Cycle News - Archive Issues - 2000's

Cycle News 2000 02 23

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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Bv ~III/II;D:@!!r 30 YEARS AGO... MARCH 3, 1970 Mike Payse graced the cover of Issue #7 wearing his "Captain America" suit aboard a Bultaco on his way to a second-place finish in the 125cc AM/EX division behind Ruben Benites on a Penton. The photograph was taken during Sled Rider MC's first ever motocross at Huntington Beach Cycle Park in Huntington Beach, California... Bob Grove (Bul) grabbed a victory in helmetless style at the Saddleback Trials in Orange, California ... The Pre-Professor Gary Bailey (Sac) DNF'd a professional motocross race in Houston, Texas when his J25 ceased running due extremely muddy conditions. The race was won by David Nielsen (Bul) ... Yamaha took out a back-page ad to brag that newly crowned Nevada State MX Champion Gary Jones won said championship on a Yamaha 125ccAT-J MX. 20 YEARS AGO.•• FEBRUARY 27, 1980... "Can you use these tools?" asked the cover of Issue #7. Inside was a quite thorough. but silly, test of mechanical knowledge. What did you get if you win if you got aII the answers right? You got to join famed tuners Erv Kanemoto, Bill Werner, Keith McCarty and Kel Carruthers for a beer and swap tuning secrets.. _Brand new Team Kawasaki member Jeff Ward was the subject of a two-page interview entitled "Dynamite in a Small Package." The piece focused on Ward's mini-racing days and the transition to 125cc National title contender... At the CMC Golden State Series Finale at Indian Dunes Johnny O'Mara (Mug) won the battle, winning the 125cc overall, but Jim Holley (Yam) won the war as he clinched the 125cc Championship. Sixteen-year-old Ricky Johnson (Yam) finished eighth on the day. 10 YEARS AGO.•. FEBRUARY 21, 1990 • 1::---------, Jeff Stanton (Hon) graced our cover as he put a stop to the earlyseason dominance of Damon Bradshaw in the Camel Supercross Series. Bradshaw injured his foot in a midrace crash, which resulted in an 18thplace finish. As a result of Bradshaw's misfortune, Stanton assumed the points lead. Also inside our 1990 edition of Issue Jl7 we took a look at the hardware of the supercross stars. Among the bikes featured were Jeff Ward's KX250, Jeff Emig's KX125, Jeff Stanton's CR250, Mike laRocco's RM250, Buddy Antunez's RM125 and Damon Bradshaw's YZ250... Larry Roeseler was the dominant rider at the 10th Annual Adelanto Grand Prix, winning four of the five races he entered ... KTM pilot Greg Searle was victorious in round one of the Best in the Desert Series near Las Vegas, Nevada. Behind Searle were fellow KTM riders Danny Hamel in second and SCot Harden in third. _ T How' DENNIS NOVES - • r er than Ti he level of broad-based popularity, celebrity recognition and passionate support that 500cc World Champion Alex Criville enjoys in Spain is on a par with that of the greatest and most popular of American superstars. Yes, Alex, in his homeland, is bigger than Tiger and as big as Mike in the USA. And that is because Criville has managed to win for Spain a prize that had become something of a national obsession. How seriously do Spaniards take Grand Prix racing? This is how serious: It's Sunday morning in Jerez de la Frontera. Race day. The 500s are ready for their final 20-minute warmup. I am in the TV commentary booth set at the back of the huge home grandstand that is absolutely full. The fans are chanting, and have been chanting for some time. Thousands of Spanish fans are standing and looking directly into the Repsol Honda garage and they are shouting in unison, "To-re-ro, to-re-ro, to-re-ro!" The word torero, as every American knows, means bullfighter. But it also means a lot more than that. What the fans are shouting to Alex is not only the ultimate praise of an athlete in Andalucia, but also the ultimate demand upon a man to give his very best. The support for Alex in other parts of Spain is just as strong, but perhaps not as folkloric and pure as in the South. Spaniards are self-conscious about the character attributes that make Spain different from the rest of Europe and are quick to point out that there is as much difference between an Aldalucian and a Basque, or between a Catalan and a Gallego, as between an Austrian and a Greek. And that's true, outwardly. But when it comes to Grand Prix racing almost all Spaniards pull together to cheer on "Crivi." That's also true in Great Britain where World Superbike Champion Carl Fogarty's name is a household word and where huge crowds flock to Brands Hatch to see him take on the world. It is different in England, though. Imagine Carl Fogarty coming out for the morning warm-up at Brands Hatch before a World Superbike round ... Surely the atmosphere must be as charged as the English are capable of charging it - but what would the thousands at Brands chant that would convey the circumstance of the moment? "Fox hunter, fox hunter, fox hunterl"? That Spanish atmosphere is incredible. Let's go back to the morning warm-up in Jerez: When Alex appears, helmeted, in the garage and gets on the bike there is applause, but the chant continues and the applause, becomes staccato, rising to a crescendo when Alex rides slowly down pit lane, making the sign of the cross as he eases out onto the track. And all around the circuit, with