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Pat Hennen - the early years (1972-1975)


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#1 philippe7

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 10:06

Friends,

Since we are fortunate to have have quite a few "friends and relatives" of Pat's on the forum currently ( Chip, Claudia, Stu, Mike, etc...) I thought the timing would be right to open a dedicated thread about him. Also, this will help keeping the Marlboro Series thread free from veering off topic too often .

Pat's career from 1976 onwards, when he arrived in Europe on the 500cc World Championship trail, is very well documented, therefore I would prefer to keep this thread, for the time being, to the earlier years of Pat's career , when there may be more new stories to be told and documented. Also, I would like , if feasible, to keep a certain level of chronology in the stories - although I realise this may be difficult...

Pat was born in April 1953 in Arizona. When he was very young his family moved to the San Fransisco bay area , and this is where he began racing in the early 70's , starting in dirt-track like was then common practice.

The earliest document I have found of Pat's professional career ( i.e , on the AMA field in the "national" championship ) is from the 1972 Laguna Seca National Road Race. I hope I'm not messing things up too much, but for the benefit of the non-american readers of this forum, I feel it useful to explain that when you took to racing in the US you had to start as a "novice" ( disregarding your age - only based upon experience ) and when you proved good enough you graduated as a "junior", and then again if you scored enough good results you ended up as an "expert" . A typical AMA Road Race meeting would include a race for novices, juniors and experts, all on unlimited capacity machines, plus generally a "junior-expert" combined 250cc race . In 1972, Pat was riding as a Novice .

So, from the november 1972 issue of "Cycle Guide" we have the following result :

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Some intersting names in those results, in the various classes, eh ?

Pat finished 6th, aboard a Suzuki of un-named capacity, which according to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame website was "built by his brothers David and Chip" , so hopefully Chip will tell us a bit more .

Incidentally, Mike Summers , who won the race that day, is a member of this forum but is mostly seen on the cars section, and despite my efforts I haven't managed to lure him to this place yet ....someday maybe !

Pat then appears again in the season closing race at Ontario Motor Speedway.

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The race was won by Pat Evans, scoring his first victory in a novice season which had so far been dominated by John Long. Pat Hennen was 9th, still on the lonely Suzuki amongst a Yamaha field.

And that's all I have for 1972 and earlier. I have my documents for the 1973 season at the ready, but for the time being I'll leave the space free for whoever has anything to add about the earlier years of Pat's career . Over to you !

Edited by philippe7, 29 December 2011 - 10:16.


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#2 ccmUS

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 03:01

List of AMA sanctioned road race venues and dates for 1972, and the purse:



Date and Location Total Purse

March 12, 1972
Daytona, Florida $43,000
April 16, 1972
Atlanta, Georgia $20,000
June 11, 1972
Loudon, New Hampshire $25,000
June 18, 1972
Indianapolis, Indiana $20,000
June 23, 1972
Monterey, California $20,000
September 1, 1972
Talladega, Alabama $21,500
October 1, 1972
Ontario, California $53,100



Chip talked about this recently and referred to the Ontario race as Pat's second road race ever, and the bike was "Ron Grant's Suzuki X6-based road race bike". That would make the race at Laguna Seca (the Monterey California venue) Pat's first road race, probably on the same bike?

Edited by ccmUS, 30 December 2011 - 05:45.


#3 kz71

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 05:01

In 8th place in the first event , Frans Vandenbroek.
Frans was with us in the Pat side of the team at Suzuki GB in 77 and 78.
Now an engineering director for a US Bio Med company.

#4 stuavant

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 09:41

In 8th place in the first event , Frans Vandenbroek.
Frans was with us in the Pat side of the team at Suzuki GB in 77 and 78.
Now an engineering director for a US Bio Med company.

Never new Frans was a racer, live and learn mate


#5 fastfitter

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 18:51

Interesting background stuff, thanks. I was a big fan Pat, very sad his career was cut short.

