The Hooligan: Third gear pinned

By Trevor Monn

After September, the next race I planned was the World Series of Dirt at Selinsgrove Speedway October 12 and 13. The track is a banked clay half-mile oval and they were running everything that raced on dirt tracks—sprint cars, late models, you name it. If it raced on dirt, it was basically there racing. It was called an outlaw race because it was out of the circuit, but it was a big money race.

Previously I’d raced down at Smoky Mountain, Tennessee, in a vintage race and I needed an Evo to race for the Flat-Out Friday. For all the Harley-Davidson races you have to have a modern bike; an Evo. An Ironhead doesn’t count. Darryl Baer of Baer Racing Products used to race an Evo Sportster back in the AMA Performance Series days. He said to me, “Hey, I’ve got this bike. If you want to get it down out of the loft, you service it, take care of it, it’s yours to ride for the season.” So I’ve been servicing it and doing all the work on it. We keep in touch and he told me about the Selinsgrove race: “It’s a Pro race; if you want to run the bike, it would be awesome.” After running the Pro race in Wisconsin and doing well enough to finish in the top 10, I felt like I could make a respectable showing.

We got to the track at about 8:00 a.m. on Friday and it turns out we were the last ones to go out for practice. Finally, around 3:00, the time arrives and we can get out there. The cars ran all day and the track was like running down a rocky mountain road. It was super, super bumpy and really difficult to ride on. But I found once I could get past the head shake, the bars shaking, the faster I went, the smoother it was. I just had to overcome the initial start, the getting up to speed because the bars literally wanted to shake out of my hand. But once I got up to 70 or 80 miles an hour cruising in third gear, it was smoother.

This was an AMA Pro Twin event, and not Hooligan racing. In fact mine was the only Hooligan bike there. I was racing against six or seven former AMA Twins bikes. All day I was pretty nervous because everyone else had fully-built American Flat Track race bikes.

In the practice I was three seconds off the fastest pace, and the first guy in front of me kind of ran away with it. I was really worried I wasn’t gonna be up to speed and it was going to be a horrible showing for myself. But I stayed a respectable speed the whole way at practice. I pretty much stayed with the rest of the bikes the whole time. It felt pretty good because I didn’t go out there and not look like I knew what I was doing.

The track was rough but I felt good. There was a small field of riders so it was gonna be a big payout and I was guaranteed pretty good money. We rolled in again on Saturday and it was freezing cold, maybe 45 degrees, with high, gusty winds. Once again, we ran later in the afternoon, and as the day went on, the track got worse and worse. By the time we went out on the track, it was the same condition as Friday, like riding down a rocky road.

We got four laps of practice in, and it was really unorganized—this was their first event running motorcycles. Practice went very well, though. I got back to the pits, checked my tire pressure, checked everything else, and we lined up for the start of the main event, the AMA Pro Twins. The green light dropped, I dropped the clutch, and by surprise, I was kind of out front and I almost pulled a hole shot. I got beat by half of a bike going into the first turn. Going into the back stretch, I was running second and third, and settled into fourth. We were going 20 laps and we were probably eight laps into it. I was happy with fourth place; this was good—I had enough distance from fifth and sixth that they weren’t going to catch me.

Then the bike started breaking up in the corners so I just stayed on the gas and kept going. I was taught, “You’re in a big race and it’s a big money event. You just keep on going until the bike can’t go anymore.” I was coming down into the back stretch into turn three and all of a sudden the bike just makes a pop and starts flowing out the exhaust valve. Smoke was going everywhere and the bike just loses total power. So I coasted off the track and ended up having to watch the rest of the meet. I ended up getting a DNF (Did Not Finish). There was one other guy that finished behind me; he fell out and didn’t make the event. I finished sixth for the day, so I still ended up making like $350. So even though it blew up, I still got paid and finished kind of okay.

I just think the bike was tired. It had a long race season. I was running third gear pinned, and it’s a four-speed. I could have run fourth but it would bog in the corners so to keep the rpms up—it was probably up around 7000 rpm—I ran third. And I was probably going 95, almost a hundred.

As soon as it blew up, I called Darryl who was at his daughter’s wedding. He said, “Man, that’s the last thing I’m worried about right now. You’ve got all season. Do not stress over it, Trevor. Rebuild it; get it ready for next season. We’ve got big races coming up.”

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