Friday, June 21, 2013

From a Flashlight...

Back in 2011, I had arose early to go attend the third day of practice for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Having driven past the midway starting point for the Unlimited cars and I was waiting at a good corner for pictures. Each day of practice the entrants for the race are divided up into groups of three and assigned to either the top, middle, or bottom section of the course to practice on. It all happens very early in the morning.

Early in the Morning

I was standing in the dim light waiting for the course to be cleared for racing. However, instead of roaring engines the sound of a diesel tow truck came up the road. It was pulling a full sized pickup truck and race trailer. Someone was getting to include a broken truck to their race week. The tow truck stopped just past the little gravel parking area I was standing in and began to back up. My immediate thought was that he was going to block my Toyota in with this disabled rig, to which I was not too keen about. However, the tow truck driver knew his stuff and filed the hapless victims of bad luck right in next to me.

Immediately, the racer and his mechanic jumped out and began pulling their Ducati Multistrada out of the trailer. The motorcycles were practicing on the top portion of the course and this guy was in danger of missing his day of practice on the top section. I wasn't seeing any flashlights coming on so I volunteered my flashlight services. (I'm quite valuble in this respect). With leathers on and gas in the bike the racer roared off up the road. Turns out the guy did pretty well during practice that day as well as the rest of the practice days. In fact he wound up doing so well that he went on to win overall in the motorcycle class. It was of course Carlin Dunne and his mechanic Sam Swain. When I later shared this story with Carlin, he told me that he just kept wondering what he'd gotten himself into.

I have been watching the Hill Climb since the mid eighties and I can tell you, showing up as a rookie and winning overall is no small thing. Carlin and Sam had taken a demo Multistrada from the showroom floor, prepped it (which included high performance satin black paint), built a pipe for it and then won with it. The picture below shows Sam in the white shirt.

 Mark Cernicky's and Carlin's Multistradas

I need to point out that the Ducati factory's rider, Greg Tracy, had the unfortunate luck of hitting some oil on race day which sent him down the road and into the rocks. Greg emerged from the crash with little more than bruises and a bent bike and a lot of frustration. It remains unknown if Greg would have been able to beat Carlin's time that day, which is a viable question because Greg had won 6 times in previous years including 2010 on the factory Ducati Multistrada. Greg is just an amazing racer and an exceptionally nice guy.

Later in the week Sam told me that Carlin was frustrated that their bike wasn't that much faster than the factory bikes. They had been banking on their modifications to give them a significant edge over the factory Multistrada's of Greg Tracy and Alexander Smith. Ducatis are pretty highly tuned right from the factory and modifications tend to give rather small improvments usually at the expense of reliability and flexability. Hence, any real performance advantage Carlin had was minimal. His abilitiy to ride as quickly as he was undoubtedly highlights his amazing talent.

Carlin heading for the win

It was from this experiance that I decided to start painting Ducatis. The following year I contacted the Faulkner Livingston / Spider Grips Ducati race team and said I had a painting I'd like to show them. Well guess who calls me up because he and Rod want to come over and see the painting. Cool.

This is my painting entitled Red Mountain.
Carlin on the left, me on the right.

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