Hearing of a mythical creature called 'Lurch' you might conjure an image of some fear- fully deformed monster emerging with an unsteady gate, Out of the swirling antediluvian mist dripping with primordial slime. Though the exploits of Lurch are certainly part of Texas race lore and its reputation has attained a mythical quality those myths have some basis in fact. At least they do if you believe Vernon and Mark.
According to them Lurch is no swamp thing but a racing motorcycle. In another of their 'tales from the bar room' they revealed the fable of Lurch and how Kevin became entwined in the saga.
Vernon claims closest association with the creation and hence started the story. "Lurch was kind of special, unique is the word that comes to mind though it has been called other names. We took a Yamaha XV92ORJ, '82 model and we built a superbike out of it, or a pro twins hike to be exact, back then it was battle of the twins."
"It seemed like a good idea at the time. The AMA had just gone to 750 capacity for the Superbikes and the only thing we had as a 750 was the Seca. That had a really nice shaft drive on it, just perfect for road racing. We wanted to build something so we put together the XV920RJ because being a twin we could run it in the twins race and the Superhike class, get into twice as much trouble."
"It turned out to be a really good project, it worked good and it was noisy. It got its name of Lurch because of the way it would evacuate the start line. It was running against four cylinders most of the time in club races and it would Out accelerate anything off the start. You could have first place....for a while.
Most of the time it would maintain that position, it was good. I won the B Superbike championship with it and was third in Formula One. It was pretty much unbeatable at a regional level."
Mark added a technical point to Vernon's eulogy. "It was a 'big bang' motor before people realised what 'big bang' was."
Vernon was principally responsible for the creation of Lurch and should properly be referred to as 'The Lurchkeeper'. He explained Mark's role. "Mark had been involved in the project from the beginning as the slave.... I'm sorry, the mechanic."
|Lurch, the living breathing embodiment of one man's interpretation of a road racing Excalibur.|
Kevin and Lurch were destined to meet as Vernon explained. "Kevin had been riding an FJ600 all year, going all over the country and smokin' people who had never heard of him. Makin' them not believe it was possible so that they had to see photographs of themselves being pummelled by this kid on an FJ600 before they would accept it."
"Laguna Seca was coming up and he wanted to ride. He was ready to make that step to an AMA National. I couldn't go but I had a bike that we knew should be competitive so it kind of seemed a reasonable ideato let him take it out there and see what he could do with it."
"He took Mark with him as a mechanic, I had to stay at work, at KassonYamaha"
"We got the bike ready so late that they had to drive straight through, eighteen hours or so to get to Monterey in time. All that I know about the trip I know from Kevin and Mark, some of the things he doesn't even remember."
That is Kevin who is not meant to remember, Mark ad all the sordid details to hand.
"We were about a case an a half of beer down the road, almost out of the city limits.No in fact we were way out in the desert and we got a flat tire on the trailer. That was kind of obvious as it was swaying back and forth taking up all lanes of the highway. We had the back of the pickup truck and the trailer completely stuffed full of bike and equipment, I mean we were loaded for bear".
We thought, oh well there's no big problem we'll just put the spare wheel on the trailer.... except there's no spare wheel and the truck wheel wouldn't fit. So Kevin decided to go back to town and leave me stranded on the side of Interstate 10 with the trailer... a flash light and a magazine...."
"He showed up about an hour and half later. He couldn't find anywhere to fix the flat so we just had to load everything in the back of the truck using all the tie downs we had and all the duct tape to more or less keep it all on the vehicle, it looked like something out of the Oklahoma Land Rush."
"We abandoned the trailer at some farmers house and thought we'd pick it up on the way back."
Unable to stay out of the story for long Vernon tossed in an observation that seemed to cover any time they were all in a truck together with Kevin to whom he made an accusation. "When we were in the truck with the windows rolled up and you would fart and then roll down Mark's window just a little bit. Knowing aerodynamics like you did you knew it would suck the smell across.
"It all started because he took his tennis shoes off,' said Kevin in mitigation. "I was asleep against the window and he flung his shoes off while he was driving. It was lucky we weren't pulled over for an emissions test, I woke up and accused him of running over something long dead."
Mark continued with even more unsavory reminiscences. "Anyway, we drove all night long and traded foot aroma and personal exhaust. We eventually got to California without too many more dramas. We were a few miles from the track and we decided that as the track was just about an hour away it would be good if we could get some sleep. We got about seventeen minutes of sleep, got a shower and went to the track. I assumed Kevin would have entered, but he hadn't so we had to drive back into town and went to the office where you had to fill out the entry forms and all that."
"To think he 'would actually have entered, but then that's Kevin. Recalling this is very painful for me, I went through a lot of counseling after that trip, I had just about got over it."
Mark took a moment to compose himself before going on with the story. "Kevin got a whole lot of practice when we got there. He'd go out for a whole lap, then bend the shift mechanism and come back in again."
As the Lurch's normal rider Vernon explained the problem. "Kevin was a little more brutal on the equipment than I had been."
"He hadn't built it," Mark pointed out.
"Right", said Vernon. "I'd gone the whole year and no problem, Kevin went like half a lap and made the shift linkage look like spaghetti. Mark made about three different shift systems to get one that would last."
Mark explained how he managed. "I went to all the factory teams and they wouldn't loan us any material to make linkages with, funny they don't craft things out of solid at the race track, strange way to go racing."
|Not only was it somebody that no one had ever heard of but it was on a machine that no one had ever heard of, seen, or dreamt of in their darkest moments.||
There are no spare parts, it's an off the wall deal so anything you break you have to remake it by hand from raw materials, they got pissed when we started mining for Bauxite in the pits."
I found an old Renthal motocross handlebar cross brace, used the Makita drill and drilled it, tapped it and finally found like a one inch diameter shift linkage rod that would withstand the pressure he was generating with his foot."
"Its such a skinny assed leg too isn't it," observed Vernon. "With the few laps that he had made in practice it was enough to make every body stop what they were doing and say, 'what the hell's going on.' Not only was it somebody that no one had ever heard of but it was on a machine that no one had ever heard of, seen, or dreamt of in their darkest moments.
Kevin agreed that things went pretty well. "We got beat by four HRC kitted Interceptors. I was fifth in the heat race behind the other factory riders, Merkel, McDonald, McMurter and I don't remember who. When I came in from the heat race Kenny Clark of Yamaha was looking at it. It was the only Yamaha in the event and it wasn't even a four cylinder. He certainly couldn't believe it."
"I almost did lead the final into the first turn."
"He got up to an unreasonably high position in the race," recalled Mark. "Shooting for sixth or seventh, I'm sure the factory Hondas were blocking him.
"Then it spun a rod bearing," admitted Vernon. "The Corello rod that they sent me for some reason took a different rod bearing to that which I had been using. I didn't realise that, got the new rod, put in a new bearing, the same as I had been using all along. Bolted it up and it was apparently too tight."
"Still we had a great time," concluded Mark, "raced a bit partied a lot. We stayed in a nice hotel... well that's an exaggeration... I don't think it had any windows in it. We weren't getting to bed 'till late and of course the trash truck did its rounds at 3 o'clock in the morning on Sunday to pick up the people
"Then we headed home. Pretty quiet trip but the trailer had gone.
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