Cycle News

Cycle News 2014 Issue 14 April 8 2014

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 114 of 117

B elieve it or not, the ban- quet on Saturday night celebrating the 70 th anni- versary of the Trailblazers was my first. Chances are, it won't be my last. Not that every Trailblazers banquet isn't special, but this one most definitely was. This one was a can't miss. The club was honoring three-time World Champion Kenny Roberts with its highest honor – the Dick Hammer Award, an honor that symbolizes drive, determination and desire. Most definitely three traits of arguably the greatest motorcycle racer of all time. How could I miss that? I couldn't and neither could my date for the night: My dad, who had a little to do with Rob- erts' career or as Kenny would later tell the Trailblazers in his speech: "I know you brought Kel Carruthers here; he had to watch over me for like 20 years and I couldn't do this without Kel." So dressed in our Sunday best, we headed north to Car- son to honor the King. On the way there we solved most of the world's problems. Well, at least when it came to MotoGP, For- mula One and Obamacare. Once we got there, the first person we ran into was Bill Wer- ner, who is basically the flat track equivalent of my father. Then Roberts walked up and pleas- antries were exchanged before my dad started rubbing Roberts' bald head telling him how happy he is that he's aging so un-gra- ciously. You gotta love old guys. So honest, so brutally honest. I heard Roberts tell one portly gentleman, "Well, at least food seems to be agreeing with you." Ouch. But Roberts didn't have to get old to say it like it is. He's always done it that way. With age, he just does it more and with less regard for who is listening. When called on stage to accept his award, the line that will stick in most everyone's mind was the one to president Don Emde and former president Keith Mash- burn, the two emcees of the event who were both clad in gold Trailblazer big-shot jackets straight from the closet of your local and likely deceased Cen- tury 21 realtor. It went something like this… "If you spent a little more mon- ey on the wine and less on your blazers…" Okay, it went exactly like that. The two bottles of cheap wine placed on everybody's table wasn't cutting it for Roberts, who at one point had to throw $20 to a waiter to bring him another. With this wine, that probably equaled a $15 tip. The Trailblazers also learned something: Setting two bottles of cheap wine on a table with Roberts and his friends… well, that's like presenting Mr. T with a charm bracelet. As he said early in his accep- tance speech when downplay- ing his accomplishments on a motorcycle: "I did what I did and I can't do anything about that. Now I can just get drunk and en- joy it." Of course, the room erupted in laughter. Several times. Our second stop in our pre- banquet loop of the outdoor area that featured the Tom Cates Me- morial Bike Show & Reception was to where Dick Mann was standing. Dick Mann is simply the Man. With two Ns. One of the true gentlemen of the sport, the two-time AMA Grand Nation- al Champion is probably the one American rider who my father raced against for whom he has the most respect. It's obviously mutual. "We're lucky the tracks weren't longer and faster or we would have never seen which way you went," Mann told dad. My dad likes to joke that it al- ways used to be that I was Kel's son but now he's Paul's dad. On this night, I most definitely was Kel's son. And proud of it. Hear- ing Mann say things like that… how could you not be proud? But back to the banquet. There's bench racing and then there's bench racing. What I learned from my night with the Trailblazers is the older you get BY PAUL CARRUTHERS CN III CARRUTHERS SAYS OLD GUYS RULE P114

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