A Tragic Day at the Streets of Willow
Denise Howard wrote:
One of my favorite racing memories from this year happened at Street of Willow, the small track right next to the big track down there. It was September and temps were in the 90s. As one of the afternoon race was about to start, the racers were all gridded and the 3 board was up. Just then everyone noticed a big dust devil coming through from the big track. All activity stopped as the flaggers braced themselves and the racers all hunkered down on their bikes with their heads down. The dust devil went right through the grid, sandblasting and buffeting everyone. Flags and papers flew, and then it was gone as quickly as it had arrived. After a few moments’ pause to gather papers, flags and wits, the 2 board went up and a few moments later the race began, as if nothing had happened.
Oh, I recall the day, and a sad day it was indeed. What’s usually not told in this story is what happened to the Spagthorpe team. They were riding the then-new Chihuahuas—the ones with the 1800cc variant of the BMW oilhead twin, built exclusively for Spagthorpe. Because of their amazingly light frame made of tubular titanium rods, the bikes were exceptionally light. Since the Spagthorpe racing team was selected for light weight as well as for riding skill, these bikes with rider weighed about as much as any other bike alone. So when the dust devil whirled through the pack of racers on that hot September day, it wreaked serious havoc on the Spagthorpe racing team. The superlight aluminum-foil fairings on two of the bikes were destroyed, and, most tragically, three of the bikes were flooded from the tipovers. And so ended another disappointing racing season for the legendary marque.
—Wendell Gunderson-Ogelthorpe, Spagthorpe Technical Liaison