Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1997 06 11

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

RACER X BY DAVEY COOMBS n the whole big scheme of things, the two races that closed the month of May 1997 should be regarded as two f the most significant events in the hisry of supercross and motocross. But in e end, only one will probably be garded as such. On the last Saturday night of the 997 AMA Supercross Series, Team amaha's Doug Henry roared into the ecord books with an amazing 20-lap erformance aboard a Yamaha YZM ur-stroke motorcycle in front of a old-out crowd. Most of the world's otocross media were on hand to see ff Emig usurp Jeremy McGrath as the . g of Supercross, and in the process ey witnessed Henry's incredible run t history. The win was obviously significant in at Henry's arrival in the winner's cire might have signaled the onset of the ountdown toward the end of the twooke motocross era. In this age of millnt environmentalism, that banging ass-drum sound of a four-stroke achine might one day become the only urmurs we hear from the IToars of our ture supercross tracks. The win also arked the first time since 1975 that an en-class motorcycle won an AMA upercross. (Qujck trivia: Can you name e first rider ever to win a supercross n an Open bike? Check at the bottom., d for Doug Henry fans, it signaled t another wonderful milestone in one f, if not the most amazing comeback in e history of our sport. It could not ve happened to a nicer guy unless ister Rogers were involved. Doug enry's Las Vegas win can safely go to the record books near or at the top f any all-time great wins list. One week later, in the wasteland of ud and water that High Point Raceay had become, the ever-controversial amon Bradshaw won an AMA 250cc ational with a startling last-lap pass on onda of Troy's Larry Ward. It was not e first win of Bradshaw's career - he's one it 29 other times - nor was he rid- YEARS AGO... UNE 22, 1967 ing some exotic piece of equipment (though it was the first domestic win ever for the '97 aluminum-framed Honda CR 250), and Bradshaw was not coming back from a devastating injury: Rather, he was coming' back from his own demons. Maybe that's what made this day so great. 10 1993, Damon Bradshaw was at a level just a little below where Jeremy McGrath sits now. Bradshaw never had the titles that McGrath had, let alone Bob Hannah or Rick Johnson, but he carried the same swagger that the other greats of this sport did. He was brash and cocky, and everyone might have loved him if he were only from California and not the East Coast. (Think back to how many times you remember seeing Damon's picture on the cover of one of the major motocross magazines during his career...Not many). 1ostead, the masses loved him, and the media myself induded - gave him a bashing more often than not. Even though he was the darling of the fans, he started off on the wrong foot with some people, and never got back in step with the establishment. For about four years, Bra'dshaw thrived in the spotlight of American motocross, making all kinds of money and helping the sport to grow in awareness and popularity. His rival and friend Jeff Stanton may have won the titles, but Bradshaw won the cheers but other things were at play. Eventually, the pressures of an unfriendly media, a strong sense of burnout, and a terrible family fight all fused in the mind of the prodigal son and it became too much in the fall of '93. Despondent, lonely and downright suicidal, Bradshaw decided to take a leave of absence for the good of his team, his fans, his family and himself. The magazines, for the most part, went ballistic. Bradshaw become "BadShaw," the villain who turned his back on the sport, and the spotlight grew more intense. It was as if Damon broke Bob Hannah's leg while driving the boat, claimed Marty Smith's works bike, handed Ron Lechien a fake 10, set up the "orphan" National and banned every journalist from supercross all at once, when really all he did was try to save a small part of his youth for himself. Bradshaw came back to motocross about a year and a half later, ironically at the same site (High Point) as his last major win. He always admitted a special relationship with the "good-old-boys" Mount Morris crowd, probably because it was the closest National to his Mooresville, North Carolina, home. The crowd welcomed him back that day in 1995 with open arms, but the enduring image of that day in the magazines was the one of him sitting there with his helmet off, punch-drunk from a crash, a blunder that offered the still-disapproving media plenty of fun captions to play with. Bradshaw endured through the 1996 season with Team Yamaha, but without winning another race. By this time it seemed tha t his career was shot, his marketability was nil due to his relationship with the magazines, and retirement number two seemed inevitable once Yamaha dropped him. But Damon came back in 1997, with the help of Manchester Honda Racing and AXO, with his own bikes and his own truck. His return caught some off-guard. When asked why he returned, Bradshaw came up with the simplest, yet most unexpected, answer: "I still love this sport." But the sport still didn't seem to love him, and every mistake or poor result seemed somehow amplified because of who