1980 GNC Class C Number 1 Plate

Competitors Hank Scott and Randy Goss lead AMA for the 1980 Class C Grand National Championship.

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Dain Gingerelli Collection
Harley team rider Randy Goss won the 1980 AMA Grand National Championship.

A little trivia about AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) Class C racing: Prior to America’s entry into World War II, Class C flat track National Champions were decided during a single meet held annually at the Springfield Mile. After World War II came to its just conclusion in 1945, the AMA promptly resumed its racing, and national champions once again were crowned at the fabled Illinois race.

Then in 1954 came change, a rare commodity within the AMA rank and file during those years. The change included instituting a multi-race season-long championship series, called the Grand National Championship. Springfield Mile winners would no longer be crowned champion for the year. Instead, the AMA’s coveted Number One Plate would be awarded based on a points system; the Class C rider scoring the most points during the course of the protracted 18-race series became champion. The first-season winner was Joe Leonard, who notched eight wins. By chance he won the Springfield Mile anyway, silencing naysayers who felt that regardless of who scored the most points, a racer wasn’t champion if he didn’t bag Springfield.

Leonard won two more GNC titles (1956-1957), but in 1958, he lost by a single point to Carroll Resweber in a 10-race season. Resweber won the following three years, too, while Leonard settled into his second professional career as a successful race car driver.

A career-ending injury in 1962 halted Resweber’s rampage, enabling Michigan’s “Black” Bart Markel to score his first GNC title that year. Next came the thriller of 1963 when Dick Mann edged George Roeder by a single point in their 14-race tussle. Then things went relatively quiet as successive GNC championships were decided before the final race of each year, the tightest bout being 1968 when Freddie Nix fell nine points short to Gary Nixon, 613 to 622.

black and white of racer on motorbike
  • Updated on Oct 9, 2021
  • Originally Published on Sep 29, 2021
Tagged with: GNC, vintage motocross
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