Saturday, August 30, 2008

Northbrook, Ill. HPV races - July 13, 2008

MICHIGAN HPV ASSOCIATION President Mike Mowett of St. Clair Shores raced his Optima Baron at Northbrook. In the stock class,he finished 8th in the 200 meter sprint at a speed of 34.494 mph; in the 50-lap race, he finished 10th at an average speed of 23.559 mph. The Northbrook velodrome is 383 meters around. (Mike Eliasohn photos)

SO WHO'S DRIVING? It's Chris Burkhardt on the left who's steering; Bill Cook is the stoker. Cook owns Barcroft Cycles, but this tandem isn't one of his production bikes. They only raced in the 200 sprint, at a speed of 29.766 mph. A mechanical problem kept them out of the 50-lap race.

THE PANTHER streamliner built by Steve Spencer and his father, LaVerne, of Illinois, was still experiencing teething problems at Northbrook, but is technically very interesting. In the streamliner class, Steve finished third in the 200 meter sprints at 36.050 mph and, minus the top half of the canopy, was fourth in the 100 lap race at an average speed of 17.813 mph.

LAVERNE (at right, wearing straw hat) and Steve chose to use 700c x 23 (27-inch) wheels front and rear for minimal rolling resistance. The frame is chromoly steel tubing, TIG welded. The seat height is only 4 inches from the ground, and there's only about 1.25 inch of space between the bottom of the seat and the fairing, through which the chain has to run to the rear drive wheel. Front-wheel-drive was considered, Steve said, but he and his father decided that would make the drive train even more complicated.

In order to get a lower "hood line," instead of using a conventional front fork, LaVerne designed and machined this center pivot hub, which uses two bearings.

THE LAUNCH TECHNIQUE call's for Steve's wife, Teresa, on in-line skates, to hold the Panther upright until Steve has enough speed to pedal away. Unfortunately for Teresa, when Steve went down, which happened more than once, she also went down. (What some wives will do for their husbands.) Notice that until it's time to launch, there's a blower blowing air inside to keep Steve cool. See more about the Spencers' streamliner at

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