MotoElectra: Blue Grass Bike takes 2nd in National Championship for 2011

Just got this from Brian at MotoElectra- a great piece from their local paper.  A little long, but a great story and well worth the read:

By Anne Adams • Staff Writer, Highland Recorder

SALT LAKE CITY — Highland County’s famous electric motorcycle went out in style last Sunday.
At Utah’s Miller Motosports Park, located on — believe it or not — Sheep Lane; pro rider Thad Wolff pushed Moto Electra’s battery powered machine to a great conclusion, taking second place in the overall points for the TTXGP North American National Championships. The Norton bike had been built, re-built, tweaked, re-tweaked, painted and repainted over the years by Brian Richardson, inside his sheep barn in Blue Grass. So, arriving at Sheep Lane for the bike’s final race of its life, he said, was a good omen.

Friday, they got to do some real testing on the track. Though previous study indicated the bike should be geared taller, Wolff wanted it geared down — way down.

“That was opposite of what we thought we should do,” Richardson said. “But we geared it down, and it ran faster and cooler than ever. I guess you can chalk that up to Thad’s experience … it was running really nice, and really cool.” Richardson had pushed himself the week before, repairing the faring that had been damaged during a crash earlier in the season. He knew he wanted that aerodynamics back to help improve speed. Then he called neighbor Wilt Simmons, who dropped everything to get the bike painted in one day. “We put it in the trailer almost wet, and let it dry on the way to Utah,” Richardson said.

Saturday before the big race, Wolff qualified third on the grid for the start. The Motoczysz bike, built with a million dollar effort qualified in first. “Motoczysz just gave an amazing performance,” Richardson said. “It was running the same lap times as 600cc gas race bikes — It just took everyone’s breath away.”
But Richardson and Wolff were happy with the Norton. After years of work, the Norton was finally running exactly the way they’d always hoped — fast, and cool.

The tech inspector took a look, and he had this list of little things he wasn’t crazy about, but one of them written on his list was: “Remove all sheep sh*t from foot pegs.” In fact, unlike all the previous racing events, Richardson found himself with nothing much to do for the bike before the championship race, except maybe scrape off any residue from his Highland farm.

Sunday finally came. It was so unusual not to have any last-minute engineering or design issues to address that Richardson said it was sort of nerve-wracking. “Everything was done … I didn’t know what else to do. I guess that’s as it should have been,” he said. “The bike was fully developed. Thad asked me about our strategy and I said, we’re just racing ourselves.”

As the race began, the Norton ran hard and fast, and didn’t overheat. During the second lap, one machine on the track broke down. Motoczysz stretched it’s commanding lead. Richardson stood by the track, and watched anxiously as Wolff pushed the Norton ever faster. “He was coming into out of the turn deep onto the front stretch, and then going all the way to the wall,” Richardson said. “It was very dramatic; he had to be going over 100 mph at the wall and I was just inches away from him. Then in one turn, he took one hand off the bars and threw up a V, a victory sign. I knew he was having fun and the bike was running good — I was so happy!

“Then, all of a sudden, on the next lap — it seemed impossible — the Brammo had pulled away long before, but now Thad was pulling up behind him.” The spread had been several hundred yards between Brammo and the Norton, but somehow Wolff had reduced that to only about 50 yards. “I motioned for Thad to go get him!,” Richardson said. “In the last turn, the Brammo was only slightly ahead — maybe a 2.5-second split at the end of 20 miles between our bike and the factory built and supported Brammo.” In the end, Motoczysz won the race. Brammo and Moto Electra secured first and second, respectively, in the national championship points standings. “It was a great finish,” Richardson said, elated by the outcome. “Brammo deserved to win, but we were gaining on him. Our bike was stronger than ever. One more lap and I think it could have been a different story.”

Richardson was particularly pleased all his design efforts had paid off on the temperature. While the Norton had previously heated up to 160-170 degrees Celsius, after Sunday’s race it was registering under 100c. “That’s our last race, and we’re going out with a bike that’s performing like we wanted,” he added.

TTXGP called Moto Electra a “fan favorite,” reporting that “Moto Electra has been a consistent and extraordinary team, having participated in every single TTXGP track event ever held in North America. This is an amazing accomplishment from this privateer team and testimony to the passion and drive of all involved as well as single minded determination and grit. Brian Richardson added that this had been an adventure of a lifetime. Being part of it had been a dream come true in bringing together his passion for Norton and the future drive train technologies into a single package.”

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