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Jun 21, 2001

Chouinard Was Unfairly Singled Out In Loudon Disqualification, According To Engine Builder, Team Owner And Chouinard Himself

After finishing second in the Suzuki Genuine Accessories 750cc Supersport race at New Hampshire International Speedway on Saturday, June 16, Barry Motorsports/Sparks Steak House's Chuck Chouinard was disqualified for illegal engine modifications. But Chouinard's engine builder, White Tip Racing's Michael Cox, says that Chouinard was unfairly disqualified.

In a telephone call to Roadracing World Tuesday June 19, Cox said that he was informed by Jim Barry, owner of Barry Motorsports, that Chouinard was approached by AMA technical officials after the 750cc Supersport race.

"(They) asked him, ‘How big are you?'" paraphrased Cox from reports he received from Barry. "Chuck tells him, and his little running joke is, ‘186 pounds, but I'm really 230.' Something like that. This is what (they) told him. ‘You're seven tenths (of a second) off of Miguel Duhamel's times and there's no way a guy your size can be that competitive. We're gonna tear you down to the crank.' So basically, the guy was guilty from the word go whether they had seen anything or not. So automatically he's cheating because he doesn't have enough skill to go around that track even though he probably has hundreds of thousands of laps around the track."

Chouinard's second-place finish in the 24-lap 750cc Supersport final earned him a mandatory trip to post-race technical inspection. "(AMA tech officials) proceed to check the stroke, the bore, and everything else that they possibly could on (Chouinard's) motor. They actually did tear that motor down to the crank. They didn't do that with the other podium finishers. They checked the stuff that they were supposed to check on all three guys. They tore (Chouinard) completely down but not the other two guys.

"They tore him down to the crank and couldn't find a damn thing illegal about the motor. Finally, they took one of the valves out of the head. They take it into the trailer and do their little thing with their microscope or what not. They come out after a few minutes and say, ‘You're disqualified. Your valves are no good.' Because they had scuffs on them from cleaning.

"Jim Barry called me right away. I got on the phone with (AMA Pro Racing Superbike Operations Manager) Ron Barrick. (Barrick) tells me, ‘These look like they were put in a lathe and had material removed.' I said, ‘No sir. That's not what happened.' He says, ‘Well, that's what they look like. Either that or you took sandpaper to them or Scotch-Brite.'

"At that point, I didn't want to get into it with him because I could tell from the tone of his voice that no matter what I was gonna say to him, it was gonna be wrong regardless. He tells me in the rulebook it specifically says that you can't take any metal off of the motor, period. It also says, ‘Light cleaning of gasket surfaces with steel wool, Scoth-Brite, etc. is allowed.' So that's not the case. Then he tried to tell me, ‘Well, it also has a catch-all rule, if it doesn't say you can, you can't.' When actually, it doesn't say that. It says, ‘Only the modifications listed in this section are permitted. No other changes from showroom stock will be allowed.' How is cleaning a modification? If cleaning is a modification, then every bike out there is illegal because you have to be able to clean your parts.

"So in a sense, a privateer guy rides six months. He's got a lot of talent, but not a lot of money. He rides for six months on one set of valves and then decides, ‘Hey the big race is coming. I need to get my stuff straight.' He gets the valves out and they're a little pitted or something. So he can't re-face those? He has to buy a brand new set of valves which is gonna cost the retail guy $400 or something. He can't clean his valves? That means that every other race he needs to pull his old valves out, thrown them in the trash and buy a new set.

"I also asked Ron Barrick to take that valve and measure it with another stock valve and just make sure that there was no material removed. What I call material is metal, actually metal shavings, putting it in a lathe and tearing metal off of it. Well, (Barrick) wasn't gonna do it. He wasn't having it. He said, ‘It doesn't matter. They have marks on them.'

"Jim Barry went and talked to some factory mechanics and asked how do you do this (clean carbon off valves)? They came right out and said, ‘You put them in a drill. You spray some WD40 or some brake cleaner or whatever you've got on them. You put a little Scotch-Brite on them, and you knock off the carbon.'

"All I'm trying to do is get some redemption here. I tried to talk to these guys (the AMA). They don't want to hear what I have to say. Since I'm the up-and-coming shop and we're kind of doing fairly well, I don't want to be known as the guy who got Chuck Chouinard on the podium after he tried all those years and got him kicked out because I built him a cheater motor. It's not good for me. It's not good for Chuck. It's unfair because they branded him from the word go."

Chouinard himself told Roadracing World, "I finished 16th in the Superbike race and went to Tech," as he was required to do after AMA Tech officials reluctantly sealed Chouinard's motor following Saturday's 750cc Supersport race. "Mladin's bike's in there with Bostrom's and Yates' Superbikes and my Supersport bike. Nobody is looking at the three Superbikes, and I got three tech guys looking at my bike. They started ripping the thing apart. The took the head off. They took the valves out. They checked the bore. They checked the length of the rods. They checked the thickness of the head. They checked the thickness of the case. They took the transmission apart to make sure we didn't put any kind of kit tranny gears in there. They looked at the crank.

"My bike was apart for like three hours with three different tech guys looking for something. The only thing they found was a mechanical cam chain tensioner which is illegal but isn't a DQ'able offense. Ron Barrick said to Jim (Barry), ‘We can fine you for it, but we can't DQ you for it.'

"So while they're tearing my stuff down, this same tech guy comes over to me and says, ‘We were looking at your times and you're pretty comparable with Miguel's 600 times at this track.' I told them that this was my home track, and that I've been racing since 1992. Anyway, Miguel DuHamel hasn't done shit there in a couple of years ever since his crash. They said, ‘There's no physical way that you could be comparable with these pro guys' times with your size. What is your weight?' My resume says 186. He says, ‘You're well over 200 pounds. You know what? We're tearing this down to the crank.' He said it just like that. I said, ‘Fine. It's supposed to be an AMA-legal motor, that's what we told the guy to build.' After three hours they couldn't find anything, then they come up with this thing with the valves.

"I don't know if the Attack guys put pressure on them Saturday after the race when they saw my mechanical cam chain tensioner, because Richie's gonna be in (the Championship) for the long run. Maybe they're (AMA) pissed off because they are fighting with the guy that owns the track, and I'm a Loudon guy. So maybe they figure they'll fix the Loudon people by beating up on their so-called Loudon guy. I don't know. I don't know why any of this happened.

"I was out in practice with Eric Bostrom and his Kawasaki 600 was as fast as my bike was on the front straightaway gear-for-gear. He was doing 13.2s, and I was doing 13.4s. I know that I'm sporting some weight on him, but my bike makes 134 horsepower."

Team Owner Jim Barry told Roadracing World, " I feel like I've been pulled over by some small town Sheriff like you see in the movies. You know where the guy breaks your taillight after he stops you? I've been an AMA member for 19 years, and now I don't want anything to do with the AMA"

Barry said that he was in the process of filing an appeal on the grounds that the valves were not altered, but cleaned in a common manner, and that Chouinard was discriminated against for his weight as if there was a predetermined lap time that someone could do for a particular weight.

Chouinard said he doesn't feel that anything will change with the appeal. "It's like a ‘kangaroo' court. They are policing themselves. Nothing's going to change," said Chouinard.