Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1998 08 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

GUEST EDITORIAL BY ED YOUNGBLOOD a v id Coombs was a m an who knew what he wanted to d o, and it inva ria bly involved m o torcycles . He discovered m otorcycling early, riding an old Tri u mph around Morga ntown, Wes t Virgi nia, w he re he spe nt his en tire life. But, like others of his gene ration, the movie "On Any Sunday" transformed him as a m otorcyclist , ope ning him up to the exci tement of motorcycle racin g and lighting a passion that would d irect his life and lea ve its mar k o n th e w ho le of th e Ame ri can m ot orcycl in g comm uni ty. Havi ng mi ned coa l, worked o n ai r conditione rs, so ld paint and books, and pl a yed mu s ic with two ba nds - th e Bo n nev i lles an d Elder berry Ja c k Coombs decided tha t he needed to earn his .living in w hat he lo ved , w hic h w as motorcycling. First he learn ed the art of track pr ep ara tion, d riving o ther people's tractors over othe r people's race trac ks. With th ese earni ngs he pursu ed a profes sion a l racing career, w hich ended when he bro ke h is leg in 1975. In the mean tim e, the whole fami ly had formed a team to pro mo te and organize races at A p palachia Lake Mo to cro ss Park. H is wife, Rita , handl ed registra tio n while th e kids - Tim, Ca rrie an d Davey - did w ha teve r needed to be done. Dave had earned his teaching degree and was able to fall bac k on substit ute teaching w henever necessa ry , bu t fro m 1984 onward h e foc used exclusively o n p romo ting motorcycle racing. Th e q ua rter-cen tu ry th at Coombs and his family put into mo torcycle prom otion ha s borne as to nishi ng results . Th ese include the crea tion of two promin ent and s uccess AMA M o t o cro s s Nationa l Cham pions hip venues (Mo un t Morris si nce 1977 a nd Stee l Ci ty sin ce 1987), th e development of AMA National Championship Hare Scr ambles and . Cross Country se ries, and the promot ion of the legend ary Blackwat er , held 'for 19 yea rs near Davis, W est Vi rginia . The D Blackwater was Dave's Appalachianstyle re-creation of the famous Elsinore Grand Prix tha t had captured his atten tio n in "On Any Sunday." In addition, he p ro moted a World Cha mpionship motocross in 1987 and twice promoted AMA Supercross at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsbu rgh, in 1978 and 1983. If tha t weren't eno ugh, the Coombs fa m ily a lso helped promot e th e AMA Na tio na l C ha mpionship Du a l Spo rt Se ries, and th ey were key pa rtners in crea ting th e AMA Amateu r Mot ocro ss Na tio na l C ha mpio nshi p a t Lo re t ta Lynn's Du de Ran ch at Hurricane Mills , Ten nes see . More than 8000 rid ers per year a tt ernpt to q ua li fy fo r the AMA Ama teu r Na tionals, surely making it the lar ges t m ot o cr oss competition in th e w orld . Dav e possessed a ra re combination of quali ties tha t coexist in very few pe rsonalities . H e was a .m a n who possessed huge visions, then set ou t to realize them throu gh rel entl ess attention to detail. An d he was a giver, not a taker. He was a man who be lieved that win/win solutions are the only solutions worth pursuing . In everything he undertook, he gave tho ug ht to how it would benefit others. Rather than focusi ng on his own needs first, he a na lyzed th e needs of o thers, then d eveloped so lutions. For example, wi thou t Dave' s crea tion of th e C ross ' Co u ntry Series, it is d oubtful th at ATV raci ng woul d have survived during the dog years of government regulation over the ATV industry . He also served for many years on the AM A M ot ocr oss Advisory Boa rd, but perhaps his greatest orga nizatio nal success came within the last yea r, when he tirelessly wo rked to form th e Na tio na l Promoters Group, whi ch he direct ed toward an ambitious and positiv e agenda that res u lted in the largest rid er point fund in th e hist ory of any discipline of AMA professional racing. Indeed, while 30 YEARS AGO... SEPTEMBER 12,1968 en e Romero (Tri) too k ce n te r s tage o n th e fro nt cover, as he bat1~~:1 tie d with Dusty Coppage Ii (Tri) in the Lincoln, ebraska Nationa l IT. Rom ero dogged Coppage for 13 la p s before ' sliding by and taking his first ca ree r AMA Grand ational victory. It also ma rked the first and last time that the future Davtona 200 winner would earn a Grand ational IT Win; although he had more success on the miles and half miles ... Class A speedway was going strong in Southern California, playing at places such as Whiteman Stadium in Pacoima and Trojan Speedway in South Ga te... Joe Smith rode his Laidlaw Harley-Davidson top-fueler to a 148-mph clocking at Irwindale Raceway... J.N. Rob erts (Hus) g rabbed the overall win at the Coachella Valley European Scrambles in Pioneer Town, while Rusty Bradley (Tri) to pped ,the Upper Division a t the Aus tin Aq ua Festival Road iRaces in Aus ti n, Texas... BSA tou ted its 441 Shooting Star as the "big single tha t goes like a Rocket." G I 120YEARS AGO... IAU U T30,1978 GS T he Latest POOl' car ried th e good news that Kenn y Ro b er ts (Ya m ) was the new 500cc road racing World C hampion. The Californian clinched the title with his thi rd-place finish at the fina l round of the eries in N urburgring, Germany ... Gary Scott (H-D) returned to winning form at the Io wa State Fairgrounds .in Des Moines, as he moved around early leader Ted Boody (H-D) and claimed his first Grand National win many can share the credit, Dave