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John Long


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#1 Dan333SP

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 02:18

Don't know if any of you know of John Long from Miami, a racer in various classes in Europe and the US from the 60s until today, but he's an old family friend of my dad's and I just spent a good couple hours talking to him about his racing career and experiences... I've always been a car fanatic so I am less well versed in motorcycle history, but hearing his stories of learning the Isle of Man in the 60s in a rented van, racing on Clermont-Ferrand against the likes of Agostini, riding Geoff Duke's Norton Manx :eek: around the Isle of Man in a historic event in the 70s, beating Duhamel at Mosport on 250s, hanging out with Joey Dunlop and his wife in the 80s... All the great tracks he had a chance to ride in their old glory like the full Spa, the original Imola, the 'ring... what a great career! He never was world championship fast, but he was good enough to be on the periphery of the racing scene and he's still alive, more than can be said for many of his contemporaries unfortunately. One of his sons, Barrett, grew up with me and qualified for the 250 GP at Indy a few years ago on a 5 year old bike that was losing 20mph on the straights to the top guys. Anyway, just wanted to know if any of you have any good stories involving John or know more about his racing career, as although I've known him most of my life it's usually been at family gatherings where the subject of racing never comes up.

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#2 philippe7

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 05:48

This is a great coincidence - just a few weeks ago Sean Evans , younger brother of the late Pat Evans ( who was a contemporary racer of John Long in the US before losing his life at Imola in 1977) was writing to me that he would like to be in contact with John - I'll make sure that Sean sees this thread and hopefully can organise a contact with your help .

John Long won, in quite a dominant fashion, the 1972 AMA Novice title, winning ( from memory ) the first four races of the season, retiring in Laguna Seca, and finishing 3rd in Ontario, where Pat Evans won his only AMA race that year . He moved up to the Junior class the next season, and Expert from 1974 onwards . This is why , Dan, I think you may have misunderstood what he said regarding racing in the IoM in the late 60's , that would be a bit early really . John made most of his career in the US aboard a TZ 750, in the second half of the 70's, but did come to Europe now and then to contest the big internationals or the occasional Grand Prix .

I have some data and pictures on my home computer that I'll try to post later ( I'm at work right now ) but there is at least one story that I recently discovered in the documents that Sean Evans had sent me. It's maybe a little personal, but I feel I can tell it nevertheless. As I wrote earlier, John and Pat were close rivals during the 1972 novice season, but still apparently got on well. For 1973 in the junior class, Pat had a difficult year ( he had an argument with his father who refused to sign his licence and cut off the money supply, so Pat had to wait until he turned 18 to catch the season half-way through, riding a Don Vesco machine ) and only salvaged his season by winning the last race of the year at Ontario, just like he had done the previous year in the Novice class . John Long was also due to race in the Junior at Ontario, but never arrived.... he had a highway accident while driving his van to the race , and his brother who was going along with him lost his life in the crash....

And you know what ? Despite having just suffered the tragic loss of one of her sons, Mrs Long ( John's mother ) took the trouble to write a very kind letter of congratulations to Pat, saying that she was so happy for him that he had finished the season on a high note, etc... When I read that letter, I just couldn't believe it ....... what an extraordinary lady, eh ?



#3 philippe7

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 06:49

One of John's first ventures to Europe must have been the 1974 Transatlantic Trophy - here he is, in rather brilliant company :

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I realise you may not be too familiar with the history of motorcycle racing Dan, but the Transatlantic Trophy was a series of match races between two teams of the "best" UK and US riders of the time.

On the top row, L to R , Stan Woods, Paul Smart, Ron Chandler, Dave Croxford, Barry Ditchburn, Peter Williams, John Long, Barry Sheene, Mick Grant, Gary Nixon and Percy Tait.

Bottom row, Yvon Duhamel, Kenny Roberts, Jim Evans, Art Baumann, Dave Aldana and Gary Fisher.

