Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1996 05 22

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 70 of 71

"I AVIEWFROM ByEric Johnson .THE.F NCE E , t was an old-fashioned, down an d' d ir ty, classic ou tdoor m otocro ss race," cla imed San Be rnardin o national mot ocross promoter Bud Feld kamp as he stared at the mind-boggling number o f au to mobiles scratchi ng and clawing to find a wa y ou t of Glen Helen Raceway. The event was ove r, an d now hours later, the spectators who had lined the formidable circ uit w ere still in the midst of exiting the parking lots. The m o rnin g o f the Gl en H e len N a ti onal, Feldkamp was ne rvous. In fact, he claimed that he h ad not really slep t much the entire week p rior to the eve n t. Not on ly d id he lose sleep from the co ns ta n t g ri nd of p utti ng all t he pieces of the eve nt togeth er, but from the anxiety caused by w anting to do everything right. Feld kam p ad mitted that he knew down deep that ther e were a few m in or problems a n d ch allenges su rrou ndi ng the fast-approaching nati on al, but he also knew that he andhis sta ff had pu t the ir best fo ot forward in attem pting to create a world-class event in the Southern California region. Feldkamp and his crew were starting wi th their backs a ga inst the wall. In 1993, the last national-level profession al motocross to be held in Southern California took place .at Glen Helen. The even t ran in earl y August and did not go we ll. The course was clapped-out in appearance and the overall atmosphere was se verely la cka d a isica l, primarily due to the heat that registered in the lI Ddeg ree range all aftern oon. But the p roblem s were deeper than atmosphere. In 1990, Roger DeCoster and h is friends and su ppo rters in the Southern California-b ased motorcycle industry were able to entice the FIM san ctionin g body into grantin g the Southern California area a 500cc United States Grand Prix. Glen Helen was the chosen site and the inaugural even t was a raging success as over 15,000 spectators came ou t to witness the even t that was said to resonate of the '70s-era Carlsbad U.S . GP. The event ag ai n came off well in 1991, although ยท there were whispers that it was not qu ite as go od as the year before . In 1992, the Grand Prix was moved up to May on the FIM sched ule and took pla ce on a cool, gray day. The race atmosphere matched the weather. The 500cc class had become a second- cla ss citizen in Eu rope as the 250cc di vision was now declared to be the premier classi ficatio n of FIM World Cha mpionshi p Mot ocross. What resulted was a di vision th at lacked sta r quality and exoti c machinery. The situa tion was not mu ch better in Am erica. The AMA 500cc class was in the twilight of its life in the Unifed States as a lack of fan appeal and manufacturer involvem ent sounded the death knell of the division. The net result of these facto rs was a 500cc U.S. GP th at no one ca r ed abo u t . Sp e ct ator in tere s t h a d drop ped off an d the buzz th at was so . ap parent at the '90 and '91 Grands Prix was all but gone. To finish the matt er off, the FIM And AMA ended up in a w ar over Grand Prix-sanction ing finan cial terms, and the eve nt was dead for good. , Th en in 1993 , the AMA granted a Southern Ca lifornia-based p romoter group a 125/250cc Nati onal d ate. Wh en the event ran that sw elteri ng-ho t 'a fternoon, it was mis sing all of the soul and atmosp he re th at h ad made th e a forem en tione d U.S . GP so spec ial in th e years prior. While spectator attendance was good at the nation al, the combination of a track that seemed like an aftertho ught, aw e-inspiring heat and rancid, dark-brown smog sent many a spectator home apathetic and unfulfilled. It was later announced that the AMA National Motocross seri es would not be returning to So uthern California; th ey were being dropped from the schedule. N ot m any tears w ere s hed . Th e mo st im po rta nt off-road motorcycle mar ket in the world was again without an event. Wh ich brings us to th e 1996 Gl en Helen National. From my arrival at the park at 6:30 Sunday morning I could feel tha t the eve n t wa s going to be special. The; circuit loo ked im pressive as a mul titu de of colored flags, banners, hay bale co ve rs and awnings s u rround ed th e entire track. It looked like an op u len t, big-time, p rofessional mot ocross circui t - the w ay a motocross circuit is su pposed to look. A com prehensive "ma nufacturers' mid way" was set up and was represen ted by a wide array of compani es that ranged from Troy Lee Designs to Skoa l Tobacco to L.A. Cell u lar . Th e m id way was well thought ou t an d well received. It was qu ite apparent that this part of the eve nt was not done as an aftert ho ug ht. The track itself was laid out wi th the spectators in m ind as the brigh t-oran ge snow fence pushed right up aga inst the track in man y sections. In add itio n, the cir cu it itsel f w as in great form as the tra ck wound up and down the steep hillsi des a n d in co rp o ra te d a number of im pressive obstacles in clud ing a, h ighsp ee d bowl turn the likes of w h ich I have never see n before an d a downhill jum p tha t launched the rid ers into sp ace, m a kin g t h e m loo k like O lymp ic s k i jumper s as they dropped down the face of the hill. In fact , lat e r that a fternoo n w he n asked what he thou ght of the circuit, Bob Hannah, who has raced on nearly every major Southern Californi a N ation al track in the past