#6 ccmUS

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 19:29

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1972 Laguna Seca, Pat's first pro novice race. Ron Grant built bike. Gotta love the pit/paddock area, things were pretty rough in the beginning!!! :lol: Pat garnered enough points from his finishes at Laguna Seca and Ontario to turn Amateur/Junior for the following year.

Edited by ccmUS, 30 December 2011 - 21:35.


#7 philippe7

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 21:06

Beautiful ! Is this perhaps Chip on the left ?

I did a quick search to find out what an X6 Suzuki was and soon found out that this was what the machine known as the T20 in the rest of the world was called in the US - the first 6-speed 250 Suzuki twin. Good on Pat ( and on Ron Grant's tuning ) to figure well amongst a field of TD3's and the like.

#8 ccmUS

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 21:34

Beautiful ! Is this perhaps Chip on the left ?

I did a quick search to find out what an X6 Suzuki was and soon found out that this was what the machine known as the T20 in the rest of the world was called in the US - the first 6-speed 250 Suzuki twin. Good on Pat ( and on Ron Grant's tuning ) to figure well amongst a field of TD3's and the like.


That is indeed Chip on the left, they were pretty much the whole team and did everything in the beginning!! Chip recently discussed how he and Pat met Ron Grant on the Ron Grant Racing page on Facebook. Chip was working in a motorcycle sales and service shop and Ron came in to post an ad for a Suzuki 250 twin flat track bike he built and was trying to sell. Chip told him about Pat, Pat borrowed the bike and won two races that weekend, one at Hayward Speedway and the next day at Fremont Raceway. When they returned the bike to Ron's place in Brisbane (he had found a buyer!), they noticed a Suzuki GT250 street bike Ron had converted into a quasi road race bike. Ron wanted to sell that bike as well, and they suggested Pat ride the bike in the AMA Pro Nationals to advertise it for Ron. Pat entered at Laguna Seca and at Ontario, finishing 6th and 9th respectively. Ron subsequently became Pat's mentor.

Edited by ccmUS, 01 January 2012 - 19:42.


#9 fil2.8

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 22:13

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1972 Laguna Seca, Pat's first pro novice race. Ron Grant built bike. Gotta love the pit/paddock area, things were pretty rough in the beginning!!! :lol: Pat garnered enough points from his finishes at Laguna Seca and Ontario to turn Amateur/Junior for the following year.



what a great period piccie :love: thanks , more please , but sparingly :up:

#10 Herr Wankel

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 11:37

Beautiful ! Is this perhaps Chip on the left ?

I did a quick search to find out what an X6 Suzuki was and soon found out that this was what the machine known as the T20 in the rest of the world was called in the US - the first 6-speed 250 Suzuki twin. Good on Pat ( and on Ron Grant's tuning ) to figure well amongst a field of TD3's and the like.

Also known as a Super Six in the UK Philippe.Happy New Year.

HW

#11 philippe7

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 06:40

So, in two races only as a Novice in 1972, Pat scored enough points to qualify for the junior class the following season, taken under the wing of Ron Grant who was to supply him another unusual, home built motorcycle.....

Unfortunately, I only have material about the very last race of the 1973 season, at Ontario Motor Speedway. Before that, there were races at Daytona, Dallas, Road Atlanta , Loudon, and probably at Laguna Seca and Talladega . The only results I have are for the Loudon race, won by John Long from Billy Labrie and Ted Henter - Pat doesn't appear in the results . So any info or material about those races would be very welcome.

For the Ontario road race (and maybe the earlier ones too), Pat was using a 750 Suzuki triple, which was not a TR production racer, but a Ron Grant built machine consisting of a Rickman frame and a tweaked engine from a road-going GT750 - the most visible difference being that it retained the production wet clutch, unlike the TR racers which had a dry one. At the end of the season, this machine went to New Zealand with Ron and Pat ( more of that later ) and some members of this forum who had to deal with it down under later on ( namely Stu Avant or Mike Sinclair ) have posted some ....let's say "reserved" comments about the overall design and "user-friendliness" of this motorcycle. Pat however didn't seem to have too much trouble making the best of it, at least in the long sweeping curves and fast bankings of the Ontario Motor Speedway....

