Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty-Five Years Ago – When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men

03/13/2011 @ 8:16 pm, by Victoria Reid5 COMMENTS

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men roberts2 635x488

Though it no longer quite stands as the international judge of motorcycle road racing that it once was, the Daytona 200 is still one of the last races where motorcycles require the spectacle of refueling and tire changes. Recent years have been marked by attempts at night racing and growing pains as DMG took over running the event and the AMA Pro Racing series. While many long for “the good ol’days,” these photographs from 35 years ago, at the 1976 Daytona 200, give one a sense of what once was, and might be again.


For those that aren’t familiar, Alberto “Johnny” Cecotto, then the reigning 350cc World Champion, was back in Daytona after a career-making 1975 season. The year before, he started from the last position, after his non-factory Yamaha would not start on the grid. He raced from last to third in 1975, his rookie Daytona year. As the year progressed, racing only got better for the young Venezuelan as he held off Giacomo Agostini for the World Championship.

In the 1976 Daytona 200, he raced on a Venezuelan factory machine, and though Cenotto would have multiple crashes as the Championship switched to 500cc machines, he managed third in the 1978 before making the move to car racing, which included a stint in Formula 1. In 1984 he was teammate to Ayrton Senna, but now Cenatto focuses on his son’s car racing career.

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men book on bike1 635x952

Qualifying and practices required actual stopwatches and pretty girls (not seen here) to keep track of lap times and write them down for teams to later analyze.

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men 200start1976 635x423

Kenny Roberts, Sr. started on pole, with Cecotto fourth. There was no staggered gridding, and a proper standing start, not a rolling start as has occurred in recent years.

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men Johnny Cecotto Venemoto Yamaha winner with Victor French 635x841

Before qualifying, Cecotto waits while Victor French, later a European Champion spark plugs distributor, ironically changes spark plugs on the factory Yamaha.

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men cecotto51976 635x423

Cecotto spent much of the race holding off Roberts, as the Venezuelan factory team tuned their Yamaha a bit differently than the American factory team. Cecotto was a bit slower, but able to make the race distance, whereas Roberts could not.

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men robertscurruthers1976 635x423

It was a truly international race, with various foreign visitors foregoing pants while checking out a conversation between Roberts and Kel Carruthers.

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men bsheene1976 635x434

Other notable riders included a pensive Barry Sheene, coolly withstanding the scrutiny of Pat Hennen, Sheene Senior, and Team Manager Mervin Wright while wearing his lucky Gary Nixon t-shirt.

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men B Sheene rolls 1976 635x423

Sheene made sure he drove Daytona in style, complete with his own name on the car.

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men b sheene 635x428

“How many times have I told you to lay off my women and liquor?”

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men Erv Kanemoto Gary Nixon 635x498

Erv Kanemoto was in the midst of his famous and fast partnership with Gary Nixon.

Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty Five Years Ago   When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men Cycle mag Old Blue Ducati 635x809

Also racing in 1976 was the Cycle magazine Ducati, called “Ol’ Blue.”

Photos: © 2011 Albert Reid – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. Phil Cee says:

    Wonderful stuff, especially the Sheene-mobile!

  2. Rex Karz says:

    That isn’t Tom Heron the team owner, but rather Mervin Wright, Team Manager. The first person on the scene when Barry had his big get off on the banks.

  3. RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Photos: The Daytona 200 Thirty-Six Years Ago – When Bikes Were Bikes & Men Were Men – http://aspha.lt/cz #motorcycle

  4. Thanks for catching that mistake, Rex! The photographer’s memory (aka my father’s memory) isn’t quite what it used to be ;-)