call it the baby block.”
Founded in 2008, Motus has so far appointed a dozen dealers from Seattle to Miami who will offer their new line of comfortable American motorcycles as well as aftermarket V4 powertrains. Another 6 to 10 dealers are expected to join their ranks within the next six months. Production of their cam-in-the-block, 2 OHV, pushrod-operated, 1650cc liquid-cooled V4 baby-block-powered sensation is planned for spring 2013 with reservations being taken now.
“Several of our partners are experienced car guys,” declared Conn. “Some early engine prototyping was completed by Katech and the prototype motorcycles were built with assistance of Pratt and Miller Engineering, an equity partner in the company.” Motus originally hired Pratt and Miller to help with the gearbox and chassis dynamics and to complete some Finite Element Analysis of the design.
From those who have tested the machine, the consensus is that Motus has found high performance, long range touring comfort, exceptionally good handling, low maintenance, and distinctive good looks. The subject of a recent Car and Driver story, Motus has relocated to the former Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, availing themselves of sufficient space to accommodate next spring’s production demands.