Below some press clippings and reports - I should point out that most of the material from the US races that I post originates from scans which have been kindly provided to me by Sean Evans, younger brother of the late Pat Evans, who has retained his brother's archives and scrapbooks .

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Edited by philippe7, 24 July 2013 - 00:46.


#12 philippe7

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 06:45

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Edited by philippe7, 24 July 2013 - 00:51.


#13 philippe7

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 06:50

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Edited by philippe7, 24 July 2013 - 00:54.


#14 jaybee49

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 09:16

Very Interesting Philippe. :up:

I have quite a lot of Stuff on Pat but of course its all post '75. Incidentally, Chip has confirmed on Facebook that Pat will be attending some events in the UK this year including the IOM and a legends meeting and maybe one in Europe.

That is good news I really hope it works out so I can get to one of them... :wave:

#15 bsracer

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 15:22

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I'm friends with Ralph Hudson. He's still racing (and fast) as well as breaking records at the salt flats. He's told me a few stories of chasing these guys around in the day!

paul

#16 philippe7

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 08:54

OK, nothing to add to the 1973 AMA Junior season ? Right, let's move to the 73/74 winter, when Pat traveled to New Zealand for the first time ( I think...) with Ron Grant.

The context, taken from a later series program

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Three pictures from the second venue, Pukekohe - Pat is riding the locally built "Sayonara Special" 500 Suzuki twin , which he used in the first three (?) meetings since his 750 was delayed shipping in from the US. Pictures by "redneb", already seen in the Marlboro Series thread but I feel they also belong in the timeline here. In the first pic Pat is visible starting from the second row, Ginger Molloy, Ron Grant and Trevor Discombe are on the first row.

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Of course, this day was a very sad one, with the tragic loss of Cal Rayborn. :(

And the final classifications of that year's Marlboro Series : Pat scored a 5th place on aggregate in the opening round at Wanganui, starting a 4-year love affair with the Cemetery circuit , and also a 4th in the closing round at Ruapuna aboard his 750 triple.

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Edited by philippe7, 24 July 2013 - 00:56.


#17 ccmUS

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 23:32

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1972 Laguna Seca, Pat's first pro novice race. Ron Grant built bike. Gotta love the pit/paddock area, things were pretty rough in the beginning!!! :lol: Pat garnered enough points from his finishes at Laguna Seca and Ontario to turn Amateur/Junior for the following year.


A couple more observations before heading into 1973/74. A while back Graham commented on the shoes Randy Mamola was wearing in one of the photos and they are very similar to what Pat is wearing in this photo. These were their dirt track shoes, basically work boots with soft rubber bottoms. What Chip is wearing is not too different!! In the beginning, they cobbled together whatever they had, as was the case with most riders (Stu I think you just recently made mention of not having a lot of funds to work with.) Those were the "good old days" before sponsorship!!

Edited by ccmUS, 07 January 2012 - 23:34.


#18 philippe7

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 05:51

Right, let's move on to the 1974 season

Although he had, in principle, scored enough points to move up to the "expert" category, Pat decided to stay in the Junior class in 1974 , with better equipment and better chances to shine - as is explained in the first press clipping below. The first race of the season was of course at Daytona, where Pat was, through his sponsor Ron Grant, the lucky recipient of one of the 213 (!) brand new TZ 700's which had been shipped to the United States - and certainly one of the very few Juniors to be equipped with such a weapon... He won the race in dominant fashion, and although we now know that unlike what Yamaha would like us to think, Giacomo Agostini was not the first man to win aboard the 700 TZ ( this honour belonging to John Boote at Gracefield ) , Pat Hennen too won a major race aboard this machine before the Italian star...

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Edited by philippe7, 24 July 2013 - 01:00.


