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  • Battle At the Barn - Des Moines Iowa. Flat track racing photos

    On January 24th and 25th 2014, the 6th annual "Battle At The Barn" was held at the IA state Fair grounds in Des Moines. A full discussion thread on the 3WW Forum in the racing section can be found here. Luckily, we were able to get teamed up with Chuck Stowe, a photographer local to the track and familiar with shooting the races there to bring you readers these awesome pictures from the race that weekend - full photo gallery later on in the story.

    These races have gained some notoriety over the years for the very different, but cool style of racing it is. You see, they use coke syrup as a traction agent on the very small arena track to basically keep everyone from skidding all over creation on the slick finished concrete underneath. I'm told the stick you feel on your shoes when you walk across it is pretty gnarly. Think old movie theater floors under the seats, x 10.

    As you can imagine, this would require a very unique and special setup on the machines. The Missile Engineering super lowering kits are very common amongst these racers, as well as setups using kart racing wheels and tires for the absolute closest center of gravities you can get without dragging on the ground full time. The lengths these guys go to make the machines suitable for this type of competition is pretty impressive. In a brief summary, you end up strutting the rear end, using custom hubs on the front and rear to adapt to kart wheels and tires, bend/adjust/fabricate a lot of new levers so that they are easier to access when hanging off the left side of the machine almost entirely. Custom nerf bars (that are more like a horizontal roll cage than the nerf bars you may be accustomed to seeing in motocross racing) are also standard fare for these guys. On the late model 250Rs, pretty much everyone is running an HRC Short-track kit with the increased turning radius.

    Circle track racing in general is known to be a little more aggressive, rider wise than other types of racing, where you most of the time have a lot of room (and good reason) to avoid other riders. On such a small arena type lay out, it is much more common. You know the saying, "Rubbin' is racin'" and it definitely rings true with these guys! It takes extreme skill, faith in your equipment, and trust in fellow racers to run such tight lines and close proximity with each other on the track, and these guys do it lap after lap.

    We did a little Q&A with a few of the riders that were there and competed in this very unique style of racing to get their take on it. First up is Eric Moore (Outlaw #24 on the 3WW Forums) followed up with Matt Robi (xrider on the 3WW Forums).

    Photo courtesy Chuck Stowe
    3WW: How did you originally get involved with the coke syrup racing, and how long have you been doing it?

    Eric Moore (Outlaw #24 on 3WW Forums): My brother was racing in this pavilion we have at the state fair grounds and they had a coke syrup race at, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, down town. The promoter was K and J enterprises, (Kenny Davidson and Jim White), a friend of my brother John Malloy, asked if I wanted to ride his 200r on the coke syrup because the guy he had riding it in the Barn (Pavilion), wouldn't run it on coke syrup, I said you bet! That was like November 1987. I think I did good but I think my brother Curt won it! Another guy Bruce Wolf had 2 200r's and told John he had a ride for me if I wanted it. 1 was being ridden by Jeff Ness and the other one used to belong to Jordan Albaugh and it was a Selvy but didn't have an ignition so you had to gas the heck out of it or get lapped. The other unit had a motoplat ignition. That engine was built by Mike Elsberry for team Honda and Rodger Berman Ran it.

    Any way that's where I started with the 3 Wheeler Racing on Coke syrup and on dirt and MXing , I won the 1st heat of the geriatric Class at Trike Fest and 2nd in the main last year My wife and I had a Blast and We are planning a return trip this year. I have raced every chance I have had since 1987 and That means Just about every year. The pavilion, Jim White Had us racing in there from October 1st to the end of March Every weekend unless he had us on the coke syrup. In the Summer we raced at the county fair races around the state. I bought a 1988 TRX250r and raced and rode it to death. I Raced Bruce's 3 wheelers for about 3 or 4 Years, Until I bought him out in about 91 or 92. I Have always loved the 3 wheeler since I first rode my old 185s then I got 1 with a Shock and engine kit. I rode Another friends Kaw 250 till it was junk . John wanted me to ride his on coke syrup in 1987 because he knew I would run the crap out of it!

