Cycle News

Cycle News 2020 Issue 47 November 24

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 105 of 115

VOLUME 57 ISSUE 47 NOVEMBER 24, 2020 P105 Harley-Davidson on the strength of a single win and machine- like consistency, carding only a single DNQ along the 1980 championship trail and never finishing outside the top 10 in any of the main events he started. Though Goss may not have been the most thrilling rider ever to swing a leg over an XR750, the 1980 season was anything but dull. In a season that raged with intense competition, Goss' main title rivals turned out to be privateers Ricky Graham and Scott, the latter scoring five wins that season. Goss battled neck and neck with Scott and Graham all season long before his title hopes suffered a setback on the half mile at Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he failed to make the main event. He had been leading the points coming in, but the DNQ dropped him into a deadlock with Scott, 177-177, with just two series rounds remaining—one mile and one half-mile. Although Scott had been dev- astatingly fast at all of the miles run during the season, Goss somehow rose to the occasion at the San Jose Mile, beating Scott to the stripe to take his only win of the season and, more impor- tantly, a slim four-point lead in the title race, 197-193. In a 20-lap battle that could have gone either way at the series finale at Ascot Park, Goss finished fifth, while Scott was third. The difference was three points, giving Goss his first AMA Grand National Championship by one point, 207 to Scott's 206. Goss would go on to lose the title in similar fashion at Ascot in 1981. After being disqualified for oiling the racetrack at San Jose, he came to Ascot needing not only to win, but also for series points leader Mike Kidd to have a bad night. Goss did his part, thundering to the win at Ascot, but the other shoe never fell, and Kidd walked away with the title, leaving Goss as the runner-up. Following a season in which he finished third, behind a rejuve- nated Jay Springsteen, while Graham and Michigan tuner Tex Peel won the championship, Goss came back strong again and beat out Graham to regain it in 1983. It would be the last title for Harley-Davidson before the Milwaukee factory was crushed by a wave of Honda RS750 domi- nance for the next four seasons, with Graham winning the title for Honda in 1984, followed by teammate Bubba Shobert's three straight title wins from 1985-'87. As it was, Goss was more a casualty of what that dominance represented than of any on-track deficiency. Even after being sidelined with a broken leg at the San Jose Mile late in the year, he still finished third in the 1984 standings, behind Graham and Shobert, but there were dark days for the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, which had seri- ously exhausted its finances after a group of employees bought the company back from AMF in 1981 and struggled bitterly to forge ahead with the production of a big twin engine known as the Evolution. While the decisions made by Harley's new board of directors would ultimately save its existence, by 1985, the factory dirt track team was pared down to just one rider, Scott Parker, and one mechanic, Bill Werner. Goss' contract was not renewed. He returned to race as a priva- teer aboard a Honda in 1985 and then a Harley in 1986 before retiring from racing. A competent mechanic, Goss moved into the automobile racing game. No matter how history treats Randy Goss, it is important to remember that while he may not have been as dynamic as some of his factory peers, he came in, did what he was asked to do and got the job done for Harley-Da- vidson at a time when it needed the help. His two championship titles should be recognized as important if for no other reason than this. CN This Archives edition is re- printed from issue #40, October 12, 2005. CN has hundreds of past Archives editions in our files, too many destined to be archives themselves. So, to pre- vent that from happening, in the future, we will be revisiting past Archives articles while still plan- ning to keep fresh ones coming down the road. -Editor Subscribe to nearly 50 years of Cycle News Archive issues:

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