Former racer Dave Ijams phoned me the other day and told me a story of what he says is the best motorcycle racing quote ever.
“Novices quaked at the thought that one day, if they became good enough, they’d have to race the mile,” he began. “The mile was big stuff, almost of religious significance. Everybody knew it took four years before you got good enough—if you were ever going to—to win on the mile.
“But here came Freddy Nix, out of nowhere, and he was winning mile races right and left in his second year! And that meant before long, Harley-Davidson’s Dick O’Brien was giving Nix things to make his KR even faster.
“Everybody knew that O’Brien had his eye on you. If you found something and didn’t immediately share it with him, you’d regret it. O’B would excommunicate you, and when you desperately needed parts, they’d be awful slow coming. Mert Lawwill tried to keep something to himself, and O’B made him regret it. And in those days, Mert and Ax [tuner C.R. Axtell] were coming up with about half the good stuff there was.
“Everyone was saying Freddy got all these secrets. Neil Keen got tired of hearing it and wryly observed, ‘Okay, everybody’s saying Freddy gets this and Freddy gets that. But what Freddy gets is on the gas.’”
Dave Ijams hosts the web forum, “Gearhead Garage,” at www.littleredhenenterprises.com.