    3WW: Besides the missile kits and the normal lowering to get the machines as close to the ground as you can, do you guys do any other special mods? If someone wanted to come race with you, what would you tell them they needed to do to their machine to come and be competitive?

    Eric Moore (Outlaw #24 on 3WW Forums): Well My friends from Topeka and my son are always up to something They bent their handle bars and as you might know Fast Eddie snapped his Axle this year on practice night. It was built so that he could bolt modern go cart hubs on it and move the wheels in and out more easily than what we had been doing. He won last year and raced it a few times last summer. Part of the reason he built that axle is because what we used to use is no longer available so people like Fast Eddie are having to come up with alternatives (updates). I gave My son an axle that was bent he said 60 thousands and he turned it down stuck a go cart axle over it and plug welded and welded around the shafts together the sunday before our race last week. It worked so far. I will take photos if anybody wants?

    I don't do anything different than I have been doing for years. I run 5" Burris K4 on the inside and 6" Burris T2 on the outside You Can't get those for the last 10 Years ! I saved few for this stuff, But everybody else are going to the hoosier tires . I had a inside nerf bar because the last year we raced in the Barn 2001 , I had to race with the 3+1 wheelers and Jim White said after the 1st week, that I had to have it. I don't run fenders , We have a strut we bolt from the top shock mount to the swing arm and take the air box off and run a filter directly on the Carb. The forks are lowered in the triples about 2 to 3 inches and I just took the top 3 inch spring out and stuck it on the shelf. We have had stock stuff here and been highly competitive.

    Eric(#24) and his son Mike (#69), neck and neck on more than a few occasions.

    3WW: I raced 1/4 mile clay flat tracks for a few seasons about 5-6 years ago, and I always enjoyed having the quad and dirt bike guys tell me how crazy I was for being out there on a three-wheeler. Do you guys get that in this type of racing too?

    Eric Moore (Outlaw #24 on 3WW Forums): I get the You Old Man when are you going to give it up! That's usually from people I used to Race 3 wheelers with
    I chose 3 Wheelers as a hobbie years ago and Yes I am getting older But I am still getting after it. I retired after 35 years with the government as an inspector, in October and have started doing Inspections on my own. I Have ALWAYS , lived, slept, dreamt, ate,talked about 3 Wheelers. I have been reading Mike Coe's stuff and it takes forever for me because I absorb everything. I will Help anybody that needs my help with anything I can anytime I can especially if it has to do with 3 Wheelers. Did I hear that Kiester is putting on a flat Track at Trike Fest

    The side most people normally see of Eric Moore's machine.

    Matt Robi wore the #331 on his tricked out custom Yamaha Tri-Z

    3WW: Matt let me 1st congratulate you on the heat win that you pulled off. That had to be an awesome feeling to get to the front! What was it like to see that opportunity to get around those two guys that got tangled up?

    Matt Robi (xrider on the 3WW Forums): It was a great moment. I knew from the first heat race that Streeter (Tecate) likes to ride the rail and bump pass. So I felt comfortable when I found myself in 3rd midway through the second heat. It was only a matter of time before he got tangled up with Johnson on the #88. They were banging around for a while before they finally locked up and I could get a clean pass. The key with this type of racing is patience. Without it you will find yourself tangled up with another rider or even the wall.

    3WW: When I had text you after seeing the heat race you won you told me that its some very tight racing and that you had tire marks up your back, how does that happen?

    Matt Robi (xrider on the 3WW Forums):In a race such as this one it is all about keeping a low center of gravity. The syrup on the track makes sliding very difficult, so you are forced to hang even further off the machine than you would on a dirt oval. Many of the guys racing will even sit directly on their inside nerf bar while cornering. This was the case in the first heat race for myself when Streeter’s right rear tire ran over my left rear tire. That contact kicked his right rear tire up and into my inside nerf bar where it continued to drive straight up my back.

