Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1998 10 21

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 89 of 90

RIDERSBYDALESPANGLER MEETING h e re have all t h e Americans gone? That was my initial thought as I sat and chatted with 500cc GP racer Matt Wait at the recent Grand Prix of Imola in Italy. One yea r of Iiving in Eu rope can make a person think d ifferently, what with the different cultures, different food and a whole different outlook on life. For a racer experiencing Europe for the first time, it can be th e greatest adventure of a lifetim e or th e worst nightmare imaginable . My experiences in Europe wo uldn't be of th e raci ng kind, bu t I was definitely experie nci ng Europe in its entirety . So am I the only person noticing, or has the trend o f Ame rican racers crossi ng th e big pond 'for that d ream contract an d a new lease on life chan ged ? The glory d ays - when American road racers such as Kevi n Schwantz, Wayne Ra iney, Ed die La w so n and Kenny Roberts d id battle on the GP scene, while the great Donny Schmit, Bob Moore, Billy Liles, Broc Glover and Brad Lackey were ho t on ca mpaigni ng the GP motocro ss circuit - seem to be d isappearing. Is American racing getting tha t mu ch better or is the aspect of racing in a foreig n place losing its a ppeal? In motocross, at least, the trend seems to be versing itself. Young riders in Europe, ttracted by the razzle-dazzle of Ame ria n Supercross, see m to be coming to America in droves. There is no question that Supercross in America is on the rise right now, bu t how about the outdoor series? Jeremy McGrath isn't eve n going to race a full season of outdoor NationIs in 1999 . Is this th e rea so n fo r the ecline i n th e numb er of America n o toc ross ra ce rs in Eu rope? Is it ecau se of the emphasis tha t has been laced on American Supercross racing? s the thought of racing in a do rne-covred s tad iu m m ore a t tr a cti ve th an here we all began racing and rid ing in the g rea t ou tdoors? I ha ve a few of . y own though ts on w hy th is is ha pening. Th e g ro u p of America n motocro ss ide rs remaining in Europe righ t now onsi sts of only a handful of racers: Talon Vohland , Bad er Manneh and Tra mas Parke r. Trampas Parker has basicaly commit ted to living full time in Italy, W and Bader Manneh has been at it for the past 10 years in Europe while still spending a few months a year in California. Whatever the reason, the number of American racers in Europe seems to keep getting smaller and smaller. The same goes for road racing, in which the Americans are just as scarce at the moment. Currently, the American contingent in GP and World Superbike racing ca n be counted on one ha n d : Kenny Roberts [r., John Kocins ki and Malt Wait in GP racing, and Scott Russell and Colin Edwards II in World Su per'bike. What gives? Aga in, one cou ld say that the racing is improving in the AMA Superbike Series. But it's my op inion that racing in Europe is no easy task, an d it takes a special person to give u p the easier lifestyle in Am eri ca to go to a p lace where he can't eve n speak the same language and the food changes weekly. Some peo ple mig ht take offense a t the s ugges tion o f th e "easier Amer ica n life s t y le," b ut the fact remains th a t Europe is not for everyone. Jim my Butto n a nd M ik e Bro wn b oth ca me to Europe to race GP motocross, and each of them lasted one year and went back to race in America. Ufe is obviously different here, and the little thi ngs tha t come abou t ve ry easily in the United Sta tes some times can be a very d ifficult task. lt ca n try the pa tience of even the mos t patient people. In a lot of cases there are no flights to the races, or nice shiny big rigs wa iti ng w hen racers arrive. He re, ma ny r iders dri ve themselves to the races in a motorh om e or team truck . Riders such as Vohland and Moore accep ted this, d iving head first int o the Eu ropean way of racing and culture, accepting the way things were done and experiencing it for what it was worth . Anoth