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Daytona Diary: Vintage Racing at the Speedway

Hand-built hand-jammer

By Rick Menapace

AHRMA Vintage Racing Gallery

The #27x bike in the "Class C-Hand Shift" class was listed in the vintage racing program here at the Daytona International Speedway as a "'71 Honda CB," which it obviously wasn't. But its pilot, Ross Tuffli of Lowell, Michigan, is better known in the American Historic Racing Association (AHRMA) as the reigning champion of the Production Lightweight class on his '71 Honda CB350 Twin, so that's what they typed on the entry sheet.

Definitely not a CB350! Tuffli (left) and Faber with their Harley racer, kind of a Frankenstein’s monster with a ’39 WLDR motor and ’41 frame and fork. Photos: Rick Menapace

Tuffli's Daytona racebike was actually a Harley-Davidson WLDR of various vintages. Builder and bike sponsor Tom Faber of Faber Cycle & Machine of Greenville, Michigan, explains: "We have an antique motorcycle club in Grand Rapids, and the guys in the club donated a lot of extra parts to put together a racebike for Ross. He's been riding hand-jammer flatheads for 25 years—the only Harley-Davidson he's ever owned is a 1933 VLD flathead, and that's his everyday bike. So we figured he was the perfect guy to put on this bike. He was a little out of character on the 350 Honda."

So how did the bike do? "This thing hadn't even seen the pavement until we raced at Roebling and Savannah," said Faber, referring to the traditional pre-Daytona warm-ups. "It took a fourth place and a fifth place, and we're happy with the way things have gone. A couple of pieces bailed out on us; we lost a bolt out of the clutch pedal and didn't finish one race here (in Daytona), but otherwise it did really good."

Ironically, it was the new stuff on the bike that caused grief, not the 65-year-old parts. "At Roebling, Ross got a fourth place and our front brake wasn't even working," says Faber. "It was an aftermarket replacement part. It just didn't work. We were worried that it would lock up, so he just backed off the adjuster and hardly used it all. He just used the rear brake, which is dangerous. When we finished at Roebling, we went through a swapmeet and found a used front brake—an original Harley piece—and installed it."

Vintage racing: Behind the colorful machinery and characters, it's as competitive and tough as racing can be. This week's racing at Daytona proved it.

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