Sunday, February 16, 2014

Faster than Death

Who am I? How did I get here? I didn't save a lot of photos from back in the day because I thought it was...not punk enough. As the Chrome lives on, I wanted to have some evidence of were I'd gone with my feed for speed.  

I knew I was a lot better on a motorcycle than a SK8-board and if I could make 
it on a team and travel around the country making meager money and all my
travel expenses paid for; when (vert) vertical---ramp, pools anything with a
transition to pump and generate momentum---I was there. Lots of time there
meant getting there really fast on a motorbike.

Then as vert became less and less popular---hence the cover you see here,
with the fearless foot-control-fanatics jumping down stairs or sliding handrails---
I was off to work for Penhall Demolition, breaking rocks in the hot sun. Soon
I could afford a fast motorbike. It was away to Willow Springs. I heard of a 
dirt oval fast guy's slid around. So, when work was slow I was there, doing 
choirs long enough for Ken Maely---inventor of the steel-shoe to make me a
shoe and let me slid on what ever piece he had laying around.


Pretty soon I was pretty fast, and the way I rode on the street people told
me I should go to the Isle of Man TT, even gave me V-Four Victory, a video.
I watched it a million times and was racing Willow regularly when I met an
Englishman and a German older guy who said if you weren't riding such a 
piece of junk you would win. They bought me a bike if you can believe it.
Yes I won some and finished close to the front tuning the TZ 250 myself.

  Next thing you know I was in England doing a bit of riding, preparing
myself to race the IOM TT, after a competitor named Roland Sands---Ritchy
Rich torpedoed my US back bike ride out from underneath me. That was about $16,000
bucks in the bin. you can find some more of the story at that

I raced for years on peanut-butter and jelly and a dream that I was a MotoGP
racer just no one else knew it yet. I gave it my all---part of the reason the first 
wife left---soon after winning lots of local races from road to supermoto, vintage
endurance, anything anyone would let me. As if through divine inspiration. The 
year what's her name left, I won my first of nine Supermoto Championships, got 
hired full-time at Cycle World and Black Sabbath's drummer, Bill Ward bought
me an R1. I went on to win a lot of Supermoto Championships and races on that
Yosh built Formula Extreme bike. I tried to go back to the IOM but ended up
racing the Guidon de' Or; world championship of Supermoto in France were I beat 
Ruben Xuas, Carlos Checka, Regis Laconni, Randy DePuniet---MotoGP stars
and Chambone, famous Supermotard Champion of the world, he even won the World 600
Supersport Championship. Luck/life has many twists and turns. I broke both my ankles really bad and have been suffering for more then a year and a half, but I will go on.
Tommy Aquino, I didn't know you well but knew you had a well of talent, RIP
and may God comfort your soul. 



Thursday, January 16, 2014

   With the most modern motorbikes at my fingertips I never got too fired up by some old leaky squeaky drum braked bike that made 100 mph seam like a ton. Then I happen to come across a bike built in 1928 with banked forward water-cooled porcelain cylinder-barrels, handmade honeycomb thermosiphon cooled two-stroke; the first to be kick-started to life in Yorkshire UK, that is very interesting.
     This Twin-cylinder 500cc two-stroke had a centrally fit flywheel weight, a three-speed transmission, oil-injection system, telescopic forks and was competitive in events from trials to the TT. If you’re interested, there is a lot more to find and read about a bike that started the mass centralization movement among many others. This is my favorite vintage bike, because it was so far ahead of its time.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Howerton’s Handy Work 
A proven piece  

Circa 1984 Indianapolis, the factory Honda dirt track team was based two buildings down from Jack Howerton, Rick’s father's fabrication business, who was the to go guy for fabricated parts on Indy cars, an absolute perfectionist who wouldn’t let anything leave the shop without being to the nth-degree. Naturally, team Honda was at the shop on a weekly basis getting parts built, and as a young kid, Rick bugged anybody who’d listen. Gene Romero, was the Honda Dirt Track team manager, Skip Eaken and Sparky Edmondson were the chief's on Bubba Shobert and Ricky Graham's RS750 Grand National motorbikes and  through his dad’s shop, Rick got to know them well.

“I was 14 at that time and Bubba and Ricky seemed like old men---funny how when you’re younger everyone seems old---however, they were only 8 or so years older than I was.  As time passed they let me golf and travel to the races with them in their motor-homes.”

