Cycle News - Archive Issues - 2000's

Cycle News 2004 08 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 95 of 97

31 King Kenny Winds It Down unlop's spectacular Legends ad campa ign , featuring Kenny Roberts's final Grand Prix victory, at the Grand Prix of San Marino on September 4, 1983, sears an Indelible image into the minds of those who revel in the accompl ishments of the man named as Cycle News Rider of the Century to this day. But while that hero ic performance - one of hundreds - did mark Roberts' swan song at the pinnacle of road racing, it was not his final road race as a factory Yamahastar. D victory in the two previous Daytona 200s and also at LagunaSeca in 1983, but instead the King convinced Yamahato airfreight him a GP-spec 500cc V4 that was identical to the one Eddie Lawson would ultimately win the 500cc World Championsh ip with that year. A three-time World Champ ion, two time AHA Grand National Champ ion and thr ee-tim e Daytona 200 winner, Roberts came to LagunaSeca as a 32-year-old veteran. Having spent two decades at the top level in whatever moto rcycle discipline he chose at that time, Roberts sounded like a battle -worn, Super Bowl-winning quarterback when he admitted that he had become tired of the tra ining and preparation requ ired to stay at the top . "O n the razor 's edge , at the level I'm at ... I catch myself thinking about things that should just come naturally," Roberts told then Cycle News editor John Ulrich at the event . Indeed , Roberts declared that his fi nal run would come on July 22, 1984, during ro und I7 of the AHA Grand Nat ional Championship & Came l Pro Series at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. And just like at his GP farewell, Roberts left it as the winner. Played out in front of 82,000 spectators, the Laguna race was actually two races . Billed as the Champion Spark Plug 200, it was split into two 100·kilometer segments , with motocross-style scoring, the rider with the best pair of finishes being declared the winner of the race. A Roberts victory wasn't a given, as there was a veritab le army of top riders on Hondas in the pits, the company officially supporting reigning World 500cc Champion Freddie Spence r on its latest, gre atest Honda NSRSoo V4, Randy Mamola on a NSSOO V3, and AMA Formula One Champ ion Mike Baldwin aboard a RS500 V3. The rest of the top contenders were privateers, riding Honda's customer- version RS500s, the machine displacing the venerable Y amaha TZ750 as the new workhorse of the AMA Form ula On e. Wes Cooley, Rich Schlachter, Randy Renfrow, Jeff Haney, Gregg Smrz and Miles Baldwin we re thusly equipped . Roberts was expected to be riding the Yamaha 695cc OW69 that he had piloted to 94 Even so, Roberts went ahead and set a new lap record in qualifying anyway, his oneminute, 6.95-second lap of the 1.9-mile circuit bettering his own old lap record of I:07.75 1. Typical for Roberts, he then went on to announce that if he had been in shape , he could have turned a 1:05. As it was, nobody else could even come close. Hopes had been high for one last Roberts/Spencer due l, but thos e ho pes we re cracked, along with Spencer's collarbone, whe n the champ crashed in the Corkscrew during practice. When the green nag dropped on race one , Mamo la shot into the lead, w ith Roberts and Mike Baldwin in tow. Roberts passed Mamola on lap six, and the two GP stars quickly dropped Baldwin as they traded the lead back and forth , putt ing eight seco nds on him before the race was half over. With 10 laps to go, Roberts wicked it up even harder, ultimately cutting a fast lap of 1:07. I7 and building a thr ee -second lead over Mamola before crossing the stripe for the win. Roberts lapped everybody in the race except Mamola and Baldwin. Race two held even more excitement, as Roberts trailed Baldwin in the early going and bending the pipe in enough that it didn't interfere with left-handers. Then he caug Baldwin and Mamala. ht Instantly. And passed. Instantly. And left them behind. Instantly. Watching King Kenn y Roberts on the gas was, despite the current overuse of the word , nothing short of awesome. " Roberts would go on to win the race with over 13 seconds in hand. Mamola got clear of Baldwin again, the pair finishing second and third, respectively, to secure a pod ium that was fit for a King. "Iwanted to go out on top ," Roberts said afterward. "This is it, I guess." Except that It wasn't. Roberts would venture out of retirement three mo re times - two of them in 1985, He returned to Laguna for the 200 and set another new lap reco rd there before going 1-2, for second overall, behind Mamola, after shifting probl ems plagued him in race two . Next , Roberts went really old-school, making a popular though III-fated - comeback to dirt track at the autumn running of the Springfield Mile. He was com pet itive, but an ailing motorcycle cost him his shot at the main event. Roberts ' fi nal, final, final race was the 1986 Suzuka 8 Hours, where he put his Lucky Strike Y amaha into second place before handing it off to teammate Mike Baldwin, who crashed. Since then, of course, new chapte rs in Roberts' life history have been written, covering facets of a caree r that has evolved from championship racer to championship GP team manager to MotoGP team owner. Through it all - win, lose or draw - the Ki ng's crown has never stopped shining. Sco tt Roussea u then went for an aggress ive ISDT rider Billy Uh l appeared on the cover of th is Issue . Inside, the re was an intervi ew with him in which he talked about his many experiences In the internatio nal race...A young Mike Be ll competed in, and won, a local CMC race In the 125cc Pro c1ass...At anot her CMC race held at Washougal Motocross park in Washouga l, Washington, Chuck Su n ran away with the Pro-class win ...We tested the CZ400 and found the Czechoslovakian bike was a formidable weapon for the average prlvateer...At a round of World Championship road racing in Sweden , Finnish rider Te uvo Lansivuor i came away as the big winner, He won the 350cc and 500cc classes . 2a YEAR.!i Alia... AugU!it IS, 19B4 Kenny Rob e rts was contemplating retirement when this issue featu red him on the cover. Inside, the re was an Interview w ith him in which he discussed his future plans for racing and retirement...David Ba iley, Jeff Wa rd an d Ron Lec hien wer e the class winners at rou nd 10 of the AHA Outdoor Motocross series in Millville, Minnesota. All three riders rode co nsisten tly all day to win o n the sandy circult.. .We attem pted to remedy the problems that were facing the Husky four-strokes of the time . These bikes we re extremely unreliable and didn't run very well. Today, Husky is making a comeback, and their four-strokes are some of the leading bikes in off road . ru YEAR.!i Alia.. . AugU!it ui. 1994 Vintage bikes invaded this issue. It • lIll t!Ien. 1IIl8 ~ 1ll1I_ was a special • Vint age iss ue and ,.... inside was an inter- view with Dick __ Mann, as well as a featu re on a vintage "" project bike...Yve s Dema ria was the winner at the U5GP held at the Budds Creek motocross track in Maryland. Jeff Emig won the first moto but crashed in the second moto, relegating him to third overall...Round eight of the AHA Superbike Championship took place at Brainerd Internatio nal Raceway, and Co lin Edwards came away with the w in. It was the second win of his career...Kevin Hines won the Bentwhee l National Enduro In Rose C ity, Michigan. By doing so, he w as able to stay in the champio nship hunt. =. pass in the Co rkscrew. Roberts had been using a different line than Baldwin, straighten ing up and getting on the gas sooner. When Roberts took his shot , the two made serious contact, Roberts dropping back with a bent pipe while Baldwin and Mamola went past and pulled away. According to Ulrich's account of the race, Roberts the n "kicked at his pipe an straight sections of the track, AUGUST 11 , 2004 • CYC LE NEWS 3a YEAR.!i Alia... Augu!it 13, 1974 40th Anniversary

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