Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1970's

Cycle News 1971 06 15

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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f.!·~t"rl· ~.... .' ..-, • (.:J'~l:(,11 )I};.~ .,/~1 ., 1:.J=J~1\5~ t\\'.,~ -,', .... ,'" .~~~ ~~ ..... ~ FROM GILMORE SPEEDWAY TO CAPITOL HILL ., c: The Honorable Glenn Malcolm Anderson tells how it was, and is, with mo torcycles, people and politics. By Charles Clayton HI made money racing motorcycles," the U.S. Representative from the 42nd Congressional District admits, gazing at the mid-distance with his powerful blue eyes, the eyes of a competitive creature, a racer's eyes. The congressman is relating the story of his youthful involvement in the action-packed world of short track, what we now call Speedway. "I made money and brought it home," Glenn M. Anderson, then known as Glenn Malcolm, emphasized. "I didn't go out and blow it, like most of the riders rlid." Glenn Anderson was born in the bottom of a national depression. "It's hard to understand what a depression is like unless you've lived through one." He graduated from Inglewood, Calif., High in June of 1931 and couldn't get a job until Christmas, then only as a temporary messenger for two weeks during the rush. "The lowest messenger job was on foot," he explains. Next highest were the guys on bicycles and the best jobs of all were the motorcycle messengers." Glenn owned a bicycle and the company liked him, so they kept him on after the Christmas season and he worked his way up. Soon he purchased a Super.X for $60 and won a promotion to the elite corps of motorcyde messengers. Meanwhile young Anderson had become somewhat of a nuisance to the local fuzz. As a messenger his mission was to get the message delivered fast and ,?ot get caught. If this entailed losing the local motorbIke patrolman on some of the cross-country terrain that connected parts of Los Angeles before the whole county got paved, it couldn't be helped. Police were different back then. Three of the local cops happened to be fans of the then-popular short track racing. They reasoned that talent like young Anderson's should have a better outlet than unsanctioned races with the black and white. They laid out a 1/5 mile track on a baseball rliamond, as ", ilO. every ••fo.o.i'e ~ea'er :l .., ~ w Z W ..J U >- U The Honorable Glenn Anderson demonstrates his speedway style, reputation as a racer brought him a lot of tune-up and repair work - cars as well as cydes. Soon he had a thriving, 24-hour gas station, auto parts and repair service going. Meanwhile a new device had appeared on the speedway trad.s as an "added attraction." il ., disfrict " I••e..."ve 'I', .ef o.e .oforc,cle de,'er 'I~ , cal'f recall iis I••e ;.Sf 10•. " was the custom then, and invited him there to practice. Soon the three cops and the young speedster were convinced that the kids was good enough to enter the races. "I'd never seen an actual race until after I signed up that first night," sayds Anderson, his eyes going wide with recollected fear. ''They were going through turns leaning on each other's knees! But I was committed, so I went through with it. I never became a top line rider like Lammy Larnroreaux or the Milne brothers. I was.bette~ as a manager than as a racer_" He bought two new Crocker short track racers from the Los Angeles factory and sponsored Sid Chambers and Manuel Trujillo on them. Anderson soon quit his messenger job and opened a one-pump gas station in Hawthorne with his winnings. His mother manned the pumps whenever Glenn was off racing, driving an old Buick with the Crocker bikes in the spare tireweUs as much as seven times a week. He maintained the bikes at the station and invested his winnings in the business. His engine built on an old Harley-Davidson lower end, the thing had four wheels, like a midget-ssize race car. Nobody could see any future for the "Drake Shakers," or "midgets" as they came to be called. But the days of short track in America were numbered. "Audiences could identify with four-wheeled racers, where they had nothing in common with the mo torcydes," Anderson explains. Crowds diminished and speedway tracks folded as the midgets began to rule. Finally a promoter put together a series in Australia for the hungry speedway stars and Anderson decided to hang it up. "I wasn't hungry enough," he explains; he had a going business to tend. In the final years of the depression things went extremely well for young Anderson. He became famed as a mechanical diagIlostician who could tell what an engine needed just by listening to it run. He had three truck distributing products to service stations in the area and he took on a couple of car public service, Anderson next tried for a State office and was defeated. Out of a job with a long time before election, Anderson didn't know what to do. "Why don't you run for the Democratic Committee?" a friend suggested. Anderson rlidn't know what that was, but was elected anyway and found himself on the inside of Democratic Party politics. He was elected to the state Assembly in the following election, but by this time World War II was in full swing. He gave up his legislator's deferment and enlisted as an Army Private, selling his business at a loss. That, except for the recent purchase of a couple of Honda Trail 90's, was the last time that the world of motorcycling touched the world of Glenn Anderson. Today, he seems both proud and apologetic for the role motorcycling played in his past. I asked him about this apparent rlichotomy. lie was thoughtful for a moment before he answered. "In the realm of public relations," he replied, "motorcycle people have somehow missed... This is something we will have to cure ourselves," he said. "You need to identify the doing of good things with motorcyde people." The Congressman is aware of the need for places to ride. "This is a big country," he points out. "There is still plenty of room for every need." He has worked on obtaining Camp Irwin in the Mojave Desert from the federal government for an off-road recreation park. "But I don't want to be identified in the conservative community that I serve as a spokesman for Hells Angels and the like," he cautioned. His family is not proud of his motorcycle racing background, either. Pressed for suggestions how we can "cure" ourselves of this poisonous public image, the Congressman leafed through a copy of Cyde News that I had given him. ''Well here's what I mean. Everything here says 'action, excitement. '" Why don't you do a special edition showing motorcycling in a setting of more repose? Get in the press by community service - always volunteer to help. Participate in parades, community cleanup campaigns. When there is a Republican or Democratic Party convention, appear and tell motorcycling's side of it. Volunteer to help in community projects... not just as citizens, but as motorcycle enthusiasts_ Join service dubs like the Lions and Kiwarlis. This is what "Gef il f'e ,ress " co••'lif, serrice .. "."5 ~o"lfeer fo 'e',. '.rfid,.fe il ,.r.d.s, co••'lif, cle'I', ".,.i,ls." ----' dealerships - all before his 25th birthday. During this time some friends persuaded him to run for city council, much in the same way his policemen friends had set him up for motorcycle racing. Anderson ran, and was defeated by 18 votes. His competitive spirit was aroused. Next time he ran, he was elected overwhelmingly, and the City Council followed the mandate by naming him Mayor. At 25 years of age, Glenn M. Anderson had become the youngest mayor in the world. . Having a business that ran itself and a devotion to your opposition does; you'll have to do it too." I mentioned that many motorcyclists do participate in community and church activities and do all these things, but seldom let it be known that they like motorcydes. Dealers and distributor personnel say they are in the "motor" business when pressed for what they do, as if ashamed of it. The Congressman reckoned that was probably so. "I know every automobile dealer in my district by name," he remarked. "See them all the time. I've- only met one mo torcyde dealer and I can't recall his name just now. tJ

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