#19 philippe7

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 06:14

Now, here comes an episode for which I hope some people in the know will be able to help me . Sometimes in 1974, I suppose during the first half of the year, Pat went to Australia - as is very obvious from the pictures below, kindly sent to me by Claudia.

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Now, when were those pics taken ? A while ago, Murray Sayle had written here that the 750 H2R Kawasaki that he used during the 74/75 Marlboro Series ( supplied by Hurley Wilvert, spannered by George Vukmanovitch ) had "previously been used by Pat Hennen for the 1974 Swann Series". I think the Swann series were run sometimes in January/February ? But then, there is also this other picture, also provided by Claudia.

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This is said to have been taken at Bathurst, which the experts on here will very quickly be able to confirm or not... but the bike is certainly not a H2R , but rather looks like the Len Perry 750 Suzuki triple which Ron Grant had used in the previous Marlboro Series, and that Pat was going to use in New-Zealand the following year. I saw a clip on youtube about the Bathurst 1974 event, which was a race-long tussle between Greg Hansford and Warren Willing, closely followed by Pat who finished 3rd . The Bathurst motorcycle races were usually ran around Easter if I'm not mistaken - so did Pat go to Australia twice, for the Swann series then for Bathurst - and riding different bikes on each occasion - or was it just one long trip ? Any clarification on this subject would be welcome, before we move on to the rest of the 1974 AMA season.

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#20 jeff sayle

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 07:51

Now, here comes an episode for which I hope some people in the know will be able to help me . Sometimes in 1974, I suppose during the first half of the year, Pat went to Australia - as is very obvious from the pictures below, kindly sent to me by Claudia.

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Now, when were those pics taken ? A while ago, Murray Sayle had written here that the 750 H2R Kawasaki that he used during the 74/75 Marlboro Series ( supplied by Hurley Wilvert, spannered by George Vukmanovitch ) had "previously been used by Pat Hennen for the 1974 Swann Series". I think the Swann series were run sometimes in January/February ? But then, there is also this other picture, also provided by Claudia.

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This is said to have been taken at Bathurst, which the experts on here will very quickly be able to confirm or not... but the bike is certainly not a H2R , but rather looks like the Len Perry 750 Suzuki triple which Ron Grant had used in the previous Marlboro Series, and that Pat was going to use in New-Zealand the following year. I saw a clip on youtube about the Bathurst 1974 event, which was a race-long tussle between Greg Hansford and Warren Willing, closely followed by Pat who finished 3rd . The Bathurst motorcycle races were usually ran around Easter if I'm not mistaken - so did Pat go to Australia twice, for the Swann series then for Bathurst - and riding different bikes on each occasion - or was it just one long trip ? Any clarification on this subject would be welcome, before we move on to the rest of the 1974 AMA season.


For sure 2 seperate trips

#21 ravenous25

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 15:01

Does it say 'Geoff' somebody on the fairing, just below the screen?

#22 fil2.8

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 18:35

Does it say 'Geoff' somebody on the fairing, just below the screen?





looks like it to me :up:

#23 philippe7

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 18:58

Of course it does - it says "Geoff Perry" , the machine is his former bike that his father ( Len Perry ) was lending to Pat, as he had done to Ron Grant ealier in the year ( as documented in post #16 above... name also visible in the picture ).

Edited by philippe7, 11 January 2012 - 20:05.


#24 ccmUS

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 19:24

I'm lagging behind here, sorry!! In 1973 Pat was still riding in both dirt track races and then entering increasingly more road races. You all probably know this already, but the way the AMA Grand National points system worked in the States was that there were 5 different events for which you could amass points. So it was very difficult to concentrate in only one area and lead in points. Therefore, Pat, like many other riders (Kenny Roberts, Gene Romero, Randy Mamola) raced both dirt track and road racing during the course of a season.

In terms of road races, in 1973 Pat went to Talladega Alabama, Charlotte North Carolina, Dallas Texas, Laguna Seca California, Ontario California. Other races were Daytona, Indianapolis and Loudon New Hampshire, not sure which ones of those he entered.

