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After the Vincent streamliner was returned to me in August of 2002, I was under the assumption that Dave Campos would continue to pilot the machine, however, Dave sent me a very nice letter a few months later explaining why he would be declining the offer to continue piloting Black Lightning. He said he'd promised his wife that he would retire, and further explained that she told him, "You already have the World Land Speed Record for Motorcycles, both FIM and AMA, so what do you have to gain?". I couldn't come up with a good argument, so my thoughts went elsewhere.
My back up rider, Don Vesco, had his problems as well regarding taking on the chores of piloting Black Lightning, as he had serious health problems.
So with two of the "World's Best" no longer available to the project, I decided to go with Don Angel as the primary rider, and in lieu of protecting the project I decided to once again have a back up rider. Many--and I do mean many, volunteered for the ride. All were politely denied for one reason or the other.
I had just joined a Vincent internet messaging group, and was quite impressed with an individual who posted regularly. His knowledge of Vincents was extensive, and 99% of his mechanical posts I agreed with. He was the perfect age, not too young, not too old, athletic, and the right size, and most of all he was a motorcycle racer who wins. His name is Hartmut Weidelich.
Hartmut was born in 1963, in Aldingen, Germany where he still lives and runs his own British bike business, Dominator Engineering.
Hartmut started racing at the age of 16 as passenger to a friend with a sidecar MX outfit. After his friend gave up racing, he bought the outfit. After a few years of racing with the heavy four stroke twin outfit they switched to a light weight, two stroke single. Success came immediately as they qualified for European championships after only two years. They only raced one EC meeting, but won the first heat.
As the guaranteed starting money, badly needed, never materialized, he had to quit racing in 1991 for several years, and concentrated on other things, such as building his business repairing and tuning his own Brit bikes.
After owning Nortons for many years, Hartmut found a wrecked HRD 1000 from Argentina, which had been rebuilt, and started his frame making side of the business, building an Egli frame for it. He soon learned the skills of aluminum beating, as he made tank and seat for this bike as well.
After an extensive amount of redesign on the engine, he got it to go quite well. Top speeds in the region of 230kph were reached, but the HRD cases couldn't cope for long with the raised power, which meant more teardowns every winter....
When he got tired of working on the HRD, he built a blown Triumph sprint bike in between--so he could have a blast on the local airfield now and then. It's got a 650 Thunderbird engine bored to 750, and a Shorrocks C2 blower--weighing 120 kg and having around 100 hp.!
As a replacement for the genuine HRD engine, Hartmut made wooden models for his own set of cases and heads etc. He's finished the cast parts for the first engine, and plans to build a short stroke 1000cc chopped Vincent look-alike. No ordinary Vincent mechanic is he.
He says a road race meeting in France opened his eyes a bit further. Despite blowing the 4 other Vincents (3 Egli 1200, 1 genuine 1000) on the track in the weeds with his 1000cc HRD, he had even more fun on the quickly cobbled together featherbed Norton 750 racer that he built for his wife, Petra, so the HRD got retired into the shed while he built himself another FB Norton.
First it started out to be a pure racer, but after awhile he says he thought it stupid to give it only a couple of outings on racetracks throughout the year, when he could be riding it on the road. So in the end it got lights and a better exhaust to make it road legal. He says this is still the only bike he rides on the road, as it can easily run with much bigger bikes.
Hartmut's Vincent career has been pushed by various articles in German motorcycle magazines, so he gets many Vincent engines in for repair. His machine shop has all that's needed, so he can tackle all problems that will ever occur on a motorcycle engine. As a side effect he developed some parts to make Vincent life easier, such as a multiplate clutch and Gardner type carbs. The clutches were sold as far as NZ--he says he's never had a customer complain that it didn't work. In fact the first clutch has worked in a heavy riding customers HRD for more than 12 years now and has done around 150,000 miles without needing new parts! He says he thinks it might be slightly over engineered. :o)
Racers prefer Weidelich's big Gardner carbs so these have been sold to people all over the world, with very good kudos such as, "I found 4 more hp on the dyno--thanks mate."
As road racing got very expensive Hartmut only had one or two outings a year on his old machinery--taking the HRD to the track and occasionally a borrowed HRD kneeler outfit. Usually he came home in the front row. He says scrambling with a 4 stroke bike was always in his heart, so he bought his first 4 stroke in 1995. From then on he always had one in the shed, and got into racing again. Solo scrambling was never his strongest point--best result was second place in the home club championship in 2005, so he got very excited when another racer approached him about going sidecar again.
In Europe there's a strong community that races the old 4 stroke outfits up to 1985. They set their target on this class. Having ridden right-handed outfits all his life, he now bought a left hand outfit. It was cheap and he guessed he could ride it just as well. Hartmut's new passenger, Thomas Grotzinger, adopted quickly to the "wrong" side of the bike and they started beating a lightweight outfit. In 2007 they went to their first real sidecar MX race in more than 10 years. The season was a success, getting them on the rostrum in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, to finish as Vice Champions in the heavy weight side car class.
My intuition that Hartmut would be the man to do the job as back up rider has proven to be correct. He's been on the salt every year since 2004, but didn't get to ride in 2004 due to mechanical problems. Since then he's survived a rear wheel explosion in 2005, managing not to even scratch the streamliner. He also held on in 2006 when the bike ran out of fuel, locking the rear tire and blowing it out. When that happened he went through the traps backwards at 150 mph., and has a timing slip nailed on the wall in his shop to prove it.
In 2007 during the last run of the Bub Meet, Hartmut, pulling high gear only from a dead stop, accelerated to 250 mph in a two mile distance, on a bad track.
He'll be attending the 2008 Bub Meet, where he'll do his bit, I'm sure, to put more records in the Black Lightning column for the Vincent marque.