Sunday, January 30, 2011

'69 AMA Grand National Champion Mert Lawwill Talks to Flat's Fans In The Stands, Chew and Mia Larcom

'70 AMA Grand National Champion Gene Romero on his #3 C&J Frame-sponsored Yamaha leads '69 AMA Grand National Champion Mert Lawwill on his #7 Harley-Davidson factory XR750 during heat race action coming out of turn 4 at the Terre Haute Action Track in August of 1975. The event on the half mile track was an annual stop for several years in the early-mid '70s during the heydays of the Camel Pro Series/AMA Flat Track Grand National Championship. Riders such as Kenny Roberts, Corky Keener, the late Rex Beauchamp and Mike Kidd took wins on the track, but the venue was dropped after the '77 round produced numerous crashes, one involving Kidd which caused him to break his wrist.
The AMA Flat Track Series returned one more time in the '97 season, but alas, the track had not improved after years of sprint cars pounding the track and it again posed more problems for riders and their equipment. Several riders suffered major crashes and at least one bike caught fire after crashing and at least one rider was also ferried out in a Medivac helicopter after suffering serious injuries. Terre Haute still hosts USAC and World of Outlaws events that are still well-attended.
Mert Lawwill is a former competitor and champion in the AMA Flat Track Grand National Championship Series, winning the coveted #1 plate in the 1969 season. But since his retirement from riding after the '77 season, he has been involved in several ventures in and around the motorcycle racing community. Building street tracker motorcycle is one of those ventures, but probably one of his greatest accomplishments is manufacturing and building prosthetic devices for amputee riders to be able to compete after losing a limb.
Lawwill actually started working on some of these projects while still a rider, but since his retirement has concentrated on it regularly for over 30 years now. I can think of nothing better that a person can do to help his given trade or profession than to be able to give back to it, especially in the way that he has been able to do in the use of prosthetic devices for these riders.
Chew and Mia Larcom, who are the TRUE Fans In The Stands from the Flat community, got the chance to talk with Mert recently and hear what he had to say about the resurrection of the AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship Series, what those days were like racing in the '60s and '70s, and his work with prosthetics in getting riders back on the track. To those of you unfamiliar with Flat, it is THE place for anything and everything flat track racing. Chew and Mia are two people who represent the site and post race reports and videos promoting the great sport of AMA Flat Track, the greatest racing series on wheels.
Thanks to Chew and Mia for this great interview over at Flat
And thanks go out again to Chew and Mia for posting these shots on the Flat community forum. This is a group of shots I took of Mert Lawwill back in the day when I was just a rookie to the great sport of AMA Flat Track Racing and The Rolling Thunder Show. Scroll down to see the shots in the link to check them out:


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