George Taylor is one of the real Classic US AHRMA Vintage riders, now in his 51st Daytona year! Read his amazing diary:
AMA 250GP #42 (retired)
Yamaha TD3 and Yamaha TR3
I asked George-San how he felt about Daytona after having been there for more than half a life time. Here is his story!
Yes, indeed, I truly did have a nerve cracking time at Daytona this year. This was my first year of going to Daytona as an "owner". In all past years I was the rider and "chief cook and bottle washer". But this year I stepped into a different world -- and I might add -- learned that there is a LOT of difference in being a rider/owner and just an "owner"!
I could write a book about all that went down wrong this year, -- but most of it was MY fault. Won't happen NEXT year --- I HOPE!!!
I first raced there the year the Speedway opened, back in 1959. But not on bikes - or cars!!
I was an 18 year old boat racer then. And I competed in both of only two boat races ever run in Lake Lloyd (1959 and 1960). The lake is in the infield and was created when they built the "walls" at Daytona. Anyway, I switched to car racing in 1961 and then to m/c road racing in 1972.
George then started e-mailing his report, a very fascinating story about what racing is all about all over the world. Good fun, good friends, something to eat and drink and talking/riding bikes!
Well, it's Daytona time again -- and I'm "pumped" (excited)!! As most of you should know, this is my 51-st year of racing at Daytona International Speedway!
I'm no longer riding -- I retired after my 50th year, but my trusty Yamaha TD3 250cc GP bike will still be in the F250 races come the first and second of March. My close friend, Chris Spargo, will be handling the riding duties.
This will be my first experience at being an "owner". I always said that if I wasn't capable of riding the bike, most likely I'd "quit" cold turkey! Didn't work! I still LOVE tuning the bike to go racing, even though I'm no longer riding!
Once a racer, ALWAYS a racer, even if you’re "over the hill”!!
I've been busy getting the bike ready over the last couple of weeks. And all the work is just about finished. And it will be finished by tomorrow!
Then on Saturday, Hooterville will "host" a bunch of my racing friends that are down to go racing at Daytona. I am going to "treat" them to "George's Custom Chilli". And that it's a "Texas Chilli" that will melt your gonads!! I do hope they will enjoy it.
On Sunday morning we head out for Daytona and the Technical Inspection time.
The Monday and Tuesday are RACE days!!
HALLELUJAH!! I "LOVE" Daytona race time!
I have been doing it now for 51 of the 71 years I've been around!!!
My nickname is: “The "Grey Fox" of Daytona”!
I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it!
Garage area -- this is only one garage area consisting of 20 spaces. The total garage spaces are over 90. And they were all filled up. The paddock area included the rest of those that did not want to rent spaces. Total race bikes were around 400.
The following morning around 11AM my friends started showing up. First to arrive were my rider’s (Chris Spargo’s) mom and dad who are always punctual.
Shortly thereafter Chris and Glen Christensen arrived, followed by Joe Lachniet and Fleta and Marty Lunde.
Marty Lunde's 1965 window van that he bought new and then restored years later in the UK. Now it's back home in the USA, along with my TR3 that I just recently sold to him. It was a big hit at the races. You would not believe how many people took pictures and asked about its past.
Marty Lunde raced in the World Championships back in the 60's. Then returned to the USA in the early 70's and became my first distributor for my racing fairings.
Then he returned to the UK in 1974 and started a M/C business:
which he still owns today, even though he has now moved back to the USA, only about 80 miles from me, here in Florida.
It's been a great reunion for us after all these years!
From left to right:
Nigel (our English friend); Yours Truly; Marty Lunde; Chris Spargo (our rider) and Chris' mom and dad.
And the “FUN” began! First off, Joe announced that he thought his crankshaft has gone south in his Yamaha TD1 GP bike.
So we made room for Joe’s bike in the “Hooterville” race shop to start with.........!
In the meantime I put Chris to work getting my Yamaha TD3 ready for technical inspection tomorrow. There were a number of “issues” to be resolved, all of
which Chris resolved over the next 8 hours.
Yours Truly sitting on Marty's restored TR3 and Marty's Vintage Van.
I sold Marty my TR3 last year, and he did a complete restoration on it.
In the Meantime Joe was busy disassembling his TD1 to install a new crankshaft. Luck was not with Joe for this year’s Daytona. After disassembly it was discovered that it was not a crankshaft problem, but rather a gearbox problem. And it was a problem that he did not have the parts with him to fix.
So Joe’s “Daytona Experience” for this year is over before it began – But for his girlfriend, Fleta, it’s a bonus! Now she can “chase” the Daytona Experience like females like to do – which means NOT being stuck in the paddock for two days while Joe plays with his “boys’ toys’”!
Fleta is a “happy camper”, that is for sure!
