One of the big regional road racing championships in the 1980s was WERA’s Michigan Grand Prix. The series was held at Grattan Raceway, paid decent money and got the participants extra publicity. A July 4th weekend race there in the late 1980s got one of the biggest crowds for a club race I’d ever seen. This is a Michigan Grand Prix race with Randy Gaddey (408) leading Ray Yoder (behind Gaddey), Fritz Kling (in third) and Phil Pummell (60). Yoder eventually got around Gaddey to win this round.
Archive for October, 2009
Going through my 1990 negatives from Daytona I noticed a number of beach bikini shots in the middle of motorcycle shots. It all came back to me. Wes Cooley and I went to the beach on Saturday (Supercross day) and drove my rental car right out on the sand. Thanks goodness it was a hot, sunny day at Daytona Beach. I grabbed my Canon A-1 and 600mm loaner lens, stood up through the sunroof while Wes drove and I started shooting away. I even remember we had Lenny Kravitz in the cassette deck. Wes has just gotten into Kravitz and he had the stereo cranked. It was one of those special days that you have every once in awhile at the races. Sun, beach, girls, Kravitz and Wes… it doesn’t get much better than that.
One of the coolest sport bikes of the early 1970s was the Laverda SFC (which stood for super freni competizione).
Laverda was the first of the Italian makers to enter the superbike segment, brought on by Honda’s CB750. The SFC was launched in 1971 and was not only a technical achievement for the Italian maker, but was a design marvel as well. It featured a vertical twin, single ohv, air-cooled engine that in production form produced around 70 h.p. at 7500 r.p.m. A five-speed, the half-faired SFC had a top speed of 130 m.p.h.
The SFC won numerous endurance contests and a few were even raced in the early years of AMA Superbike. The best AMA result for te SFC was a fifth-place finish by Wayne Sullivan at Charlotte in 1977. Chicagoan Al Phillips raced one in AMA Superbike all the way thtrough 1981.
This is a 1975 magazine ad for the SFC. Today the machine is a sought after collectors’ dream.
Laverda is dormant today, but there is an international registry for the machine where enthusiast of the brand can trade information.
Tom Kipp (16) and Lee Pounders (132) battle early in a CCS Middleweight Superbike race at a rainy Daytona sometime in the early 1990s. Kipp was likely using the CCS weekend as a warm up for the AMA Pro week coming up. It was heady stuff for Pounders to be racing against a top rider such as Kipp. The underdog stayed with the top dog for a while, but eventually Pounders crashed and Kipp went on to a convincing victory.
Back in the early 1990s WERA had a class called Future Stars. Here’s Colin Edwards (64) and Takanobu Koyama (14) racing in a WERA Future Stars race at Willow Springs in April of 1991. Edwards won this race over Koyama. The pair were indeed stars of the future. Edwards went on to win AMA 250 Grand Prix and World Superbike Championships. I’m not quite sure why Koyama was racing in Future Stars. He went on that very summer and scored four top-10 AMA 600cc Supersport finishes, including a podium at Mid-Ohio. He ended the season ranked eighth in the series.
A press kit photo of the 1978 Harley-Davidson racing team with (clockwise from top left) Corky Keener, Jay Springsteen, Ted Boody and mechanics Bill Werner and Steve Storz. Not sure why racing manager Dick O’Brien wasn’t in the photo. All three riders scored inside the top-10 in the 1977 standings. Springsteen was the defending AMA Grand National Champ, Keener finished sixth and Boody was runner up.
Photographers from the film days will recognize this as a contact sheet. It was the first print you made in your darkroom. It gave you a 35mm-sized proof of every photo you took on a roll. This particular contact sheet comes from the 1993 Daytona 200, where Eddie Lawson edge Scott Russell at the line. Miguel Duhamel was third. I was surprised to see I was still shooting black and white film this late. By then I had switched to shooting primarily color film and transparencies. The film on this contact sheet is the classic Kodak Tri-X.
Rich Oliver leads Ray Yoder in a wet WERA Formula USA road race at Grattan Raceway in 1990. Oliver was a David versus Goliath on his little Team Marlboro/Roberts Yamaha 250 Grand Prix bike running against the big monster 1000cc F-USA machines. The rain at Grattan was the great equalizer and Oliver was able to win his first Formula USA race. A year later Kenny Roberts gave Oliver some major help by bringing over a couple of 500cc Grand Prix bikes.
Today Rich teaches a riding school. You can check it out here.
Congratulations to Sammy Halbert for winning the mythical AMA Grand National Championship this year. The mythical title is like the old Grand National Series (pre-2006 before the AMA split up the Twins and Singles portions of the series) where all the races count.
Halbert came out on top in a very tight Grand National combined battle by a single point over Joe Kopp, with Jared Mees (the GNC Twins Champ) right there in third with 200 points.
Halbert had a breakthrough championship this year earning his first Twins victory at Bulls Gap and turning in consistent performances throughout much of the season.
Most Grand National fans (and riders) would rather have a united Grand National Champion, but for now the powers that be seem to like handing out as many national championships as they possibly can.
Here’s the breakdown of this year’s combine Grand National points:
1. 43 Sammy Halbert 203
2. 3 Joe Kopp 202
3. 21 Jared Mees 200
4. 1-31 Kenny Coolbeth 183
5. 33 JR Schnabel 179
6. 1-14 Jake Johnson 175
7. 17 Henry Wiles 170
8. 4 Chris Carr 159
9. 42 Bryan Smith 136
10. 20 Matt Weidman 112
(Points courtesy www.flattrakfotos.com)
Here’s a report from Sammy on the season finale:
Going into Pomona I was thinking I needed to just go in and get 28 points, by winning the Dash for Cash, and the GNC Main event. I then would have guaranteed myself at least second place in the AMA GNC Twins Championship, and a shot at winning if Jared Mees finished 10th or worse. I felt like all the training I have done all year has built up to this event, and I was ready to put it to good use.
I am looking forward to expanding my team for next year with the addition of my older brother, National #69 Jethro Halbert. I am really looking forward to working alongside him week in and week out, like we did as Amateurs. We will be stronger as a team together and will come to Daytona Bike Week prepared to gang up on the rest of the GNC Regulars.
Nick Ienatsch leads Alain Dua during the Daytona International Lightweight (250 Grand Prix) race in March of 1990. Besides being one of the most popular motorcycle journalist of all time, Ienatsch was also a top AMA 250GP rider. Dua was the French 250GP Champion in 1989 and later had a part in the movie “Circuit Carole”. Ienatsch came out on top in this particular duel.