Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1996 06 26

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 82 of 83

AVIEW FROM THE.FENCE . . .ByE Johnson ric he other day I w as talking to a young motocross enthusiast who was ranting and raving abou t how reat the current cr op of Ameri can motocross stars are. While his point was ell taken and made perfect sense, I d id not agree with hi s assessmen t that tod ay' s racers are the best the sport has ev e r seen. Defending my turf, I prolaimed that in my humble opinion, the early ' 80s-era of Rick Johnson, Bro c Glover, Jeff Ward, David Bailey, Johnny O'Mara, Ron Lechien, Mark Barnett, Goat Breker and Danny Chandler was the best group of racers ever to grace a motocross track. He didn't agree. A few ours later, I got to thinking tha t every generation of motocross fans has the ir ow n group of heroes. In gen er al , it is safe to assume that a fan is mu ch more ikely to see the past through rose-col ired glasses if he or she was actually sta n d ing by the side of a track at a rrans-AMA race, an AMA motocross ational, a supercross, o r a n FIM otocross Grand Prix watching the best riders in the world at work. Which brings me to my point. While professional golf and tennis have their senior tours, baseball has its old-timers ga me, NASCAR has its legend s car series and the recently completed 1996 Indianapolis 500 had a 54-year-old man racing in it, the sport of motocross really doesn't have any type of event or series that bring its retired racers toge ther to to u t the sport's history and heritage. While the World Veteran Mot ocross Championship - which takes place every November in Southern California - is a grea t event, it really isn 't accessible to os t of the United St at es motocross public and has become a bit of a battl e between a few backdoor, "read between the lines," factory efforts . Following is an id ea I ha ve alwa ys wa n ted to se e come to fr u ition . Ever tune in a n d watch the a u to racing world' s version of the Interna ti ona l Race of Champions? To ge t you up to speed , 12 of the best au to racing drivers in the world (althou gh th e se ries ha s become essentially a ll -A merica n in recent years) are brought together in a four-race series th at runs on the most prestigious race circuits in America. To 'crea te a completely even, level, playing field , the 12 drivers are placed in id entically prepared Pontiac Firebird TransAms . The objective of the en tire IROC seri es is to take th e best driver s, put them in identical rac e cars , and stand back and watch the ensuing carnage fly as the cars are raced in ang er to find ou t just who is - in theory - the best race car driver in the world. To get to the point at hand , wouldn't it be cool if 12 to 20 of the greatest names in contemporary AMA and FIMGP motocross history could be brought together and sent out to d o battle on identically p repared motocross bik es ? Think about it. A large number of the spo rt's retired legends are still involved in the sport today (in one capacity or another), in reasonably good shape and probably still in possession of a little bit of competitive fire. To make things good-natured and enjoyable, the invi tation-only se ries could be open to any rider tha t has been retired from professional competition for three to five years (th is could all be worked out). To provid e an impressive cross-section of the sport's history, great riders from each of the sport's defining eras could be invited. From the 70s, Roger DeCoster, Heikki Mikkola, Marty Smith, Gary Jones, Brad Lackey and Kent Howerton could be sen t invitations. Fro m th e '80s, the aforementioned Johnson, Glover, Ward, OMara, Lechien, Barnett, Breker and GP icons David Thorpe, Eric Geboers and Danny LaPorte could attempt to get in shape in order to make one more run at glory. While the '90s i:oukl'be represent ed by Jeff Stanton, Jean-M ich el Bayle (wouldn ' t that be cool?), Mike Kiedrow s- 25 YEARS AGO.•. JU Y6 1971 L , ca n in lO y ea r s t 0 fij~jT,I"';''''':-T-.,...._J wi n the U.S. GP a t Carlsbad Racew ay... Frenchman Gilles Burgat topp ed round eigh t of the World Ch ampions hip Ob served Tri al Se ri es in Watkin s Gl en , New York... Cycle News d e vot ed two pages to the fu tu ris tic (?) Hydraulic Engineering/Roger South project Yamaha YZ250, which featured a flu id po wer drive system instead of a chain... Riding impressions of the 1981 Maico 250 Mega E and the 1981 Ho nda CB900F Superspor t could be foun d insid e... Thr ee sepa- fHi7i:rr;:r."n-,-_-l r ate Ya ma ha ad s touted wins by facto ry tea m rid er s Bob Hannah , Bruce Ogilvie and Larry RoeseIer, and Broc Glover. a r t Marke l answered all doubt as to wh ether he would e ver bea t Joe Leonard's record of 27 N a tio nal vic tories by taking numb er 28 a t the Col u mb us, Ohio, ~ a ti 0 nal. Don :;::::8ii.iiii;;i!r.iE:;;;i~o:J , astro and John Hatefe y finished second a nd third , respectively, on Triumphs... Bult aco ' s Tom Rapp almost pulled off a su rp rise win against th e vis iting Europea ns in th e 250cc