e r p os s ibl e rea son fo r th e d ecline cou ld be th e lev el of comp etition . The level of racing in Euro pe seems to be on the rise. In cou ntries suc h as Japa n o r It a ly, w h e re r o a d ' ra ci n g thrives, it is not unlikely for a racer to star t very y ou ng a n d w ork h is way thro ugh the ranks and into professional racing by the age of 15. Marco Melan dri is a pe rfect example of this. The 15-year old Italian wo n tw o 12Scc GP s in h is first full season of GP action. American Y SAGO... EAR OVEMBER 7,1968 t was d one. After a suspense fu l cli max, the 1968 A MA Gra nd a tio nal Cha mpio ns hip easo n cul mi na ted a t scot Park, where Mert awwill (H-D) took the in, w hile reig ning hampion Gary Ni xon .u ccessfu lly d efen d ed is num ber-on e p la te. ixon was nine points behind eries lead er Freddy Nix (H- D) coming in to th e ale, and he ap pea red to put himself furth er in the hole y having to access the main throu gh a semi. Nixon ran ourth for mu ch of the distan ce in the main, w ith Nix ight on his tail and in position to secu re the title before ltimately getting passed by DeWayn e Keeter and Gene omero, and losing ou t on wh at appeared to be certain 'l ory... Rick Woo ds was also crowned champion after inn ing the United StateS Speedway Championship at hitem an Sta di u m .. . In a tw o-part s to ry , read er s earned of the plight of Ohio State University engineerng stude nt Ti bor Sarossy, w ho p iloted his BMW R69/ S rom New York City to Los Angeles in a record time of 5 hours and 41 minutes. road racing seems to be m iss in g th is . process of grooming future talent. The level of motocross talent between Europe and America seems to be beginning to level out. There is no doubt in my mind that on the natural-terrain tracks of Europe, riders such as Stefan Everts, Joel Smets and Alessio Chiodi have gained the upper hand. This has been evident in the last two years at the Motocross Des Nations. And Supercross... well. can you say France? There is no doubt that American riders are still the best when it comes to Supercross, but outdoor racing is a whole other story. There are a 10 l of Europeans who are traveling to America right now to challenge the American riders and hon e their Su percross s kills. Some peopl e w ond er w hy mult i-t im e World Cha mpion Stefa n Everts 'd oesn 't try his ha nd a t Ame rican Su pe rcross bu t w hy s ho u ld he? I d on't see many American riders going to Europe to challenge Everts on his home turf. I think the results w ould be quite pain fu l for the Americans if they did. With so muc h emphasis being placed on Supercross racing these days, ride rs see m to only wa nt to p ractice jumping and have forgo tten abou t the fundame nta ls of motocross. Whereas McG rath has taken jumping tech ni qu e to a new level. the same goes for Everts, who has taken cornering speed to anothe r level. If you subtract the top riders in both the United States and Euro pe, I really think , the depth of talent currently runs d eeper in Europe. Co uld this be the reason for the surplus of facto ry level rid es left vacant in the pas t few years in the United States - spots tha t in a lot of cases are filled by European riders? It certainly is something to think about. It is for th ese rea sons th at I ha v e gained a new level of respect for the racers of the pas t and pres ent w ho ha ve mad e the journ ey overseas a nd g ive n ra cin g in a s tra nge pl a ce a go. Th ey d eserve mo re resp ect. When you loo k back at past champions such as Kevin Schwantz and Donny Schmit , you can' t help but admire wh at they accomplished . Winni ng a cha mpionship in your ow n cou ntry is very d ifficult, bu t imagine doing it in a d ifferent culture eve ry w eek . Riders such as the current Americans racing in Eu rope, Matt Wait a nd Tallon Vohland, may have never won a championship, but I still have the utmost of respect for them for doing something most peop le wouldn't have the courage to try. I know [ will be rooting for them wherever they end up. It's amazing how