Petrali Wins Two National Championships

Three New Records At Syracuse

By E.c. Smith, Photography by Unknown

The same six, with Restall and Thomas added, started in the Five-Mile National Championship. Davis took the lead when the flag fell. Toscani and Balinski battled for position close behind. Out of the turn, Petrali came up and the four put on a dog-eat-dog contest that brought the spectators to their feet and kept them there through the entire race.

Through three laps they battled and in the backstretch Petrali moved in. It took everything his little Harley-Davidson had to hold the lead he gained as they came out of the turn, but he managed it and then he and Jim Davis put on a speed duel from which Joe emerged the winner.

Time for the five-mile was 3:40.58. Not fast enough to break the record for the distance, made on the banked track at Bakersfield, California, but fast enough for that flat track at Syracuse. The checkup showed that Joe Petrali was National Champion of the dirt tracks. He had enough points to put him over with the title even though he stayed out of the rest of the races. When the announcement was made that he had nailed the Championship, he was presented with the beautiful championship crash helmet, donated by A.J. Reach Company of Philadelphia. Few ovations to track heroes have been more sincere than the one Joe received. The champ was evidently superstitious, as he soon recovered his old crash hat for the finish of the events.

Added starters for the Ten-Mile National Championship were Hader and Gustafson. This event was almost a replica of the five-mile, with Davis, Petrali, Toscani and Balanski out in front, battling every inch of the way. Never more than five or six lengths separated them. It was a case of riding wide open or lose out. An over-slide, a little misjudgment on a turn, meant elimination. The finish was Petrali, Davis and Balinski and the time was 7:20.90, a new record, braking the one made in 1930 by Walt Stoddard, who negotiated the ten miles in 7:23.06.

The crowd was wild at this third straight win for Joe. They began to pull for a clean sweep. Old-timers began to dig up the dope sheets. There had been other clean sweeps- Freddie Ludlow made one in 1921; Johnny Seymour got his in 1926; Jim Davis made one in 1929. It looked like one of those same things for Joe Petrali in 1935.

Don Ackerman, popular secretary of the New York State Fair Commission and the man who has made it possible for motorcycle races to have such a wonderful spot on the program, came down the track and advised a little “breathing spell” before the races were resumed. He evidently thought too much high pressure all in one spot might cause cases of apoplexy in the stands. So the interim was capitalized on by the pit workers before the next event was started.

The Fifteen-Mile National Championship was one of the most astonishing speed scraps ever seen on an American track. There was evidently no thought of saving motors or nursing the jobs through. Toscani seemed to have tapped new speed from some source, and he battled even harder than before. Lap after lap he see-sawed around the course with Davis and Petrali, and a fast field right behind waiting for that chance that so often comes to field riders who are ready for it. Laps were turned in 43.90 and 44 seconds, flat. Joe was leading when they came out of the final turn and straightened out for the stretch. Jim was close behind and Toscani was nipping Davis’ rear wheel at every revolution. And so they crossed the line. Hillbish, that newcomer in fast competition, came through for fourth place.

Dirt Track Standing-1935

Racer Points
Joe Petrali 650
Louis Balinski 250
Jim Davis 130
Fred Toscani 100
J. L Gustafson 90
Griffin Kathcart 20
Andrew Hader 20
George Toth 20
Paul McClellan 20

By E.c. Smith
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