At the fifty mile mark it seemed as though the first wild burst was over. The pace dropped a notch as riders began to take a beating from the track and began to realize that 200 miles was going to be a long trip over the route they had bargained to ride. If they really rode in a comfortable position they were so far out in the breeze that they overheated their mounts. To stay up in front it became necessary to fold up and get in out of the wind. About twenty-five miles of that, some of the boys discovered muscles in the back of the neck and around that hadn’t been there at the start. No doubt saddle corns and just a few blisters began to sprout and grow. Anyhow the pace settled to a steady grind and that grind seemed to be at a point between “forty-seven” and “forty-eight.”
At between fifty and seventy-five miles a couple of the leaders suddenly slackened and dove into the pits. On the whole there was confusion in the pits. The best organized were not getting visitors. They were regularly signaling time, tuning and such matters.
Finally came the half way mark-refueling time. Cordy had lost his lead through a pit stop. Arena had suffered a set-back by having a punctured back tire. Lindstrom was working very close with his pits and apparently riding on a definite time schedule. Jim Young was beginning to come forward, he too apparently riding on a time schedule which if followed would finish him slightly ahead of Lindstrom. Van DeMark was mushing forward but appeared to be tiring. Jack Milne was close enough to be in the running. But the best looking bet of the bunch was the rank beginner Sal Gotto. His machine sounded almost like a sewing machine it was so quiet. He was holding his own strength, seemed to have utter confidence in himself and was nursing his mount along in superb fashion.
Signals were seen to go back and forth between Gotto and his pit, but he continued on. The crowd always favors a beginner. It was being feared Gotto would run out of gas. Each time it seemed certain he must stop, he roared on past and into another lap, he roared on him a groan went up from the crowd. Sal had stopped on the back stretch. Some said the pits kept him out until he ran out of gas. His pits reported a carburetor leak. In any event that stop was the first of two or three in fairly quick succession and then Sal was too far behind to make up his loss. He did some more fine riding, his machine did some more fine running and he actually gained back a couple of laps. In his case 200 miles was too short. The race ended before he got back out in front.
As the end of the event began to come into sight it was plain that Jim Young was a strong leader. Barring trouble he looked like a winner. At that juncture coaching from various oldtimers began to take effect. Whereas at the beginning nobody was worrying about pace, later they all wanted to ride pace. In addition some of the boys who had broken down but made repairs went back out and started helping friends. The friends accordingly were pulled up a notch or two and some of the important positions began to change.
In Young’s pit were Dud Perkins and Bill Graves. They checked their watches and smiled. Bill Graves, that wizard of motorcycle mechanics, listened and smiled. Their boy was doing all right.
In a nearby pit Claude Salmon wrinkled his brow and set forward the pace of “Windy” Lindstrom and Cliff Self. Both pits just mentioned were Harley-Davidson.
From Hap Alzina’s Indian pit signals went out to Van DeMark. Van seemed unduly tired and signaled back about some trouble. Not far behind Jack Milne took unto himself the job of working out the signal given Van DeMark.