Cycle News

Cycle News 2022 Issue 19 May 10

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 142 of 155

M ark Brelsford looked up and gazed at the vastness of the Houston Astrodome, wide-eyed and quite frankly, amazed at his luck. He was 19 years old, a rookie expert about to compete in his first AMA Grand National weekend and, oh yeah, he was a factory Harley-Davidson rider. It was 1969 and the teenaged Californian was about to step off into unchartered territory. Not only would he now be racing against the top pros in the coun- try, but it was also the first year an AMA TT National was held in the Astrodome, so it was new to everyone, and finally Brelsford would be racing a new produc- tion motorcycle built by Harley, totally unproven in Grand Na- tional racing. Brelsford had about a half-hour of informal testing on the bike before the national weekend. Such was the stage facing the rookie pro. Perhaps it was better he was just 19, kids tend not to grasp the gravity of the moment. The very fact that Brelsford was riding a factory Harley-Davidson was in itself a fluke. The year before he was traveling with Jimmy Odom, racing as an amateur on a BSA Gold Star out of Sonny Ken- yon's motorcycle shop in Mountain View, California. Brelsford was doing well on the BSA, especially on TT tracks, but then came Brels- ford's first Mile. It was at the Port- land Meadows Horse Track and the BSA just didn't have the power to run competitively on the big horsepower-hungry track. When Brelsford first took to the track he thought everything was fine. CN III ARCHIVES P142 Brelsford's Grand National BY LARRY LAWRENCE (Above) Mark Brelsford was a 19-year-old rookie and factory Harley- Davidson rider when he scored a podium in his pro debut weekend. (Left) At the 1969 Houston TT, rookie Mark Brelsford (87) had a tall task trying to match TT specialist Skip Van Leeuwen (59) with Skip's experience and the power advantage of his 650cc Triumph.

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