Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1990's

Cycle News 1999 01 20

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 62 of 63

Teardown ther than the fact that I was slower, I was no different than Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Gardner, Randy Mamola or anyone else on the long list of followers. I was behind Freddie Spencer and he was getting away from me at a high rate of speed. And he was pulling away while looking a lot slower than I did. He was doing it with barely any body movement, bike wobble, or harsh transitions. I, on the other hand, probably looked like an accident looking for a place to happen as I tried to keep pace with the former three-time World Champion around Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His advantage probably didn't come from the motorcycle. After all, I was on tile latest hardware available - a brandspanking-new Honda CBR600; he was on a trusty VFR8GO. I'd have to say that his edge came mainly from the fact that he was on his "home" ·track and I was just a visitor. Yeah, right. I was getting a private lesson from Freddie Spencer. But it wasn't the same Freddie Spencer who won IS AMA Superbike Nationals, not to mention more than a few AMA Formula O'le and 250cc races, before heading to Europe, where he captured three World Championships (two in the 500cc class, one in the 250cc class). In doing so, Spencer also became the first rider to win the 500 and 250cc titles in the same year when he pulled off the feat in 1985. When all was said and done, Spencer won 20 500cc GPs and seven 250cc GPs. That was a different Freddie Spencer. And to be honest, I didn't care much for the early model. First of all, it killed me that he beat Kenny Roberts to win the 500cc World Championship in 1983. I'd known Roberts since he was a 16year-old, teenager and I was just a kid. Although I'd never tell him, Roberts was a hero to me (oops, I guess he'll know now) and I thought he was the greatest rider to ever throw a leg over any kind of motorcycle. He could be a pain in the ass, but he had a certain flair - a way of making people really like him. He .also rode my dad's bikes and, with blood being a whole lot thicker than water, I wanted anyone on dad's bikes to win. Kenny won, and he won a lot. Spencer finally stopped him from winning, and I couldn't forgive him for it. I never knew Spencer the way I knew Roberts. Getting to know him wasn't easy and, in Spencer's defense, I was Kel's kid and was probably viewed as O coming from within the enemy camp. When I first started covering races for Cycle News in 1985, Spencer was in Europe, doing battle with Eddie Lawson and Co. Since I was an honest-to-goodness journalist trying to groom a high standard of ethics, I didn't outright root against Spencer· as he battled Lawson; who happened to be an my dad's bikes. I still believed any story I wrote at the time was fair and honest, though I'd be lying if I'd said I didn't want Eddie to beat Fredd"ie. You know, with blood being thicker than water and all. I was also pretty good friends with Lawson, another pain in the ass who had a knack for making you like him. Spencer, however, always seemed a bit difficult for me to work with. His way" of coping with the extremely high pressure of Grand Prix racing was to be a bit on the reclusive side. He kept to himself, and when you had to go through the somewhat embarrassing ordeal of Itnocking on his motorhome door, it was usually someone else who answered. One year he even had a camera that pointed at his warma-be visitors as they knocked on the dOor, and you always got the sense that he was there and just not answering. Although he was always polite if you did get an audience with him, getting a chance to chat wasn't always easy. Altllough I still had a father named Kel, who was still across enemy lines at Yamaha with Lawson, 1 was trying to do a job, and sometimes I simply failed - like numerous other journalists - at getting what I needed from young Mr. Spencer, Yes, this Freddie Spencer is different. Now you get the feeling that a knock on Freddie's door would bring the smiling 37-year-old running. You'd not only get Freddie, you'd get hospitality, friendly conversation and anything else he could possibly give you. I like this Freddie Spencer - and I especially like the Freddie you find when you show up at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We all mature and grow old. A lot of . us get married, have children and watch our hairlines steadily creep further away from our eyebrows. And Freddie Spencer is no different. He is no longer a Wee-time World Champion hiding out in a motorhome at Spa-Francorchamps. He's one of us. He just brings a few more racing credentials to the table. Freddie and I now have jobs tha t sort of parallel each other's. He works at the AMA Superbike races as a commentator Three-time World Champion Freddie Spencer chases down his old teammate Jeff Haney during a day 01 riding and teaching at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. for Speedvision, and I'm still there covering races for this newspaper. He's busy and I'm busy, but we always speak when we get the chance. I've also had the opportunity to visit him at his riding 'school in Las Vegas for the past two years as I,e's played host to our annual 600cc Sportbike Shoatout. And he's been a gracious host when he really doesn't ha've to