"I cannot do this," I told myself as I wrestled the big Ducati through the Pomona Half-Mile's rough and rutted turns. Thrown in at the deep end, out in practice for the Open class of Gene Romero's West Coast Flat Track Series, I tried to stay out of the way as the other, more experienced riders dive-bombed under me going into the corners and slingshot past me on the straights. I don't think I breathed once my first two laps.
And then a magic thing happened. Realizing that the bike was never going to turn with the throttle closed and the tires plowing through the ruts, I grabbed a big handful mid-corner, the rear wheel stepped out, the front pointed straight up the track and suddenly everything was right in the world!
I won't pretend that I set a new track record-or even went fast enough to make the field-but for the first time in my all-too-brief dirt-track "career," I felt like I knew what I was doing. And that I might actually be worthy of writing about this bike I was allegedly "testing."
For as long as anyone can remember, AMA Grand National Dirt Track racing has been the sole property of Harley-Davidson and its iconic XR750. Sure, King Kenny Roberts (Yamaha), Ricky Graham and Bubba Shobert (Honda) won championships on rival brands, but they're the exceptions to the rule. Not since the early '70s, when guys like Gene Romero himself were riding BSAs and Triumphs, has Harley had any real competition.
It wouldn't be accurate to say that's about to change, but the wind is starting to blow in a different direction. And the bike shown here is at the forefront of that movement.
Most race fans know Larry Pegram as a roadracer, and well they should, as he won three rounds of the 2009 AMA American Superbike Championship aboard the Ducati 1098R featured on the previous pages. But he cut his teeth in dirt-track racing, winning more AMA amateur titles than anyone else in history and three Grand Nationals aboard Harleys and Hondas tuned by the legendary Skip Eaken. More recently he rode a Lloyd Brothers Racing Aprilia at select races, but his primary focus was roadracing, and Ducati wasn't keen on him riding another brand. Which got him thinking...
Look ma, no brakes! View over the high and wide Vortex handlebar is sparse, with only a th
This particular Ducati GT1000 came with twin shocks, but was modified to run only one, lik
The stock-framed GT1000 Larry Pegram rode at Springfield (top) and the "framer" he rode at
"I missed dirt-track-my last year racing full-time was 1992," Pegram laments. "Ducati gave me a Hypermotard with the two-valve 1100 motor, and the power pulses felt just like a Harley. So I thought, let's build one."
Pegram enlisted the help of the Lloyd brothers, David and Michael, who bought a wrecked GT1000 with a salvage title for $5000 on eBay. Measuring the stock chassis, they realized the numbers weren't too far off, so rather than building a custom frame decided to tailor it.
After modifying the swingarm to clear the spec 19-inch Dunlop (nee Goodyear) tire, they lowered the rear of the bike, determined the correct leverage ratio, made new shock mounts and bolted up a fully adjustable Penske. Those changes kicked out the steering head, so they made up some new bearing races to bring it back in as far as possible without the front tire hitting the forward cylinder head.
Removing the cross-bracing let the frame flex more to cope with rough tracks, while relocating the battery and electrics above the engine increased forward weight bias to give the front tire a better bite. The front end consists of a Honda CBR600F4 fork bolted to adjustable Baer Racing triple clamps, while the rear brake was liberated from an Aprilia campaigned in the AMA MotoST series. A custom gas tank, seat and foot controls, AirTech fiberglass tailpiece and Performance Machine aluminum wheels completed the chassis.