Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Complete Grand National Championship Volume I: 1954-1969

Greg Pearson's book titled; "The Complete Grand National Championship Volume I: 1954-1969" covers 237 Grand National Championship events run from 1954 through 1969. Eleven short tracks, forty-four TTs, seventy-six half miles, forty-five miles, and sixty-one road races and plenty of pictures.

More info:

Anyone who has an interest in the formative years of the Grand National Championship would be well-served by purchasing this book from Greg Pearson. All 237 Grand National Championship events run from 1954 through 1969 - eleven short tracks, forty-four TTs, seventy-six half miles, forty-five miles, and sixty-one road races - are reviewed in rich detail throughout this 637-page masterpiece. Greg provides intimate details from pre-event behind-the-scenes plot twists all the way through to post-race "extras". Each main event is covered in sufficient detail to keep race fans on the edge of their seats, yet are brief enough to permit skimming by those less inclined.

As a self-proclaimed historian of the sport, I personally enjoyed the thorough main event finish order, down to rider numbers, hometowns, and motorcycles ridden, not to mention the names of such long-lost facilities as Laconia, Windber, and Lincoln.

I personally find the book a treasure trove of details and information. Greg writes the book in a "coffee table" format - each event serves as its own self-contained storyline, with sufficient pre- and post-event information to fill in the gaps without boring the casual reader. He delves into some of the technical evolution of equipment over the years, but not so much as to become tedious. To read about how several riders lost the Grand National Championship through so many differnet ways is heartbreaking, but much more fulfilling to read than merely glancing at the final point standings. To wit: all junior historians know that George Roeder lost the 1963 Grand National Championship to Dick Mann by a single, gut-wrenching point, 114-113. Records also show that Roeder won the final event of the year, the mile event at Sacramento, which would lead some to conclude - as I have for 30 years - that Roeder did everything he could but came up one point short. Not quite. Mann and Roeder traded wins & DNFs over the last 3 events of that season, and Mann actually clinched the championship at the penultimate round by winning the Ascot TT. As such, Roeder knew going into Sacramento that the title was decided. Virtually each and every season is filled with similar "if only" situations that ruined some men but elevated others to champions.

Seventy-three pages of photographs, from the Mahony Archives as well as many racers/tuners' personal collections, round out this fabulous book. Rest assured that this is not an amateur effort - Greg Pearson is a lifelong motorcycle racing enthusiast who holds a BA degree in History from Marshall University and has written several articles that have appeared in Vintage News and Flat Track Illustrated. Not only that, but his acknowledgments section of the book tips his cap to some of most reknowned historians of the sport as well as many of the men (or their wives) who actually made that history happen on the racetrack.

But don't just take my word for it:

•Dick Mann, 1963 & 1971 AMA Grand National Champion: "The very best I have ever seen on the subject."
•Gary Nixon, 1967 & 1968 AMA Grand National Champion: "All racers and fans from that era should have the book."
•Ronnie Rall, winner of five Grand National events from 1963-1969: "Boy, what a great book!"
•Wayne Hosaka, former AMA Pro Racer and CEO of Fantastic book! I have hours of reading enjoyment in store!"
•Digger Phelps, former Pro Racer and dirt track enthusiast: OMG! This book is the size of my local phone book! Tons of history here...a ton of information, and a ton of work."
•Darrell Bauer: "Greg, TWO THUMBS UP. I read it cover to cover last is hard to put down! You did an excellent job and the photographs put it over the top. I encourage everyone who is interested in the history of our sport to get a copy. I thought your choices of pictures covered a terrific spectrum of riders at that time - not just the many-time National winners."
•Charley Garret: "One hell of a great book!"
•B. Goode: "This book is a must-have for dirt track fans, trivia fans, people interested in the history of the sport. If you have a good friend who digs dirt track, buy this for Christmas."
•Charlie West, Jr.: "An awesome read! Thanks for keeping that history alive! I am sure my dad, Charlie West, would have enjoyed reading it!"