Campanale Two Time Winner At Daytona

Simmons and Sherrill take First and Second in 100-mile Novice

By Dudley Perkins

From the February 1939 issue of Motorcyclist Magazine

Eddy and Anderson get Second and Third in 200- mile.

Rider fans, dealers and contestants started putting in their appearance at Daytona Beach, Florida, this year as early as the Thursday before the race. Probably no other recent road race at that location enjoyed such thorough preparation as did the 1939 event.

Ed Kretz won the 200-mile event in 1937 and Ben Campanale won it in 1938. Both had been extremely hard riders. Both had put in some earnest practice before the events they won. So, in 1939 it seemed that every contestant, whether entered in the 100-mile novice or the 200-mile expert race, hoped through preliminary trials and practice riding to put himself in a position to win.

The course at Daytona is not an easy one. There are enough turns to call for skill of riding at the speeds necessary to win. Surfaces vary, and while the course was in good condition it was also tricky.

Sand is always a hazard, not only from the angle of riding but from the standpoint of mechanics. Air cleaning must be pretty good to prevent the little abrasive grains from entering the motor and cutting the heart out of rings, pistons and cylinders. It attacks chains and thus oiling must be efficient else again the links, tortured by the sand, will heat and grind out.

Straightaway speeds are high on the beach. The corners call for shifting. Gear ratios need more than a little study. A rider must have plenty of power in the long straight grind and he must be able to drop quickly into second and negotiate something of a power slide in sections of the turns.

More than one rider arrived on the scene fully satisfied that he had the combination, only to end up after some practice spins feeling that he must be all wrong. It was up to him to discover the answers, or find someone who would give them to him. Several changes were made on the nights before the respective events that worked out to spell success or higher degrees of success, where without the changes defeat could have been the only answer.

This year’s program of two races worked out well. There were 75 riders entered for the 100-mile event and 55 riders for the 200-mile event. That many could not have safely started in one race, nor could they have been checked. The checking system used was the same as that used at Langhorne, Penna., and at Laconia, N.H. Every five laps the leaders were announced and the winner was known immediately at the finish of the race. This seemed to be quite a feature with the crowd which was a large and very enthusiastic one.

In both events riders were placed in rows of ten riders each, after having drawn for position. The rows were started five seconds apart, which meant very little disadvantage for those in the back lines in races of 100 miles and 200 miles duration.

100-Mile Novice

Saturday was a good day so far as weather was concerned. Riders were lined up and Slim Nelson of Albany, New York, was positioned at the starting line with the flags. A huge stop watch was used to determine the five-second intervals. As the watchman signaled, Nelson dropped the flag for each line in turn.

They were off with the customary burst of speed. It seemed as though the last man had hardly gone from sight into the first turn when the leader could be heard coming around for his first lap. When he barged into sight it was seen that Jimmy Kelly, rider No. 42, was the lad who was setting the pace. He rode the turns beautifully and his style reminded anyone who had seen him at Oakland, California, of how he hung up one fast lap after another at that event.

His time for the first lap was 2 minutes and 29 seconds. Right on his heels came the rest of the fast ones.

By Dudley Perkins
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