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A Little Sutton History
Between 1972 and 1976 I worked at a Honda, Harley, and Bultaco motorcycle shop called Bike City. Steve Simpson was the owner and his son, Steve Jr. was the fastest racer in the state of Arizona and the best mechanic that I have ever known. The Simpsons were like family to me. Steve Sr. was a tough as nails old midget/sprint car builder/racer from Chicago. Between the two of them, they could make some very fast two stroke engines. Steve Jr. would spend days making his one-off expansion chambers, porting cylinders, and making race bikes for customers.
One Saturday when I was leaving work, Steve Sr. told me to meet him at the Track the next day and to bring my bike.
I meet Steve at Sidewinder Speedway on Sunday and he takes me on a walk around the entire track. He points to the spots where I should be backing off the throttle and where I should start "giving it the berries". Well, at walking speed it looked like no problem. After gearing up and going out on the track, I soon realized that what he was asking for was simply impossible. I thought that he was just nuts.
Steve stood way deep in the first turn and told me to keep the throttle wide open until I got to where he was standing. Of course I chopped the throttle early going into turn one. The next thing I knew was a loud noise from a rock hitting the back of my helmet! Steve sure had an arm. He proceeded to chew my butt off for not doing what he said.
I didn't want to go through that again and on my next attempt I held the throttle to the stop until I got to where he was standing. HOLY CRAP! I was going way too fast to make the corner. As I leaned the bike over and the back wheel came around putting me in a 2 wheel drift. The bike was just about on the ground, the footpeg folded up, and my hand was resting on the top of my left boot. I went right around the corner, with my heart in my throat, knowing full well that I was going to die. Wouldn't you know, that old Bultaco was made for this.
That is how I learned to corner and how I raced from here on out.
I was happy racing in the amateur class collecting a few wins along the way including the season championship. All of a sudden I was thrown into the expert class. This happened in 1976 right before the start of my 250 amateur heat race. A vote was taken by the racers in my class. This vote was totally against the club rules and was spearheaded by a father of a kid in my class. When I protested, I was told to either go home or move up. I was still riding a 1969 Bultaco, while the expert class racers were on modified modern bikes.
I now had to race a 7 year old motorcycle against the best riders in the state.
To be continued.
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