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Round Three: Straight-Line Stoopidity!
Palmdale, California, April 5, 2002 --

You want real-world testing? It hasn't been this real-world for me since I got rid of the '67 Chevelle, pal: Los Angeles County Raceway, Wednesday Grudge Night. I had no grudge going in, or did I? Minime had applied a sound thrashing at Fontana last Friday....

I forgot how much fun drag racing is. The cars are a little different now--all sorts of Hondas and things--but still enough old Camaros and Falcons to divert my glance, occasionally, from all the bare-midriffed high-school sweetheart types milling about, who the socks I was wearing predate. The LA crowd likes to deride the desert-dwelling Palmdalians, and now I realize it can only be about LA's envy over having no drag strip. I don't remember them ever letting dates ride shotgun when I used to torture-test drum brakes in my 427 Chevelle, or maybe I just never had dates? Anyway, we sat next to the same young couple in a yellow '68 Mustang quite a few times in the staging lanes. Before the first run, the blonde cutie in the passenger seat looked a little tense; after about the third, our boy was enjoying back-rub action in the driver's seat waiting for the next pass. Young love, sighhh... Next time your girlfriend/wife/whatever says you never take her anywhere, rent a Hertz Mustang, "thow the top down, and take the wench drag racing--$15 a car. I axe you, is there any finer entertainment bargain? The cheese burgers aren't too bad either.

The MO staff, however, was not here to play. We were here for serious business, and, at great personal risk, took it upon ourselves yet again to plumb the performance parameters of our three contestants in this, the final showdown, the Freakness Preakness, for the coveted Open-class crown.

The youngsters were a tad apprehensive, but all that evaporated after the first couple of smoky tire warmings. Drag racing is pure, stupid, forget-your-troubles Fun--well, it is when you're riding completely stock bikes that feel damn near unbreakable. (The Chevelle used to find at least one thing to break every time: rocker arm, clutch, wheel....)

On with it then: the Suzuki kicked their butts again. Matter of fact, I think MY, NOT MINI's, 10.51 second, 137 mph pass, kicked the butt of every vehicle in the place that night. Minime said it best, when he said "the only way the Honda or Yamaha will beat that thing in a drag race, is if they pull into its draft off the line, then slip-stream past at the end." Unfortunately, drafting is a no-no at the strip.

I made ten runs on the GSX-R if I made one, also on the Honda, likewise aboard the Yamaha. So did Calvin, so did Minime. We tried different launch techniques and rpm, different tire preparations, different religious rituals. And, at the end of it, we still sucked. Actually I wouldn't say we sucked, I'd say these numbers are way more in line with what the average, casual drag racer might achieve himself, compared to the numbers you read in the magazines (which are achieved at the cost, usually, of a fragged clutch or two and a bunch of passes in search of the perfect one).

This, at the end of the evening is where we arrived (corrected for Palmdale's altitude):

The Times, The Points
__ GSX-R1000 CBR-954RR YZF-R1
JohnnyB 10.51 @ 137.16 (3pts) 10.94 @ 128.76 (1pts) 10.82 @ 128.65 (2pts)
Minime 10.75 @ 136.70 (3pts) 10.90 @ 128.72 (2pts) 10.93 @ 128.90 (1pts)
Hackfu 10.89 @ 136.94 (3pts) 11.00 @ 127.67 (2pts) 11.02 @ 129.49 (1pts)
Average Time/Total Points 10.72 @ 136.93 (9pts) 10.94 @ 128.38 (5pts) 10.92 @ 129.10 (4pts)
For those of you who will whine, regardless or irregardless, here are the figures you'll read in your June Cycle World, as arrived at by the lovely and very fast Don Canet:
Don Canet 9.95 @ 143.69 10.32 @ 138.12 10.32 @ 137.60

There are various lessons in here for all of us. One is that fast guys go faster. Two is that whatever your talent level, you go faster on a faster bike. Three is, these things are all Howitzer-proof; we tired out before the bikes did (not sure about Canet's test fleet, though). Four, Minime's got no answer when I'm on my game--NO ANSWER! As far as one bike being easier to "launch" than others, I, JB, had no preference, really--though it was amazingly difficult to pull my left foot up to shift into second when I got it right on the GSX-R. You can feel that three-tenths of a second more muscle in the left front quadrant of your sphincter. Careful on the Honda; with the front wheel skimming the ripples at the top of first gear, its bars will get lively. The Yamaha remains user-friendly, and the blue shift light is just the ticket for howling toward the timing lights through a star-filled, dark desert. Most fun we've had since last Friday at Fontana.


Running total (street plus track plus drag-strip points):

Suzuki GSX-R1000: 23 pts
Honda CBR954RR: 20 pts
Yamaha YZF-R1: 17 pts

Minime said it the best:

"Honda's a bit tricky to launch and shakes its head like a Mofo if you're not ON the tank. Suzuki just has so much motor, the launch doesn't matter. Yamaha is somewhere in between, and maybe easiest to launch well."
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