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Mar 28, 2014

Danny Farnsworth Memories: "Remember That Crank?"

FIRST PERSON/OPINION

To this day, several of my friends and I still commonly use the phrase “remember that crank?” It dates back to the early and mid-1990s when we went through the new racer’s school at Willow Springs, headed by Danny Farnsworth.

Danny always had some words of wisdom, and warning, for those new racers who were doing their own work on their bikes. It usually took the form of a story, mostly hypothetical, yet clearly based on a composite of real world experiences and mishaps he’d witnessed out at Willow, and elsewhere.

The most memorable for me, was his scenario of having your motor apart Friday night, hoping to get it back together in time for the WSMC race weekend. You then realize that your crankshaft doesn’t look so good, in fact, it really needs to be replaced. However, you know it’s unlikely you’re going to find a new crankshaft and get it installed in time, and even if you could, you can’t really afford it right now anyway. So you figure it’s good enough, and it surely will last one more weekend. So, you put your motor back together, and you head off to Willow Springs that weekend. 

So come Sunday afternoon you’re chasing down some squid heading into Turn 8, and you’re about to go underneath him midway through 8, moving at about a buck fifty, and….”remember that crank!?” This is where it chooses to grenade of course, and so the seemingly endless process of a terrible and chaotic crash ensues, with horrific injuries to both you, and the guy you took out, because you made a bad decision. Then begins the detailed account of the costs associated with the entire scenario, from the totaled bike, to the $1500 taxi (ambulance) ride to the hospital, the thousands in the ER, thousands more for surgery, all the lost income and work, eventual eviction or foreclosure, the wife leaving you and taking at least half of what’s left, and then it really starts to get bad after that.

Clearly, he successfully drove his point home; I remember it 20 years later.

To this day, when someone is doing something they know they shouldn’t be trying to get away with, someone will inevitably say “remember that crank?!” 

That’s the memory that stands out the most for me. 

I ran into Danny and spoke briefly on occasion during the months that I sporadically raced with WSMC over a three or four year period. I never got to know him personally, but I always appreciated what he brought to WSMC, the riders, and the sport of motorcycling. I know he’ll be missed, and I wish the best to his friends and family.

Sincerely,

Peter Collins

WSMC # 622

Goleta, California