A long time ago Picblanc had posted some pics he had taken in the Brands paddock that year, where John appears, but I fear they may have gone now, Picblanc would you care to re-post them here , please ?

Edited by philippe7, 06 October 2010 - 07:19.


#4 Herr Wankel

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 08:20

One of John's first ventures to Europe must have been the 1974 Transatlantic Trophy - here he is, in rather brilliant company :

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I realise you may not be too familiar with the history of motorcycle racing Dan, but the Transatlantic Trophy was a series of match races between two teams of the "best" UK and US riders of the time.

On the top row, L to R , Stan Woods, Paul Smart, Ron Chandler, Dave Croxford, Barry Ditchburn, Peter Williams, John Long, Barry Sheene, Mick Grant, Gary Nixon and Percy Tait.

Bottom row, Yvon Duhamel, Kenny Roberts, Jim Evans, Art Baumann, Dave Aldana and Gary Fisher.

A long time ago Picblanc had posted some pics he had taken in the Brands paddock that year, where John appears, but I fear they may have gone now, Picblanc would you care to re-post them here , please ?

Slightly OT Philippe,but if you put the crowd in the photo in MotoGP,I venture it would be a bit less boring.
HW

#5 philippe7

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:40

A few items I have found

First a press clipping of the sad events mentioned above
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And a photo of the 1971 Daytona Class winners, 200cc (!) class won by Pat Evans (center) and 250cc class won by John Long (right)
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and a last one about Daytona '72
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Edited by philippe7, 06 October 2010 - 19:05.


#6 Dan333SP

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 15:13

This is a great coincidence - just a few weeks ago Sean Evans , younger brother of the late Pat Evans ( who was a contemporary racer of John Long in the US before losing his life at Imola in 1977) was writing to me that he would like to be in contact with John - I'll make sure that Sean sees this thread and hopefully can organise a contact with your help .
He moved up to the Junior class the next season, and Expert from 1974 onwards . This is why , Dan, I think you may have misunderstood what he said regarding racing in the IoM in the late 60's , that would be a bit early really .

I'd be glad to help Sean get in touch with John, I've been to his house many times and the shop on the Miami river a few times as well, plenty of history in there (either his dad or his grandfather opened it, going back to the 20s I think).
You're right about the IoM, of course, I was just confusing timelines within his storytelling. His story of riding Duke's Manx was pretty amazing. Apparently a friend of his (can't remember the name) was riding in a class John wasn't participating in, and at some point he crashed, got back on the bike, and a few corners later crashed again, more heavily this time. His number was torn from the bike in the first crash and the second crash gave him a blow to the head which resulted in amnesia and complete disorientation. An ambulance took him to the hospital but he didn't have a number and couldn't remember his name, and I suppose there weren't any markings on his leathers, so nobody knew who he was and he couldn't recall it either. John was in the pits waiting for him and he didn't come back around, so he called around asking if his friend had been checked into a hospital with no positive results as no one knew who the guy was.
At that point on the track there was a historic class racing, and Geoff Duke was there with an older (1960 maybe?) Norton Manx that he intended to run, but decided to ride another bike and left that one in his trailer. John was still in his leathers and wanted to go out on track to look for his friend, so being close to Duke's guys he borrowed the Norton and took it out for a couple laps.
Apparently the spectators saw the bike and saw Duke's number, so they assumed it was Geoff even though he was on track at the same time, halfway up the road on another bike. John told me he'd never been cheered for like that before or since. He had no luck finding his friend, but he had a blast on the bike despite what he described as an incredibly peaky engine with 4 speeds and finicky brakes. Eventually he went to the hospital and amid a bunch of sidecar riders in traction he found a doctor who told him they had a racer with no idea who he was, obviously John's friend, so John took him back to the house they were staying in and within a few days he cleared out the cobwebs and was back to racing. He had lots of stories like that to share, amazing stuff...

Edited by Dan333SP, 06 October 2010 - 15:17.


