Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1980's

Cycle News 1983 09 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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roeders are being urged to support is Title 1 of Senator Pete Wilson's bill. Send cards and letters to your Senators, Washington, DC 20015. The Sierra Club and three other preservationist groups filed suit to stop the Barstow to Vegas race, which already has been approved by the BLM. AMA District 37, promoters of the event, issued a statement saying, "D-37 wants all riders who are entered or plan to enter to know that just ause a lawsuit has been filed, it doesn't stop the race. It just means t e Sierra Club knows the way to the courthouse." Those involved do nOl expect any decision before the end of October, and feel the suit is more of a llwsance move by the Sierra Club and a move to save face with its own members. The Washougal, Washington, MX track and Beaverton Honda are having a two-race "Win a Honda" Se ies. The dates are September 25 and October 16, and any rider slgning up and riding both events ~i!I be eligible for a drawing for a nQllda XL500. Riders and spectators at the track either one of the days can participate in a drawing for a Honda XR80. Donnie "Holeshot" Hansen back in acrion? You bet. The 1982 Supercross and 250cc ational Champion is still on the mend from his near-fatal crash in West Germany a year ago, but got an orrer to race in South America &ptember 11 and IS. Donnie told us he-plans to use the two races, in Brazil and Argentina, as part of his comeback training, and hopes to be ready for the start of the 1984 National season. Hansen's time since his accident hasn't been all hard work and training. He and wife Usa are expecting their first child in late January. Mr. and Mrs. Lowell McDonald of Lowell, Indiana, were the lucky winners of the grand prize in the Yamaha/ Krauser USA Ride of Your Life Sweepstakes. The McDonalds left September 7 for West Germany, where they will pick up a motorcycle and participate in the annual Krauser Rallye, a threeday tour through the Italian Alps. The all-expenses-paid tour was one of 100 other prizes gi ven ou t by Yamaha and Krauser. Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. has named Satoshi (Ben) Watanabe, 46, president of Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. Watanabe had previously served as the general manager of Overseas Operation in .lapan. From 1972 to 1975, Watanabe served as president of 'lamaha Motor Canada, Ltd. In his eerty career, from 1962 to 1967, h8 was in charge of motorcycle sales in the U.S. for Yamaha International. A graduate of the Economics .Department of Nagoya University, Watanabe joined Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd. in 1960. Nippon is the parent company in Japan of Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. In a press conference held recently in southern California, Watanabe said Yamaha will emphasize dealer profitabnity in 1984. ~'We want to put profits back into the business for both our dealers and Yamaha by utilizing sound. business practices and by emphasizing quality rather than quantity. With our new direction and strategy, we expect the motorcycle business for Yamaha to return to normal and a more profitable condition.llY 1.986:' said Watanabe, after he placed the blame for the current motorcycle sales slump on "the severe world wide recession" and "overly intense competition by the manufacturers." He also announced Yamaha's new advertising theme: "Yamaha, built for the fun of it." Don't forget that the Continental Motosports Club's Trans-Cal MX Series kicks orr over the September 24-25 weekend with an event at Spillway Park in Santa Maria, California. The following Saturday night is CMC's first sanction of a Supercross event, the October I Stadium Motorsports race at the Cal-Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento. The TransCal Series winds up with another stadium event at San Diego on 0vember 5. • THE NATIONAL PAPERS A quarter century of Ascot The ad says "Silver Anniversary," "25th running," etc. It is the Ascot National race on Saturday night, September 24. It's the last National of the year in the west and the last haH mile for 'S3. Twenty-five years ago - that's a long time isn't it? Hanging on the wall in my office is a prized picture. It is the start of the first Ascot National, taken in July 1959. I remember it well, because it was the first National race I ever announced and the first half mile National ever in southern California. The weather was very warm and for some reason the practice and time trials were held in the afternoon with the race at night. It was the first time at Ascot for Carroll Resweber and Dick Klamfoth. Resweber had taken his first of four titles the year before on his Harley, and Klamfoth was at the peak of his career, riding a BSA Goldstar 500 single. Ascot had opened in the early summer of 1957 and ran weekly to October. In '58 the cycles left Ascot and went back to the quarter mile at Western Speedway, also located in Gardena. Then it was back to Ascot in '59, where they have raced ever since. The local aces were AI Gunter, Don Hawley, Johnny Gibson, Brad Andres and Eddie Kretz Jr., to name a few. Dick Mann and Dick Dorresteyn would come down from the north from time to time but not every week. Ascot also had a "local" who was not considered a true local at that time. His name was Sammy Tanner. They called him "The Flying Flea," and he wore white leathers when all the rest of the riders, and I mean all of them, wore black leathers. I had gOllen Tanner to come to Ascot after the '59 Daytona race. He agreed to come for a month and then leave for the midwest races. He came in riding a BSA Goldstar, owned by a fan in Kansas City. Sammy rode so well the first month that he decided to stay a few weeks longer. T.hat longer stretched over years and Sammy never really left Ascot right up until the day he retired from racing. He still lives and works within minutes of the track. Sammy set the fans aglow with a high-and-wide style of riding while all the rest would head down low for the pole in the every-Friday-night affairs. He won many, placed high in many others and in general gave racing a real shot in. the arm. But all was not well with Tanner. The owner of the machine had assigned a friend who lived in the area to do the tuning. Rider and mechanic did not get along well and Tanner was ready to