decade exclaime d : "With the exception of some dust, these gu ys did a great job wi th what th ey had to w ork with . I mean, look at that d ownhill jump, the thing is aweso me." At abo ut 8 a.m. the spectators started to pour into Glen He len. It seems th at some of the negativity and disappointment Southern California motocross fans may have felt in recent years had been forgiven . As the qualifying motos began at ap proxima tely 10:36 a.m ., the traffic jam to enter the park had reached colossal p roportions. Rumors began to su rface that th e line of tr affic had caused co m p le te g r idl o ck s t re t chi ng well beyond Interstate 215 a few miles from the track. In fact, the Californi a High way Patrol was sent in to tum people away. A number of would-be spectators wer e reportedl y told to tum around and head home - su p p osed ly there was ju st n o more room to park cars . By the time the Am erican nationa l anthem was p layed to kick off the eve nt, some 20,000 spectators wer e said to be clinging to the hills 25 YE SAGO... AR JU E1, 1971 N na te d t he fi rs t fii~r.n~i"'"'_ _ 500cc Gran d Pri x o f th e s ea so n a t Austria's Salzburgrin g, s ma s h in g the old 116 .05 mph lap record of Ke n'n y Roberts by comp let ing a cir cuit at 117.41 mph... Bo O 'B roch ta topp ed the Top Fuel cla ss a t the NMRA Southeas tern Nationals at Florid a' s Gainesville Raceway. M ik e Bru so go t the la s t lau gh in the Funny Bik e class, and Terry Van ce took a very close wi n over Mike Keyte in the Pro Stock final, 9.02-9.03 seconds. for d , New Jersey, round' after a racelong duel with Damon Bradsh aw . The two traded the lead three times in a single lap . M ike LaRocco w as a distant th ird, while se ries leader Jea n-Michel Bayle was fourth... California Governor Pe t e Wilson s ig n e d in to la w a b ill requiring all motor cyclists in the state to wear protective head gear or face fines of u nio r-class rider Kenny Roberts up s ta g ed th e Experts at a Sa cr am e n t o, Ca liforni a, short track. Roberts easiIy w on the 15lap m ain even t , ove r a fie ld that . ~ . _ inclu ded Jim R ice, Ji m Odom a n d Dick Mann .. . Eve l Knievel presented a $10,000 mot ocross on the Idah o site from which he planned to ju m p th e Snake River th e following year. Robert Grossi pocketed $1,800 for the Open Expert win... Don Castro was the Expert-class winner at an AMA Pro ha lf mile in Tul sa, O klahoma. Ray Johnston w as ru nner-u p with Robert Lee in third. ' J 15 Y EARSAG ... O MAY 27,1981 h ree-time 125cc Nat ional Cham pion Brae Glover proved he could handle a big-disp lacement bike by postin g a 1-1 score in the first round of the AMA 500cc National Champion ship Motocro ss Series. Darrell Shultz w as second overall... Randy Mamola domi- T and snow fence surro u nd ing th e circuit. From the drop of the ga te the racing was in te nse a nd impress ive as th e ent h usia s t ic cro wd roa re d thei r approval time and time again. The first 125cc m oto was a thing o f be auty as future Am erican motocross her oes Robbie Reynard and Kevin Windham ro de thei r screaming, tap ped -ou t 125s ar ound th e Glen Helen circuit in a qu est for the m ot o w in . Windham would come ou t on top, going on to win his first national overall wi th an impressive second-p lace finish to veteran. Steve Lam son in moto two. The first 250cc mot o had the en thusiastic crowd ranting and ravi ng as Jeremy McGrath grabb ed the holesh ot, only to be passed by po pu lar Sou th African Greg Albertyn wh o immedi ately pulled out to a four-secon d lead . As the mot o w ound down, Albertyn began to fade eve r so slightly, perhaps due to the 95plus-d egree heat, and McGrath began to reel h im in . With less th an th ree laps remain ing, Alb ertyn su ffe red a slig ht miscue on one of th e d ownhill turns, h anding the moto win over to McGrath. Th e crowd , sp lit in th eir all egiance to the tw o riders, ate the whole thing up. McGrath would go on to dominate the seco nd moto and claim the overall win before his home crowd. As the s u n b egan t o a rc ov e r the scrub-filled h ills of Glen Helen Park, a number of people h ad smi les on their faces. It seems that American professional motocross h ad returned to Southern Ca lifornia in a m ajor way. Th e Gl en Helen Nation al, by all accou nts, was a major su ccess. The racing was gr eat, the circu it was challen gin g and formidable, the sun was ou t and the massive turnout o f specta to rs w ent home stoked (wi th the exception of those stuc k in the traffic jam, perhaps). But perhaps m ore th an anyth ing, the event had something that, cannot be measure with graphs, charts or numbers - it had soul. Let's hop e the Glen Helen National is here to stay. If .' the recent Sunday afternoon is any indication, it is. /-:.; up to $100 for the first offense. California thus joined 23 states and the Di strict of Columbi a requ ir in g mets. /-:.; 5YE SAGO". AR M Y29, 1991 A h ow n on th e co ver, Mic hael D ooh a n ce le b rated vic to ry at round fou r of the World Cha m pionship Road Race Series, held in Jerez, Spai n . The w in gave th e 25-yea r -old Australian the series p o int lead over World Champion Wayne Rainey, who finishe d third beh ind Joh n Kocinski... Defe nd ing Ca m el Su percro ss Series Champion Jeff Stanton won the Ruther- S Mert Lawwlll s lides his J im Belland-tuned Harley-Davidson at the Peo ria TT Nationa l In 1969. Photo from Cycle News Archives .

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