Elsinore GP 1969.

Discussion in 'SoCal Wrecking Crew' started by Ol'89r, Mar 29, 2012.



  1. Ol'89r

    Ol'89r Super Power AssClown

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    At Gomers request.

    This happened back in the year 1969 when the Elsinore Grand Prix was going in full force and there were thousands of spectators lining the course, Back then we rode a variety of motorcycles. Everything from 50cc Italian bikes to 450 pound 650cc British twins. I was mounted on a 650cc Triumph twin for the race and was doing pretty good until this happened. :whoa: The racecourse at that time was ten miles long and four of it was on the street through the town of Elsinore. The big Triumph twins were a blast to ride on the street because you could back them into the turns and power slide out. The crowd loved it.

    The course went right past the Police station and it was fun to be able to wheelie past the cop shop. There were two long straight-a-ways where you could run over 100 mph if you were on a big twin. Made it a little sketchy when you were passing smaller bikes that were only doing about 50 mph.
    One of those straight-a-ways was down Lakeshore Drive. It paralled the lake and had a ninety degree left hand turn at the end. I had been coming down Lakeshore on my trusty Triumph, clicking down a couple of gears and backing it in at the end and power sliding out of the left hander. On about the third lap, I went to backshift and caught a big neutral. :yikes: The old British bikes came from the factory with several neutrals built in. You had to take them apart and weld up the neutrals and even then you still managed to find one during a race. Well, I found one at the most inopportune time.

    I remember freewheeling into the corner going much faster than I should have been going. The Triumph had the brake lever on the left side and the shifter on the right. The bike was so low in the corner I couldn't get my foot in the brake pedal and jamming the shifter into gear would not have been the right decision. Watching the curb coming up faster and faster I knew I had to do something. Either drop the bike on its side and hit the curb or pick the bike up just before hitting the curb, either way,, this was gonna hurt. I opted to pick the bike up rather than drill my body into the gas tank. When the bike hit the curb, it highsided me into the stratosphere. The crowd separated and moved back allowing me to land, flat on my back, right in the middle of them. I remember looking up at the blue sky and seeing all of these faces looking down at me. It completely knocked the wind out of me.


    While I was laying on the ground trying to catch my breath, two big guys came over and one grabbed each arm and picked me up. In the mean time, a couple other spectators picked my bike up and were pushing it back towards me. I still was coughing and gagging from not having my breath back but they didn't really care. They picked me up and set me on my bike and started to push me down the street. The bike fired off and the next thing I knew I was back in the race. Unfortunately I still had not caught my breath and it took about a half of a lap to get it back. I can remember thinking to myself, 'What the hell just happened?' :coocoo:

    The GP was cancelled a couple of years after that because the crowd got so big and out of control it became dangerous with people running across the race course. Malcolm Smith hit a lady crossing the course while leading the race one year. In the 90's Goat Brekker brought the classic back to the city of Elsinore and again it ran through the city streets only the street portion was shortened to less than a mile. Over the years, greed has ruined the race. The city fathers found the race to be a great source of income for the city. The Police and Fire Department also found it to be a good payer and raised their fees to the point of making the race unprofitable for the promoter. Goat backed out as promoter and the city took over. The race is now held entirely within the Elsinore MX facility. No more running down Main street. No more broadsliding corners on the street. No more wheelies past the cop shop. A mere shadow of it's former self. I guess all good things must come to an end. :(
  2. dirt bike dave

    dirt bike dave Sponsoring Member

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    Great story well told, '89r!

    Made me feel like I was there.

    I think I need to watch On Any Sunday again.
  3. the Eel

    the Eel Subscriber

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    Sounds like an adventure! Thanks for sharing.
  4. pesky nz

    pesky nz Rookie DRN Member

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    wish I had been able to see one for real but had to settle for seeing "on any sunday" on eight mm at bike club meetings back here in New Zealand as a teenager, so maybe I've seen you ride??
  5. Ol'89r

    Ol'89r Super Power AssClown

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    Pesky. If you watched On Any Sunday you saw me ride. You had to look pretty close though. :laugh: In the helicopter shot when they were following Malcolm Smith on the mountain road, I am the last guy he passed when the helicopter panned away just as he was entering the town. I'm the rider in orange and white. Those were really fun times. One year I got to start the race directly behind Malcolm and this other fella who signed up under the name of Harvey Mushman. Harvey Mushman was actually Steve McQueen the actor. The studio, or actually the studio's insurance company didn't want McQueen to race motorcycles since he was so valuable to them as an actor. So he signed up under the name Harvey Mushman. Later, after he passed away and Goat brought the GP back, they named the 100 mile portion of the race after him. The Mushman 100. Steve and Malcolm were both very fast. They both rode Huskys and us guys on the 650 twins could hang with them on the street sections but, when we hit the dirt, they were gone. :yikes:
    Steve rode many local tracks and quite a few desert events. He did very well in all of them. He was a great guy at the track, just one of the guys. He didn't want to be treated any other way. He would talk to you all day about motorcycles, racing lines, different tracks but, if someone came up to him and started treating him like an actor and wanted his autograph, his body guard would appear from nowhere and escort that person away. There were a lot of Hollywood actors and stunt men that raced with us back then.
  6. JWW