International class o f th e Inter AMA series at Indi an Dun es, California . He would eventua lly finish fou rth overall, after his chain d erailed in the final oto ... Czech Viastimil Valek took first, followed by Euro-tran splant Gunnar Lindstrom, and Brit Dave Bickers... In the classified section, Harley-Davidson race team man ager Rick Talbot was recruiting riders for his 100cc Baja racing team. B 5YEARS AGO••. ULY 1,1 981 earn Honda's Chuck Sun mad e the cover after posting 5-1 moto scores to become only the second Ameri - ki, Gu y Cooper, Doug Dubach, Micky . Dymond, Larry Brooks, Davey Strijbos and Pekka Vehkonen. To make the series fair and competitiv e , and mu ch like General . Motors /Pontiac does in the glorious IROC Series, the ultimate move would call for one of the big-four Japanese mo tocross manufa cturers (namel y Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha) to step in and provide 20 equally prepared bikes for the racers to compete upon. In theory, the International Race of Motocross Champions could prove to be an amazing undertaking. Everybody wou ld be aboa rd equally prepared machinery, and the rider who was in the best fighting shape and form on that given day wou ld walk away with victory. It could be argued that the manufacturers might be reticen t to supply bikes to riders who won World and National championship titles aboard rival equipment. However, if the series was met with open arms by the motocross industry, press and fan base, common sense would come into play and good old Japanese corporate camaraderie would prevail to let the boys have their dayts) in the sun. In addition, to put a business spin on things, think of the pu blic relations and promotional boom the supplying manufacturer would be able to capita lize on by bringing the best riders in the history of the sport toge ther in one place . They would be total heroes in the e yes of the world motocross public. Also, there are a plethora of aftermarket a nd clothing companies that wou ld potentially want to hop on board the bandwagon by pasting their corporate nams on the series. In essence, the IROC ser ies cou ld potentially consi st of three to fo u r rounds that could run during the intermissi on period at hand-picked AMA National Motocross ev ents. Two 15minute motos (you don't want to kill these gu ys) could then be staged, with an overall winner being crowned at ea ch venue. Ideall y, it would be beneficia l to arrange the series so that individual rounds could be run in three to four separate regions across the country (for example an even t at Glen Helen, Washougal, Mount Morris, Red Bud and Southwick). By arranging the series in this matter, fans all over the United States would be able to come out and enjoy the show. In addition, riders who liv e in different parts of the country would not be hamper ed by logistical and travel challenges. Finally, the series would be extremely attractive to the television people. The events cou ld be . r ecorded and pla yed to an adoring ESPN /ESPN2 television audience that would be thrilled to wa tch the o ld her oes suit up and have at it one more time. - Enough said. An International Race of Motocross Champions would be great for the sport of mo tocross. The idea of having 20 of the best riders in motocross history pulling their old gear out of the closet, getting back into fighting shape and showing up to lay it all on the line during a National motocross event would be awe-inspiring . The series would generate a massive amount of interest around the wo rld as the global motocross press would have a field day in covering the events for all to see. And perhaps even more importantly, th e series could help educate younger motocross fans on just where the sport came from and how it d eveloped - a type of rolling museum of talent, if you will. Watching Bob Hannah, Roger DeCoster, Jeff Ward, Jean-Michel Bayle, Johnny O'Mara, Broc Glover and Rick Johnson ignit e o u t of the ga te and charge pell-mell to the first turn before 25,000 fans at Mount Morris would be a dream come true for me. How about for you? l~ Coliseum ... Wayne Rainey, Luca Cadalora and Loris Capirossi were all winners at the GP of Europe... Cycle News featured an interview of Mick D oohan entitled: "Aussie sta r arising" ... Van ce & H ines rid er Dave Schultz won th e NHRA Spring nationals... The Human Race team emerged victorious at round three of the AMA /CCS U.S. Endurance Champions hi p Series in Loudon, New Hampshire... Bart Bast beat Jim Sisemore, Jess Ochoa and Darrell Busby for the Scratch main victoryat Auburn Speedway... Scott Summers won the Blackwater 100. I~ 5YEARS AGO... JULY 3,1991 u p e rcross Champion Jea n-Michel Bayle left little doubt that he was the king of of the sport with a victory at the series season finale in the Los Angeles S Harry Everts (8) leads the way in the 1982 Trophy des Nations In Germany. David Bailey (1) holds t he Inside li ne with teammate Jim Gibson (4) running next to him. Photo from the Cycle News Archives. 79

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