Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1970's

Cycle News 1979 02 28

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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16 behind me, and that is a big plus . Who else can you tum to when things don't always go your way? My father , my wife and others have pulled me through a lot of bad times during the past seven years, because if I was out there on my own I couldn't have made it . I feel things will start shaping up now . I'm not sa yIng I'm going to get rich off the affiliation with the Army, but I will ' be able .to start getting ahead. Sure, I'm out to make money, but I want to win first. " It seems there has been a sort of in visible barrier around my career that I needed to break through. I think I have. With the exception of the time I spent riding for the Triumph factory team tin 1974 , I have never had a major sponsor and that is what I feel is needed to allow a rider to put forth his best effort. "T he Army sponsorship has enabled me to hire Stormy Winters, who is a well-respected tuner , get new machinery and a new van - things I haven't had in a while. I am receiving help from Harley- Davidson in the form of bikes and parts plus other sponsors like MXL. I feel I have only scratched the surface on the potential additional sponsors. "The real key to winning is money. The more money you have behind you , the better program you can have and, in tum, the better your chances are of doing good . I've always felt I could be Grand National Champion; all 1 needed was a little good luck and the right package. 1 know I've got the package and the luck because a rider and his tuner make their own luck, and Stormy and 1 are the best. " Drag racer Don Prudhomme of th e four -wheeled set was the Army's first (and only) venture into the realm of rnotorsports until Kidd signed. Prudhomme will be a tough act to follow for Kidd, since the drag racer has dominated the Funny Car class as if he were Jay Springsteen and Kenny Roberts all rolled into one. Kidd, however , is not worried. "W e discussed Prudhomme and what he has accomplished, and they realize that drag racing is totally different from what I'm doing. I don't think anybody can dominate motorcycle racing like Prudhomme has drag racing. I'm going to put my best foot forward and do the best 1 can. 1 feel the Army picked me because 1 have a good chance at winning the Grand National Championship. I think 1 can do the job for the Army as well as Prudhomme can. That is what the Army is looking for .- how 1 handle their message and how I do at the races. " On that note, the conversation swung back to money and sponsorship. " I can't say what m y sponsorship package is worth . 1 have never told anyone what previous sponsorship deals I've had are worth and 1 won 't now . Actually, you could sa y that I can't because a part of my contract forbids me to disclose what· the figures are . 1 can say that it is a one year deal. Prudhomme is also on a one year contract. "Let's just say that it's an adequate amount to put together a good program. 1 turned in a budget that 1 felt \ would enable me to put together a competitive program with a good shot at Number One. They looked at it, approved it , and here we are. Actually it wasn't that easy. We discussed the first budget I submitted and then I revised it , They were very easy to work with and understood what I needed. It wouldn't do either me or them any good if this was being done on a shoestring. "I'm satisfied. Of course you can never have too much backing and probably halfway through the season I'll be wishing I had more. Being on the circuit for seven seasons, I pretty mu ch knew what a good program would cost . One of my big pluses was getting the help from Harley-Davidson since buying bikes and parts can take a major chunk out of your budget. He y, you can dump $10 ,000 in to a Harley very easily if you are serious about racing and winning. " If y~u do run out of money , that's tough. What you ha ve to remember is that what they are bu ying is advertising space. They give me a set a mou nt of money and I'm responsible for everything from there on out. " What, Kidd was asked , could he sa y to someone who asked if he was ever in the Army? " I' m glad you asked . I was never in the Armed Forces because I was re jected. I was classified 4-F. I went through the paper work, the physicals and everything. But when they saw that .my right leg was an inch and a 'half shorter than my left , they reject ed make a living from his racing commitment. We just couldn't gettogether on a salary and percentage d eal. That's all there was to it. ") "T here were two really low periods. in m y ca reer when I felt that I would probably never race again . The first was when I broke my leg at the Santa Fe Short T ra ck National in I 974. I had a factory sponsorship from Triumph that year and was in second pla ce in the standings at the time. I was excited, if I wasn't winning then I was in the winner's circle. Number One was definitely within my grasp . " Lying on the racetrack , I began to think that my career was over. I knew that I had broken my femur (thigh bone) and that is not a bone to break because it takes a long time to heal. The doctor who fixed me up didn't help matters either. He drilled a hole in