pack up and head either back to Texas or back east, looking for another ride. 1959 was the first year for J .C. Agajanian as full-time cycle-race promoter. The weekly Friday night races were the best draw by far over any other events. Tanner was the leader, the most colorful rider, the main allraction, so to speak. Aggie had a good thing going and it was good for the fans. Nobody wanted Sammy to run (away from California). Johnson Motors in Pasadena was the western states Triumph distributor at the time and they were always strong backers of all types of racing. Tanner had started his racing career in Houston, riding Triumph for then-dealer Herb Stelter. Somehow, Tanner and Triumph hooked up and Sammy continued to race weekly on an older Triumph 500 twin. But he was not setting the world on fire like he did earlier with 'the BSA single. Klamfoth was somewhat of a legend at the time, a three-time Daytona champ and winner of 10 National events. Dick Mann had yet to win his first National, Brad Andres was a past Grand National Champ, and Gibson was a past Daytona winner. Gunter had gone undefeated at Ascot in '57(!), Resweber had already won five Nationals. Hawley had long been a crowd favorite and was rated the best first-lap runner in competition. The day before the National, Klamfoth pulled into town towing a trailer house behind his car. He simply pulled up in front or Ascot, right in front, and set up camp. I came by on my way home from work, said hello and asked him if he could move because the parking lot would be filled that night with cars and cycles, just a couple of hours from then. Dick told me he wanted to park close so his wife could baby-sit and still leave the trailer from time to time and run up the ramp and watch the races! We got it aLI worked out. The track was in terrible shape for the afternoon time trials: slick, hard, narrow groove, etc. Resweber was the fastest quaIifier by a wide, wide margin. None of the local aces had ever ridden Ascot in the daytime and Resweber and KJamfoth did not know the difference. To them it was just another daytime track. Tanner showed up with a brandnew Triumph 500, and I mean brand new. It had been taken out ofthe crate just a few days before and made raceready on the day of the National. It looked just like any other Triumph that you would see on the dealer's showroom floor, minus the front fender. Back then there were no serrti-inain events. The riders who made the 1'!arional final made it right from the heat races, no second chances. The first three from each heat - that was it. Resweber, as expected put on a dazzling display, hardly putting his foot down in the turns. He had the fastest heat race and was on the pole for the 16-lap final. . (In those days every dirt track race ran a different distance. The Ascot race was known as, "The Eight-Mile National." So the final was for 16 laps.) Back then, like now, the number one was the only number that went according to rank, and Resweber had it on his Ralph Be.rndt-tuned privateer H-D. All the restofthe numbers were obtained in many ways, both fair and foul. ,To the delight pf the .crow~, the, front row was made up of numbers one; two, three, four, five and six. It had never happened before in any National. The front line was comprised of Resweber, Gibson, Andres, Hawley, Gunter and Klamfoth on the outside. The back row was made up of Don Wehrman, Tanner, Jimmy Wray, Dick Mann, Stu Morley and Lowell Becker. It was the first, and only, National final that Wehrman, Becker and Wray would-ever sit in. Tanner had looked bad in his heat race and just managed to gai'n third and the last transfer on the last lap or the heat race. He appeared to be no threat in the final. The heavy betting favored Resweber. Andres took orr with a perfect stan and led the opening laps. Resweber took over before the end of the fifth and had the crowd in awe with his riding. But up from the back came the new Triumph and the white leathers, and lap after lap Tanner was picking off riders. Just past the halfway mark he was second, a distant second, but there were over five laps to go. The crowd was going nuts. Southern California had long been a stronghold for Triumph fans and British bikes in general, but the Harley fans were out in force as well. It was, after all, the first National in an area that for years had run 40 or more weekly din track events. They were seeing the best and they knew it. In the final few laps Resweber was trying to hold off the charging Tan.ner. Fina]]y the rider who some still rank as the all-time-greatest dirt tracker, moved high on turn one and waved Tanner on by. The fans nearly tore the stands down. Tanner took the flag first. As he came around the track to pull into the winner's circle, he was stopped short and mobbed by pit people. Then Aggie ran over, grabbed Sammy off his bike and carried him to the winner's circle! We found out during the winner's circle interviews that Resweber's gas cap had come off and the fuel kept splashing up on his goggles and into his eyes, forcing him to really work to even save second place. It was a wild night before, during and after the races. What is now the longest-running AMA National half mile had found a new home. Resweber and Klamfoth were to try and win Ascot three more timesor up until they were both taken from racing in a no-reason-for practice spill in August of 1962. Gunter was slated to win the big one at Ascot three out of the following four years and then Tanner came back to win three straight to give him a total of fOUT' ASCOl National victories, a record that still stands but has been tied by Jay Springsteen and Randy Gos~. Both will be favored to break the mark this month. The first Ascot National ran 25 years and a few weeks ago. There are still a surprising number of fans who still allend and were there and remember that hot night in July of 1959 when it all started. Ascot has never had a rider start last and still win it since that time and probably never will. Tanner will be at Ascot watching and remembering on the 24th; so will land so will a lot of others. It was a classic event full of talented riders -the lone'rider in white against the bad guys in black, who were really all good guys. And that's the way it was... now it is time for the "Silver Anniversary" of the track that produced so many champions and so many memories for so any of us. See you there. • Roxy. Rockwood.

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