Rider: Dennis Kanegae
Then: Ascot Park Contender
Now: Owner, NineFiftyOne ad agency
I had a good Novice year, racing with top riders like Keith Mashburn, David Aldana and Don Castro. After advancing to the Junior class, I was without a ride for two years, borrowing bikes and getting nowhere fast. I was competitive but all that junk I rode was hurting my reputation. The guys I raced against went on to star in On Any Sunday, but when I called people for help, they said 'Dennis who?'
"Then Don Dobbins loaned me his bike one Friday night at Ascot. It was a Routt 750 Triumph twin like so many others with the 34mm Mikuni carbs, ARD magneto, Barnett clutch, Ceriani roadrace fork, Barnes wheels, Girling shocks, etc. But the coolest thing was an alloy BSA Gold Star gas tank. On the downside, it had a stock frame and swingarm while everybody else had lighter, better-handling Trackmaster, Redline or Champion frames. Or so I thought...
"Firing up Don's bike, I knew it was something special. It sounded like no other Triumph, letting out a deep, throaty roar. It handled perfectly and came off the corners like a rocket! I found out the engine had been built by Russ Collins the drag racer. As if that wasn't enough, Triumph guru Eddie Hammond tuned it every week.
"I easily won my heat, ran third in the main and Cycle News mentioned me as the newest fast Junior on the scene. It was the sort of overnight success that took five years!
"I won my first main event later that year and managed to beat Gary Scott in a heat race. He was going for the all-time consecutive-heat-race-win record, but somehow I beat him. He holeshot the main but missed a shift before Turn 1 and I rammed him so hard, it chunked my front tire. He whipped my ass good once he got back in gear, but that bike put my career back in gear. The following week, I cashed out my life-insurance policy and bought that Triumph. To this day I hear a lot less of 'Dennis who?' on the other end of the phone."