Motorcycle racers are a breed all their own - a rare mixture of "gung ho" and "que sera sera." Their recent inauguration of NHRA's unprecedented run-what-ya-brung bike rules for 1970 at Southern California's Irwindale Raceway reflected their devotion to the sport time and again. Despite the trials of breaking in a new set of rules and bike-savvy crew, 4,397 spectators got their share of smoky kicks. And NHRA's record book, open to national motorcycle records for the first time, was swelled by 11 tough ones. Despite the inevitable shortcomings that are part and parcel of a first-time event, the meet must be termed a success, due to the elasticity of the racers and the determination of Irwindale's one-in-a-million manager, Mel Reck.
In drag racing, if the strip manager invites your return, you're a winner, and Mel's parting words were, "Y'all come back." His Monday morning critique showed that they'd bucked heavy odds - running in the face of four other long-established local or competitive meets - and won. And the cyclists' enthusiasm and adaptability had lit the fire for an even larger event in 1971, a two-day meet with a full day for qualification and a much more realistic sharing of the wealth between the Street and Gas/Fuel classes. The two-wheeled contingent - both competitor and spectator - had proven it can support an all-bike meet from every aspect.
While the Japanese machinery - Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki - held a slight edge in numbers of new National Records, Harley-Davidson V-power flat ruled the 10-second, 130-mph-and-up country. Sportsters of every displacement lay cooling in the pits by the dozen, resting from their smoke-belching runs. But ultimately even they were to bow to Angeleno Joe Smith's "King of the Highway" Electra Glide, a late-model '74 H-D punched out to 102 cubes via the expediency of a pair of S&S; 4-1/2-inch-stroke flywheels and equally tall Burkhardt cylinders. Amazingly enough, the rods are pure stock. Weighing little more than the average trail bike at 275 pounds, with a 2.77 overall ratio, this bike ran in the low 9s and mid 160s. His 9.34 elapsed time now stands as the epitome of acceleration on two wheels-- it's a national fact.
|NHRA MOTORCYCLE RECORDS|
|Class||E.T.||MPH||Rider or Owner||Bike|
|West Covina, CA|
|St. Charles, MO|
|Temple City, CA|
|Redondo Beach, CA|
|*Set at Irwindale 3/8/70 **Set at Gainesville 3/7/70|