While Cook reminisced on the glory days and shared his triumphs in the 70’s, he also shared his memoir of American Flat Track racing back in the day. His story began with the explanation of the legendary Match Race series and went something like this:
“The Match Race series, which is a bunch of American riders that go to England and race against the British riders. It was a big deal back in the 70s. So the American riders showed up and all of these guys were dirt track racers. They were all dirt track racers.”
Followed by a quick interjection that he did not race dirt track but continued to share his account about a group of familiar American racers who competed in the Match Race series …
“So it’s raining and the American riders were reluctant to get out there on this rainy race track because a lot of them hadn’t raced that much on pavement to begin with, and they sure as hell hadn’t raced in the rain. So (David) Aldana goes out, and he buzzes around this race track and comes back and he says to the guys:
‘Look, this is easy! It’s just like riding dirt. The thing’s going to be skidding around just like you’re used to them skidding around – Just go out there and have a good time, it’s easy!’
And they all said, ‘Oh, okay!’”
No big deal, right? That’s what made these guys great. They knew how to adjust and that’s exactly what they did.
“Like I said, all of those guys were dirt track racers. What’s fascinating to me, really, is there was a time in MotoGP racing in Europe, when Americans won every single race for a period of almost three years.”
I had to ask the obvious question: Why do you think that is?
“Obviously Kenny Roberts had a lot to do with it but the kind of background that these guys had was dirt track racing. And Kenny never steered the motorcycle with the front wheel, even on pavement. He steered it with the back end and all of those guys did the same thing.”
Techniques that the Flat Track community can relate to.
“And you’ve got these motorcycles in Europe back then, they were 500cc two-strokes, for all intents and purposes they were basically un-ridable because they made a million horsepower, the frames were all flexies and they were really hard to ride. Compared to today’s MotoGP bikes, those things were just hellacious. And the American guys figured:
‘Shit, the thing is just sliding around and I’m used to that!’
But the number of consecutive races won in Europe by Americans because of the way they had learned to ride on American dirt made a huge difference.”
And it did. This form of racing is raw. It’s pure. It’s grassroots. Cook continued to brag on his friends, who we consider idols of the sport today …