The Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame held their annual Induction Banquet and Reunion at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel on November 4, with a crowd of over 250 riders, racers, Hall members, fans and industry types on hand to enjoy the festivities. The 12th annual event was sponsored by Husqvarna, with additional support from Joe Rocket, BMW Motorrad Canada, Honda Canada, Flat Track Canada, Yamaha Canada and event founder Bar Hodgson Productions.
Top racer honored at the event was Steve Beattie, the 2016 Flat Track Canada National Champ who suffered a major injury at the end of last season at Ohsweken, and then worked in the pits last summer for the KTM Canada National Motocross program with friend and neighbor Cole Thompson. Beattie has also had success in the U.S. as a chassis tuner and rider coach for top American Flat Trackers Jared Mess and Brad Baker, as well as winning an AMA National himself.
“I think I’m kind of young to be up here,” cracked Beattie when he took the stage after his Audio-Visual introduction. From there, Beattie suggested he’d had a tough career since he didn’t start racing until he was ten, shortly after heading out to buy a bicycle with his dad and returning with a Suzuki 80 dirt bike.
“I have lots of people to thank, especially all my family, and specific people like Jon Cornwell and (fellow inductee) Kurt Beiger,” said the always-jovial Beattie. “I really have to thank my wife Michelle, because if she had stuck to her guns the first time I broke my neck, I would never have done enough to get into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.”
Beattie admits to five major neck injuries during his career, forcing at least a couple of retirements, and explains his tolerance for, and ability to forget, pain are major factors in his many successes in a wide variety of two wheeled sport and competition. His first major retirement in 2006 lead to the creation of his chassis set-up business, 26suspension.
Legendary motorcycle builder and tuner Mike Crompton started off by saying that when people have asked how he gets away with being busy with bikes and racing, his wife Kim has always encouraged him to participate and take advantage of the opportunities available.
“In the end, we always have a great time and come back with lots of stories to tell,” confirmed Crompton, who has built title winning machinery for George Morin, Art Robbins, Michel Mercier, Miguel Duhamel, Jordan Szoke in the glory days of the works CSBK Kawasaki program, as well as a host of others.
Crompton explained that is was a great honor to be inducted at the same time as fellow super tuner/builder Nick Kemp, since “he was always a go-to guy when we needed something fixed in a hurry, or if something was wrecked, and we could weld it, or rebuild it, or make another one or a redesign, whatever it took.”
“I have other great friends here tonight who were always there for me like Harald Surian, always part of a top notch fantastic team, and Jon Cornwell (already in the Hall of Fame) who was always a big help and always there when I needed him.
Crompton spoke of his time with Suzuki Canada, Team Manager George Morin, ace racer Michel Mercier (now all in the Hall of Fame) and the mid-1980s, first generation Suzuki GSX-R750 Superbike.
“Michel rode with his heart, an incredible racer and an incredible athlete. But it could be frustrating, and at times we were racing three different motorcycles over a weekend, and there were some incidents.
“Suzuki were great to deal with, but they always insisted the bikes to be blue, and I one time when I was at Suzuki, I asked if we could switch to the red ones, and they wanted to know why. So I told them – I can see them coming out of the sky easier!”
Once the laughs died down, Crompton also wanted to recognize the famous Ontario Honda race Shop in downtown Toronto on Queen Street, and owners Murray Brown and the late Ricky Andrews, a real beehive of activity that supported a wide range of endeavors from the 1970s through the 1990s.
“The best thing with the motorcycles is always the friendship and the camaraderie that goes along with racing. My father-in-law once said that I have the most fascinating array of friends and associates, and I think he meant that in a good way.”
Kurt Bieger, former racer and top Flat Track builder and Tuner, explained that when he started in competition, he crashed a lot. “One of my best friends, and old Brit, asked me why I crashed so much, and I told him the tires just were not good enough!”
“It took me some time to figure out that I had to slow down a little bit. I gradually figured that out, and then, when I got hurt, I started letting other people race my machines so they wouldn’t just sit.”
“In closing, I want to say that It’s hard to explain why anyone spends hours and hours alone working on their race bikes. We’re trying to figure out how to put the combination of bike, rider and track together, day by day. I’m happy to be up here, I’m proud to be part of this group, and thanks everyone.”
Famed Announcer Pat Gonsalves opened his remakes by explaining that he briefly considered having his alter-ego, Guyanese announcer Huntley Williams, speak on his behalf. This took some in the crowd way back, since Gonsalves hadn’t worked that character into his race coverage since the late 1970s at Shannonville Motorsport Park.
