Le­gends line up

Classic Racer - - WHAT’SINSIDE - Words and pho­tos: Norm Dewitt

Randy and the Trail­blaz­ers might sound like a bril­liant name for a rock and roll Mo­togp band but the truth of the mat­ter is that both have had a pretty in­cred­i­ble cou­ple of months. One be­came a bona fide leg­end nonethe­less.

The Trail­blaz­ers Mo­tor­cy­cle Club has been meet­ing an­nu­ally since 1940, bring­ing to­gether the le­gends of mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing. Ini­tially the meet­ings were very much a re­union of the board track rac­ing era, with their wooden su­per­speed­ways hav­ing seen per­haps the most dan­ger­ous era in mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing his­tory. With the pass­ing of Jim Davis in 2000, the last liv­ing link to the board track era was gone (at the age of 103). In the 21st cen­tury these re­unions tend to be dom­i­nated by the le­gends of the 1960s-1990s, with rid­ers such as Kenny Roberts, Ralph White, Wayne Rainey, Eddie Law­son, Gene Romero, Don Emde, and Kel Car­ruthers as reg­u­lar at­ten­dees from the road rac­ing dis­ci­pline. Of course, mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing has many dif­fer­ent facets, and there were many le­gends rep­re­sented from flat track (Sammy Tan­ner, Jimmy Odom, and dozens of oth­ers), en­duro (Dave Ekins), tri­als (Lane Leav­itt – three-time

US tri­als cham­pion and wife Deb­bie Evans Leav­itt), mo­tocross (Pre­ston Petty, three-time 250cc Na­tional cham­pion Gary Jones, 500cc World Cham­pion Brad Lackey), and speed­way (Scott Autrey). Among all those in at­ten­dance this year, the legendary Har­ley-david­son fac­tory rider Everett Bras­hear, aged 91, was most likely the Trail­blazer amongst these le­gends, hav­ing won 15 AMA Na­tion­als be­tween 1952 and 1960, rac­ing 10 sea­sons as an ex­pert de­spite most of them be­ing raced with one good eye – a se­cret he kept from the of­fi­cials, the re­sult of an hor­rific crash in 1954. 2018 Hall of Fame in­ductees in­cluded Benelli’s 250cc world cham­pion Kel Car­ruthers, speed­way’s Scott Autrey, tri­als leg­end and stunt woman (for Lynda Carter in Won­der Woman!) Deb­bie Evans-leav­itt, an­nouncer Bruce Flan­ders, racer/ex­ec­u­tive/ PR guru Den­nis Kana­gae, and Baja leg­end Chuck Miller. There was a som­bre side to the pro­ceed­ings in 2018, as the re­cent losses piled up. Those in­clude Bruce Brown, the film­maker that brought us On Any Sun­day, and Nicky Hay­den. The most pres­ti­gious award given an­nu­ally by the Trail­blaz­ers is the Dick Ham­mer award, af­ter the tough-as-nails racer whose tenac­ity on his bikes was only matched by his coura­geous battle against can­cer. Pre­vi­ous Dick Ham­mer award win­ners Joe Leonard, Dan Gur­ney, and Skip Van Leeuwen had all passed away re­cently, as sadly did the 2018 Dick Ham­mer award win­ner, Tom White. Tom was the com­plete en­thu­si­ast, rac­ing flat track at As­cot Park, mo­tocross at Glen He­len, and a founder with his twin brother Dan of White Broth­ers, a wildly suc­cess­ful mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ces­sories com­pany. Tom was also a race an­nouncer without peer, and the owner of the shock­ingly com­pre­hen­sive Early Years of Mo­tocross Mu­seum. One of his last pub­lic ap­pear­ances was to ride his new fac­tory replica flat track In­dian at the 2017 AMA flat track sea­son fi­nale in Per­ris, Cal­i­for­nia. Tom White is the only post­hu­mous re­cip­i­ent of this high­est award the Trail­blaz­ers can give, and one can only take so­lace in that Tom was made aware of this up­com­ing award be­fore he passed in Novem­ber. If there is a les­son to be learned from the 2018 Trail­blaz­ers re­union, it is to cher­ish these mo­ments with our rac­ing le­gends.

Kenny Roberts Yama­has, each one a foun­da­tion piece of rac­ing his­tory

Gene Romero and Eddie Law­son – nei­ther would agree about be­ing a leg­end but they’d say it about each other.

Kenny Roberts and Kel Car­ruthers, a real long­stand­ing rac­ing brother­hood

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