well over 100,000 fans in attendance, flags, both Spanish and Catalan, wave, airhorns bleat, rockets streak skyward leaving orange trails and "tracas" (firecrackers that are more like bombs) explode like canon fire. Just writing these lines makes the hair on my neck stand up. Now imagine what it is like to be Criville riding this year with the #J plate on his Repsol Honda! Having a Spanish rider carry that #1 plate is like seeing Spain win the soccer World Cup. If I were to translate for you the report of a Grand Prix in the Spanish press you would find it full of words like "responsibility," "obligation," "courage, "sacrifice," "passion, "love," "joy," "tears" and at least one mention of the Creator. That's why a real Spanish article, one written for Spain only, cannot be translated without sounding melodramatic and often absurd, and why an American article translated into Spanish sounds understated, short on grandiloquence and the eternal verities, but maybe a little more informative about suspension settings and tire choice. It's a different world and one that I was not born into but had to learn, living for 30 years in Spain. My feeling, after writing in both languages for many years, is that in Spain we are not ashamed to admit just how much we love racing and how important it all is. In the U.S., and maybe especially out here in Southern California where there isn't enough fan loyalty to keep a professional football team in Los Angeles, we have lost the ability to allow ourselves to care enough about anything to really get into it. To really care about something you have to stay loyal during the hard times and have to live with disappointment, like Cubs fans do. Spanish fans have backed Criville in 500cc GP racing since 1992. They have paid their dues and stayed firmly behind Alex when he was under Doohan's sway and being written off gratuitously as being "soft on the inside_" Now they are proud and maybe a little cocky, but Kenny Roberts Jr. has them worried. Spanish fans are good judges of racers, and they know that Roberts throws his bike past rivals on the brakes and gets on the throttle hard and early like his dad did 20 years ago. They know this is going to be a hard year for Alex. That's why many fans in Spain are wondering why Movistar TelefUnica, Spain's largest cellular phone service, now sponsoring the works Suzuki effort, has left the Pons team to "pay an American to beat our champion." It Since Criville won the 500 title he has been given a tumultuous greeting in Barcelona and at his hometown of Seva, he has been received in the Royal Palace by Don Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, and he has had two books written about him - both of which were published before Christmas. Furthermore his picture is everywhere, even on the sides of Barcelona's municipal busses. Roberts, the runner-up in the championship, "enjoys" greater anonymity in his country, which hasn't hosted a GP since Laguna Seca in 1994. The last time I drove through Modesto I didn't see a statue of Roberts - either of them. In fact if anyone in Modesto wanted to see Roberts race they'd have to go a long way to do it. If Criville has four "home" GPs on the Iberian peninsula, a fifth in France and a sixth in Italy, all within a one-day drive of Seva, the closest Grand Prix to Modesto is probably the Japanese, a mere 10 hours by jumbo from San Francisco, plus several hours of trains and buses. To repeat the Spanish miracle here is not going to be easy. First of all almost everyone in Spain has ridden a motorcycle at one point in their life, and the image of the motorcycle carries no baggage. Here we are finally getting free of the Hell's Angels stigma, but in a society that is so adverse to any sort of risk, the motorcycle to many is still threatening and antisocial, although that is changing at last as more middle-aged and respectable citizens buy road bikes. Did the Spanish miracle come from TV exposure? Not really. Popular success came first, and because the fan base was so broad, TV had no choice but to come to the tracks. All sports eventually get the TV they deserve. The fact that Supercross is on major networks in the United States is a direct result of the grass-roots popularity that SX has developed. PACE has stepped up to accelerate the growth process, and the sport has been fortunate to have a rider like Jeremy McGrath at his prime at just the right time. Keep the faith and root for Roberts the way Spain roots for Criville, and maybe Grand Prix racing will finally break out and become the sport it deserves to be in the United States and Canada. But if you want that to happen, you have to be obsessive and Spanish about it. You bave to believe. It's been written that GP racing is too Spanish, and there is some justification to that criticism. But if Grand Prix racing is too Spanish, it is only because Spain believes in Grand Prix racing more than Grand Prix racing believes in itself. If the U.S. and Canada caught the GP fever, GP racing - and road racing in general would finally get their day in the sun on this side of the water. eN It • Daytona Cycle Week Preview • I'ontIac Superr;ross • 1It1r1/11CJ11 four-sIrDkllS ,."", • WIIseJ rille, CA & I.aIIgIIIIR, "" Hare SCraInbIes cue I e n e _ S • FEBRUARY 23, 2000 79

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