Tuesday, October 20, 2009

AMA Flat Track Goes to Pomona to Close the Season and We Profile the 2 Men Running the Show...

As the AMA Flat Track Series heads west to Pomona, CA., for the Saturday night season finale,
I'm going to take a look back this week at the two former Grand National Champions that are
currently heading up their respective series of flat track competition.
Tonight we take a look at former 1970 AMA Grand National Champion, National #3, Gene Romero, and the man who runs the West Coast Flat Track Series. Later in the week we will take a look at Mike Kidd, former 1981 AMA Grand National Champion, National #7, and the man
at the helm of the AMA-DMG-led AMA Flat Track Series.
But tonight, we look at the man who was known as 'Burritto' and who amassed a total of 12
Grand National wins--including the '75 Daytona 200 (remember in those days you rode all
the flat tracks AND the road races to get the coveted championship) as well as the Yamaha
parallel twin's final win on a mile track at Indy in 1974. Which just happened to be the second
EVER flat track race I attended in my youth that lit the wick on the candle that is burning as
bright as ever of my love for this stuff some 35-plus years later.
When I first started following this seriously and going to races in the summer of '74, Gene had
already amassed quite the career. At the time he was the #2 member of the Team Yamaha
Super Team, along with 'The King' Kenny Roberts and Don Castro, former National #11. He
had also raced for the Triumph Factory team and had won his GNC (Grand National Championship) a few years before in '70 while riding for them. In '75, when Yamaha
'trimmed' the budget and cut back to just KR running his the team with/for Yamaha, Gene
started riding Yamaha's for C&J Racing--of the C&J Frames group. They were a frame
manufacturer in the day along with Champion and Trackmaster that were known for their
expertise in motorcycle frame technology and durability, that was and I believe still is, based
on the west coast (I added their link below as well but doesn't show their location). At the time they helped him out with the flat track side of things, and Yamaha took care of him for the road races--what few there were in those days.
Since those wonderful days of yesteryear, Gene has also run the Team Honda Flat Track
program back in the early to mid '80s when they were based out of the west side of Indy here
and when they had their shop down on old Gasoline Alley Blvd. just south of IMS.
And then, roughly 14-15 years ago--and I'm not positive on those dates so correct me if I am wrong-Gene saw the need for a fully-sanctioned flat track series on the west coast. The AMA
had all but left the west coast national races behind, and California, Oregon, Washington and
other states in the area still had--and HAVE-- a large hotbed of flat track and motorcycle racing talent in general. Gene got the West Coast Flat Track Series (http://www.wcfts.com/) started up, and from word through the fans I have talked to, and word of mouth through http://www.flattrack.com/, has done a remarkable job of putting on a first class show for the riders AND the fans. Which
doesn't surprise me considering the first-class guy he always was.
This weekend will mark a milestone in racing lore history as Gene will be co-hosting the Pomona
event ALONG with Mike Kidd and the AMA Flat Track Series folks. And you can follow more about Gene, and the races, by checking out the links below. You can get the 'official' event
schedules from both Gene's site and the AMA site, and you can follow the racing via the Live
Timing link as provided by the folks at the AMA. The weather looks to be good at this point,
and to be safe I threw in a link below so you can keep up with what the weather could
be, come race time Saturday night. Also, keep in mind that California is -7 GMT, so they are
3 hours behind the east coast---just a friendly reminder so you don't fall asleep too early on
Saturday night! I also threw in the link with Robin Miller hosting Wind Tunnel a couple of
weeks ago for Dave Despain with the Romero interview as well as some other classic footage!
The various shots showcased with this post are of Gene back in the day, all taken in the summer
of '75 at the Terre Haute, IN. half-mile and the Hinsdale, IL., Sante Fe Raceway short track.
In the top shot Gene is bringing up the rear in a practice session at Sante Fe along with others
and #1 Kenny Roberts and #10 Dave 'Bones' Aldana.
In the second shot down Gene is dropping the hammer at the start of heat race action at Terre Haute alongside, among others, including then #65x and future 3-Time Grand National Champion Jay Springsteen and NOW National #9, #20 Triumph-mounted John Gennai, #98 Triumph-mounted John Hateley, #72 and future Grand National Champion Mike Kidd, and one of the all-time greats of flat track, #31 Rex Beauchamp.
In the middle shot Gene is leading this group in the national that consists of '69 Grand National Champion Mert Lawill #7, as well as The King again on the #1 Yamaha that day at Terre Haute.
The 4th shot down is Gene pondering what may come before the qualifying session--in those days riders took timed qualifying as opposed to the scratch heat formula they use now--and
probably thinking this will have to be a burner lap to make the field at Terre Haute.
And the final shot is of Gene leading Mert again out of Terre Haute's turn 4.
Enjoy the shots and remember to check out the races on Saturday night.
Later here in the week we will do this again and reminisce about Mike Kidd and talk a little
about some of the great things he did not only as a rider, promoter, and now top gun for the
AMA Flat Track people.
Thanks for coming by and we'll see you then!
http://www.wcfts.com/ (Gene Romero's Official WCFTS Site)
http://wire.amaproracing.com/ (AMA Live Timing for the races)
Weather for Pomona:

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