We knew that Larry Perkins was providing something special but this was
really over the top. To the Penton family this bike is the sacred cow.
This is the last bike to win a National moto cross title. Attached is
Larry's account of this factory Penton racing its heart out against a
sleeved down YZ in the Astro Dome to win the Grand National title in
1974. Its funny how some bikes spark a flame in peoples hearts. To the
Penton gang this bike is truly special and we at Pelican Guano feel
the same way about it. Wow a real factory race bike from the Penton
gang that won a National title. When you go over the bike you see how
special it really is, From the specially tuned Konis to the blue moulding
applied to the fins to reduce vibration, to the blacked out 30MM Mikuni
it is an amazing machine. Yes we had to give it a run and it is as fast
or faster than most of our race ready 125s. The bike is just like it
was the day after the title race. The rims are bent and have flat spots
and are rusted. the bike has been nicely cleaned but not really well.
We've done our best to clean it up but keep it as it was that evening
in 1974. Thank you Larry and thank you for the story and pictures.
Point at a small image for a medium one, click on the medium image to see a large one.
There is this mysterious fictional book that they put the names of
Champions in. When the name is entered it is written in stone rarely
to be removed. Once in a blue moon it is taken out like if you hold
up a sign that says. 'Let Broc By' but that is a different story. I
remember when my name was put in 'The Book'. It is still fairly
vivid in my mind even after 30 plus years. It was late fall I think.
One of those dreary almost winter Texas days. It would not have been
a great day to race a dirtbike except it was in the Astrodome and it
was the GNC Final. The Grand National Championship was the closest
thing to a National Amatuer Championship as there was in that day.
It really was more like being Dirtbike King of Texas.
I was entered in the 100cc Schoolboy class on a 100cc Penton Berkshire
that was special built by Odessa Sales and Rentals a place I worked and
raced for. It was a bike designed by American John Penton and built by
KTM in Austria. It was highly modified with specs from Penton Central
in Amarillo. The European small bore motocross bike was in its closing
days with the introduction of the YZ Yamaha and the Honda Elsinore. In
the 100cc class however, the Japanese offerings were still modified
trailbikes. However, at this level of race there were 125's that were
sleeved down to 100cc leaving the Berkshire heavy and underpowered like
its 125 big brother. My Berkshire was FAST though. VERY FAST. The Carl
Cranke porting specs had proven in a magazine test to be the highest
horsepower 100 on a dyno. But it was still heavy compared to the Japanese
offerings. It was my mount though and I had won on it in Qualifiers
leading up to the Dome and I hoped to win on it there.
I have always been a great starter. Partly from good timing and partly
from learning some key to cheat the start or starter. In the first moto
I holeshotted to the front but was quickly dogged by a small bore Yamaha.
There was one long straightaway one turn from the finish and on the first
lap the little Yamaha blew by me there. For a bit I stayed within striking
distance but each time we came to that stretch the lighter-faster Yamaha
with the better youngman aboard pulled farther away. By the last lap he
was in sight but no longer in striking distance.
Being the eternal optimist I was not bummed at finishing second in the first
moto because I knew if I could win the second I would win first overall. My
positive mind was sure if I got an even better start somehow I could win.
There was no physics to back this up just faith. I drew a better start
position in the second moto and the lighter faster Yamaha with the better
young man aboard drew the outside which played to my advantage.
I rocketed to the front at the start and the Yamaha was back in traffic
though at the time I did not know what was going on behind me. I just
kept looking forward and seeing clear track. The Yamaha made quick work
of the bikes in its wayand by the second lap I was feeling the breath
of the little Yamaha on my back. Then right at the end of lap three on
the long straight the Yammie went by.
I began to lose hope when at the end of four he was almost out of reach.
As we went down the long straight on the final lap with only a corner and
a short straight to the finish left I knew in my heart the lighter-faster
Yamaha with the better rider was going to win. He was half a straight
ahead as he went into the final corner and I no longer had my gaze fixed
on him up ahead. I was looking more directly in front of me and thinking
that second in such a big race was excellent and that there would be other
years and other Championships. Then above the scream of my noisy two-stroke
motor I heard a strange sound from the crowd. I can not really describe
it but it was loud enough to catch my attention and I riveted my eyes
farther up ahead again. To my amazement the little Yamaha and its rider
were on the ground in the final corner. I was told later he went just a
hair fast into the corner and washed out the front wheel.
It was forever in my mind as I closed the gap between him and myself. I
rocked towards the corner and all along he scrambled up, hopped onto his
bike, and stabbed at the kickstarter. His bike fired and started on the
second kick but somewhere between then and the fraction of a second it
took for him to let the clutch out I went by him on the outside. It was
only a short distance from the last corner to the finishline and the
checkered flag. It was like zooming in a camera-zip-zip-zip and I was there.
I had no idea what kind of feeling such an alternate ending would bring
but to say the least I was pumped. I also remember feeling lucky too and
over the years realized the best rider had not won but that the best
rider had just made the last mistake and I had been handed a Championship.
I remember that day my Grandfather saying, 'Even a blind hog finds an
acorn now and then'. None-the -less it was my moment and they put my
name in 'The Book'. I remember thinking, 'This will happen again. I
will win many Championships in my career racing'.
It did not happen again. Not in the Astrodome, not in the GNC, not in the
AMA as a pro. I won Sate titles but no National ones. I spent a good
portion of a lifetime chasing a dream that again and again was thwarted
by faster young men and eventually faster men on better machines. I let
go of the dream and eventually moved on to bicycle racing where I won
a World Championship and a National Championship. They too were important
Championships that I won and were not handed to me but my heart remained
with the motorcycle and my far away dream.
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