Friday, August 12, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Mert Lawwill, On Any Sunday, and Backmarker

'70 AMA Grand National Champion Gene Romero on his #3 C&J Frame-sponsored Yamaha XS650-based parallel twin, leads '69 AMA Grand National Champion Mert Lawwill on his #7 Harley-Davidson Factory XR-750 v-twin during heat race action at the Terre Haute Action Track in August 1975.  The summer stop-off at the Indiana half-mile venue as part of the '75 Camel Pro Series/AMA Grand National Championship Series was a hot day on and off the track as riders dueled for their spot in the 18 rider main, hoping to get to the next weekend's stop of the calendar at the Indy Mile, some 75 miles east and six days later.

Two of the greats of the sport, Romero now runs his West Coast Flat Track Series, while Lawwill is still working with his 'Mert's Hands' company that helps injured riders return to the track via the use of prosthetic devices.  Both featured in the movie that changed it all for flat track fans in the late '60s/early '70s, "On Any Sunday" saw the former and soon-to-be-current AMA Grand National Champions battle the long and arduous trek to attain (or retain) that coveted #1 Grand National number plate.

Mark Gardiner, who used to pen his great column 'Backmarker' on the now-defunct Road, is now at it again, but over at  The 'Riding Man' himself caught up with the former National #7 recently, and was gracious enough to contact me for the use of some shots from back in the day.  Being how I was a big fan of Mert when I was still getting my legs as a young fan (and fanatic) of AMA Flat Track, I had just the ticket to help him out, and with pleasure!

You can check out the above photo, as well as a few others that Mark and were gracious enough to use AND give me credit for in the latest installment of Mark's 'Backmarker' below.  Thanks to both Mark and M-USA for showcasing some of Stu's Shots 'been in the vaults a long-time' shots from the AMA Grand National Championship Series trail.

Mark Gardiner penned the following story in his latest Backmarker column (now being featured at about one of the true living legends of the sport of AMA Flat Track and AMA Grand National Championship Series racing.  Mert Lawwill came through to the top of the ranks when the 'so-called' glory days of racing were at their peak, in the mid-late '60s, and he was featured in the film 'On Any Sunday' by Bruce Brown that helped to bring some new fans to the track in AMA Grand National Championship racing and expose the greatest show on wheels in the world.

Check out Mark's latest column as he gets the chance to catch up with former Grand National #7:

And you can read more of Mark's great stuff below.  The author of 'Riding Man,' Mark's exploits in dropping everything in his life to attain his quest of riding the Isle of Man TT is a great read for any motorcycle racing fan, let alone one that is a fan of racing at one of the iconic and deadliest circuits in the world.  When Mark isn't penning for any of the online rags, you can keep up with his work at his Bikewriter site here:

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