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Discussion Starter · #701 · (Edited)
Lemme' get this straight: Some guy has an off-the-hook, scary bike; has fans sign petition asking if it can run.

NHRA guy says no.

He pushes his bike out front to staging area, where fans can see it. When he's told to leave, he asks the crowd if they want to see the bike.

So the security guards pull guns, and assault him w/ clubs?

Sounds like there's a little more to the story here. If I was the track owner, I might not want to let him run (if the sanctioning body guy is there and says "no dice", the guy runs, and something happens... I sure as hell wouldn't expect the insurance company to bail me out!), but to have him physically attacked?

Was the dude just flat refusing to allow the racing to continue if he didn't get a run?

-Bill
I was not there but I believe he did not hold up racing but made a run on the rocket bike without a helmet or suit after being told he could not make a pass on it. I don't know if Larry had approval to build the bike or not but here is part of the reason why he was not allowed to make a pass after it was built.

In 1973 Dave Anderson made a pass in the Polution Packer Rocket car at 344 mph in the 1/4 (still not topped today). The record for T/F Dragsters at the time was in the 240s. On March 30th, 1974 Dave was killed at Charlotte after losing control after a 240 mph 1/8 mile pass. I was there the day before. Two others died too. The next year Russell Mendez was killed at the '75 NHRA Gatornationals. That was the last pass a rocket car made at a NHRA National. But before those two fatalities Jack McClure built a rocket powered GO KART. He was banned after turning over 240 mph. I watched him turn 220 at Rockingham. It is still one of the most amazing things I have seen. Believe it or not Jack is still alive and well. The picture below is Jack beating Tommy Ivo's AA/FD.

John Dixon built a Rocket Bike in 1980 or 81 and survived a 220 mph accident at a non santioned track I believe. Soon after the government made rocket fuel almost impossible to acquire. I believe there would have been many many more accidents if they hadn't.

Larry most likely would not be with us today if he had not been banned for life from racing because of that awesome Rocket Bike. I am still amazed he took on such a project that the Astronauts probably would not have touched with a ten foot pole.
 

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The track owners had originally given Larry permission to have the Rocket on display at starting line and was to be allowed to make one pass for the crowd . We ran his sportster while the crowd formed around the rocket all day. Later in the afternoon, NHRA gave the track owner a cease and desist if rocket bike ran, so he pulled plug on that idea. So all three of us walked up to the Rocket to put it away for the trip back to Hyattsville, when Larry sat on it, kicked the fuel valves open with his knees and did a tire smokin burn out with a 10 % water added to H2O2, it gave a strange eeary steam haze to the bike and the rest is history. At this point of the day, all fuel bikes were done running
 

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The track owners had originally given Larry permission to have the Rocket on display at starting line and was to be allowed to make one pass for the crowd . We ran his sportster while the crowd formed around the rocket all day. Later in the afternoon, NHRA gave the track owner a cease and desist if rocket bike ran, so he pulled plug on that idea. So all three of us walked up to the Rocket to put it away for the trip back to Hyattsville, when Larry sat on it, kicked the fuel valves open with his knees and did a tire smokin burn out with a 10 % water added to H2O2, it gave a strange eeary steam haze to the bike and the rest is history. At this point of the day, all fuel bikes were done running
Larry was a heck of a Drag Racer and one great Fuel Bike Rider, we had some great races together...He could make a day in the Pits something you never forgot, he was like a stick of dynamite walking around just waiting for someone to lite the fuse...

When I last seen Larry was at the 2006 Reunion in Bowling Green and he was a completely different person than back in "The Day"...A mild married man with a brand new little Baby, a born again Christian and a pleasure to talk too...

Is there a drive to the rear wheel to smoke the tire on a Rocket Bike...?
 

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As a fan of the rocket machinery, I have to say that the two rocket bikes that have run in Europe had a great safety record.
I think that has to be down to the procedures adopted by the teams in conjunction with the track operators.
From fuel handling, to start area safety checking and setting up for a run - all is done with meticulous care.
Difficult to comment on Larry, not being there, but a reckless disregard for himself and those around, would seem to be a reasonable assumption.
It may be amusing for some to watch, but when things go wrong it can have dire consequences for the sport.

The Pollution Packer crash killed two people who were still at the bottom of the track, and did not move their car out of the way when requested. Crazy.
If proper safety rules had been observed they would not have died in the crash.

Jack McClure I had the great pleasure of interviewing and watching race his little kart - just amazing.
He is now 84 and still living in Florida, and it was nice to be able to post an audio tape and pictures I recorded of him back in 1973 for him to see, and which really blew him away after all these years. I have included the link to my clip for those who would like to hear the kart in action.

I believe the pic of Jack in the turbonique kart against Tommy Ivo was a setup, as the engine had failed. Probably a good thing, as I believe some of the units exploded!

I did once have a rocket bike in my possession - but only for one night - when Henk Vink debuted his rocket bike at Blackbushe, he left it with me overnight on my driveway for safe keeping! The trailer was tiny - and nobody would have guessed that what was to be the worlds quickest bike of its day would be lurking inside.

The current quickest bike in the world is Frenchman Eric Tebouels low 5 second runner, which is a virtual copy of Vinks 1980s machine.
I think you will find he is far happier riding the arrow straight rocket than his top fuel bike!
 

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Joe, The tires would smoke from being dragged into speed as they fought to catch up to the rocket thrust.Rocky. I haven't seen Larry since 1980? when Sonny Routt sold the double to Australia and moved to Palm Springs to play tennis,
Also at this time there was a tremendous pressure from federal authorities in Hyattsville, MD
 

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Frank, that 's a staged photo. The engine on the kart broke before Ivo got to race it. Never one to miss a chance for some PR, TV Tom set the shot up to look as though the kart was out on him. Sorry to break the bubble, but I was at irwindale that day. That's how it was.
 

