Number Cruncher: #971Wednesday, September 13, 2006 | 12:01 PM
Welcome to the Shift Number Cruncher. Our memories work in mysterious ways. Don’t you find it amazing how something that really has no apparent connection to a given memory somehow takes you back? As I was going through the archives last week I ran across a picture of a rider with number 971 and froze for a moment. It wasn’t who the rider was or what race he was racing in that captivated me, rather it was simply the number itself: Nine-seven-one.
The sight of #971 triggered the year 1989 in my racing memory, which remains as the greatest year I experienced racing motocross, as it was the year that I earned my first and only Loretta Lynn’s AMA National Championship. Not only was ‘89 an incredible year for me, it was also one of the most pivotal years in motocross history. That year Ricky Johnson began the AMA Supercross Series with five straight main event victories before suffering a broken arm at Gatorback after tangling with Danny Storbeck in practice. That same day, Jean-Michel Bayle won the Gatroback National on the #111 Honda, but Larry Ward—a Honda support rider—very nearly won the 125 National that day. (More on that later.) As a result of RJ’s injury, the Jeff Stanton era began to take shape.
Ah, but before I get too far off the beaten path, I have to reiterate that the reason for the synapses firing off in my brain about this great year manifested from the simple sight of the great number 971. Therefore, I dug a little deeper into the number and discovered a few guys that ran the tall number in their careers, which I believe you will find interesting. Maybe reading about these guys will trigger some great memories for you, or at the very least provide an entertaining twenty minutes or so to your Wednesday.
Special thanks to Steve “TFS” Bruhn for this beautiful shot of Chiodi on his Skittles sponsored YZ125.
Ah, but its rider number 971 that has the spotlight for this week’s column! The tall rider from Everett, Washington would put in some good rides, but it would be 1989 when “Big Bird” would nail down his first win, at the Southwick National, running the 971 on a factory-support Honda.
• After the race Larry was ecstatic and said: “Finally, I can’t wait until my mom hears about this one. She’s not here, and boy, did she miss out. Normally she comes to the races, but this time she couldn’t get away from home.”
• By the way, LW’s win remains in the record books as the AMA National win that came with the highest digit in U.S. MX history: 971
I actually raced Davey at the Denver supercross in 1996, the year this picture was taken. He beat me in the LCQ!
Today, Davey heads up Asterisk and is still very involved in the sport. He is one of the main organizers and participants in the Surfercross events and can still turn in some very fast laps on the track (especially the one in his dad’s backyard up near Santa Barbara!).
So, that just about does it for this week’s edition of the Shift Number Cruncher. And I want to make sure you guys are taking time to click on the banner atop this page and check out Shiftmx.com. Those guys are charging their way back to the front, and their new stuff is looking sick as always. Stay tuned for a very special edition next week. I believe it to be one all of you should look 4ward to.
And remember, if you know of any other notable #971s, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected].
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