Stillo Wins 50-Mile Pacific Coast National T.T.

By Hans Meyers

From the August 1940 Issue of Motorcyclist magazine

The setting sun cast slanting shadows over Hollister’s Bolado Park race course. A white clad man, knees bent, hands resting atop them clutching checkered flag, peered into the dusty haze that was the finishing straightaway. The lowering sun brightened the hanging dust particles into a narrow, chalk-white lane sharply etched by the green of the fringing trees.

And from the lane came noise. Noise a lone.

Five thousand grandstand faces were turned to the hazy lane from whence came the noise. Five thousand squinted as they faced the lowering sun. The five thousand peered and waited for shortly, they knew, a dark blob would appear.

The noise and the dark blob, they knew, would be connected, for the noise would be an Indian 74 and the dark blob would be the figure of a crouching rider whose capable hand was holding a throttle right against the peg.

The doubtful factor was the owner of the hand. There were two hands and both were capable. One belonged to a wide shouldered, lazily-moving giant-Mario Stillo, Chico speedman. The other hand was connected to an arm that terminated at the interstice of a barrel chest and was that of Los Angeles’ Ed Kretz.

Sixty-two seconds be fore they had passed the five thousand faces and the white clad man with the flag. The first had been Stillo and within clawing distance was the blue-sweatered, barrel-chested Kretz. This was the final lap and the 50-mile Pacific Coast T.T. Championship hung in the balance.

There was that invisible backstretch to consider-that backstretch where the riders were lost from sight for thirty seconds. That-and that inevitable last lap drive that characterizes Eddie Kretz when the chips are down.

The noise the five thousand knew-for both Stillo and Kretz were Indian 74 mounted.

The identity of the blob-that, they waited for.

The sun-whitened lane was darkened in the center. Spuming dirt arched upward. The noise rose in intensity.

The five thousand waited.

It was a moment of supreme racing drama. A gallant racer driving down the final stretch-a tortured engine rising to a wild scream,

The white-clad man straightened. A checkered flag raised. The five thousand gave accolade with lusty tongue for they knew their man now.

The flag whipped down and a weary giant straightened from his crouching pose.

The race was over and Mario Stillo, 200-pound grimy-faced racing man was the new champion in one of the bitterest racing battles in motorcycle racing annals.

Fifty miles it had been. Sixty full laps and sixty times of sliding into the quarter-mile track turn that formed the starting corner. Sixty times of wondering if the speed had been gauged right, wondering if someone had fallen around the bend and out of sight. Sixty times of braking sharply for the exit wall on the far side-an exit wall that led into an unseating dip and then wavered uncertainly into the man-killing backstretch that was bottomless with shifting river sand.

Three score times of man-handling a sliding bike through the uncertainties of the bottomless backstretch footing then of crash-stopping for the full reverse turn that leads to the full quarter-mile main straight. This reverse turn was brutal footwork and its only compensation was that priceless moment of rest that the straightaway gave.

And from those bitter fifty miles, Mario Stillo and his 74 had emerged as master of the pack. He had run the fifty miles in sixty-two minutes, twenty-nine and two-tenths seconds. And he had fought for his victory every single inch of the way

He had to fight. For sixty-two minutes before twenty-five men had faced the starting flag of George Harais. The starting roster read like a Motorcycling Hall of Fame.

Armando Magri, Bruce Pearson, Jack Cottrell, Sam Arena, Ray Eddy, Ed Kretz, Ernie Holbrook, Dick Milligan, Jimmy Kelly…the list could run on indefinitely and each and every name would carry weight in any man’s racemeet. They were the champs-past, present and future-and they rolled to the line with both barrels loaded. The man who would win this July seventh would have to win by the three-fold virtues of horse power, craft and courage.

Not one of these three would, in itself, be sufficient.

By Hans Meyers
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