Monday, July 22, 2013

Today in motorcycle history, July 22, 1967




  On July 22, 1967, Skip Van Leeuwen wins his first AMA National – the Ascot Park TT National Steeplechase in Gardena, California.  After the race, it was discovered that a fuel line on his No. 59 Triumph had broken.  He would have been lucky to make it another 75 feet, never mind to make another lap.


  In the highly under-rated, but uber entertaining (yet sadly under-attended) sport,  Skip Van Leeuwen was one of the best Tourist Trophy Steeplechase riders in the history of AMA racing.  Skip dominated AMA TT competition in the 1960's, winning four nationals on the small dirt-track circuits that featured a jump, water obstructions and both left-hand and right-hand turns.


  He won AMA National TT races at the Astrodome in Houston,Texas, at Castle Rock, Washington, and at his home track of Ascot Park in Gardena, California.  He also won numerous West Coast regional championships, often competing against his high school friend (and west coast legend) Dick Hammer.


  After retiring from racing in the early 1970s, Van Leeuwen went on to launch a highly successful motorcycle accessories business.


  Skip Van Leeuwen was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 1999.


  By the way, Ascot Park was also the site of 4 successful jumps by Evel Knievel in 1967.  Thought you should know this.