Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when many of us graybeards began our short and unremarkable racing careers, things were different. There were no cell phones, internet, or eBay Click-N-Ship for parts. But it was also not unheard of for a racer to put on leathers and ride to the track. Not to watch the races, mind you, but to race a few classes, win some prize money. and ride home with a trophy at the end of the day, hopefully. That’s how I remember it anyway, except for the winning, trophy and money parts.
World of Speed
In the early 1980s, Yamaha introduced a U.S. street legal motorcycle that would steal my heart—the Kenny Roberts Signature Edition RZ350. The little RZ was an angry, water-cooled, two-stroke can of whoop. It served me well as a commuter during the week and as a race bike on weekends. I participated in club events around the country. Regardless of the track, some guy would show up with a spare tire around his waist, ready to race. For as much as I wanted to be that guy, I was wound far too tight for that kind of cavalier approach.
I was daydreaming about that memory recently while talking to my riding buddy Mike. He happens to be a psychologist, which comes in handy quite often for misfits like us. He told me one of his bucket-list items was to race on the Bonneville Salt Flats. For him, Bonneville is a mecca.
Suddenly, lines connecting the dots between Denver, CO, and Wendover, UT, appeared. It was like that scene in The Queen’s Gambit where the chess pieces appear on the ceiling for Beth Harmon who sees her next 10 moves become crystal clear.