One of the big regional road racing championships in the 1980s was WERA’s Michigan Grand Prix. The series was held at Grattan Raceway, paid decent money and got the participants extra publicity. A July 4th weekend race there in the late 1980s got one of the biggest crowds for a club race I’d ever seen. This is a Michigan Grand Prix race with Randy Gaddey (408) leading Ray Yoder (behind Gaddey), Fritz Kling (in third) and Phil Pummell (60). Yoder eventually got around Gaddey to win this round.
Going through my 1990 negatives from Daytona I noticed a number of beach bikini shots in the middle of motorcycle shots. It all came back to me. Wes Cooley and I went to the beach on Saturday (Supercross day) and drove my rental car right out on the sand. Thanks goodness it was a hot, sunny day at Daytona Beach. I grabbed my Canon A-1 and 600mm loaner lens, stood up through the sunroof while Wes drove and I started shooting away. I even remember we had Lenny Kravitz in the cassette deck. Wes has just gotten into Kravitz and he had the stereo cranked. It was one of those special days that you have every once in awhile at the races. Sun, beach, girls, Kravitz and Wes… it doesn’t get much better than that.
One of the coolest sport bikes of the early 1970s was the Laverda SFC (which stood for super freni competizione).
Laverda was the first of the Italian makers to enter the superbike segment, brought on by Honda’s CB750. The SFC was launched in 1971 and was not only a technical achievement for the Italian maker, but was a design marvel as well. It featured a vertical twin, single ohv, air-cooled engine that in production form produced around 70 h.p. at 7500 r.p.m. A five-speed, the half-faired SFC had a top speed of 130 m.p.h.
The SFC won numerous endurance contests and a few were even raced in the early years of AMA Superbike. The best AMA result for te SFC was a fifth-place finish by Wayne Sullivan at Charlotte in 1977. Chicagoan Al Phillips raced one in AMA Superbike all the way thtrough 1981.
This is a 1975 magazine ad for the SFC. Today the machine is a sought after collectors’ dream.
Laverda is dormant today, but there is an international registry for the machine where enthusiast of the brand can trade information.
Tom Kipp (16) and Lee Pounders (132) battle early in a CCS Middleweight Superbike race at a rainy Daytona sometime in the early 1990s. Kipp was likely using the CCS weekend as a warm up for the AMA Pro week coming up. It was heady stuff for Pounders to be racing against a top rider such as Kipp. The underdog stayed with the top dog for a while, but eventually Pounders crashed and Kipp went on to a convincing victory.
Back in the early 1990s WERA had a class called Future Stars. Here’s Colin Edwards (64) and Takanobu Koyama (14) racing in a WERA Future Stars race at Willow Springs in April of 1991. Edwards won this race over Koyama. The pair were indeed stars of the future. Edwards went on to win AMA 250 Grand Prix and World Superbike Championships. I’m not quite sure why Koyama was racing in Future Stars. He went on that very summer and scored four top-10 AMA 600cc Supersport finishes, including a podium at Mid-Ohio. He ended the season ranked eighth in the series.