A weekend spent racing a 250

By Milt Schullian

  I was asked to fly down to Albuquerque, New Mexico to help with a race team that wanted to put a Parilla on the track. The weekend of April 18-20 was the AHRMA vintage races at the Sandia Motor Speedway just West of the city.

  When I arrived, I was put to work pushing bikes around and cleaning at P.J. Johnson's place. P.J. decided this year to put his old Parilla racer back on the track after years of sitting around. The racer was Hal Burton's old bike which P.J. bought in the early 70's. He raced it into the 80's before calling it quits. The bike need a complete once over (well, several once overs) to make it road worthy. P.J. and Jack Dannenburg spent huge amounts of time bringing the 250 back up to race standards. The bike was tested at a "secret" desert location only to reveal a problem with the head. It would have to be replaced. Parilla parts are very hard to come by and one cannot go down to the dealer and get a new head for a 40 year old motorcycle. This also explains why you don't see Parillas on the track anymore. The parts are just not available in quantity to go racing with. P.J. and Jack managed to find a suitable head to work with and burned the candle at both ends to make it work before the race. 

   Thursday before the racing, we were at the track to dial in the motor and do some final checks. Jack took the bike out for several laps and gave the bike the OK for the weekend. Dave Chrone, our hired racer for the bike, arrived the next day. He was also going to race his Ducati as well as the parilla. Friday was practice for all racers and the Parilla was put to the test with the other bikes. Dave took the bike out and realized that the shifter was installed with the pattern opposite of what he is use to. How can you get good times when your riding two bikes with different shift patterns? A fix would have to be made. P.J., Jack, and Dave managed to fix the problem with some brainstorming and a few spare parts. 

 Saturday was the first real race for the Parilla. Dave was getting the bike dialed in and was ready to go. His lap times were starting to come down during practice and there wasn't much else to do until the first race. Dave was in the middle of the pack for starting. Some old hand shift bikes were allowed to go first before Dave's class was to start. The flag was waved and the bikes were off. A gust of wind just after turn 1 nearly blew Dave off the track. This unsettling event really put the brakes on the whole race. Dave just couldn't push the Parilla to the limit without worrying about dropping the bike. He hung in there throughout the race placing 5th. Not too bad for a seldom seen, 40 year old bike. Looks like we still have a good shot at improving our standings on Sunday. At least we knew what we were in for. 

 Sunday was our last chance to get the Parilla to do better. During the practices, P.J. was noticing that Dave's track times were getting slower and slower. A check of the bike found that the front brake was sticking after the lever was released. Jack made the last minute fix and the second race was on. We pushed Dave out of the pits and he was off onto the track for the warm-up lap before the start. When it was time for the bikes to line up for the start, Dave was nowhere to be seen. He was coasting back into the pits! When we asked Dave what happened, he said that the throttle cable broke on the last turn before the start. And if that wasn't bad enough, the improvised footshift was coming lose and ready to fall off. Either way, the Parilla just wasn't going to finish no matter what. We were all disappointed about the turn of events, but one just can't predict how things are going to turn out. As for Dave and his other ride, he managed to place second with his Ducati on Saturday and slid off the track in a turn in Sunday's race. Saturday's races were promising, but Sunday's races were a bust, but that's racing. I think Sandia Speedway might host the vintage event next year. Maybe the Parilla might be out running again? 

 Team Parilla: P.J., Jack, and Dave

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