#7 billbomann

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 19:41

John Long rode the TT in 1975, '79, '80 and '81

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1975 Parliament Square

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1979 Quarter Bridge

#8 Mike Summers

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 03:14

I spent some time racing with John but can't say that I ever got to know him well. We were all pro Novice's together in 1972 on the AMA circut. There was really two races going on that year, the one's that John Long and Ted Henter were in and then there was the rest of us. Both John and Ted had that "special" talent that comes along every so often. With limited funding, I was only able to compete in a couple of the races. I came in at Laguna Seca and won after John DNF'd and Ted was disqualifed. We all went to Talladega. The three of us were dicing for the lead when I got impatient with a lapper and threw myself down the road at about a buck ten and broke my shoulder. I came back for Ontario and finished somewhere around 10th or 12th, nursing my shoulder after falling on it again in practice. As I remember John was a pretty quiet guy and really in a class by himself. He has had an amazing career that has spanned probably close to 30 plus years. I will dig around in photos and see if I can come up with anything. Digging through my sticker collection the other day I did come across one of the old "Panic Button" decals that I got from Pat and Kelly Evans that year.

Mike Summers
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#9 philippe7

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 08:40

I have a report of that Laguna Seca meeting but it's a PDF file which I can't upload on Imageshack so I'll permit myself to copy it here 'cos it's a good read reminiscing of good old times, and very well written by Sam Moses for the November 1972 issue of Cycle Guide :

Long had swept the four previous novice races on his private Yamaha TD2, but for Laguna Seca had fit himself into the Hansen team, and was riding a new Kawasaki 350 single. The Long-Hansen linkup had the pits buzzing. The big question everyone was asking was whether or not Long could still win on a Kawasaki. Was he making a mistake by choosing to go with an underdog instead of his sure-thing TD2? Or was he confidently cagey, knowing a win on the Kawasaki could mean the reward of a permanent slot on Team Hansen as a junior next year? It didn't take long for those questions to be answered. After his first racing lap it was obvious that Long knew what he was doing. And by the end of five of them he had won his heat by the incredible amount of 30 seconds! It was the same story in the main race-all John Long. The lanky Floridian was buzzing the converted Kawasaki Big Horn around so smoothly and quietly that he didn't even look like the leader, especially since the low-pitched buzz of the big single was almost being drowned out by the high-pitched scream ot all the Yamahas. He was so far ahead that he was in the middle of the pack again after just a few laps. Then suddenly, after he was more than half of the way there, he wasn't going very fast anymore. The plug filling the hole where the kick starter shaft had once been had fallen out, and oil was blowing all over the rear of the machine. After two horrendous slides Long pulled into the pits, and his crew dove under the machine, trying to plug the hole with silver tape but as he tried to rejoin the race he was stopped by a tech inspector who told him that silver tape just wasn't the most satisfactory way to stop an oil leak. So Long called it quits, since by this time he had lost three laps anyhow. But in second place and inheriting the lead was another Floridian, on another Kawasaki Big Horn! Ted Henter, a rider who had finished second to Long at the last national road race when both of them were on Yamahas, had eased his private Kawasaki up to second before Long's retirement, and now held a six-second lead over the Yamaha of Mike Summers, a Northern California AFM ace. But Bob Hansen had mixed emotions about Henter's leading; earlier that morning Henter had tried to borrow a front brake from Team Hansen to replace the one which had broken in his heat race, but Hansen turned him down. Hansen now knew that Henter had gotten a brake somewhere, but not from anyone at Kawasaki. Actually Henter had been forced to take the front brake off his TD2, but that was a no-no, and he was riding an illegal motorcycle. He kept going, won the race, and collected the laurels in the victory circle, but two hours later was disqualified, not unexpectedly, and Summers was declared the winner. Summers himself had been disqualified out of second place at Ontario last year, because his gas tank held one ounce over the limit, so he must have known how Henter felt. Second was Mike Clarke, who had highsided once along the way, and third was a Texan with a wooden leg, David Watkins. All three rode Yamahas.

