Cycle News

Cycle News 2020 Issue 34 August 25

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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VOLUME 57 ISSUE 34 AUGUST 25, 2020 P123 his boots on," Goad recalls. "I walked right back over to his mo- torcycle and patted it on the seat and said, 'I feel sorry for you to- day, old girl.' Ricky went out there that day and won the Springfield Mile by a straightaway." It was only the start of Graham's '93 domination. At the next round, he finished second to Kevin Ather- ton on the half mile at Parkers- burg, Virginia. After that, Graham went on an unbelievable tear, winning the next six races in a row. Graham stood atop the box at the Lima (Ohio), Lake Odessa (Michi- gan) and Hagerstown (Maryland) half miles, then went on and won both days of the doubleheader mile at Syracuse, New York. He capped the record-setting drive with another half mile victory at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. With the variety of track lengths and racing surfaces, you might think that Goad was having to constantly adjust Graham's Honda to keep him running fast on such a consistent basis. The truth, according to Goad, is that he hardly laid a wrench on Gra- ham's bike at the track. "I didn't have to make a lot of adjustments once we got to the racetrack," Goad once said when asked about Graham's setup. "It didn't matter what we had on it for gearing or anything that year. Ricky would just come in after practice and say, 'Don't touch it, Johnny. I can win on this motorcycle today.'" In fact, were it not for the Peoria TT—a virtual given for Chris Carr—and an inspired win by Will Davis at the Dallas Half Mile, Graham might have kept on win- ning. He did anyway, sandwiching the Rapid City, South Dakota, half mile victory in between Carr and Davis' wins, then going on to pound the competition three more rounds in a row, amassing a huge series points lead. "It got to where I felt sorry for them because I knew that when Ricky lined up against them, they barely had a chance," Goad says. "And they knew it, too." Running second in the series standings to Graham, Carr was doing all that he could to defend his title. The task was akin to putting out your hands to stop a speeding Mack truck. "Ricky just flat laid waste to us in '93," Carr remembers. "I did everything I could. I won five races that year, but he won 12. I was still second in the points all year, but nobody had a chance. He did a number on us " To this day, some Graham nay- sayers point to his Honda as the source of his success in 1993. Carr doesn't buy it. "Ricky Graham won that cham- pionship, and if he had been on Harley-Davidsons, he would have done the same thing. The Hon- das really suited his style, but it didn't matter what he was riding." That 1993 season should have been the start of greater things for Graham, but instead it was the zenith of a troubled career. After failed attempts to land a road racing ride, and a failed marriage, Graham sunk back into his battles with alcohol and drugs. He re- turned to dirt track, but was often injured, a mere shadow of his 1993 championship-winning self. Yet somehow it appeared Graham was preparing himself for another title run. He began to get healthy again as the 1997 season wore on, and when it was over, he stood fifth in the final stand- ings, optimistic that a new deal with Goad and a pair of champi- onship-caliber Harley-Davidsons would get him back in the hunt. It never happened. Graham perished when his Salinas, Cali- fornia, ranch home caught fire on January 22, 1998. Although it was determined that the fire started in the kitchen, it was unclear whether alcohol was a factor in the fire. Graham was 39. "It saddens me to see what happened to Ricky," Carr says. "I never lived in his shoes, so I don't know what his life was like, and I think that it's still a mystery to a lot of us. All I do know is that Ricky Graham was a badass on a mo- torcycle, and that's what I choose to remember him by." Enough said. This Archives edition is reprinted from issue #40, October 13, 2004. CN has hundreds of past Archives editions in our files, too many des- tined to be archives themselves. So, to prevent that from happen- ing, we will be revisiting past Ar- chives articles while still planning to keep fresh ones coming down the road. -Editor Subscribe to nearly 50 years of Cycle News Archive issues:

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