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Here's a picture when Larry Welch followed the rules, he could even cry a tear or two...

I never read this Article very closely but there's part of a Paragraph that I had seen written many times before and makes me believe the one writing didn't know what he was talking about or had favorites...

Is the glass half empty or half full...

"Joe Smith likes to beat people...Larry Welch likes to win, so does Boris Murray"...Here exists a large differents between winning and liking to beat people...

I don't see how you can Win without beating your competitor to the finish line...I think everyone that enters a race hopes to Win...and when you become the one that everyone else is trying to BEAT, wining is even that much more diffucult...
 

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Discussion Starter · #710 ·
Frank, that 's a staged photo. The engine on the kart broke before Ivo got to race it. Never one to miss a chance for some PR, TV Tom set the shot up to look as though the kart was out on him. Sorry to break the bubble, but I was at irwindale that day. That's how it was.
Thanks Dean,

I have seen that picture in many publications but none that I read said it was staged. You were there so you know it was. You were right Keith. The ironic part is if McClure had not broke the "real" run would probably been identical. The thrust motivated kart would have been out on the spinning dragster.
 

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Joe, I too was rather bemused about the comment saying you were out to beat people.
Struck me as a bit of journalistic talk to somehow differentiate you from the other riders, but it does not really make any sense.
I would imagine for most riders there is an increased satisfaction in beating the rider who you figure is your toughest opponent. Everone wants to be a winner, but some races have to be that little bit special - don't they??
 

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Joe, I too was rather bemused about the comment saying you were out to beat people.
Struck me as a bit of journalistic talk to somehow differentiate you from the other riders, but it does not really make any sense.
I would imagine for most riders there is an increased satisfaction in beating the rider who you figure is your toughest opponent. Everone wants to be a winner, but some races have to be that little bit special - don't they??[/QUOTE]

Keith,

It's a long Story...
 

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Joe, I too was rather bemused about the comment saying you were out to beat people.
Struck me as a bit of journalistic talk to somehow differentiate you from the other riders, but it does not really make any sense.
I would imagine for most riders there is an increased satisfaction in beating the rider who you figure is your toughest opponent. Everone wants to be a winner, but some races have to be that little bit special - don't they??[/QUOTE]

Keith,

It's a long Story...
OK Joe - I'm all ears.
I love a long story....Just give me time to grab a beer.
:D
 

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Hmmm, trying to get me to let off some old Drag Race Steam are ya...OK, ask me something you think I can answer eh???
OK Joe, do you think you were a target, and maybe treated differently by other racers because you were sponsored by the Harley factory?

As a follow up, did the rivalry with Russ get personal?

Too many beers - going to hit the sack now, and look forward to your thoughts.
 

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OK Joe, do you think you were a target, and maybe treated differently by other racers because you were sponsored by the Harley factory?

My Drag Racing was a little different than most, I chose it to make a living, was determine to succeed and with help from my wife and kids it became possible. Because Laidlaw's Harley Davidson Dealership was Sponsoring me locally and they were number one dealer in the States it gave me a lot of pull with the Harley Davidson Motor Co. through Bob Laidlaw.

Luckly with help from Bob Laidlaw and monies promised from Match Races, a Race Itinerary with Boris Murray across the USA in 1970 and I was able to go on Tour.

After the First Eight Second run at the Gas & Fuel Championships in Formosa CA in March of 1971, I was ask by the NHRA if I would like to make Exhibitions at all the their NHRA National Events to introduce Fuel Motorcycles to NHRA Fans that had never seen a Fuel burning Bike. Of course Money for that had to be raise so I put together two Proposals in hard cover, one using the NHRA and needed Info about what races I would attend, plus a lot of clippings on myself from past racing , the amount of Spectators according to NHRA expected for each NHRA Event, a Itinerary of races to fill in between the Exhibitions, etc. to send to Harley.

At the same time I put together a Proposal using Harley with some added ideals of what to expect from them, a Itinerary of races to fill in between the Exhibitions, the race clipping etc, and send both at the same time by Mail.

I was lucky I got Contracts from both...

Along with this came a lot of Personal Appearance, Radio and TV interviews for both the NHRA and Harley Davidson.

In between all this work I signed on to do were the All Bike Events I attended, a few Match races through a booking Company add in all the TV I did for different All Bike races to advertise the weekend race and we were a busy Drag Racing Family.

With some of the racers, I was known as "NHRA's Baby Boy", I spent as much or more of my money and did without as much as anybody to get there. It took from 1955 to 1971 to make my mark.

Do you think I was a Target?
 

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Not really sure about that Joe, but I did wonder when I got this picture of you.:D

View attachment 60447
I really knew from the beginning you were one of those good old boys...Hmm, didn't you tell me you took that picture...

That's OK, I've outgrown it, past history, only hurts couple times a day now...the bait was pretty good though...
 

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Couldn't resist altering the picture Joe. Thought you might like it.
And yes it was my original shot - the photo I mean - not the arrows!
Still interested in hearing how combative you and Russ really were. I have enjoyed hearing odd snippets about the mind games that were played.
 

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As a follow up, did the rivalry with Russ get personal?

All Races with the Big Guys got Personal, talking about Beating someone, those guys were out to beat me, not just win...My job was trying not to get beat...

Russ and I had a Friendship in the pits, it was we hardly ever talked to each other and when we did it was as one Competitor to the other...Russ had his special following, they were like a Secret Society and I wasn't one of them...Only a few Harley guys were...

You'll find some stuff about Russ and me on the following page in my Forum...

http://www.phpbbplanet.com/granddad...postorder=asc&start=30&mforum=granddaddyjoesm
 
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