going to a foreign country can rea lly bring out American patriotism in a person as well. I know I've experienced this feeling firsthand since coming to Europe. I'm no longer refer red to as an Ohioan, but as an A·me rica n. I'm sure Wait o r Vo h la nd share this feeling every time they line up for a GP rep resen ting the Uni ted States of Ame rica. I can only imagine the feelings Wayn e Rainey or Brad Lackey felt when they wo n their World titles. It ' s h ard to imagine this feeli ng if yo u've nev er bee n to Eu rope o r to -a Euro pea n race. I know I'd never given it mu ch tho ug ht back when I was racing in America . [ th ou ght Europe was ,some st ra nge place w he re all the riders ha d bad rid ing styles and ate funny food . So if you ever have the opportunity to make it to Eu ro p e, try to attend a G P motocro ss or road race while you're there . It ' s a n amazing experie nce w hether it's the Gran d Prix road race in Jerez, wi th its thousands of rab id fans cheering for their Spanish heroes, or the Belgian motocross GP and its famous circuit of Na mur . Regardless, it will cha nge the way you look at European racing. Sa d ly, next year will see Vohla nd hea d ba ck to the United States after spend ing numerous years on the Europe an sce ne . But in his place will be a new Am erican - Ryan Hughes - carryi ng t h e St ars a n d Stri pes in Grand Prix motocross. On the road race fron t, who kno ws w ha t' s in order for Americans Wait, Kocins ki and Russell and ,wh ether t h ey w ill re turn again nex t y e a r? Ed wards wi ll be back, as will Roberts Jr. If there is one thin g I d o know, it's that the American racer in Euro pe seems to be becoming an endange red species. So I say hats off to all the racers of the past a nd present wh o hav e mad e that great jou rney a cross th e p ond . H ope full y, there will be many more of you to come l~ in the futu re. 20 YEARS AGO••• OCTOBER 25,1978 10 Y SAGO... EAR OCTOBER 19,1988 o b Hannah (Yam) scored a clean sweep of th e Lake Sugartree, Virginia, roun d of the Tra ns-AMA Series... Mike Bast wa s sti ll the king of Uni ted Sta tes speedway racin g, as he shook off injury to claim his six th Ll.S. Na tio na l Champion sh ip crown. , Gene Wood s a n d Bobb y Schwartz finis hed seco nd and third, respectively... Page three featured a full-page photo ad of Russ Collins, who p iloted his awesome-looking Sorcerer d ragbike to a quickest, fastest quarter-mile clocking of 7.62/199.55... Meanwhil e, ou t on the salt flats of Bonneville, Don Vesco throttl ed h is re cord -ho ldi ng Ka w asaki s t re a m li ner to a one-way average of 333.27 mph . Marcia Holley w ho took a spin in Ves co' s s trea mli ne r (w ith just o ne engine ) became the first woman to enter the "200 mph club" wi th a two-wa y averag e of 229.361 mph ... In another first. Team Ho nd a ' s Don Sanford beca m e th e firs t man to give Hond a's XR500 a win in AMA National End uro competition, as .he piloted a factory-tu ned version of the thumper to the ove rall win at the Lucern e Valley National Enduro. s the cover clea r ly showed, Scott Parker was able to have h is ca ke a nd ea t it, too . as he w on the Sacramento Mile and clinched the first of what would tum out to b e m a n y AMA Gra nd N at ion al Cha mpionship titles... At the Mount Morris, Pennsy lva nia. rou nd of the AM A Grand Nationa l Cro ss Co u n try Series, a nother Scott - a kid by th e nam e of Scott Summers (Ho n) - blew every body a way by becom ing the .first ride r ever to score a GNCC overa ll w in aboa rd a four-stroke... To n y Hendo n (ATK) won the AMA National H ar e Scra mbl es at th e John Zink Ranc h in Okla ho ma... Pa ul Krause (Kaw) barely beat Dan Smith (Hus) to w in roun d se ven of the AMA Nationa l Hare & Hound Series at the Winnemucca Dry Lake 80 miles ou tside of Ren o, N evada... We fea tured a riding impression of Suzuki' s hot littl e RM80K, noting that it offered "big performance in a little pa ckage." l ~ B A .-, N ;.., Q) ..n o ..... u o 87

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