Story from the Dallas race. Pat and Phil Frank traveled together to that race. We saw a lot of Phil because he lived in SF and used Ron Grant as his tuner. There were 6 of us and two bikes in one van for that trip. 28 hours to get to Dallas from California and we drove straight through. Driver and passenger in front with a lawn chair in between, then the guys had taken out the back seat and replaced it with wooden bunks so 2 people could sleep there. That was 5, the 6th person got to sleep in the back with the bikes! And Philippe, you thought we were traveling in luxury. :rotfl:

Edited by ccmUS, 12 January 2012 - 04:05.


#25 ccmUS

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 19:32

Of course it does - it says "Geoff Perry" , the machine is his former bike that his father ( Len Perry ) was lending to Pat, as he had done to Ron Grant ealier in the year ( as documented in post #3 above... name also visible in the picture ).


According to Chip: Pat on Len Perry's TR750 (the TR750 Geoff Perry rode in NZ when was a member of U.S. Suzuki's factory team).



#26 ccmUS

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 19:49

For sure 2 seperate trips



With regard to Bathurst Australia in 1974, Pat was there in April and stayed with Gregg Hansford and his Mom in Brisbane (Gregg owned a Yamaha sales and service shop). Pat had the best finish of the overseas riders with a 2nd in the "2 rounder" race and 5th in the 20 lap race. He held the track record for one day knocking 6 seconds off the record. Next day the leaders took 2 more seconds off. The straight was 3/4 of a mile with hills in it and they were doing 165MPH wheelies. The photo of Pat doing the wheelie is down the straight, as can be seen in the video of Bathurst in which Gregg and Warren are the frontrunners.

Because of Pat's success there, he was asked by Ron Newitt, one of the promoters, to go to Lakeside on April 28th, and he was offered show up money (new experience!!). Ron also asked him to go to Oran Park which was another 2 weeks after Lakeside, but Pat indicated he probably wasn't going to do that race.

#27 ccmUS

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 19:37

Talladega trip in 1973 was also a road trip. 38 hours one way.

Seem to remember mechanical woes at one of the races that year, I think possibly the Dallas race. Pat went out for practice and the bike seized. Chip spent several hours working on the inside of the cylinder as it wasn't badly damaged. Replaced the carburetor jets and Pat went out again only to have the same thing happen. Upon further investigation they found that the original pair of jets was mis-matched, then the second set that was pulled out of the box was the other half of the mis-matched set. :( Do not remember how the race ended up for Pat after that got sorted out.


#28 philippe7

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 05:59

So, after this "working holiday" in Australia, Pat found himself in late July at Laguna Seca for another round of the 1974 Junior National Championship. Still on a TZ 700 , but now sponsored by Ocelot Engineering . He also had a 250 , which enabled him to fight it out with the big boys in the "250 Expert-Junior Combined" class.

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So, all in all a good week-end for Pat , with a dominant win in the Junior race, and an excellent fifth place ( and first Junior) in the 250 class.

Edited by philippe7, 24 July 2013 - 03:28.


#29 philippe7

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 06:12

One month later, end of August, Pat was some 3000 miles away from California, where the previous race had been , deep in the Alabama forests at the Talladega Speedway for the next round. Again, he rode in the Junior and in the combined 250 classes.

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So, a good placing in the 250 race, leaving a certain Steve Baker behind him, and another win in the Junior class, the fourth of the season according to the press clipping - so, we have Daytona, Laguna Seca and Talladega, so there is one missing from earlier in the year .

Anyway, after Talladega there was one more race back home in California at Ontario, and at the end of 74 , Pat had dominated the Junior class, and was ready to move up to the Experts. But before that, there was another trip planned to spend Christmas in New-Zealand once again...

Edited by philippe7, 16 January 2012 - 06:16.