Coombs was clearly a driving force in the emergence of National Mo tocross, turning it during the past decade into the fastestgrowing spectator sport in motorcycling - beyond road racing, beyond Su percross; beyond everything else. For their many accomplishments, Dave and Rita received in 1994 the AMA Du d Perkins Award, America's highes t honor for extraordinary service to motorcycling. This would have been a record of achievement to be envied by a ny heal thy ma n. But Dave and Rita achieved it while coping with serious and sometimes life-threatening illness. Both maintained their exhausting roles in the family partnership while fighti ng cancer. Dave's health was complica ted by a heart co nd itio n th a t had been discovered in 1987. Then, a little o ve r th ree yea rs ago, he was diag nosed wit h leukemia . It was know n then th at a bo ne-marrow transplant w as called for, but Dave s heart conditio n left the doctors reluctant to risk this d ifficu lt p rocedure u ntil it became the choice of last resort. Dave underwent that bone-marrow tran s p la nt on Ju ly 4. The family soldiered on, p romot ing their va rious programs and serving their various mot orcycle and ATV constit uencies. Clearly, Dave had crea ted an effective tea m. In fact, they pulled it off so we ll that only a few insi ders even underst ood the seriousness of Dave's conditio n. For the res t of the world it w as bu siness as usua l at Coombs, Incorpora ted. I las t ta lked to Dave o n th e 17th of Jul y. It wa s a d ifficult conve rsation. He to ld me a littl e ab out th e o rdeal of th e bo ne- marrow tra ns plant p rocedure. He was ha ving a ro ug h time of it. When I heard Dav e ad mit th at , I realized it had to be diffi cult bey ond my im agination . I told hi m it so u nded lik e he was reall y suffe ring . H e responded, "Hey, it beat s of 1978. Reigning series champion Jay Springsteen (H-D) fini sh ed th ird and fu rther chipped away a t th e p oints lead of Steve Ekl und.•. Rick Burgett (Yam) won the 500cc class, and GayIon Mosier (Kaw) ea rned his first National M X victo ry in th e 125cc class at the Metro lina Fa ir grounds in Charlotte, North Carolina... We featu red an interview with "Yankee" road racer Mike Baldwin... Bruce Ogilvie (H -D) won the 250cc Expert class, and Bob Balentine (KTM) won the Open class at the the Lucerne Valley District 37 off-road race... A used '77 Honda XR75 could be had for 5375. 1 EAR 0Y SAGO... AUG ST 24,1988 U hris Carr (H-D) won his second Peoria IT and also set new single-lap and race records along the way. Carr's single-lap time of 25.754 seconds broke his C Wtnners , one and all: Chris Carr (20) battles with Andy Tresser (l OY) and Ricky Graham (3) as the y head up the Iront straight and race to the checkered lIag at the Peoria TT, circa 1988. the a lternative!" I la ughed a nd felt relieved, because his ability to joke made me realize tha t Dave Coombs was a long way from giving up. I think he would have laughed, too, had he been ab le. The transplan t pr ocedure takes one's immune system down, an d although it was looki ng like Dave's transplant was a technical success, infection set in. Dave contracted p ne umonia and by the last week of Ju ly was on life-support systems, just as the family ro lled into final prepa rations for the huge an nual und ertaki ng at Loretta Lynn's. Dave died o n August 3, jus t as racing go t u nder way. As a long time friend, I feel a deep sadness for the loss of Dave Coombs. I grieve for his famil y, who d id exac tly w hat he would hav e w ant ed them to do as they chose to move on with the o rga niza tion of an important championship during the week of his d ea th . As pr esid ent of th e American Motorcyclist Association, I also feel a certain amount of dread about facing our future wit ho ut Dave Coombs. We can ill affo rd to lose this kind of leader. We have plenty of achievers in motorcycling, but too few wh o are also moral and ethica l role models. Bu t I also mu st take hope, because Dave Coombs lea ves behind a legacy that is u ltim ately mo re important than all of his considerable achievements. We have lost Dave, but we will not lose the model that he and Rita created for hard work, tenacity, patien ce, crea tivi ty, and fai rness to o thers. Th at legacy remains in their famil y and the many friends and collea gues they tou ched wi th their lives over the pa st 25 years. 0 Ed Youngblood is the president of the American Motorcyclist Association... Editor. old record of 26.018 seconds, and he finis hed the 25-la p m ain event in 10 minutes, 58.387 seconds, eclips ing th e old race record by more than 19 seconds ... Ricky Johnso n (Hon) and Donny Schmit (Suz) eac h hammered out 1-1 mot o scores to take overall victories in the 500cc an d 125cc classes, resp ectively, at the AMA 125/250cc MX National in Millville, Minnesota . Although Schmit sco red the 125cc wi n on the day, George Holland (Hon) clinc hed his firs t AMA 12Scc National MX Championship with a th ird -place finish in moto one... Wa yne Rainey (Yam) won his first 500ccGrand Prix when he came home first at the British GP in Doni ng ton Park, England . Wayne Gardner (Hon) and Christain Sarron (Yam) we re seco nd and third... Buddy Antunez (Suz) and Mike Kiedrowski (Kaw) repeated as th e Mi nicy cle and Motorcycle Gra nd National Champions, respectively, at the NMA /Coca-Cola Motocross Grand National Championships in Ponca City , Oklahoma. 0 fl ." ~

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