Having seen and heard the Brittens run, and having walked through and oogled all of the racing paddock, it was finally time to just kick back, have a brew or two, and just drink it all in and watch some racing.
I left the pit area and went back to my bike.
Parked beside me was a perfect Laverda Jota 1000, whose owner walked up at the same time as I started putting on my gear. Laverda Guy was another local boy, who lived just over the Georgia Line.
“I hope you don’t mind me tarrying, but I’d really love to just hear that triple run.”
My short-time friend just grinned and then obliged me by gearing up and firing up his orange beast.
Start up behavior, with the bike’s three Del’Ortos, was just a variant of the cold blooded, too-large throated start behavior of my own R90s, which will usually stall on a cold start 30 seconds after the chokes are turned off.
Italian carburetors never disappoint.
So after the restart, and after oil flow had smoothed the operation of the top end back out, the big orange bike sat there idling lumpily, though taking blips of throttle with a rapid bark.
I bade him safe journey, and displayed the thumbs-up salute as the Jota rolled two gears worth of moderate throttle, doing just the tiniest bit of Italian Moto Opera.
I’m very glad I took the time to listen.
I rolled the LT around the Barber Perimeter Road, just sightseeing and happy to catch even a little breeze. One of my fellow big bike enthusiasts had told me that Ace Corner ticket holders had a paved parking lot across the road from the entrance, on the grounds of the Barber Racing School. Fellow Enthusiast had been right, and sharing a piece of pavement with a line of dozen track Porsches seemed OK to me, though I can’t vouch for how the Porsches felt about their new wheel-challenged neighbors.
I rambled back into Ace Corner, resolved to chill and try to stop drinking it all in before it drowned me.
I wandered up to the top of the hill, scored a burger and a Naked Pig — a nice pale ale from Gadsden Alabama’s Back Forty Brewing — and found myself a place to sit — in the shade and with a good view of the Carousel and the next two corners of the Track.
There were classes for small displacement singles and twins — close battles that played back the 2-stroke vs 4-stroke holy wars that had consumed two or three decades of motorcycle racing. There were larger displacement twins, which saw great sounding combat between BMW AIrheads, VTwin MotoGuzzis and classic Ducatis, with an occasional Triumph or Yamaha XS650 thrown in.
I thought the guys I was sitting next to were familiar, and they were. They were 5 or 6 members of North Carolina’s Tarheel Travellers BMW Club. They were frequent visitors to my local DC Area Square Route Rally, and this wasn’t our first beer-and-BS-session.
We watched some sidecar racing — which rearranged my mind — and a few more heats, including one for the vintage racing singles — the big booms of the Nortons, Gileras, Velocettes and Matchlesses echoing back from the treeline lining the park.
What really was a long afternoon somehow disappeared like water on a hot exhaust pipe — a moment that seemed like it could stay suspended forever disappearing in an instant.
As the sun settled lower the racing calendar wrapped, and the parade laps marked the end of the day.
I was resolved to hang round Ace Corner for a while — to talk to some people and see some stuff. I knew they had a band coming on later, and I wanted to just enjoy the bikey people and the bikey vibe for as long as I could.
There was yet another bike show coming on, and I spent a little time admiring the talent.
I appreciated this custom /5 Toaster. I have one of these, too, but mine’s not quite so shiny.
Also in the Shiny Category was this custom Norton Commando, a machine that eventually took first prize as the Most Custom Cafe of all the Custom Cafes. With everything but the frame tubes naked polished alloy, I had to agree with the judge’s decision on this one.
Also shiny, but in a completely different way, was Walt Seigl’s MV Agusta Bol D’or.
Walt’s motorcycle looks as finished or more finished than anything Agusta has lately built. A complete testament to their heritage making use of their most modern hardware — the best of their past and the best of their future — another bike that would have me running to the phone to buy one if a space-freighter full of currency were to crash land in my yard.
Agusta would have built this if they only knew how.
Sadly, they don’t, but Walt Seigl does.
Unbeknownst to me, It seemed to be Honda 750/4 Day.
I’ve got a soft spot for the Single Cam myself, but nice as mine was, it was nowhere this nice.
Or this nice.
Or as nice as this either.
Or even this one.
OK, so this one is only half a CB750, but the judges say it still counts.
Ace Corner was scheduled to rock into the nighttime, but the food vendors had gone.
You could still score Naked Pigs and Truckstop Honeys — more fun from my new friends at Back Forty brewing — but you couldn’t get any food.
Note to organizers — if you’re going to throw an evening long party where alcohol is served — to a large bunch of Bikers, no less, one might consider making sure that some food is available, even if only to serve as buffer for the drink people were likely to be puttin down.
I know my body, and this point wasn’t negotiable.
I started moving about the compound in search of someone who had been in a position to think ahead, and had come prepared for this.
So I do what any hungry man would do.
I followed my nose.
And my nose led me to the Vintage Iron Motorcycle Club.
Like me, the Vintage Motorcycle Club was made up of hungry men and women with old motorcycles. Hungry men and women who had multiple charcoal grills working up high, and were blowing grilled beef and vegetable smoke my way.
I introduced myself in that patently subtle manner that is a trademark.
“Hey, Dude. You in the food business? No? You wanna be?”
After learning a little about The Vintage Iron Club — which is based out of Palm Beach County, Florida — who seem to be really nice folk that share a certain illness of mine — I decided I really liked these folk and their attitude.
One of their party was a chef who normally worked on someone’s private MegaYacht, but was between cruises right now.
These folk were rolling big.
So I made ‘a small contribution’ to The Club, and even bought a few raffle tickets.
The Club, it seemed, was raising money for Charity — The Paley Foundation, who helps children with a certain serious orthopedic illness — and was raffling off this.
Looking at it, all I kept thinking was it would be perfect for Finn.
“He’d look badass on that thing. And it’s just the right bike to learn on.”
The people who like to tell you things will tell you that visualization is the secret to success. That if you can see it you can be it.
I visualized that sweet Honda 350 Scrambler into my garage more times than I’m willing to cop to.
It was in the bag.
That shit don’t work.
Anyway, after one of the only burgers I’ve ever eaten that I might be willing to admit might have been at least equal to my own (as well as several salads that were rocking good), I bade my new club brothers and sisters adieu, and found a cold Truckstop Honey and went back to chatting with random folk and seeing what I could see.
A few EZ-Ups to the right of Vintage Iron was an Artist, Makoto Endo, who was exhibiting his motorcycle paintings — which of course bespoke the eye of a moto-master, all Vincents and Nortons and Agustas and Kenny’s TZ, oh my. Makoto was also taking commissions on the spot and doing portraits of motorcycles that were presented.
I spent some time watching him working on a painting of this nice /6 BMW with it matching Steib sidecar. From what I could see, Makoto could rightly claim equal parts of inspiration from Japanese calligraphic techniques and from the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. This kind of painting is active, athletic.
Painting isn’t usually a spectator sport, but for Makoto at Barber, it certainly was.
So we talked some more. Then we rocked some more.
And had another Truckstop Honey, and talked and gawked some more.
At a certain point, I kind of put my hands on my hips, leaned back a little, and drew a long deep breath.
“Man, I just can’t believe the things I’ve seen.”