Two Tuesdays ago, I received a call from Classic Co Mauro. Dave what are you doing this weekend? Well… I recalled… got shitloads of planning work and have Brian Awitan flying from LA next Monday to kick us in the nuts for the whole week, so we are pretty stressed out… I mumbled. Mauro breathed… Buddy, a couple of friends have just got an informal endurance race planned next weekend. Its all CBRs and that kind of tacky race shit but we could take the #53 Guzzi (Click HERE for all the info on this bike). Its been 3 long years since the last time we raced on a track so this could be fun. Are you in? Fuck!@# This was a loaded question. I’ve been pressuring everybody around here that we need to work this weekend but can’t play dead on this opportunity… I cried, Let me see how I make it happen but I’m in!
Don’t ask me how I managed to dribble the shit-storm that came after, but so I did, and there we were all leathered on a beautiful Sunday. Mauro & his Classic Co. 1979 Moto Guzzi, the celebrated #53! were right on. The race was to take place in The Braga Race Track in Portugal, just 60 miles from El Solitario Cave. With 20 teams registered, the duration was set to 3 hours and the start was programmed at 18:00. A minimum of 2 riders per bike and a maximum of 4, guaranteed we were there to have fun. Wherever you looked, we were surrounded by an obnoxious amalgam of mid 90’s Japanese RRs on slicks, looking fiercely in their contempt at the many times invictus, (In the Classic European Endurance Championship), good old #53
Years had passed since my last time on the track. In the qualifying, testosterone was on the rise, and I went down having a nice taste of the tarmac. It was on the last turn before the finish line. I low-sided the bike with minor overall consequences, if it wasn’t for the fact, that the battery ceased to receive charge. GRRRRR!!!! Looked frantically for the failure till the last minute before the race, with no success so were forced to disconnect all the charging system from the battery and just run it till the sparks flawed. Simultaneously, had to launch a desperate search for a spare battery across the paddock to be able to finish the race, which luckily enough we did!
At 18:00 the race took off with an always cool Le Mans Start. Mauro started from the back of the grid but soon was fighting for 5th. The fastest times on the track were around 1:30 and we were consistent at 1:35, until the Guzzi went airborne and crashed. When I saw Mauro pushing through the pit-lane with the bike full of grass and sand I couldn’t resist but receive him with a big smile. The tank was all dented and one of the petcocks had disengaged among other deeds. Also the carbs were full of grass and mud! Only 35 minutes took us to have the bike ready for more and off I went. With no time to train, because of my previous fall, I was very cautious at first. 1:59 was my fist lap with the bike still making “funny” things after the crash, (had to make a straight turn when the throttle cables got stuck failing to brake the bike!@#$%). Then it all went downhill and more and more fun. 1:58, 1:57, 1:56… The more I relaxed the wider the track seemed and the clearer my path looked… 1:55, 1:54, 1:53…
We had planned to change rider every 35 minutes so soon Mauro picked up the fight. After the crash we had been relegated to the last position in the grid. Out of the 20 teams registered, 3 were already out, and we were in position 17. Mauro kept pushing and pushing but far from the original 1:35s. Anyways we started to scale positions against the ill powered jap tins. 1: 40, 1:39… Then it was time to change rider and refuel. The quick filler is badass cool. You hold it uptight, pin it, push! and 18 liters in 15 seconds! Amazing! I jumped on the bike, pressed start and off I went. Again still felt comfortable so realized I still had room for improvement. It is fucking rad to read the times on the wall while are you are all tucked in behind the screeen at 120mph+ … 1:51, 1:49, all down to 1:47 which felt quite fast at the time!!! ;))) Finally with the last ray of light we finished in a well fought 12th that smelled like a victory!
Photography by Mon Brea