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Daytona International Speedway (FL) Summary, 3/2-3/09:

            It's the real deal, learn the track in 2 practice sessions and then race. None of this 'Practice for a day and a half then go racing'. The first practice shows the CB450 just didn't have the power to pull 17-35 (front-rear) gearing, so I dropped back to 16-35. The second practice found some engine stumbling on the top end which some slight choking seemed to help and led me to put richer main jets in. The warm up lap of the race was going to be the real test for the jetting.

            3rd call for race #3, fully suited and ready to ride, I kick over the 450 a couple tries and it's started, but it just wasn't quite right. Frantically Roy points down at the right side. The air filter had caught fire. Quickly with my racing gloves I grab the filter and throw it on the ground. Time to see how it runs filterless. I shut it down. After Roy stomps out the remaining fire, he grabs a screwdriver and removed the remaining filter and the remnants of the right filter.

            The warm up lap feels good, decent power on the straights - the gearing allows the engine to pull 9K rpm in 5th. I grid up in the 2nd from the left in the front row of our class. #1 board goes sideways, green flag flies, and my periferal vision losses sight of the other bikes in my class. Took the hole shot, now I just need to hold them off for 3 laps. Good flow through the infield, and about to dump into the last corner before the banking when I see the red flag(race canceled) . Racing stopped, so we continue around the track to hot pit. As usual we sit on hot pit for a while, with no idea what happened. They finally tell us to shut them down its going to be a while.

            What seemed like an eternity they finally tell us to go straight to grid, same start as before. #1 board goes sideways, green flag flies, and I nail it. The infield flows like butter. Then I pull onto the banking and the 450 just won't go. Cutting out on the top end popping out the exhaust, as the class flies by at our meager 90mph(ish) top speed, I'm only managing about 50. I limp it around a lap and pull in. No sense in adding insult to injury.

            After the bike cools some I start checking it out. Check for spark, fuel... hmm firing out the exhuast check the valve lash. Running around the pits it pulls through the mid range but it stumbles and fires out the exhaust on idle, on the right cylinder. I yank apart the carb and give the pilot jet a once over. That gets it idling, but still random exhaust combustion. Well Daytona's tight ship kicks us out at 6pm. So we call it a night and hit the auto parts store for a spare set of plugs.

            Day 2, I figured well one last shot on the 450, the 1st practice and its still stumbling here, there, and everywhere, pulls ok then drops out on the top end, then to top it off the valve lash left some slight leaks around the valve adjustment covers so pit in inspection yanks my sticker. I park the 450, yank the number plates and transponder, and get them slapped on Rex's CL350. Run the 350 through tech and I'm set for practice #2.

            Rex's bike seems solid, doesn't quite have the top end. Against the wind it won't even pull red line and with the wind it of course tops right out. Well, Race time... complete the practice lap and grid up.... 3 on the grid and of course Daytona 1st day Winner is one of the few that showed. Well time to see what Rex's bike can do. I nail the start and things feel good. The infield flies by no problems. I get all cranked up on the high speed bank and sure enough Flori on his 500cc four wanders on by. At the Chicane I gain on him some, but he pulls even more on the next bank. This is going to be a hard win to earn if I do pull it off. I'm gaining on Flori through the first few turns. As I roll up to the 1st horseshoe, Flori is off the course.... Hmmm did he mess up the turn or having bike trouble? Well, i'm not stopping to find out. Head down and I blast by, if he reenters the track he's gonna have some time to make up. Sure enough I don't see him the rest of the race.

            Thats right 1st place at Daytona on my maiden voyage on a foreign smaller bike. Back home a week later the 450 is torn down to find the exhaust valve isn't sealing. Luckily I have a few months to get it figured out and reassembled, the next race being mid-June up at Road America (Elkhard Lake, WI).