June 12, 1974
Vol. 2  Issue 22

Checkered Past Authentic Vintage Motocross Clothing

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Jim West

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Irwindale Raceway

Jim West takes time off from racing to see if he can hoist his Husky over his head. Too bad he couldn't, and he lost the race too. Photo by Buzz-Creative Images.
Jim West takes time off from racing to see if he can hoist his Husky over his head. Too bad he couldn't, and he lost the race too. Photo by Buzz-Creative Images.

Irwindale at Irwindale Raceway
Friday May 31, 1974
By: Buzz

Tonight's chapter in the continuing saga of Irwindale's "Quarry Warriors" produced handlebar rattling competition almost beyond belief.

But before we get started talking about the racing, I've got to try once again to get it across that the rules are rules, and if you break the rules, you definitely will suffer. First, this pit racing must absolutely cease. If it continues and you are caught, you will not be allowed to race at Irwindale for a period of thirty days.

The next item in the rules category concerns the following riders, and all for the same infraction, Rick Simmons-Mini Expert, Jeff Wiedeman and Harry Sanders-100 Juniors, 125 Junior-Mark Oldar, and 250 Pro-Frank Kalman. Each one of these riders was detected backing off the starting gate to get a jump on it. Fellows, remember, it means disqualification in that moto when you're caught. What does it cost? Well, ask Rick Simmons, Mini Expert No. 79. He was caught, and although he led moto one wire-to-wire, he-was credited with a last place finish for jumping the starting gate. If you're gonna dance, you pay the piper.

With all the nit-picking out of the way, the racing, in particular the first round of motos, was just plain cookin. The Pro classes first money go were the 125 screamers of Bill Glore, Mike Bell, and Dave Eropkin, who put on a show that had the fans on their feet for five laps. Glore took the lead, followed by Bell and Eropkin. On lap two, Eropkin got the lead, with Glore holding second and Bell in third. Dave began to sretch the lead at the start of the third lap, but up jumped the devil in horseshoe turn two, where Dave spun out and tipped over. Glore and Bell got around Dave, with Dave getting back up in time to hold third.

If the old adage, the race isn't over till the checker falls is true, Eropkin proved it in this race. With just two and a half laps to go, Dave caught and passed Bell just before the white flag came out signifying the last lap. Then on the last lap he got by Glore. This so inspired Bell that he turned up the wick, and got by Glore. When Stu Peters dropped the checker for Dave, the crowd gave him a standing ovation, no doubt for his win, but surely in part for his determination after falling.

As a measure of how tight things were, Glore won the second moto with Eropkin second, and Bell third in the same kind of a three-man battle. Round three, it was again Eropkin, Bell in for second again, and Glore for third. Obviously, these three, in three rounds, took all of the win, place, and show spots. The final finishing order was, Eropkin first, while Glore and Bell were tied points-wise, so second overall went to Bell on the best finish last moto rule.

Long as we're talking about the Pros, and if I may take a cutesy liberty here, I would like to call it the 250 Prose race. Even the most jaded of onlookers found the five laps of the first moto enough to bring everyone to rigid attention. Five of the best 250 Pros around, Jim West, Joe Johnston, David Pessy, Jeff Vidic, and the absolutely amazing and unbelievable fourteen-year-old, (that's right I said fourteen) Pro Jeff Jennings. West, not getting a good start, was forced to pass Joe Johnston, Pessy and Vidic before he could get a shot at the leading, Jeff Jennings. At the start of the last lap, West began putting the pressure on Jeff. As they went over the back chute jump for the last time, Jeff held a one bike lead going into the switchback number one turn. Jennings went a little wide in the turn with the canny, experienced West turning inside, taking a quick one bike length lead. But like the man said, when in doubt whup it out, and did Jennings whup it out! Down the short chute from one to two, about halfway, there's a little bump, smooth, but it does get you somewhat airborne. Jennings, WFO, doing a wheelie passed West just three to four feet before the 180 degree turn two, and held the lead through the turn and to the checker. So ended one of the most amazing efforts I've ever seen by any fourteen-year-old. With the talent encased in the body and mind of Jeff Jennings, this is a man-youngster that is showing potential that I have not seen since I first saw Marty Tripes at fifteen.

The veteran West was not to be denied. It has often been said, that young men don't win, which is true more often than not. West came back to win the last two motos, again as in the past two weeks, finishing first overall. The Husky-mounted West, with four points, was only three in front of Honda-mounted Jeff Jennings for second overall. Jeff, in turn, was four points ahead of third place finisher, Ossa mounted David'Pessy. To wrap up the Pro categories, it looked as if Jim West, having won the first moto for the 500 Pros, having won "King of the Hill" for the second week in a row on his Husky, running well out in front in moto two, was going to make it another triple payday for himself. When, would you believe it, in the middle of lap three, Jim spun out and fell off the uphill downhill turn three. The fall broke the throttle and the big Husky was stuck wide open, running wild. When Jim picked the Husky up, the wildly spinning big knobby got a giant bite of Irwindale's turf, leaping out of Jim's hands, doing a giant wheelie, falling down about ten feet away, still madly running wild. Very calmly, just as if he had all the time in the world, West walked over to the screaming Husky, and this time before picking it up, pulled in the clutch, grabbed the front brake, stepped on the rear brake, let out the clutch, and the screaming Husky finally came to rest. Jim's only comment was, well I guess I'll pack this one in for the night. Joe Johnston went f lying by into the lead to take the win. Joe came back to win the third round to take first overall. His Maico, again holding up for three motos, to best Yamaha mounted Brent Foes and Maico mounted Robert Zingg.

Talk about dedication to winning, it wasn't but just a few months back, that Mark Lawrence was riding a mini, where he was, more often than not, a winner. Mark would take an occasional ride on a 100, but it was nothing to write home about. Then, he threw his legs over a 125 Yamaha, and as quick as it takes to say, someday you'll own a Yamaha, Mark flew through the Junior ranks, and tonight made his debut as a 125 Intermediate. A debut he will not soon forget. Where most riders, moving up in class, will show a certain timidity until they've tested the water, such was not the case with Mark. How it's possible, I'm not sure, but in that first three lap race, Mark Lou Morrison, Mark Arsenault, Robert Marino, and Eugene Gayo switched around those first five spots so often that as in the 125 Pro race, they had the fans and announcer, Bruce Flanders going berserk. At the finish, it was Morrison, Lawrence, and Marino. Second moto saw Lawrence come from a bad start, running sixth or seventh in the pack on the first lap, charge through to win it, and come back in the third moto for a Ihird place finish, totaling six points and a first overall victory in his first ride as an Intermediate. Besides Mark's riding ability, his YZ doesn't seem to lack handling or horsepower. Second and third went to the Hondas of Morrison and Marino. Jeff Sloan, after winning first overall in the high school competition last week, did it .this week to the 250 Intermediates. Second went to Skip Keeley. This was Skip's first ride at Irwindale in many, many weeks. Nice to see the Keeleys back, and I'm sure that all of the racers are too, since when Skip is present, that means that papa is back with all that equipment and talent for welding broken pieces. Third went to Conrad Weber, making it a Yamaha, Maico, Montesa finish. Tops in the 500 Intermediate class was Bart Taylor and his Husky over Craig Phillips, with CZ rider Trent McGee getting third. Joe Tucci, with Ricky Simmons being isqualified in moto one, swept for first overall in the Mini Experts, while second place went to the calmest, most unflappable youngster I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, Bill Fancher. While equally calm, but a little more emotional, Vince Van Hook took third, preventing another Honda sweep with his Yamaha.