be. This year, Freddie showed up with the latest addition to the Spencer family - 10-week-old )ordyn Ashlee. You likely won't find a more proud father. Spencer is extremely content and happy with life after racing, and he's got the perfect job that allows him to get a fix when he feels the need for speed. And the man can teach. All I did was suggest to Freddie that I was having a bit of trouble finding my way through one particular section of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "Let me get my leathers on and I'll be right back," he said. The next thing, I knew, I was following Spencer around the race track, his line never varying more than an inch or two, regardless of whetJ1er we were warming the tires or approaching my top speed. I, on the other hand, seemed to struggle when it came to going really slow, my line never varying more than a yard or three. I tucked 'in behind and we gradually picked up speed. He knew where he was going and he was amaz- 30 YEARS AGO,.. JANUARY 28,1969 20 YEARS AGO... JANUARY 29,1979 ur cartoon cover poked a little fun at the AMA's policy of suspending its professional riders for competing in non-AMA-sanctioned events. That edict has long since been abolished... Suzuki's 1969 model lineup was presented on page 3. The Japanese manufacturer presented several all-new models bearing names such as Rebel, Savage, Stinger and Cat... Dick Mann (05s) won the 250cc Senior class, and Gary Bailey (Gre) piloted a 250 to the win in the Open Senior class at a very muc;ldy Hangtown MX in Northern California... We profiled teenage road race sensations Kelly and Pat 'Evans... A photo and press release told of how Dick Smothers, half of fue famous Smothers Brothers comedy team, became the first man in the United States to take delivery of a new BSA Rocket III triple... Triumph had pl~nty to brag about when advertising its Tiger Cub on the back page. In~arna tions of the-machine had been used by AMA Grand National Champion Gary Nixon and AMA National Enduro Champion Bill Baird in their title quests. anny "Magoo". Chandler (MaH, Donnie Cantaloupi (Yam) and "Rocket" Rex Staten (Yam) won the 250cc, 125cc and Open classes, respectively, at the soggy second round of the CMC Trans-Cal MX Series, in Fresno, California... Kawasaki had released a Z-based 500cc four in Europe. The bike was known as the Z500... In our interview with AMA executive director Lin Kuchler, who was returning to the AMA after a 12~year stint with NASCAR, we learned that Kuchler was targeting membership expansion and racing sponsorship as two of his biggest priorities... We ran a feature on how to set up your Yamaha XS750 for production-class road racing, and we offered a riding impression of the Mota Guzzi V-50 ... Our feature on championship enduro riding techniques offered hints on how best to negotiate sand, mu.d and snow, river crossings, swamps and most of the other obstacles that present themselves at the National enduro level. O D ingly adept at having a feel for how fast I wanted to go on each and every lap. We finally got to t];le point where I was a bit on the edge, so he backed it off and let me lead for a while. Then he pulled off, content that I'd either gotten the hang of it or had little or no hope of ever getting the hang of It. The rest of my day a t the race track was ,a lot more rewarding thanks to my laps with Spencer. I was suddenly able to go faster while also feeling smoother and much safer. If you get the chance to go to a"Spencer-taught school, do it. Riding behind Spencer also gave me the chance to study a side of him I'd anIy seen from the other side of the wall. On a motorcycle, he is amazing. Lap upon lap around Las Vegas only seems to have further honed his already flawless technique. Following him around the race track got me thinking... What if I went to the bank, took out a loan and bought my very own Honda CBR600? I could get someone like Kevin Erion to build me a nice little Supersport bike. It'd be real fast; it'd handle really good. I'.d get it all fixed up real nice and I'd take it down to Daytona. Heck, I'd bring the family. And I'd let Freddie race it in the 600cc Supersport race. I can see it now, me and Freddie in Victory L.ane. Kel's kid and KeJ's grandkids, and Freddie Spencer. and his kid together, on top of the world. eN Man, how things change. 10 YEARS AGO,,, JANUARY 18, 1989 D amon Bradshaw (Yam) won the 250cc Pro class at the Florida Winter Am MX at Gainesville Raceway but finished second to Jeff Ward (Kaw) in the 250cc Pro class at the opening round of the CMC Golden State National MX opener at Glen Helen Raceway in California one week later... A John Kocinski interview could be found on page 8. According to the interview, the reigning AMA 250cc GP Champion and . Kenny Roberts protege would have a busy schedule, as he contested rounds of the AMA 250cc series as well as riding in the Japanese and American rounds of the World 250cc Grand Prix series and logging time on 500cc GP racers in anticipation of his joining Roberts' Lucky Strike'Yamaha team in 1990... We took'!. "First Look" at the 1989 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10, calling it a "modern science-fiction classic" ... We also showed you some low-cost improvements that could be made to the 1989 Honda CR250. eN III II III d :iii Q • m ~ 0' ~ '" ::s :ii .., 63

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