#30 Mike Summers

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 02:54

OK, so I need to go on the motorcycle side a bit more...............just a couple of comments about Pat. At the 1972 Laguna Seca Novice event (TD250b), I broke a gearbox in practice, sent a piece through the top of the motor cases. Went wizzing past my shoulder. My girlfriend and I found a place up in the hills near the track called Hidden Heliarc...........after fixiing the gearbox on the tailgate of a El Camino, we wandered up in the foothills to this guy who worked out of his house. Amazingly, he welded up the hole in the cases for $25.00. Put the motor back in the bike in the motel room. Led the heat race on Sat(?) till just before the finish line when it suddenly quit...........zing went Pat by me at the stripe. Pat of course went on to fame and most of went back to our regular lives. The few conversations I had with him, he was a nice guy, very new to roadracing but you could quickly tell the was what they now call a "alien". He was really really good

Keep up the great threads Philippe!

Mike Summers



#31 Hasselhoff

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 02:57

Found this on facebook but it no doubt belongs here..... :)

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#32 philippe7

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 03:51

Found this on facebook but it no doubt belongs here..... :)


It certainly does....just a wee bit early re. the timeline but no problem. This is Ontario 1975 and Pat is running his last (!) race as a Suzuki US official. But more of that later....

#33 ccmUS

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 02:41

The fourth race Pat won in 1974 was at Loudon New Hampshire

#34 ccmUS

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 02:43

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This would appear to be Laguna Seca 1974

#35 philippe7

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 06:25

Very cool pic again, Claudia, thanks a lot !

So, after a very successful second Junior year, Pat set off to New-Zealand again to prepare himself for his first Expert season .

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Pat was entrusted with Geoff Perry's old TR750, lent by his father Len Perry, the same machine which had been used by Ron Grant the previous year

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At Gracefield, for the first round of the Series

Edited by philippe7, 24 July 2013 - 03:34.


#36 philippe7

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 06:32

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At Bay Park for Round 3, Pat leads Randy Cleek, Murray Sayle and Phil McDonald


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Timaru ( Round 4 ) , Pat chased by John Boote.


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Ruapuna for the final Round, Pats leads out of the hairpin from Randy Cleek, John Boote and the pack...

#37 philippe7

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 06:38

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Ruapuna again, Pat and Randy Cleek.


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A very happy Pat and a very happy Len - a winning combination !

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Edited by philippe7, 24 July 2013 - 03:37.


#38 GD66

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 11:17

Queuing up behind at the Ruapuna hairpin are : 31 Steve Dundon, 3 Trevor Discombe, E Phil Frank with Murray Sayle behind, 56 Gary Boote, 69 Paul McLachlan, S Sarsito Sa, T Sidarto Sa, and 5 Stu Avant. Note the pack has spread to avoid the dreaded cement dust from an oil-down...

#39 ccmUS

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 17:50

The fourth race Pat won in 1974 was at Loudon New Hampshire



Apparently the bike seized at the Atlanta Georgia race, so I guess it was a DNF.

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#40 ccmUS

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 22:40

Pat had at least two races at Sears Point Raceway, now called Infineon Raceway (in Sonoma County about 2 hours North of San Mateo, where he lived). There was a race in 1973 or 1974 where he crashed when the bike went out from under him because of standing oil. Sent him to the hospital with a couple of broken ribs I believe. He was only in hospital a short period of time, maybe overnight for observation. To my memory this crash was instrumental in changing how he viewed racing, not only the readiness of the bikes, but his own preparedness as well. I think he became more conscious of conditioning, health, adequate sleep and the affect that can have on your success. At this point racing wasn't just a hobby, it was his job and he took that very seriously.

#41 ccmUS

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 07:08

Cycle Guide Magazine September 1975. Story and photos by Sam Moses:


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#42 philippe7

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 08:46

Very good read, thanks a lot Claudia - and that sums it up well I think. And we get the answer about this second trip to Australia on the 750 Kawasaki - so that was around november, meaning the trip for Bathurst etc..... on the Len Perry Suzuki was the earlier one.