the bone to put the pin in with me awake. The pain was incredible. "After a while I regained the urge to me . I had broken the leg motocrossing when I was fifteen and it healed OK, but stopped growing." In seven years on the circuit Mike Kidd has had his share of luck, both bad and good, along with a couple of serious injuries. That is all behind him and even though we were dredging up same hard times, the enthusiasm of what was to come continued to bubble out. • " In the past few years it has seemed that whenever I grabbed the lead in a National that something would happen to the bike. I won three Nationals when I rode for Men (Lawwill), but 1 broke while leading in another four. The things' that broke were strange things, items that never break under . normal conditions. That was very frustrating. " (At this point Kidd explained that his split with Lawwill after the 1977 season was purely a financial one, "Lawwill," said Kidd, "needed to go racing. I trained and got ready to make my return at the Houston Astrodome Nationals the following February. Unfortunately..1 rebroke the bone while practicing a few days before the event. "This was the lowest point of my life. I told myself that it was all over . I even told the nurse at the hospital to cut my leathers off because I wouldn't be needing them anymore. "The doctor I had gave mea lot of encouragement and told me not to give up. He knew sports and the risks involved. He was on my side and understood the drive that it takes to compete. lowe him a lot. 1 would have to say that it was he who gave me the confidence and push 1 needed to win the Terre Haute (half mile) National in '75 . "I didn't think that 1 had the guts to get back out on the track at Santa Fe (for my first National) where I ' had broken my leg the. year, before, but I C i' .. .. .. .,.,. . -'. ' did. I ' was very nervous, but I told myself that I could make the National and I did. That restored my confidence. Two days later I won Terre Haute. " I guess you could say the 1976 , '77 and '78 seasons were like a rubber ball for me - sometimes up. sometimes down, but always bouncing back. " Last year I was not what I would consider highly competitive. I did good, but not good enough. Once the Army package got stuck in channels I had to pull things in a bit. I was traveling alone and doing my own work on the bikes because I had to let (tu ner) Nick Deligianis go since I didn't have the Army money to pay him . Things were getting pretty low forme. " At the final San Jose (m ile) National I was really down . I had grabbed the lead only to be passed with ease by just about everyone. Afterwards in the pits C. R . Axtel told me to corne to his shop and we would put the bike on his dyno and see what was wrong. "I was dejected and began to think that maybe I was over the hill , that I didn't have it anymore . Axtel's dyno showed the bike was 76 horsepower, a good 10 or more less than what I needed to get the job done. I was relieved it was the motorcycle and not me , although it did bug me .to find out that all the things I had been doing to pu t a little zip into the engine had failed miserably. "T his year will be different because C.R. has been helping Stormy in setting up the bikes , and if you've got Axtel in your corner you're going to do good." Mike's father interrupted the conversation to say that practice would be starting soon. Kidd digested the information , closed h is eyes for a moment , and continued. "The more I talk to people that are associated with the Army promotion, the more excited I get because I can see the benefits for me and motorcycling. I hope that when I'm through racing this association will open some doors for me . Right now I'm involved with a company called Longhorn Distributing that a friend and I put together. I don't know if that is what I want to do when I quit racing. I'm' keeping my eyes open . "I guess it must sound like I'm talking about retirement. You know I'm 25 and the average age of the top contenders is about 2 I to 23 . I've been hurt a few times, but I'm not nearly ready to retire. I figure I can really go strong for another 'three to five years, However," if I feel that I can't cut it anymore, or the racing becomes a job, then I'll hang it up . "As fast as the bikes are today, if you fall off it is odds on that you are going to get hurt . The name of the game is to keep it on two wheels. I don't feel _ the injuries I've had have taken any edge off my racing or the ability to mix it up and hang in there that it takes to win . I haven't slowed down, but I have become a bit more cautious than I used to be. Every rider in a National is cautious because nobody can afford to get hurt . "I'll tell you one thing that made my career a little harder: I came up through the ranks from Novice on during the same years as Kenny Roberts and Gary Scott. When we raced together I could hold my own or beat them , yet they got all the ink . I feel that helped them tremendously in get tine factory rides. ' "I think Mike Kidd has been overlooked for all these years. The key is getting your name known . If people see your name enough they will begin to notice you . I believe that this year my name and that of the Army are going to get spread around quite a bit." • I,

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