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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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VOLUME 57 ISSUE 16 APRIL 21, 2020 P97 on to be the toughest trio in a field as talent-rich as at any time in the sport's history, with Shobert reeling off three consecutive titles in 1985, '86 and '87. Then and now, there are those who would argue that it was Shob- ert's motorcycle—backed by Honda's might—which was doing all the win- ning. Shobert scoffs at that notion. "I think it was the combination of the way me and Skip and [engine- builder] Ray Plumb worked to- gether," Shobert says. "We worked really good together. Except for one time, I don't remember ever winning any of the miles that I won by a large margin, and I definitely wasn't the fastest qualifier every week," Shobert says. "What'd they think that I just wasn't trying?" Yet it seemed that every time the AMA rules were amended, they seemed to favor the Harleys and hurt the Hondas—or so the legend goes. Shobert doesn't really recall that, nor does he recall the oft-fa- bled hatred by dirt track fans toward the Japanese in the uniquely Ameri- can sport of dirt track. "I feel like I was treated good ... equally," Shobert says. "I didn't nev- er see that [negativity] personally, but I was so focused on my racing that I didn't see a lot of things that I see now." Animosity or no animosity, Shob- ert's time at the top was finite. He and Honda lost the number-one plate to Parker and Harley-Davidson in 1988. The defeat cost him a shot at a true milestone. If he had won, he would have joined the great Car- roll Resweber as a rider who won four consecutive titles. "Records like that never really did cross my mind when I was out there," Shobert says. "I guess the main record that I'm proud of is winning the five different types of racing [grand slam]—Dick Mann, Kenny [Roberts] and me. Doug [Chandler] actually did it after it [road racing and dirt track] was separated, and it was a Superbike class—not to take anything away from him, because he deserves it." For Shobert, being recognized for what he had done was never as important as what he was going to do next, and while he isn't exactly thrilled to have lost to Parker—this after Shobert was disqualified for winning the Syracuse Mile on a motorcycle that was half a pound too light—both he and Honda were already moving on anyway. It was an- nounced that neither would be back for the 1989 dirt track season. "For me, it wasn't so much that Honda said they weren't going to do it anymore as much as I didn't want to do it anymore," Shobert says. "I won the Superbike champi- onship in '88, and my next step was going to be the GPs." Unlike his long and storied dirt track career, Shobert's GP career was not as long—though it was no less storied. At Laguna Seca, in Monterey, California, Shobert's career came to a crashing end just three races into the '89 season when he ran into the back of Aus- tralian racer Kevin Magee, who was parked on the track, showboating for the crowd by doing a burnout—a typical postrace celebration. Shob- ert suffered massive head trauma in the horrific incident, which was captured on national television. He would eventually recover, though he would never race again. Today, at age 58, Shobert says he has no regrets about his career or his decision not to attempt a comeback. "I would have if I could have," Shobert says, "but I knew that I wouldn't be near as good as I was even if no one else did. It's like you climb that ladder to the top, and it's hard to start at the bottom again. Even [2006], a lot of people say, 'Why don't you race dirt track and help us out?' I can't do that. In the '80s, Bubba Shobert was the only thing I lived for. The only thing that I thought of was myself, but having kids changes that. "Plus, I guess a guy likes to think that he's as good as he was." Bubba Shobert is as good as he was. Anyone who knows him will tell you that. CN This Archives edition is reprinted from 2006. CN has hundreds of past Archives editions in our files, too many destined to be archives themselves. To prevent that from happening, we will be revisiting past Archives articles while still planning to keep fresh ones coming down the road. -Editor. Subscribe to nearly 50 years of Cycle News Archive issues: ORIGINAL BUBBA

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