Good insight too about Rod Coleman's influence in recommending Pat to the Suzuki factory . I think Stu Avant wrote some time ago that the racing done in Asian countries ( Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore etc...) by top riders from New Zealand or Australia was very important to the Japanese, certainly more than us Europeans and Americans would have thought . Well it does look like this led to some privileged relations at the top of the factory management for people like Rod Coleman for instance.

#43 ccmUS

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 06:39

Very good read, thanks a lot Claudia - and that sums it up well I think. And we get the answer about this second trip to Australia on the 750 Kawasaki - so that was around november, meaning the trip for Bathurst etc..... on the Len Perry Suzuki was the earlier one.

Good insight too about Rod Coleman's influence in recommending Pat to the Suzuki factory . I think Stu Avant wrote some time ago that the racing done in Asian countries ( Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore etc...) by top riders from New Zealand or Australia was very important to the Japanese, certainly more than us Europeans and Americans would have thought . Well it does look like this led to some privileged relations at the top of the factory management for people like Rod Coleman for instance.


Not quite sure about the dates of the second race in Australia, but I'll let you know. Pat stayed with Gregg Hansford again; I had forgotten what close friends they were.

I recall Stu's comments about the importance of racing in Asia. From memory, Rod and Bob Coleman were the Suzuki distributors for New Zealand, as well as Pat's sponsors for several years, and I imagine Rod's recommendation carried a lot of weight in Japan.


#44 ccmUS

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 04:09

This is a May 1977 interview about Pat by Gordon Jennings from Cycle Magazine. This would have been before Pat left for Europe for the 1977 season, and he discusses both the 1975 and 1976 seasons. Lots of interesting information here.


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#45 ccmUS

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 04:12

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#46 ccmUS

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 04:14

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#47 philippe7

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 21:22

Waooow, what a bloody good read ! Thanks Claudia :up:

Great to get insight into what was happening behind the fences where we were spectating from, 35 (!) years ago . I was in the crowd at that French GP that Pat tells about as his first race on the RG . He had indeed just barely qualified, now we know why ! ..... and running on the useless japanese Dunlop tyres the bike was delivered with....insane ! :rolleyes:

That race was actually memorable, with all those privateers with their brand new 500 RG's , the whole glamour of the 500 category was coming back after many years of frustrating races with only a few competitive factory machines and a load of overbored 350 Yamaha twins to make up the field...


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#48 philippe7

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:54

I don't have a lot of material about Pat's 1975 season as a full member of the Suzuki USA team. But then, as confirmed in one of the interviews above, the US Road racing season was only a miserable three races that year.... season starting of course in Daytona, where Pat, in the absence of Gary Nixon who was still healing the injuries he had sustained in japan mid-1974 while testing the 500cc XR14 at the Ryo Suzuki test track, was teamed up with Dave Aldana and Hurley Wilvert. Pat did very well in qualifying, lining up 8th on the grid and second only on a Suzuki to factory rider Tepi Lansivuori. But apparently retired quite early since he doesn't appear in the final results.

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Pat is visible behind Lansivuori with #8, Agostini #4, Aldana #10, KR #1 hiding Randy Cleek, Steve Baker, Steve McLaughin and Warren Willing, then Burrito Romero #3, Pat Evans #51, Patrick Pons #97


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Edited by philippe7, 24 July 2013 - 03:51.


#49 philippe7

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:00

The second race was at Laguna Seca, for which I only have the incomplete press clipping below, which at least shows that Pat was well into the running.

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#50 philippe7

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:17

And the third and last race of the 1975 US season was at the Ontario Motor Speedway.

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Probably because of the exceptionally hot conditions, Pat was using a special minimal fairing leaving the engine area visible. Photo by forum member T54

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Pat leading from Pat Evans, Ken Roberts, Steve Baker, Takazumi Katayama , Gary Nixon, Don Castro, Hurley Wilvert, Yvon Duhamel, Steve McLaughin, Masahiro Wada , and Warren Willing

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Pat finished 3rd in the first leg, behind Kenny Roberts and Gary Nixon, but retired with engine trouble in the second leg.

Edited by philippe7, 19 February 2012 - 10:27.