Rick grew up then spent the a few years at engineering school, raced sprint cars, and eventually took over his father’s business. The business role changed from general fabrication shop to specialized exhaust manufacturer. Form midgets, Daytona prototypes, NHRA, Indy cars, NASCAR, to Formula One. The majority of which are built from inconel (hi nickel alloy) that was developed for jet airplane engine parts.
In 2010, Howerton saw a picture of Bryan Smith racing a Kawasaki tracker.
Cernicky testing a heavily modified Kawasaki 650 Ninja at
Yapavia Downs in AZ, in 2010.

He’d always liked the vertical-Twin engine configuration and wanted to use that for his "street tracker". Growing up around dirt track racing influences it had become a big passion in my life, and it never left, professed Rick Howerton; who would make sure to stay in contact with Sparky Anderson and Skip Eaken---who passed on in 2012---every couple of years, long after Honda’s dirt track program has been disbanded in 1988.
 When the eBay Ninja engine arrived, Howerton got Eaken to build him a race engine. Skip told Rick he felt that 650 Ninja had great potential, even at the Grand National level to power a race bike and wanted to put one together. Howerton hung up the phone thinking about how time consuming one bike would be to build. A few days contemplation in Rick, told his dad what he was up to and Sr. said “Build two and let Skip race one.”
Rick started thinking about the chassis---time consuming? Very!  A new motorcycle design, a modern day chassis made with the best materials possible, packaged small, light, and nimble. Perimeter frame hammered from heat treated sheet aluminum into box-tube swing-arm to actuate a double-pull-rod-rocker-rear suspension system with the right geometry with a hint of old-school look via pullback bars and the seat and side plates. The next few weeks Howerton computer modeled a motorcycle, calling Skip time-and-time again for dimensions; wheelbase, seat-height, head-tube angles, and offset. Eaken helped Howerton so much Rick started to warm up to the idea of making two bikes.

Fast forward to April 2011; 500 hours of co
mputer modeling, 1,200 hours of, machining, fixturing and fabricating, and the motorbikes were complete. Skip used 2011 to test riders, venues, learning what the bike needed in the throws of war, by cause and effect making changes experimented to both chassis and engines. Our combination was coming around at times, arguably the fastest bike on the track.
Push fast forwarding again; they came back with backing from Crosley Radio a seasoned machine and two-time GNC champion Bryan Smith. A 2nd at the final in Pomona LA Fairplex 2nd gave them a 2nd over all in the Expert Twins championship of 2013 behind Brad Baker.
Bryan Smith won Sacramento two years in succession Howerton Motorsports Kawasaki Got some Eaken aid and results came Bryan Smith; also won Indy and Springfield Miles that year
with the same engine
Now Rick Howerton gets his proven “street tracker” back that should make for a seriously fun ride around town. And his kids get more of their dad's time.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WDW 2012, A visit to the Planet of Champions.

I see Red!  

By Mark Cernicky/ Photo’s; Ducati 

Fancy Red? WDW—World Ducati Week can fill your cup till it runneth over…on to wet bike washing bikini girls, umbrella totting Effenbert beer dancing girls, turbine forced crowd soaking water-sprayer, a perfect way to keep the scantly-clad “ladies” and shirtless dudes cool in the extremely hot weather experienced that June 21-24th, in Misano Italy. That’s not all the 65,000 total Ducatisti who traveled from USA, Australia, Brasil, China, Russia, India and Malaysia, Gabon, Iceland, Nepal…and those in who made the commute, in leather suites from the neighboring Euro zone to the Planet of Champions, there was a lot more.

