Cycle News

Cycle News 2020 Issue 16 April 21

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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CN III ARCHIVES A fter finishing fourth in the 1983 AMA Grand National Championship Series, a Texan by the name of Don "Bubba" Shobert wanted a factory Harley-Davidson dirt track ride in the worst way, but the company was already fielding a top-notch, three-rider squad. Honda, however, was looking to make a run for the title, and it needed good riders. Shobert was one of two men fit for the gig. "For '84, Harley had Springer, [Randy] Goss and [Scott] Parker, and me and Ricky Graham were like the next two guys in line," Shobert says. "Harley had a pretty full boat already. There was no- where else for me to go." It was hardly a second-class option, as Honda's once-laughed- at dirt track program had begun to turn around. Following Scott Pear- son's win at Louisville on the Honda NS750—an odd machine with an engine based on the company's CX500 street bike—Honda intro- duced its RS750, a "full-race" motor that would prove itself in competi- tion over the next four seasons. "It looked like it was working good enough that I could ride it, and it would be worth it for the money," Shobert recalls. Shobert was assigned to tuner Skip Eaken. Immediately, the two were successful. If it weren't for his listening to some bad advice at the St. Louis Short Track, which led to P96 which I won, while I was under ap- peal. Then when they ruled against me, the AMA took my points away from those two races and counted them as two of the nine. Yet when Bill Werner got caught cheating—he grabbed the wrong cylinder off the shelf, you know that deal—King got suspended for four races, but he got to keep the points he earned while he was under appeal. What did I ever do to them [AMA]?" The aftermath of the Shobert suspension was probably the most dramatic finish in AMA Grand National Series history. Shobert lost the '84 title to Graham by one point at the Springfield Mile. Even so, the magic was just beginning for Shobert and Honda, who went an altercation with fellow Texan Terry Poovey and a subsequent nine-race suspension for Shobert, he might have won the title in his first season with Honda. "Poovey wasn't with the Honda deal anymore, and he was kind of mad because we were doing good," Shobert recalls. "I had raced against him a lot growing up, and he was al- ways older than me. I took a lot of him stuffing me along the way. In St. Louis, it happened in practice. We were going down the straightaway, and he put me into the hay bales that were lining the track. I hit one and endoed. "Graham was my teammate, and he was in the pits, and he said, 'Man, if he'd done that to me, I would punch him!" Shobert did, got busted by the AMA, and effectively "boxed" himself out of title contention. Years later, Graham would admit that his sug- gestion was more calculated than emotional, though Shobert isn't as angry about that as he is about how the AMA handled the affair. "I fell for it," Shobert says, "but what gets me is that they suspended me for nine races, and I got to race at St. Louis and one more race, Bubba Shobert won his first flat track title in 1986. The Texan went on to win two more. BUBBA SHOBERT: THE ORIGINAL BY SCOTT ROUSSEAU

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