Alright Parker, I’ll tell some war stories. I’ve spoken to Shane and Robert about scanning their pictures to a digital format so we can post them up. I’m going to try to get all of SEMDTRA’s White Plate club to get some of their AMA pictures posted.
As far as your questions, here’s a little background of how I got my license and how my first year went. Maybe if I’m not the only one running my mouth and we can get some other pictures and stories out there, I’ll tell about my Junior year next.
I was clueless about flat track as a young teenager. Living in Southern New Mexico I did some amateur MX and thought I was superman. The guys at the local shop where I worked uncrating and assembling motorcycles kept droning on about “flat track”. I got sick of hearing about it and made a deal that if I came out and smoked them, they would agree to stop jabbering about it. You can imagine how that worked out for me. Despite getting my clock cleaned, I was hooked. One of my Dad’s acquaintances by the name of John Wright, who used to race is his day, happened to be sitting in the stands that first race and told me to come by his shop. He became a mentor of sorts, and had a 250 and 650 Champion Yamahas. We decide to do Pro stuff , but discovered the AMA required two years worth of documented racing experience as an amateur. So we helped organize a series at a few local car tracks where we raced on a car night, 80’s 125’s 250’s, and open all at the same time, if you can imagine! Luckily for me there were two National Numbers that raced with us, and gave us a benchmark. I applied and received my AMA Pro license after two years as a local expert.
There were three AMA Pro licenses for quite a few years (decades maybe?). I turned AMA Pro when you had to advance from Novice to Junior and then finally Expert. Those years were the last of the Camel money, TV coverage, big purses, and points funds, so the fields were rather large.
That first year In Daytona as a Novice was quite a shock. We raced 7 times in 5 days. We were stunned by how hard everyone rode. I got nudged multiple times in my first 4 lap practice session at the Municipal Stadium. I discovered practice was not for “getting up to speed”. I got drug up to speed by trying not to get run over, and learned how to give and take enough not to always lose positions when I got the “short track rub”. I met the AMA’s flagman, Poochie Cox, that year. He gave me sorely needed talking to when I got carried away one race. I always looked up to him after he took the time to pull me aside, calm me down, refocus, and encourage me. As a Novice at Daytona I won some, lost some, crashed some, had arterial bleeding cauterized in the track ambulance some, and broke some. As I recall the procedure, to advance to Junior you needed 80 points and one calendar year as a Novice. Or 160 points, and three letters of recommendation from Experts and AMA officials to advance in less than one year. The last Ascot ever was that fall and only Juniors and Experts were running. I really wanted to race there before they tore it down, so I tried hard to get the points and letters. Luckily I did get the points and letters, and advanced to Junior in time to run the last Ascot ½ mile and my first Mile at the Cal Expo in Sacramento CA.
I rode Wood-Rotax’s that year. 500’s as a Novice and 600’s as a Junior.
Here are a few pictures from that year. The main event at the ½ mile in Sturgis and the Short Track across the road. We were able to come out on top of JP Simonson and Jeff Eklund (cousin of Steve) both events. The two yellow-plate pics are later that year as Junior at the Ascot ½ mile. I took the lead a few laps to go (pictured), but tried to protect it by running in to one low and slow on the white flag lap. Al Edie from TX took the opportunity to adjust my line and took the win from me. I ran 4th. Still mad at myself for trying to block him!