Marty Moates does Good at Carlsbad

Look back on Marty Moates and the United States round of the 500cc motocross Grand Prix World Championship.

| July/August 2020

 motorcycles
In the closing laps, Marty Moates lofts his production-based Yamaha YS465G over one of Carlsbad Raceway’s hard-packed jumps. Photo from the Dain Gingerelli Collection 

By 1980 American motocross fans had grown accustomed to predicting who wouldn’t win the United States round of the 500cc motocross Grand Prix World Championship. An American wouldn’t win — it had been that way since the USGP first called Carlsbad Raceway home in the early 1970s, so why should 1980 be any different? After all, and despite European riders detesting Carlsbad’s hard-packed track that twisted and turned itself over the arid hillsides several miles inland of Southern California’s scenic coast, those international racers willingly cashed in on the championship points over their American counterparts.

But that changed June 22, 1980, and if you were watching the race on ABC Television’s Wide World of Sports you might have sensed that this year might be different. During ABC’s lead-in to the race, an overview of the course appeared on TV screens across America revealing a serpentine track layout resembling a person’s tight-clinched fist. And a solitary hairpin turn at the far end of the course stuck out like, well, a sore thumb, and to mix metaphors it resembled the hand’s middle digit defiantly projecting the international sign of displeasure, offering this subliminal message to the world: “Take this, wretched invaders — today an American is going to win!”

And most race fans agreed that American was “Bad” Brad Lackey, who, for six years, had been chasing the 500cc championship. And for 1980 he and his Kawasaki were in the thick of things by the time the USGP came to town; Lackey and Belgian rider Andre Malherbe were locked in a bitter dual for the world title.



No official spectator attendance figure was announced, but ABC’s television commentator Jim Lampley pegged the number at about 35,000. While most of those MX fans were there to root for Lackey, some showed strong support for a few other hometown heroes including Danny LaPorte, Rex Staten, Chuck Sun and Goat Breker.

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Photo from the Dain Gingerelli Collection 

richard langley
7/3/2020 2:06:25 AM

Hello Riders, I was there for that 500cc Grand Prix event and the celebration when well into the night. Calsbad International Raceway was a multi dimension racing venue. It also hosted the ABC Wide World Of Sports "Superbiker's races. Lots of races at Carlsbad can be seen on Youtube. It closed in 2004 and is now an Industrial park.:-( Few people know that the Calsbad Drag Strip next to the Motorcross course,was also laid out as a 1.1 mi English Style "Scratcher" Course. Not to "steal the thread"; I road raced it (my first ever road races) in 1976 (going clockwise) on my Kawasaki H1 500 (running out of gas in my first race/I filled it up at the started of the day, Honest!, and crashing my brains out on the uphill lip that crossed the middle of the pits in my 2nd race/Got behind in my talent). In 1980 (going Counter clockwise), on my 1972 H2 750, I got revenge on that "Scratcher" course with 2 Podiums (beat only by Witney Blaksley and Lee Fleming of Champion Kawasaki, on New KZ750's). And in a field of at least a dozen 750's, New and old, I beat x2 Norton Commando's on their own "turf". Great fun. For those who don't know, Dain Gingerelli was, and probably still is, a Demon on a motorcycle and tore up the road racing tracks all around California in those days. As per "Supermouth" Larry Huffman; "Gingerelli Wins "Again"!!! You all stay safe and healthy. Cheers Boots Langley La Mesa, Ca.




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