    JWW Lifetime Sponsor

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    Great story

    I bet there are a ton more.
  7. pesky nz

    pesky nz Rookie DRN Member

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    Probably time to consider a book Ol'89r so the enthusiasts can live an hour in a racers shoes ( I'm lucky enough to be on talking terms with Tim Gibbes, one of the guys who jumped into a fence on "The Great Escape" movie ) All the guys from then have many good tails to tell.
    I'll have to watch "Sunday" again and point you out to family and friends.
  8. dirt bike dave

    dirt bike dave Sponsoring Member

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    89r - Just curious, who stood out as the best riders among the Hollywood actors and stunt men?
  9. Ol'89r

    Ol'89r Super Power AssClown

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    That would have to be Steve McQueen. Just an all around good rider. There were many good stunt men that were also racers. Another one that stands out was Little John Hately. He was one of the good ones and he also raced flat track, GP's and mx. A guy named Eddie Mulder was a stunt man and also one of the best TT racers there ever was. There were a lot of racers involved in the movie industry. The movie industry is a very difficult business to get into. You have to know someone or be related to someone to get a break. Many racers worked in the transportation department. I did a few movies myself while working transportation. The people that gave me my break were all guys that I had raced with and then they moved on to the movie industry when they retired from racing. A little known fact, in the movie The Great Escape, McQueen was not the one that jumped the barb wire fence on the motorcycle. It was a stunt man who's name I can't remember right now and it wasn't a German Army motorcycle either. It was a Triumph 650 twin painted to look like a German Army bike. Although McQueen was perfectly capable of doing the jump, the insurance company wouldn't let him do it.
  10. Ol'89r

    Ol'89r Super Power AssClown

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    It was stunt man and desert racer Bud Ekins that did the jump for McQueen.
  11. holeshot

    holeshot Crazy Russian

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    Yes, and Ekins didn't look much like McQueen either. The actor may have been a good rider, but he didn't have the expert style of Ekins.

    Ekins passed away not too long ago.
  12. Ol'89r

    Ol'89r Super Power AssClown

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    That's true Ron. Ekins was an awesome racer. He won many desert events and GP's like the Catalina GP. He also won gold at the ISDT. I think he won Big Bear one year. Him and McQueen were on the same ISDT team at one time. McQueen was a natural. He did everything well and he didn't get a lot of recognition for his racing because he seldom signed up under his real name. If it were not for that other career of his, he could have been one of the best.
  13. High Lord Gomer

    High Lord Gomer Poked with Sticks

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    Thanks, Terry! I didn't get as much detail when you told me before but I did get to drink your beer that day. :)
  14. dirt bike dave

    dirt bike dave Sponsoring Member

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    89r - Any McCoys riding back in the day? I guess they were stuntmen and pretty accomplished behind the bars, but maybe they came along later.

    FWIW, I saw OAS at the theater the week it came out, and went to Jr. High with Jeff Ward before moving from the OC. Honda sent a film crew to our school to do a documentary on #3x back in the day. I got to watch him double clutch it to pass Myerscough at the '76 World Minis at Escape Country/Racing World way back when.

    About then, I was riding Mark Blackwell's former '73 TM250 with Akront rims, forward mounted Boge shocks and a custom narrow aluminum tank.

    Good times.

    Wish I had still had that TM, as it would be vintage gold. My dad (RIP) broke his collar bone on that bike and we sold it in '79 for $200 when my buddy threw the chain and it broke the side and center cases.
  15. Ol'89r

    Ol'89r Super Power AssClown

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    I didn't know the McCoys Dave. I did know Mark Blackwell and his dad. Two very cool guys.

    Another racer/stunt man from that time was JN Roberts. He won just about everything there was to win in the desert at that time including the mint 400 and Baja. He was also featured in On Any Sunday.
  16. Rich Rohrich

    Rich Rohrich BioHazard

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    HOW did I miss this till now ? Great stuff Terry ! :cool:
  17. Ol'89r

    Ol'89r Super Power AssClown

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    Thanks Rich. Just a little blast from the past. :cool:
  18. Rich Rohrich

    Rich Rohrich BioHazard

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    Another great rider who is still working as a stuntman is Gregg Smrz. He's the last guy to win a national on a TZ750 and I think the first as a privateer.

    http://www.superbikeplanet.com/evantz750.htm

    Back them Gregg's tuner was Phil Flack who went on to become an at the track Dunlop Tire Rep for road racers. Along the way Phil taught me a lot about reading spark plugs. Eric Gorr worked with Phil on a few special porting projects, and during that association Phil taught Eric and I a whole bunch of cool machining tricks.

    On their way to the Road America AMA National in about 1982-83 Phil stopped by Eric's shop and I actually got to take a quick blast through the industrial park on the TZ750. I was racing a short wheelbase turbocharged dragbike at the time which I thought was the last word in WICKED FAST. Gregg & Phil's TZ750 laid that misconception to rest. :yikes:
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
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