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Gary Allen's Dinosaur Diary

Race Weekend with Team Tyrannosaurus X

July 10, 1998
Knowing it was Friday, I left work especially early to assure my flight from LAX to San Jose. Mary, Mikes girlfriend and tireless supporter, picked me up from the airport with her pick-up which I promptly filled with all the gear I was shlepping. Two video cameras and the attendant paraphernalia to continue documenting the journey from idle conversation all the way to a vehicle capable of competing on a race track. When we pulled into Mike’s driveway, I was overwhelmed by the amount of supplies packed and neatly stacked for loading. He seemed to be constantly searching for the one thing he might have forgotten. Pete Ruff backed his plush pick-up into the driveway and Mike ran the CBX up the ramp and onto the bed. Mary finished packing food, drinks and snacks and we loaded all the gear into both pickups and took off for Gregg Beebe’s house. He lives a very short distance from Sears Point Raceway and volunteered his brand new, almost finished, personally hand built digs for a crash pad. Since Mike’s plan was to arrive at the track at 5 AM on Saturday this was indeed most fortunate and greatly appreciated.

Pete Ruff snores. He accuses me of the same but I never heard it and he could provide no further proof. I kept waking up to charge all the camera batteries. Maybe I was slightly nervous about the race too.
July 11, 1998
4:30 AM is an ungodly hour to wake up and have to perform a task as complicated as dressing. Never the less, a sense of excitement and anticipation gradually crept into our stumbling and bumbling and galvanized us into action. There were about 15 vehicles of various size and description ahead of us when we arrived at the still locked entrance gate about twenty minutes later. About the only thing in common was the racing bikes each had attached behind them. Around 6AM they let us in, each of us signing a release acknowledging the dangers of motorcycle racing. We beelined it to a prearranged spot near the first overpass and quickly staked out our area and set up our tent. We unloaded the gear and the bike just as our rider, Denny Doherty, pulled into the adjoining space next to us. We immediately started his gas generator to charge the battery as we were running a total loss electrical system. No alternator or starter on this bike. We are told that our first practice should start around 8AM. Pete, Mary and I are so busy setting up tables with ICOA memberships, CBXpresses, hospitality goodies and toolboxes that we have no time to really think about how the bike will perform. Mike, on the other hand, is constantly fussing and adjusting.

We wheel the 6 down past other riders and machines to queue up for “Tech”. There are many looks and some remarks but Denny’s reputation gives us a lot of credibility. Our “X” is super sanitary and the official can pretty much see the great care that Mike has lavished in preparation. We pass. Back to our “pit” area and on the charger while last minute adjustments are completed. No one passes by us without some sort of looksee. Friends begin to show up for support and help. Suddenly, the first call for group 4 practice is announced. Denny dons his leathers. The generator is disconnected and shut off and the quiet is a relief. Mike is pushing Denny down pit row and the X roars to life. Heads turn. We dash to the top of the stands. I with the video camera and Mike with his clip board and stop watch. All eyes are on the track. My heart is beating like a stretched cam chain. Mike turns and winks. There it is. A CBX is on the racetrack. My knees are weak. The rest of the day becomes a blur of testing and modifying and testing and videotaping and timing and testing. All at a frenzied pace to accomplish as much as possible between practice sessions. We are hoping for at least a 2:08 lap time. Denny dips below a 2:07. We are all overjoyed by the time the final practice session is over.

Exhausted.....but overjoyed. We have two more modifications to make. Denny wants the Corbin seat back closer to the tank, so we scavenge up some boxes and Mike figures out how to make a racing seat from cardboard strips and duct tape. Denny is pleased when we are finished. Mike raises the front end 5mm and changes the oil while the announcer asks everyone to clear the pit area for the second time.

We head back to Greggs for a welcome shower and off we go to a Mexican joint for din. Mike says we can sleep “in” tomorrow it being Sunday. We don’t have to arise till 6. Pete still snores.
Sunday July 12, 1998
By 6:30AM we are packed and riding around town looking for an open coffee shop which we gratefully find and enjoy. Our stuff is already at the track so we get to work immediately when we arrive. Some friends are already there to lend a hand and cheer us on. After the morning practice session Mike drops the fork tubes back to their original position. He wants more time to experiment with the air pressure in the rear tire but that is not to be. Super Dinosaur is the first race of the day. They are having the riders meeting and the track is eerily silent for the first time. No motors running and all the generators seem to be shut down. I go up to my perch at the top of the stands and video the crowd waiting for the announcements and questions at the riders meeting to end. Suddenly the P.A. system comes to life and they announce the first race. The commentator mentions specifically Denny Doherty astride a motorcycle which hasn’t been seen at Sears Point Raceway in some time. He describes it as two miles long and 6000 pounds. As Mike disconnects the generator and prepares to push start Denny, Pete notices a crack in the main fuse. The spare is also cracked and Mike has to hard wire it together with only 15 seconds to race time. If it wasn’t for Pete, 17 months of work would’ve gone down the drain for a 50 cent part.

After the hasty repair they are lined up at the starting grid.. The noise of the engines build. The crowd is standing. The excitement and anticipation is palpable. I am seeing everything through the narrow confines of the camera viewfinder. Suddenly, the first wave takes off. I am not prepared for this. I didn’t realize that three waves will be on the track at the same time. We are in the third wave. When the X finally takes off the guy in front of Denny stalls. Denny has to roll off the throttle and go around only to be slowed again by two guys bumping into one another. He goes around them having now lost substantial time at the start. Rod is videotaping the distant twisty part of the track from another vantage point while I am in between the front and back straights. The course covers two and a half miles in 11 corners. Our race is shortened to 7 laps because of an earlier practice accident. I can hear our cheering section screaming but I am too intent on keeping the X in frame in the completely zoomed in viewfinder. I cannot tell where Denny is in relation to the other riders. I can see sparks fly from the X at various turns as Denny lets it all hang out. Then the checkered flag appears and everyone is running for the pits. I find out that Denny has taken fifth place in a race with 13 other bikes.

We are ecstatic and everyone is hugging one another. An almost unbelievable accomplishment made especially significant when considering our totally stock motor, the unfortunate start and frying the rear tire on the fifth lap. Which, by the way, he ran at an unofficial 2:02:71. And.....I have the video to prove it. This was only my second time at a race track. I went to Daytona in ‘96 but the races were rained out so this was really my very first race.

I will never forget it as long as I live.

Gary Allen ICOA#2460

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Team Tyrannosaurus X Logo (c) Mike Donndelinger 1997
Diary (c) Gary Allen 1998
Photos (c) Pete Ruff 1998
Web Page (c) International CBX Owners Association 1998

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