Then came another surprise. A fellow stepped out from behind the billboard which served as a dressing room. He was dressed in leathers such as are not seen in this present day. They fitted him like a glove. There wasn’t even a button to catch in the breeze. It was Ludlow, and he walked over to the machine which Red Fenwick had just warmed up. And all up and down the line hands were seen snapping and testing stop watches. Freddie turned 50 laps altogether and approximately 25 of them he turned in “forty-four two.”
So much for a veteran, now for an out and out beginner. Sal Gotto had never been on a race track before. The first couple of times around he was admittedly scared half to death. But as the laps piled up he began to get pace on the Clymers and Ludlows and his expression of surprise gave way to one of pure joy. Sal was going to be in the race on Sunday and was he going to have fun! Finally came the time when he was going to take one more lap and then go into the pits. He was storming into the first turn with a field of about three riders close on his tail when his rear wheel was seen to part company with the machine and start off on a tour of its own, up around the railing. All eyes were riveted on Gotto. Would he be able, the first time out to ride the thing down Ha, would he? Sal earned a good hand by sticking right with that baby until he had broadsided over fifty feet on the frame and gradually came to rest fiat down, without a scratch.
While no general agreement seemed to be reached during the testing as to what the winning time would be, it was the opinion of most of the wise heads that head work was going to be an important consideration on Sunday. There would be somewhere in all that infield set-up a combination of good rider, good machine and good pit work which would win the race. It might be either make of machine and it might be almost any pit.
A chill drifting in off the ocean and a hint from lengthening shadows soon cleared the speedway of the last hanger on. Riders went home to sleep and mechanics went back to their shops to tinker and to tune.
Sunday broke a clear warm day. In fact it was only in the early morning hours that the day could be spoken of as warm. Thereafter it was just plain hot. More than one dopester stuck his finger in his mouth and held it out the window only to bring back the finger and shake his head. “Yep, those motors are going to burn up.” Fifty will take it, if anyone is smart enough to hold her down that long.”
The newspapers of Oakland had heralded the event and many of the competitors. Many of the residents of Oakland had developed an interest- not only in riders but also in machines. In a restaurant to order ham and eggs was to get in return a vacant stare from the big blonde and-”Oh are you another motorcycle man? Well, put your money on a Harley-Davidson, big boy. Put it on Harley-Davidson. I know!”
In a beer parlor the bar tender ignored your order for suds, while with watery eyes fixed in what was a sloppy imitation of a hypnotic stare he said, “I don’t know who you are, and I don’t care. But, Indian is going to win. They’ve got to win. If you are riding one of those machines next door, take my advice. Hold’er stiddy.” The fact that he was talking to a one time national champion mattered not one whit. Draining another mug, and wiping his mouth on his apron he sauntered off toward the rear, pausing only long enough to mutter a final, “Yessirrr’. An Indian and hold’er stiddy.”