Cycle News

Cycle News 2020 Issue 26 June 30

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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Page 98 of 107

CN III ARCHIVES BY SCOTT ROUSSEAU T hanks to the blockbuster motor- cycle film On Any Sunday, fac- tory BSA rider Jim Rice's career is synopsized by a loud, screeching, violent ribbon of film that captures his crash at the 1970 Sacramento Mile. And that just isn't fair, because during his short ride as a profes- sional motorcycle racer, Rice was never loud, screeching or violent. "I was kind of a quiet guy—defi- nitely not an [David] Aldana," Rice, now 57, says. "Some people may have perceived me as being not a very nice person, but later on I started getting more outgoing. It was all a matter of just growing up." Rather than party and go wild, Rice chose to immerse himself in his equipment with the same pas- sion as his more veteran peers, such as Mert Lawwill and Dick Mann. "I really tried to develop my skills not only as a rider but also as a mechanic," Rice says. "I basi- cally did 99 percent of the work on my own bikes, and I maintained them at the races, kind of like the Dick Mann program. I had some help with machining, but I built and maintained the motors and the equipment and stuff. I had a friend, Mike Akatiff, who traveled with me, and he had his own mo- torcycles that he would build, and I would have the choice of riding them if I wanted to. In fact, I won the Peoria TT in 1970 on his bike." Rice's thoughtful, hands-on ap- proach to racing made him some- P98 JIM RICE: RICE ROCKET correctly—to win that one race was over 100 points. The normal dirt track Nationals paid about 20 points to win, so you could win five dirt track races, which are as hard to win as any road race National—probably harder because the competition was much closer—and if someone else won one road race... That is not a good system. They [AMA] made a big mistake about doing that, and the following year they reverted back to the old system." So it was that Rice, who won a season-leading six Grand Na- tionals through the 1970 season, was locked into a title battle with Triumph's Gene Romero, who had done better in the road races than Rice but had won just one Grand National heading into the Sacra- mento Mile. Also in the hunt were Rice's BSA teammates Mann and Al- dana. The fateful day, in which Rice suffered probably the most famous motorcycle crash ever put on film, is one he'd rather forget, but Rice is happy to set the record straight. "There's a lot behind that whole what of an innovator during the introduction of a new piece of safety equipment on flat track motorcycles during the 1969 season: brakes. A year later, Rice would find himself engaged in a title battle that was a bit weirder and lasted just a tad longer than we are led to believe in On Any Sunday. "I thought it was going to be my year," Rice says of the '70 season. "Having won those three Nationals in 1969, I was pretty confident about my ability to perform at that level. Actually, it would have been my year had a few things been different." First and foremost, says Rice, 1970 was the only season in which the AMA elected to base its points payout in proportion to what the purse paid. In other words, the larger the purse, the larger the amount of championship points that went along with it. "Consequently, all the road races had bigger purses," Rice says. "If you were a real good road racer, you could certainly have a big advan- tage. Like Daytona—if I remember Jim Rice's crash at the Sacramento Mile in 1970 was made famous in the movie On Any Sunday.

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