he was. Or better yet, who he once was. It took Bradshaw 15 tries in the 15race SX series to finally get on the podium, but who really noticed, with Henry winning and Emig getting the crown? Realistically, it seemed like the closest Bradshaw would ever get to a victory, and he got beat by a pl:)enomenal fourstroker instead. One week l~ter, to the surprise of many and the chagrin of some, Damon Bradshaw made it back to where he once was, even if only for a day. At Mount Morris, he earned his first AMA National win in four years - possibly another record - in one of the muddiest races of all time. The coincidence is that the win cameĀ· at the same site of his last major victoryand the site of his first race back; the irony is that few members of the media were there to watch it. However, there were about 20,000 fans on hand in the High Point tempest, 95 percent of whom went bananas when Bradshaw made that last pass. Moments later, his impromptu parade lap - sans shirt and helmet - was a moment on par with the Bob Hannah/Rick Johnson victory lap at Unadilla at the U.S. GP in 1988. It was just a great moment for our sport. Damon Bradshaw is 24 years old and he has won more races in his career than Jeff Emig, Doug Henry, Jean-Michel Bayle, David Bailey, Johnny O'Mara, Steve Lamson, Mike LaRocco and every other rider competing today - except for the great McGrath. Bradshaw's most recent race win probably won't get much play in the magazines - Henry's fantastic success will get most of the summer headlines - bu t it does not lessen how great a day it was for Bradshaw and his fans, because the "Beast from the East" is still as big as Bevo on this side of the Mississippi. On his favori te track, in front of his greatest fans, Damon Bradshaw completed a vicious circle that few people are able to make it around: He came, he saw, he left.... And then he came back. It can be argued foreveI' whether Damon turned his back on the sport or the sport turned its back on him. The point is, he was there on Sunday.all the same. So why does it belong on the list of all-time great wins? Maybe we just owe it to him. (Trivia answer: Mark Blackwell on a Husqvarna at the 1972 Daytona SX.) t.~ ,..;.-:::::::::--;;;;-."'--=- Road Racing Championship t took two years and seven races, but Chuck Jones from cadia, California, on the Trophy Dash od the Half Mile ert main event on BSA at Ascot Park n California . Jones eld off Mel Lacher n a Harley-David-and Dan Haaby n a BSA en route to 's IS-lap main-event win...Triumphounted Bob Steffan won the SOD-mile eenhom National Enduro in Gorman, . ornia. Dick Dean finished second, o on a Triumph, and Dave Ekins. got bird on a Zundapp.. .HarI~y-Davidson's art Markel won the Half Mile National irt Track in Louisville, Kentucky, over . Draayer and George Longabuagh, oth riding Harleys ... CN talked to illiam Shatner, Captain James T. Kirk n 'the popular television show Star r~k, about his love for riding motorcyles in the desert...After seven events, on Grant led the AFM Western U.S. that roses have their thorns" ... Suzuki's Schwantz and his teammate Bubba Barry Sheene won the 500cc class at the Shobert. Honda-mounted Doug Polen avenged his loss to Thomas Stevens the Italian Grand Prix. Franco Uncini won week before by taking the win over the 250cc class and P.P. Bia~chi won the Stevens at Brainerd...Team Honda's Rick 125cc class...CN took an "Up Close" look Johnson took advantage of a miscue by at Honda mechanic Jon Rosenstiel, who Team Kawasaki's Jeff Ward to win the was wrenching for Warren Reid at the 20 YEARS AGO... inaugural Coors Meadowlands Supertime...Team Honda's Marty Smith won cross at Giants Stadium in New the AMA 250cc Supercross held at JUNE 15,1977 rh~r;JiJ':;1~;~"":=Jersey. Kawasaki's Louisiana Superdome in New arleY-DaVidson's Gary Ron Lechien and Orleans. Yamaha's Bob Hannah Scott posted his second Eddie Warren finfinished second and Can-Am's consecutive AMA Grand ished second and Jimmy Ellis took third. FrenchNational Championship/Camel third, respectively, man Charles Coutard won the ;:~!J Pro Series and and Ward recovered rH~i1r~"':i:-.,.. seventh round of the 10th career win at for fifth. Suzuki's World Championship the Louisville Keith Turpin won Trials Series in Jeddo, Downs in Kentucky the 125cc East Region Michigan. after taking the lead feature over teamfrom his brother Hank, mate Ron Tichenor, whose motor expired. but Tichenor locked 10 YEARS AGO..; Steve Morehead and up the series title by Jay Springsteen finJUNE 17, 1987 one poin t over ished second and am Honda's Wayne Turpin... Harley-Davidthird, respectively, Rainey turned in a son-mounted Steve on Harleys... The flawless ride at BrainEukland won round six of Roger DeCoster erd 1oternational Raceway in Minthe AMA Grand National story continued nesota, upholding his perfect 1987 Dirt Track Series, the Hindsdale IT in with "Part VI: Ten road race record - three wins in three IlIinois, claiming the ninth IT win of his years of hard work starts. Rainey topped rival Team career to become the AMA's all-time and crashes prove Yoshimura Su.zuki's Kevin National IT winner. I:N . . ....... standings with 106. Art Baumann was second with 70 and Fred Muhlberg was a distant third with 54. H __ l1 71

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