Once at Champions at Misano World Circuit one needn’t go any further than the International village—just the other side of the parking lot— whose circus sized canopy corners where cordoned off by representatives from the corners of the world. Center, a stage for cutlery diverse inspired Rock-and-Roll born in the USA! And I was just happened to be in time for tea and an accompanying rendition of God Save the Queen by the Brits there in force; raised a celebratory salute to the Queen and a rest in the shade after some scorching-hot-laps of Misano World Circuit, with Dominique Cheraki, General Manager of Ducati North America, on a couple 848 EVO’s.                
Droves of belt-drive Desmo valve trains, thunder of flocking Duc’s with the occasional wail from a low fly D16 filled the air with a symphony of mechanic music,  while MX freestyler’s flew through it. And when at rest mini-motards raced round the base of the ramp to ramp jumps.
Misano Circuit circulation never ceased, from DRE —Ducati Riding Experience track school, Master Academy led by Troy Bayliss himself, Ducatisti could sign up for track test rides on Panigale, for lucky limited number, first come first serve session on their own bikes. UK 848EVO series I chatted with Neil Hogdson, ambassador of the all Ducati championship who was there for the “Lap of Champions”. Practicing qualifying for the 848 EVO's ran between the factory, Corsa team factory Superbike teams “demonstration laps”. You could even sign up for a ride in an Audi R8. Saturday tracktivities ended with stunt show before the Tudor Diavel elimination drag races on the front straight that saw Troy Bayliss vanquish Valentino Rossi in the final…Nicky Hayden 3rd, followed by Carlos Checa         
From morning till night, three days I saw red and still didn’t have enough time to take it all in…I tried. Would have liked to get a chance to go on a street ride on the Hypermoto Sp with group organizer who did so…for a small price; missed the Brit-back- roads gaunt due to interview scheduling… even missed a first hand account of the bikini bike wash and the speedway races, there was too much to do!
Home to the WDW, Misano World Circuit is short a short ride from the Adriatic coastline where there are plenty of hotels beach side resorts restraints a hive of night time activity streets blocked for pedestrianisation till wee hours of the night when eyes turn red. After some rest, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to return to the Plant of Champions in 2014.

WDW by numbers
65,000 visitors across four days
11,520 laps of Misano made by motorcycles and cars in four days
61 different activities performed on track in four days
8 Ducati race teams
66,000 photos taken by official photograhers
32 hours of WDW TV shown
40 tweets per minute
4 terabyte of video recorded during the event
17 concerts performed (15 paddock, 1 Cattolica, 1 Riccione)
52 nations represented
300 metres of BBQ at the Cattolica beach party

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tail of Time


Time is a Joker with a three-pointed-poker.
Time is a cancer and a dancer on your grave.
Time does not behave, time we try to save when it’s us
time is trying to slay.
Break away, save maybe one day from time the great E-Racer.
Faster than time is himself, he who can leave
time on a shelf, is he chasing time or is time chasing him?
Where does he end and time begin.
Is the end of time the beginning of he who is so fast
Time he can out last, racing so far ahead he’s changing
his past.  
Tying time with its own tail time this time proven to have failed
Who is he who is so fast he keeps time at bay, you might have met him today.

He might have come your way, he must continue to No End, for he is Infinity your friend, who keeps the beginning from meeting the end.   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Guide and Protect


Guide and Protect


MotoGP as past a mandate in regards to brake lever guards stating that motorcycles must be equipped with brake lever guard protection, intended to protect the front brake lever from accidentally activation by contact with another machine.
FIM ruling also states that a bikes fairing can be extending to cover the brake lever—as viewed from the front, covers the lever— can be acceptable protection from brake application caused by collision. As long as it’s strong enough to function effectively and its design doesn’t add further risk to the rider to be injured or trapped. This decision is left to the sole discretion of the FIM Technical Director.

Instead of the extra-wide aerodynamically challenged front faring, teams can opt for brake lever guard like this Rizoma ProGuard designed to suffice scrutineering of lever protection. Rizoma also said that their ProGuard design product also protects levers from aero-forces applying unwanted lever pressure that cause brake-drag and clutch-slippage once machines speeds exceeded 112mph; hence the holes seen machined in race levers.
Rizoma ProGuard is being used by many Moto2 and MotoGP teams including Factory Ducati. So we got a hold of Nicky Hayden and asked how he felt about the new rule and this brake guard device?
Hayden shared “Well it's a rule this year so everybody is using them. And for me, truthfully on the track I don't even notice they are there. There is theories that some people believe they gonna cause more problems then really help, so well just have to wait and see, time will tell.”
Rizoma ProGuard is made of aluminum of magnesium and manganese, an amalgam engineered to resist corrosion, ware and assure rigidity to guard and protect lever from impact. Rizoma patented protection system guards against unintentional brake activation on the race track is now available for your sportbike.

Rizoma ProGuard’s are available in silver, black and gold, for most bikes. If you do not see your bike on the list for specific fitment Rizoma make a universal mounting kick that should fit your bike.

Rizoma USA Inc,
 9230 W. Olympic Blvd. Beverly Hills, Los Angeles Ca 90212 
909/342/2307 /

$114 each side