Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1960's

Cycle News 1968 11 07

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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Ph otos by Dennis Greene & John Shedd GARDENA, Cal., Oct. 12 - No Hollywood scriptwriter couldpossibly have contrived a more dramatic, suspenseful climax to the AMA Championship point race than the J.C. Agajanian- promoted S-Mile National at Ascot Park. Locked in the bitter es t of battles were top Harley-Davidson contender Fred Nix and defending Number One title holder, Tril1mph' s Gary Nixon. Only nine points s eparated them going in to the tinal Na tio nal of 1968, and NiX, by virtue of a recent As cot Main Event victory, was favored to hold onto his lead, it not incr ease it. Nixon, on th e other hand, was a definite underdog, especially af te r fin- isbing a distant l Oth in last week's halt- mlle outing . Down For The Money The grandstands were Jammed with excited, race-hungry fans, final track preparations groomed the dirt oval to perfection - and then the a ctio n beganl Tension became almost visible as the Expert heats lined up , each Ie-man event looking li ke a National in itself. But only the tirst three would transfer directly to the flnal, whlle 4th, 5th and 6th place finishers had one more chance _ in the semi-main from which Just three more riders could hope for a go at the $6000 8- Mile purse. Fast qualltier and Ascot point leader Mel Lacher (H- D) overtook Nix in the initial Ie-lap heat, stretching it out and setting a new track record in the proces s . Later , BSA-mounted Chuc k J ones also got by Fred, but Nixon - 4th at the fin ish - was relegated to the semi along with teammate Chuck Palmgren and Ron Kruse man (BSA). Three-time National champ Bart Markel, a strong H- D hope after five National wins earlier in the s eason, retired with mechanIcal pr oble ms on lap four to the di sappointm ent of many who hoped to see him better his 4th place ove rall point standing. The next heat found Lawwlll zooming to victory, wire-to-wire, though pressed in the early going by 4-time 8-Mile winner Sammy Tanner, aboard a Royal Enfield. Tanner , making his tirst appearance since fracturing a collarbone, tired visibly and slipped to 6th, then scratched from the semi. Lawwlll was followed to the flag by DeWayne Keeter (BSA), Clyde Ll tch (Triumph), Shorty Seabourne (BSA) and Bruce Holland (Triumph) . Time fo r the event was nearly three seconds slower than Lacher'S. Dan Haaby (H-D) assumed an early lead In the tlna1 preliminary event and held it til lap 8 when Triumph tiger Gene Romer o took over for keeps. Cal Ray born (H-D) grabbed third ahead of BSAr iders Lloyd Houchins and Tim Harris, though a truly impressive tirst- timeAscotperfor man ce was turned in by 5-time Canadian road race champ Yvon DuHamel before his 350cc Yamaha blew. DuHamel burrowed from 8th to 5th in six laps and appeared capable of moving even farther forward until beset by mechanical woes . Now's The Time Eager anticipation rippled through the crowd as the Expert semi riders rolled to the li ne . This was it. If Nixon didn' t finish at least third his Championsbip hope s were over. But into the first turn he flew, ahead of the swarming pack! Only fi ve laps to decide the flnallsts , and on the thi rd time around Seabourne Continued O Page 5 n SOl06 I,IJIJIII:J '. :lel S JII, pJUllnOS lI:leas Jal, IIIJ1N un SMJN mo

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