Cycle Information Workers | February 14, 2021
Cycle Information Archives
This Cycle Information Archives Column is reprinted from challenge #5, February 11, 2004. CN has tons of of previous Archives columns in our recordsdata, too many destined to be archives themselves. So, to forestall that from occurring, sooner or later, we can be revisiting previous Archives articles whereas nonetheless planning to maintain contemporary ones coming down the highway -Editor.
Give ’Em A Brake! (Or Not)
When flat observe racing stated sure to brakes.
By Scott Rousseau
If not the top of an period, the beginning of the 1969 AMA Grand Nationwide Championship dirt-track season was the start of the top. For it was then that the AMA first allowed the usage of rear brakes for grime observe racers.
Earlier than that, a part of the spectacle of flat-track racing lay within the racers’ talents to race inches other than each other earlier than pitching their machines into the corners purely with throttle management.
“All of it relied on the observe, however there have been locations like Sacramento the place you’d run it in there deep and collect it up after which simply get proper again on the throttle with out ever utilizing a brake,” 1970 AMA Grand Nationwide Champion Gene Romero remembers. “I doubt that there are a lot of riders who might do it like that now.”
Actually, says brake proponent Dick Mann, who notched a title every within the totally different eras (1963, 1971), the brake rule took place as the results of what was occurring within the short-track portion of the self-discipline.
“Brakes took place as a result of the two-strokes had been starting to dominate the brief tracks, and so they wanted to make it fairer for the four-strokes, in order that they put brakes on them,” Mann says. “However for years, we had been in favor of placing brakes on all of the dirt-track bikes.”
It seems that it ought to go with out saying, however the ideology behind the adoption of brakes was security. The rub is that nobody truly anticipated riders utilizing them in regular race situations.
“Let me inform you, I had no concept that anyone would ever put the brakes on to go round a nook,” Mann says. “In these days the straightaway speeds weren’t so excessive, and you would slide the again wheel by simply shutting the throttle off. It was alleged to be a security characteristic for excessive situations. We by no means thought that any person would put the brake on whereas they had been racing.”
However many riders did start to make use of brakes to their benefit, racing down the straightaways and making use of the binders, thus gaining the power to hug the low line. Mann remembers that the younger lions of the day, similar to Jim Rice, Don Castro, Don Emde and Dave Aldana, had been notably adept at utilizing brakes. Romero says that Rice was absolutely the grasp.
“To me, it was simply an added factor, however I got here up within the time when—properly, once we had been novices, we had a rear brake, however the one time you used it was if you got here within the pits,” Romero says. “The primary man who I noticed actually make them work to his benefit [on big bikes], and a man who I copied instantly, was Jim Rice. I realized the best way to use them, however I got here from a time with out them. If they’d have stated, ‘No brakes,’ we’d have went with it. However the racing type of modified with the brakes.”
Mann agrees with Romero on that final level.
“It [a brake] by no means modified my driving type, however I used to be fortunate as a result of it was a transition that took place very slowly. I feel that it affected Mert Lawwill greater than anybody. For years, he was one man on the prime of the ladder who continued to make use of that previous type, and he was the quickest man on the races with that type. But when he obtained into site visitors, he was in large hassle.
Lawwill, the 1969 AMA Grand Nationwide Champion, says that he hated brakes.
“The one factor that basically harm us is after they went to brakes,” Lawwill says. “I used to be in opposition to it then, and on reflection, I nonetheless suppose that we shouldn’t have achieved it. Even after we went to brakes, I by no means used them for a very long time.”
Nevertheless, Romero and former BSA and Yamaha rider Chuck Palmgren keep in mind Lawwill’s perspective as being a little bit totally different from that.
“That may be a little bit hypocritical of Mert, and the explanation that I say that’s as a result of the 2 greatest proponents of getting brakes on the rear was Dick Mann and Mert Lawwill,” Romero remembers. “They offered that bundle to the AMA.”
Palmgren says that Lawwill seems to have a selective reminiscence, though he agrees with what Lawwill is saying now. “Mert wished the brakes,” Palmgren remembers. “We actually didn’t want them.
“They did take away from the present, they didn’t enhance the game, and you would now not unintentionally run over the referee [laughs]. The brakes weren’t excellent or dependable anyway, and that was partially as a result of our inexperience with them on the time. I keep in mind one time at Ascot, Dud Perkins poured oil on Dan Haaby’s brakes simply to get his wheel to roll extra freely. After all, I don’t know the way you would return to not having them at this time.”
Two-time AMA Grand Nationwide Champion Gary Nixon (1967-68) concurs with Palmgren that the brakes didn’t work that properly.
“In actual fact, the day that I obtained harm in Santa Rosa [California] in 1969, I had taken my brakes off. I suppose we wanted them as a result of it was some kind of security factor. Nevertheless it didn’t actually have an effect on me that a lot both means. We rode TTs with brakes, so it wasn’t a lot totally different than that.”
And but it was totally different, one way or the other, particularly on the massive mile tracks.
“It modified the present,” Mann says. “In some folks’s minds it ruined the present, however it’s actually silly to have a automobile that quick with out brakes. The large sticky tires and the event on the engines modified it much more than the brakes. Till the tires obtained that sticky, you couldn’t use the brakes that a lot. As we speak, you see the blokes passing one another many occasions on the straightaways, however no person actually does a lot passing within the turns.” CN
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