#10 philippe7

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 08:57

John standing next to his new 700 TZ in the Brand's Hatch Paddock, chatting to Yvon "Superfrog" Duhamel, Transatlantic Trophy 1974 . Picture by Picblanc :wave:

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#11 GD66

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 14:20

Presumably Nick Nicholls in the cheesecutter and wax jacket, Gra. Never, ever seen a shot of his dial, though. You must have rubbed elbows with him a number of times over the years... speshly at Druids ?

#12 picblanc

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 16:36

Presumably Nick Nicholls in the cheesecutter and wax jacket, Gra. Never, ever seen a shot of his dial, though. You must have rubbed elbows with him a number of times over the years... speshly at Druids ?


Probably Glenn, but he was inside the fence I wasnt! :D
Yes I am sure its him to. :wave:

#13 fil2.8

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 17:12

Probably Glenn, but he was inside the fence I wasnt! :D
Yes I am sure its him to. :wave:



Either that or Nick payed him 10 bob to be a walking bill-board :rolleyes:

#14 Robin127

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 02:25

John standing next to his new 700 TZ in the Brand's Hatch Paddock, chatting to Yvon "Superfrog" Duhamel, Transatlantic Trophy 1974 . Picture by Picblanc :wave:

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I was at that meeting and for years afterwards something that happened that day and the resulting misinformation really pissed me off.

One of the first races that day was the 350 race with Tony Nash setting the fastest lap, which just happened to be a new lap record. In one of the following Transatlantic legs, Kenny Roberts got round in the same time. However, when these events appeared in the press it had miraculously become "Tony Nash who equalled Kenny Roberts lap record." I don't know why I should have been so upset about it but it appeared to me to be a total misrepresentation of the truth in order to make Roberts achievement, who was on his first visit to Brands, seem all the more remarkable. The fact that Roberts was on a TZ700 and Nash on a 350 and the fact that it was obvious that the Californian really was as good as all the reports from America suggested didn't seem to enter into it.


#15 picblanc

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 09:15

Oh yeah! leg 2 Roberts 54.00s race one 350 race Tony Nash 54.00s, as you say though one was an American factory Yamaha rider setting Europe alight! (Imola200 weekend before) & Tony Nash...Tony who? a talented up & coming young Brit, which name would sell papers? Thats journlisam for you it still stinks, if you read race reports in todays chip wrapper you would think that only Rossi Stoner Pedrosa were the only three racing!
In fact its much worse now, you at least got race reports on the 'other' classes & photos, now just report on who said what before or after racing @ MotoGP, WSB, BSB, but nothing on the other classes, no reports usually no pics. Thats why many of todays race fans know nothing about the sport or who is who outside of those three main classes.
Sorry for the ramble, well done Tony Nash back then! :up:

#16 fil2.8

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 13:14

Oh yeah! leg 2 Roberts 54.00s race one 350 race Tony Nash 54.00s, as you say though one was an American factory Yamaha rider setting Europe alight! (Imola200 weekend before) & Tony Nash...Tony who? a talented up & coming young Brit, which name would sell papers? Thats journlisam for you it still stinks, if you read race reports in todays chip wrapper you would think that only Rossi Stoner Pedrosa were the only three racing!
In fact its much worse now, you at least got race reports on the 'other' classes & photos, now just report on who said what before or after racing @ MotoGP, WSB, BSB, but nothing on the other classes, no reports usually no pics. Thats why many of todays race fans know nothing about the sport or who is who outside of those three main classes.
Sorry for the ramble, well done Tony Nash back then! :up:



Well said , matey !!!! :up: :clap: :up: :wave:


#17 Russell Burrows

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 13:20

Does anyone know what became of Tony Nash?

#18 picblanc

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 15:21

Does anyone know what became of Tony Nash?


I dont Russ, though a nasty fall does come to mind, not sure it stopped his career though but might have, I last remember seeing him in 1977.
Not much help. :|

#19 Robin127

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 18:10

Does anyone know what became of Tony Nash?


I believe he moved to the USA.