Wednesday, June 17, 2009

1975 Kenny Roberts in Indianapolis, Indiana.

By our guest editor, Eric Johnson

Motorcycle racing is full of myth, folklore and larger than life
legends. However, in the eyes of plenty, one of the greatest stories
ever told took place in the summer of 1975 on a mile-long dirt oval in
Indianapolis, Indiana.

That year, Kenny Roberts was dong his best to beat back a number of
beastly Harley-Davidsons that were trying to steal away his Grand
National number one plate. Far more powerful, the Harley XRs were
omnipotent and all seemed lost. Or was it? Before the race scheduled
for the Indy Fairgrounds, Roberts and his mechanic took a huge gamble
and shoehorned an engine far too powerful and potent for the bike into
the spindly frame of his Champion Yamaha 750. When his mechanic asked
him how fast he needed to go to win, Roberts replied, "About one
thirty should be enough.”

The 25-mile main event all came down to the final white flag lap.
Having come from far behind, Roberts astride an evil-handling, ill-
tempered motorcycle had taken huge chances and rode with extraordinary
courage to reel in the two leading Harley-Davidsons of teammates Jay
Springsteen and Korky Keener. With just three turns to go, Roberts
rode the rim, pinned the throttle to the stops and was actually
skimming the concrete retaining wall and skipping off hay bales.

"I still remember seeing hay scattering in the air as Kenny came out
of turn four,” reflected Robert’s’ mechanic of that night.

Roberts refused to lose and at the finish line, won the race by two
feet. When he caught his breath and his hands stopped shaking, he
uttered the words, "They don't pay me enough to ride that thing.”

By the way, he was wearing a pair of Alpinestars boots.

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