The day was spend basically enjoying all the “tall tails” that racers tell along with a lot of last minute work. And all “warmed” with plenty of George’s “Texas Chilli” for dinner and of course lot’s of beer and other “stiff” drinks! (Just ask Glen!)
Then the “Strong Stories” began and continued until we all ended up “crashing” around midnight.
We all had a GREAT time!!!!!!!
Left to right -- Chris (our rider). Ron. Marty Lunde and Glen.
Bike #637 is my TD3 and # 19 is Marty's TR3
7AM --- Everyone is “up and at em” --- Kinda! As much as you can be when it’s 32 degrees F. (0 C.!) in Hooterville.
All I heard from my Minnesota and Michigan friends was what the “f**k”
is THIS all about. And I told them --- this is the way it’s been ALL winter in Florida.
And believe me, I’m a native of Florida. And this year has had more freezing weather that I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime!
Next we finished loading up everything and off we headed for the Technical inspection over in Deland, Florida – not far from the speedway.
On schedule for today was the Technical Inspection of the race bikes along with rider’s meetings for the following two days of racing.
After these formalities were complete, Chris, Glen, and Marty continued to the Speedway to unload our bikes and tools in our garage area so that we are set for tomorrow morning.
Chuck and I hit the road to return to Hooterville for the night. I have to be home on Monday morning to hydrate my kitty cat (Myrtle). She’s 21 years old and requires special medical treatment. (i have to ask for a picture of Myrtle, she should be in the story!)
Chuck and I will be heading back to Daytona tomorrow morning at 6.0 am so we will be there for the first practice session. Racing starts after lunch.
That’s about it for now everyone!
This is Marty Lunde's TR3. This was my TR up until late last year. Marty and I have been close friends since the 70's. So I sold it to him - to kind of keep it in the "family" so to speak. He did a "restore" to it which came out great. I kept it in good shape. But it was in "racing shape", not pristine, like the picture.
I’ll be doing a final Daytona wrap up report next Wednesday. I’ll be spending the night at Daytona tomorrow so that we can all do our yearly “Brick House Grille” dinner get together.
We are having LOTS of FUN!
7-Photo # a brace of Norton inters race bikes
9-Photo # a lovely Manx Norton
10-Photo # Harley Davidson works racer
13-Photo # AJS 7R 350 cc Boy Racer
Lots of “drama” went into today. And lots of work to make things happen. The weather for today was COLD but clear.
All sorts of “issues” arose during the morning practice sessions. The worse one was the fact that Chris forgot to take the carburettor covers off my TD3 and attempted to start it…..!
Two hours later we finally got it started again after draining out over a quart of raw gas out of the crankcases.
Then Chris made the second practice session. But, alas, our problems were not over yet.
He had to catch a ride back to the pits with the pick up truck when the motor quit.
After a lot of serious troubleshooting, we found that there was a lot of “dirt” that ended up in the carburettors caused by the new fibreglass tank we had installed.
Anyway, we went to work and cured those problems just barely in time for the F250 race.
Chris finished second! HALLELUJAH! All our work paid off in the end!
Next came the F500 race. Chris was riding Marty’s TR in this race. And things did not turn out like we hoped. Chris pulled in after a few laps complaining that it felt like it was trying to seize up.
Further investigation on our part proved that was not the case. The problem was with the ignition system.
So I made a note to bring along my Motoplat spare ignition to install on Marty’s TR on Tuesday morning. Then Chuck and I headed back to Hooterville for the night.
Well, the predicted cold front arrived during the night! Lots of rain and really HIGH winds persisted for most of the morning. But as luck would have it, by race time the rain had stopped and all races were done on a dry track. And that’s something we didn’t believe could happen from the info we had received on the weather report on Monday night. The storm was travelling at over 50mph, so it blew over Daytona by around 11am, and the track dried out quickly due to the high winds that persisted all day.
I helped Marty install my spare ignition on his TR while Chris worked on adjusting the shifting drum on my TD. He was not happy with the way it shifted during the race on Monday, so he cured the problem.
Next we tested the new ignition on Marty’s TR and found that it had cured that problem. Great!
Next up was the F250 race and Chris grabbed another 2nd place!
Then it was F500 time again, with Marty’s TR. Things didn’t work out like we had hoped. Turns out that the ignition change had cured the ignition problem, but created another problem. Now the TR was experiencing detonation, so Chris pulled in rather than destroying the engine. Good choice!
14-Photo # Myself on the bike and our rider, Chris Spargo. The bike is Marty's Yanaha TR.
So that was it for this years “Daytona Experience”. Even with all theproblems, overall, we all had a GREAT time!!
Looking forward to next year, God willing!
The “Grey Fox of Daytona” – in my 51-st year!
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