With a career spanning many types of motorsports in a variety of countries, both on the P.A. and television, Gonsalves admitted that he has never “met a microphone I didn’t like. This evening is truly special, and I want to thank the group of racers that nominated me for the Hall including Kathleen Coburn, Alan Labrosse and Bernie Ryan.”
“I am filled with gratitude for my career announcing, now at 40 years and counting. Harry McCluney hired me to work with the Canadian Road Racing Club at their events at Mosport when I was at Ryerson in 1972, and I eventually worked at Shannonville for John Nelson when it opened in 1976, and started announcing at Daytona International Speedway in 1977.”
The next event for the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame will be the 2018 Banquet and Reunion scheduled for November 17 at the Delta Burnaby Conference Centre in British Columbia.
Sunday, 05 November 2017 01:09 Published in News
Jared Mees took his Rogers Racing Indian Scout FTR750 to a solid win in the opening race of the new era of American Flat Track, the 25-lap Harley-Davidson Daytona Twins TT at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday night. The win was the first success for Indian in the modern era, and gave them a head start in the 20-round 2017 AFT national championship against arch rival Harley-Davidson.
Victory in the first-ever Daytona TT was the 21st Grand National success for Mees, who also earned the Ohlins Award for the fastest Twins lap of the event on the brand new track.
Daytona marked the first time since the Peoria TT in 1983 that twins raced in a TT-style main event, although Daytona’s sole jump was very low key. There are three more TT events this season; another change to recent trends is the requirement that all Twins riders wear leathers rather than motocross gear in 2017.
Second overall in the feature race went to the second works Indian of veteran Bryan Smith, a lengthy nine seconds behind Mees in a race with significant attrition at the front. After starting on the outside of the second row of the grid on his Kawasaki KX-framed twin, Henry Wiles worked his way up to nab third at the finish, just behind Smith.
The best placing liquid-cooled Harley was fourth placed Jacob Johnson, just ahead of fifth overall Bronson Bauman on another Kawasaki Ninja twin.
“The race was great,” explained Mees from the podium. “We were making adjustments, after the heats and semis, and working things through, right until the last minute. I got a great start in the main, and I really think that was the biggest key. I just want to make a real shout out to our entire team. It’s the start we need.”
Reigning champ Smith said that he was happy with his Indian debut. “I really wanted to be the one to get that first win,” Smith admitted, “but we’re all still stoked for Indian. You have to be satisfied with the performance of a brand new bike, with all the unknowns.”
“That race was a lotta fun,” started Wiles, famous for his high fitness level and one of just a couple of riders at Daytona who stuffed a twin engine into an MX frame rather than a conventional ‘framer’ chassis. “We were shooting a little higher, but this was only the second time out with a new bike, and the other guys were a little faster in a straight line. I didn’t even know we were racing for second there at the end, so the podium is a good start.”
Former Canadian Flat Track champ Doug Lawrence was on hand to watch the event. “Fresh” isn’t sure when he will open his 2017 dirt track campaign, since he is focused on his new Suzuki Canada Mopar CSBK road racing program. Lawrence was testing at the Jennings G.P. venue earlier in the week aboard a Jon Cornwell-built older model GSX-R1000, and was happy to be back on track, as well as doing some bicycle training and motocross down south.
“I think the track was pretty good, they did the best with what they had,” said Lawrence of the new Daytona TT layout, pre-built under the just-used Monster Supercross track in the tri-oval area in front of the NASCAR pit lane. “It got to be one line, kind of hard to pass, but if they went the other way it would have been just too rough and gnarly.
“I don’t know if the track was too much fun to ride at the end there, so you had to be impressed with the Indians, and they basically ran what they had been testing last year. Obviously, it was tougher for the Harley guys, and they had their issues.
“You had to like the way the Indians worked,” continued Lawrence. “They had good power, but more than that they had super clean delivery, from really low down, in the tight stuff. That makes things easier. Now everyone has to get used to the new (AFT race) format, but that won’t take long.”
Dalton Gauthier won the 15-lap AFT Singles national aboard a Yamaha YZ450F, taking the lead on the brakes from Wyatt Anderson’s KTM in the last corner and holding on at the finish line. “Tomato Juice” Kolby Carlile was a close third on a brand new Honda, the top three covered by less than a second after a great dice up front.