    3WW: Sounds like the nerf bars you see on the bikes are needed and maybe more! What else goes into the set up of these bikes? We even seen the axle snap on Eddie Bergman’s bike. Rumor is that was an Oem extended axle?

    Matt Robi (xrider on the 3WW Forums): Agreed, the nerfs are definitely a necessity. Without them, the wrecks you commonly see would be much worse. The common setup is a 16 – 18” tire up front with 11 or 12” go kart tires in the rear. How you get the go kart tires mounted up is where you see differences between the machines. Many of the guys on the track are running the old Missile Engineering Conversion kits. These kits use an adapter to allow you to bolt up old style two piece kart wheels. For the racers that don’t have access to the Missile Engineering components, more custom setups are used. Two racers that competed this year actually grafted a go kart axle to their stock axle. To do this, the stock axle is turned down in a lathe to match the I.D. of the kart axle. The kart axle is then slid over stock axle and welded in place. Mike Moore who won the race this year was using a setup of this nature, however so was Eddie Bergman whose axle snapped.
    In either type of setup used, the common factor is STAGGER and OFFSET and lots of it at that. On my machine I run a 3” missile adapter stacked on top of a 4” spacer for a total of 7” of offset at the right side hub. Additional width is also had by using wider wheel halves on the right half of the machine. I am also running a 12” tire on the right half of the machine and an 11” tire on the left (this is the stagger) in order to help pitch the machine left naturally.

    3WW: How are the racers out their are they welcoming of new racers? Looks like numbers are growing every year

    Matt Robi (xrider on the 3WW Forums): The racers are great. We have an awesome group of guys that have been coming out the past few years, with a few new faces along the way. Everyone is very welcoming and willing to help each other out if someone incurs a breakdown. New racers are always welcome and for those few who are up for the challenge of setting up a coke syrup racer, help and advice can found through myself and other veterans of the sport.

    3WW: I'm sure everyone would also like to see some before and after pictures if you have them and Anything else you feel like needs to be said or cool information. Where is your go pro videos ill link them too

    Matt Robi (xrider on the 3WW Forums):I’ll send you some of the pictures that I took from the pits. I haven’t uploaded the go pro footage yet. Still have to figure out how to do it. This was the first time that I used the Go-pro.

    Or use the Drop-down box below:
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. hobbystock76s's Avatar
      hobbystock76s -
      That 14 he is a ruff one
    1. JasonB's Avatar
      JasonB -
      Cool article! Those action shots are sweet
    1. Outlaw #24's Avatar
      Outlaw #24 -
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbystock76s View Post
      That 14 he is a ruff one
      He is very new to this he has been there the last 2 or 3 years and is trying hard. He has a really good Coach (Tim Stephens and Owner) , All of the newer people are very aggressive as you could tell. They'll figure it out that sometimes you have to slow down to go faster!
    1. atctim's Avatar
      atctim -
      Fantastic read - great article to say the least!
    1. keister's Avatar
      keister -
      Great article. Two thumbs up!
      But to answer the question, "No, I am not putting a flat track in at Haspin." I can't even get them to have the MX track prepped correctly before the race. Maybe someday.....
    1. Super350's Avatar
      Super350 -
      these racers are MEN!......very,very

      also, what's with the water bottle on the down tube of the tecate???
    1. oile's Avatar
      oile -
      its an overflow catch bottle for the radiator 84-85 tecates dont have an overflow resvoir
    1. Billy Golightly's Avatar
      Billy Golightly -
      Quote Originally Posted by Super350 View Post
      these racers are MEN!......very,very

      also, what's with the water bottle on the down tube of the tecate???
      Most type of flat track racing require a coolant catch tank because anti-freeze will do very slick and bad things to the racing surface. Its as bad if not worse than oil.
    1. jim v's Avatar
      jim v -
      XLNT photo's good history..
    1. slashfan7964's Avatar
      slashfan7964 -
      Awesome shots!
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