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1973 Penton
100 Berkshire

We knew that Larry Perkins was providing something special but this was really over the top. To the Penton family this bike is the sacred cow. This is the last bike to win a National moto cross title. Attached is Larry's account of this factory Penton racing its heart out against a sleeved down YZ in the Astro Dome to win the Grand National title in 1974. Its funny how some bikes spark a flame in peoples hearts. To the Penton gang this bike is truly special and we at Pelican Guano feel the same way about it. Wow a real factory race bike from the Penton gang that won a National title. When you go over the bike you see how special it really is, From the specially tuned Konis to the blue moulding applied to the fins to reduce vibration, to the blacked out 30MM Mikuni it is an amazing machine. Yes we had to give it a run and it is as fast or faster than most of our race ready 125s. The bike is just like it was the day after the title race. The rims are bent and have flat spots and are rusted. the bike has been nicely cleaned but not really well. We've done our best to clean it up but keep it as it was that evening in 1974. Thank you Larry and thank you for the story and pictures.

1973 Penton 100 Berkshire
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1973 Penton 100 Berkshire 1973 Penton 100 Berkshire 1973 Penton 100 Berkshire 1973 Penton 100 Berkshire 1973 Penton 100 Berkshire 1973 Penton 100 Berkshire
The story

There is this mysterious fictional book that they put the names of Champions in. When the name is entered it is written in stone rarely to be removed. Once in a blue moon it is taken out like if you hold up a sign that says. 'Let Broc By' but that is a different story. I remember when my name was put in 'The Book'. It is still fairly vivid in my mind even after 30 plus years. It was late fall I think. One of those dreary almost winter Texas days. It would not have been a great day to race a dirtbike except it was in the Astrodome and it was the GNC Final. The Grand National Championship was the closest thing to a National Amatuer Championship as there was in that day. It really was more like being Dirtbike King of Texas.

I was entered in the 100cc Schoolboy class on a 100cc Penton Berkshire that was special built by Odessa Sales and Rentals a place I worked and raced for. It was a bike designed by American John Penton and built by KTM in Austria. It was highly modified with specs from Penton Central in Amarillo. The European small bore motocross bike was in its closing days with the introduction of the YZ Yamaha and the Honda Elsinore. In the 100cc class however, the Japanese offerings were still modified trailbikes. However, at this level of race there were 125's that were sleeved down to 100cc leaving the Berkshire heavy and underpowered like its 125 big brother. My Berkshire was FAST though. VERY FAST. The Carl Cranke porting specs had proven in a magazine test to be the highest horsepower 100 on a dyno. But it was still heavy compared to the Japanese offerings. It was my mount though and I had won on it in Qualifiers leading up to the Dome and I hoped to win on it there.

I have always been a great starter. Partly from good timing and partly from learning some key to cheat the start or starter. In the first moto I holeshotted to the front but was quickly dogged by a small bore Yamaha. There was one long straightaway one turn from the finish and on the first lap the little Yamaha blew by me there. For a bit I stayed within striking distance but each time we came to that stretch the lighter-faster Yamaha with the better youngman aboard pulled farther away. By the last lap he was in sight but no longer in striking distance.

Being the eternal optimist I was not bummed at finishing second in the first moto because I knew if I could win the second I would win first overall. My positive mind was sure if I got an even better start somehow I could win. There was no physics to back this up just faith. I drew a better start position in the second moto and the lighter faster Yamaha with the better young man aboard drew the outside which played to my advantage.

I rocketed to the front at the start and the Yamaha was back in traffic though at the time I did not know what was going on behind me. I just kept looking forward and seeing clear track. The Yamaha made quick work of the bikes in its wayand by the second lap I was feeling the breath of the little Yamaha on my back. Then right at the end of lap three on the long straight the Yammie went by.

I began to lose hope when at the end of four he was almost out of reach. As we went down the long straight on the final lap with only a corner and a short straight to the finish left I knew in my heart the lighter-faster Yamaha with the better rider was going to win. He was half a straight ahead as he went into the final corner and I no longer had my gaze fixed on him up ahead. I was looking more directly in front of me and thinking that second in such a big race was excellent and that there would be other years and other Championships. Then above the scream of my noisy two-stroke motor I heard a strange sound from the crowd. I can not really describe it but it was loud enough to catch my attention and I riveted my eyes farther up ahead again. To my amazement the little Yamaha and its rider were on the ground in the final corner. I was told later he went just a hair fast into the corner and washed out the front wheel.

It was forever in my mind as I closed the gap between him and myself. I rocked towards the corner and all along he scrambled up, hopped onto his bike, and stabbed at the kickstarter. His bike fired and started on the second kick but somewhere between then and the fraction of a second it took for him to let the clutch out I went by him on the outside. It was only a short distance from the last corner to the finishline and the checkered flag. It was like zooming in a camera-zip-zip-zip and I was there.

I had no idea what kind of feeling such an alternate ending would bring but to say the least I was pumped. I also remember feeling lucky too and over the years realized the best rider had not won but that the best rider had just made the last mistake and I had been handed a Championship. I remember that day my Grandfather saying, 'Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then'. None-the -less it was my moment and they put my name in 'The Book'. I remember thinking, 'This will happen again. I will win many Championships in my career racing'.

It did not happen again. Not in the Astrodome, not in the GNC, not in the AMA as a pro. I won Sate titles but no National ones. I spent a good portion of a lifetime chasing a dream that again and again was thwarted by faster young men and eventually faster men on better machines. I let go of the dream and eventually moved on to bicycle racing where I won a World Championship and a National Championship. They too were important Championships that I won and were not handed to me but my heart remained with the motorcycle and my far away dream.

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