24 Hours at WOT Are No Big Deal For a Honda

Photo: Kevin Hipp

Even for a 30-year-old Honda that happens to be air-cooled. And a two-stroke.

At noon on Sunday, our Craigslist-bought 1982 Honda MB5 crossed the finish line at the Willow Springs kart track to finish the M1GP 24-hour race. All the bike needed during the event was a steady supply of premix and the occasional squirt of chain lube. At times it also needed to have its handlebar straightened, but that wasn’t the bike’s fault.

Several more modern, more technologically advanced machines were sidelined with mechanical issues, but the little Honda never missed a beat. A post-race teardown of the engine revealed that it could have gone another 24 hours at redline without issue. Besides a minor head gasket leak, the top end looked excellent, with the plug showing a chocolate-brown color that says our jetting choice was spot-on—no easy task considering that one setup had to work during daytime highs in the 90s and nighttime lows in the 60s.

Our strategy was that of the tortoise in the parable; slow and steady. The Honda wasn’t hot-rodded; rather, it was completely stock save for a K&N air filter. After the race several people commended me on my preparation of the little bike, but the credit goes to Honda for engineering the engine to last. All I did was rebuild the thing according to the service manual.

I got lucky with the timing of my four 1-hour stints. Riding into the sunset, then under a full moon, and then into the following day’s sunrise was an experience I’ll never forget. In the end, our ragtag team of six riders turned 1134 laps of the 0.6-mile Willow Springs kart track. We were racing for fun, to give the junkyard MB5 a second lease on life, and to raise money for Riders for Health. In the end our Facebook friends helped us raise $1100, strikingly close to the number of laps we rode.

Overall we had a tremendous time. I’d love to race the M1GP 24-hour event next year. If I do it probably won’t be on the MB5, but it will definitely be on a Honda.