Thursday, 16 March 2017 23:12 Published in News
Flat Track Canada had its first event at the famed Ohsweken Speedway, and for almost all of the program the final national of the 2016 season was flawless in execution and spectacle. After an evening of great completion on the half mile clay oval, the Expert Open class headed out for the final national race of 2016, ready to decide the 2017 No. 1 national plate.
Steve Beattie looked to have the overall FTC Title sewn up for the Kurt Beigger Racing Honda team, and merely needed to start the main event to earn his first career Flat Track Canada crown. But Beattie fell exiting turn two on the opening lap, causing a red flag and a long delay for his careful removal from the race surface by the Safety Team.
Beattie was off to the hospital with a broken collarbone and concerns about possible other injuries, details to come shortly. The race would start again from scratch, meaning that Doug Lawrence had a shot at retaining the Championship with his Town Moto/Parts Canada Honda CRF450 DTX machine.
There was some discussion as the field got ready for start two regarding the possible points ramifications, with various opinions suggesting a win, or maybe a top three, would allow Lawrence to retain his title. It turned out only a win would do.
On the second start Lawrence and a back-from-injury Don Taylor (Jim Sehl/Motovan/Motosports of Trenton Yamaha) again pushed to the front, joined by the Tyler Seguin aboard his Evans Honda. Eventually Taylor, the two time FTC champ in his first start since breaking a leg in an American event early in the summer, faded to place fourth and Seguin and Lawrence fought for the win.
Seguin eventually worked his way clear to take a well-deserved victory, the seventh different winner over the course of the 11 round series. Lawrence wasn’t far back for second and not sure where he placed in the points – unfortunately “Fresh” came up just short. Rising star Brodie Buchan worked his way up to third aboard another KBR Honda single.
“It feels great to win,” explained Seguin after a NASCAR-style victory burnout against the front straight wall. “It’s the last race of the season, but still, a win is a win. My season was really all over the place, and now things are starting to work we can maybe try some things down in the States.”
Lawrence was obviously emotional after a close race while trying to understand his title chances and consider the possible injuries suffered by rival-and-buddy Beattie. Veteran Beattie runs a suspension service business, and the new champ was tweaking Lawrence’s refurbished fork right before the first, late afternoon Pro practice session.
“An awful lot was going through my mind,” admitted Lawrence of the 15-ap main event. “At the end of the day, you really don’t want it to happen like that, the way things went for Steve.”
“I was maybe a tenth off where I needed to be, I was really close, in terms of lap times,” continued the outgoing number one. “I wanted to be in (Seguin’s) way more, maybe park him in the corners, but I couldn’t quite make that work.
“The track was really awesome, it got better and better through the program, and we really had some great racing here tonight.
“Right now it really seems like a long year,” continued Lawrence, who raced and won at two events on the Mopar CSBK road racing national tour in 2016 and recently finished seventh at the AMA Pro event in Springfield. “I’m looking forward to recharging my batteries and getting a new mind set, get geared up for next season.”
Buchan was satisfied with third place after a white knuckle run in the Main event.
“Everywhere I rode coming up, it was a cushion track,” explained the Pro based in Welland, ON, home of the famous short-track county venue. “This place is hard packed, and it seemed like I had to be really careful. So I’m pretty happy with the result, it was tricky and it seemed like the track got slick.”
In the Expert DTX category for stock-framed MX based machinery, Seguin held off Lawrence in a great fight at the front, Lawrence making a rare start in the “production” class after opting to enter on the machine he mostly uses at the short Welland venue. Doug Beattie (Honda) edged Buchan in another good dispute, for third. Buchan clinched the Expert DTX Title, distant rival Dave Pouliot (Kawasaki) hampered by a leg injury.
The Expert Dash-for-Cash victory went to the Honda framer of Steve Beattie, prior to the new champ’s season-ending injury. Lawrence was a close second with Seguin third.
In the Intermediate Open division, Tyler Brown hung on to win, after a great dice that went down to the wire against runner-up Cody Marentette and third man Luke Rahm, all Honda mounted.
In Intermediate DTX action, Brown won again, a bike length behind the fight for second, a dead heat between Marentette and the Sturgess Kawasaki of reigning Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike national road racing Champ Kenny Riedmann.
Top Novice was Jarrett Phibbs of Cottam, ON, who won both the Open and DTX divisions aboard a Honda CRF450.
Sunday, 25 September 2016 10:51 Published in News