The men and machines from the Golden Age of motorcycle racing
In our previous installment, we shared some photos and highlights from our trip to the 2023 Hot Shoe Hall of Fame induction evening in Las Vegas. Gene Woods put on a wonderful ceremony at the Notoriety Theater in the Las Vegas Fremont Street Experience, and so many notables flew or drove in for the night that we decided to showcase some photos Geoff shot of these legends back in their heyday. Some are still involved in the sport, either supporting teams or racing in vintage events. It was a motorcycle racing star-studded night.
So here’s a few of Geoff’s faves of those “Hot Shoe ” legends, in his own words.
Mike Kidd leads the 1977 San Jose Mile. Mike Kidd #72 leads Kenny Roberts #2, Gary Scott #5, Corky Keener #62, Skip Aksland #27 and the late Steve Eklund #11.
Scott Brelsford at the 1975 Sacramento Mile. Scott is roosting the fans on the outside of Turn 1 on his Erv Kanemoto prepped and tuned Kawasaki H2 750 triple two-stroke dirt tracker. Scott won the prior week’s Stockton, CA Mile on Erv’s H2.
Mert Lawwill leads John Hateley at the 1975 Sacramento Mile. Mert is on his H-D XR750 while “Lil’ John” is feet up on his Triumph 750. Notice what appears to be a front brake lever at Mert’s right hand. The AMA had recently allowed rear brakes on the mile bikes, and Mert was not comfortable using a foot operated rear brake. I asked Mert about it a few years ago and got the answer from him directly.
Mert on his XR750 in Turn 2, at the 1977 San Jose Mile. Even in his last season of competition on the AMA circuit, Mert preferred an open face helmet. By 1977, Mert had become comfortable with the foot operated rear brake setup as well.
Mike Kidd on his Lawwill/Roberts TZ250 at Laguna Seca in 1981. I wondered for years what this bike really was, as Mike rode it in the 750 G.P. class. For a long time, I thought it might have been a TZ350. I only saw it from the left side on track and did not see the right side with the normal 3 silencers of a YZR500 or YZR750 on the right. Mike was new to road racing and a 500 or 750 two-stroke would have been quite a hand full. I recently asked Kenny Roberts and he said that it was a TZ250 in a custom-built frame, that he made himself. He also said that he still owns it. When I gave this photo to Mike he said, “I want to get a 24 x 36 print of this for my mancave!”
Micky Fay road racing at Laguna Seca in 1983. Mickey was a TT and Short Track specialist racer. Being a Honda Factory rider, he also competed in some road races on his VF750F Interceptor V45 Superbike. When I gave him this photo he asked, “Where did you get that? I don’t have many photos of me road racing.” I told him that I shot it in the old Turn 7 (now Turn 9 “Rainey Curve”) at Laguna Seca in ’83.
More recently, Bryan Smith on his Crosley/Howerton Indian FTR750. This is “The Mile Master” entering Turn 1 at the 2021 Sacramento Mile during qualifying. Bryan won the 2016 AFT Championship and won the Sacramento Mile seven years in a row, from 2011 to 2017. Bryan came from behind to finish second in the Main, in his last race before retiring.
Walt Fulton III in full color, on his Team Obsolete Harley-Davidson 350 Sprint at the AHRMA Laguna Seca. Walt was a Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki and Suzuki team rider and Editor for Cycle Guide, Cycle World and Motorcyclist Magazines. Walt will be racing a Team Obsolete 1972 ex-factory Harley-Davidson XR750 TT in 2023. Rock on, Walt!
For more photos of the Hot Shoe Hall of Famers, check out our gallery here:
Barb & Geoff
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