Riverside Bike Races
Riverside Bike Races
Joe Scalzo, TMS West Coast Editor
Today's Motor Sports
Hard luck Al Krupa, who lost a recent American Federation of Motorcyclist's bike race at Reno in the last lap, made things a little different at Riverside, Oct. 14, WINNING an AFM go the final lap.
Krupa, who rides a 500cc Norton-Manx, averaged 80.4 mph in the wind-and-sand swept 12 lap Riverside race that proceded the CSCC-SCCA amateur sports car action at the three mile, nine turn track.
Buddy Parriott (Norton-Manx) who was leading the 40 mile affair until turn 8 the final lap, took second, and Irish Johnny McLaughlin, on a just-off-the-boat 250cc Honda four, was third.
This go was a good contest; one of the best AFM races seen this season. The 5000 spectators present who braved the wind, thought so too.
The A.F. of M. (recently affiliated with the USMC) have been running with the Cal Club and SCCA as part of their racing card since the middle of last season. The small, but ever-growing motorcycle group interested in road racing only, continue to improve with their riding. And, as stated, Riverside turned into one of their best efforts.
A large 44-rider field took the flag under the high winds and gritty sand, and it was flat track ace Preston Petty bump starting his 305 Honda into the lead, bursting up through the esses with Jim Hardy and Bob Iseman in his shadow.
But right after turn four, Petty spilled -- apparently on some oil -- and went off the track, taking the two men behind him, too. Fortunately no one was injured -- but it was a rough baptism for Petty, who was making his first AFM road racing start.
Krupa, #52, was the leading rider to appear on the backstraight in the first lap with Parriott coming up hard to trail him around turn nine. And already the two were a couple of seconds in front of everyone else. But their real threats had started 19 seconds behind them: the Honda fours.
McLaughlin, Don Vesco, and Ed Kretz Jr. made up the Honda of America official team. Each had one of the six speed Honda fours -- with McLaughlin riding the fastest of the three bikes.
The Japanese-built bikes had continually proven themselves the equal of the larger 500cc rigs on the right southern California tracks, and everyone was waiting to see what they could do on the "long track" Riverside. Particularly what McLaughlin could do, since this was one of his first starts on a small machine.
The Hondas and all the under 250cc bikes had a curve thrown at them at race-start, when the starter flagged them off 19 seconds in back of the bigger machines, instead of the supposed-to-be five seconds.
Up in front, Krupa held onto first and pulled away from everyone but Parriott. For awhile, Stan Brassey (Norton) and Dale Alexander (Norton) fueled behind the two until Brassey retired.
There was excitement further back, too, with Mickey Hubbard (250cc Yamaha) pulling up on the bigger stuff, and perenial 125cc class winner Writzel Morgan (Honda) getting things working pretty well, for a time running as high as tenth, leading machines of four times his displacement.
But the real scene revolved around the three 250 Honda fours. With McLaughlin leading the way - turning 14,000 rpms, over 140 mph on the mile backstraight, and lapping at 2:16, two seconds under the all-out bike record -- the three little machines sped forward in team formation; the 1-2-3 overall positions obviously their intent.
McLaughlin, though, soon left his mates, and Kretz left Vesco whose "four" was not running to par.
And for McLaughlin, the rest of the race saw him continually close it up on the bigger motors. Kretz crashed at turn seven (uninjured) and McLaughlin finally passed everyone but the two leaders. And that was the best he could do. Two things accounted for this (1) He had started so far behind; and (2) The fast pace of the two leaders.
Parriott passed Krupa the ninth lap, and seemed to have things won. He pulled out three seconds in the lead -- 17 in front of McLaughlin -- and showed top form in moving ahead. But the last lap, (the 12th), he also moved off the track; he overshot turn eight. Krupa went by and won; thus making up for Reno.
At Reno, Krupa had led to the last lap when he had left the road. He must have been thinking about that as he took his Riverside victory lap.
Final order was Krupa, Parriott, McLaughlin, Alexander, and Vesco. Class winners: Krupa (500cc); McLaughlin (250cc); Gordy Balzarett, Honda (350cc); Ray Wallace, Ducati (200cc); Bill Murphy, Ducati (175cc); and Writzel Morgan, Honda (125cc).