Flashback Friday: 1969 Ascot State Championship Races

Cycle News Staff | November 29, 2013
In addition to Lawill  Dave Aldana won the Amateur class and John Hateley got the Novice honors that day at Ascot.

For this week’s Flashback Friday we go back to none other than the famed Ascot Park for the 1969 California State Championship races. The man who dominated? None other than the “Fisco Flash” – Mr. Mert Lawwill, who won both the National and State Championship races at Ascot again. It was also Dave Aldana’s last race as an amateur and he finished it on top of the box. Read on to find out how they did it.

By Dewitt Thuett

GARDENA, CAL. Nov. 1, 1969 – Mert Lawwill owns Ascot. If you don’t believe it look at the record books. The Fisco Flash shattered three more track records last Saturday night.

For  the  past  two years  Lawwill has made rare appearances at Ascot, the track where he learned to race, After last Saturday there are probably many riders that hope he never comes back. Mert, who has now won the National and State Championship races at Ascot

for the past two years, tuned up by knocking the six year old one lap mark out of the   books. His 22:31 clocking was far faster than the old 22:44 set away back in ’63.

It was the fastest track ever prepared for the riders who have been going in circles since 1957.  Five Experts and two Amateurs time trialed in the 22-second bracket for another record.

Joining Lawwill in  the fast twenty two second bracket, an area that few have ever ridden, were, Alex Chinowski, Shorty Seabourne, Dan Haaby and Tom Rockwood. Amateurs  Dave Aldana and Dave Hansen also were fast enough for the select circle. The two Amateur times were both under the old track record for yellow plates set back in 1962.

Two of the three Expert heat races were record breakers with Lawwill the first to break the 1964 mark. The mark fell by well over a second. Then rookie Chinowski came out and broke Lawwill’s new mark with an even faster five laps.

The third heat, won by Shorty Seabourne bourne over Sammy Tanner, was just off the old record but was the closest heat race from start to finish.

Lawwill then went to work in the Trophy Dash and defeated Seabourne, Chinowski and Aldana. The time just missed a 1963 record. Mert said after the event that he did get into trouble once or twice and took the long way around on a couple of turns.

The ten Experts then lined up for the 20-lap final. It was Lawwill all the way in a repeat run from his Ascot National win a month ago. He again broke his own track record and has now lowered the mark by over SEVEN SECONDS the last two times out!

Mert and his Dud Perkins Harley­Davidson remain as the only combination to win the National and State titles at Ascot two years in a row. Chinowski came on late to overtake and pass Romero for second place. Seabourne outlasted  Dan Haaby for a distant fourth.

It was a Lawwill show with no questions asked except, ”Why does H-D want to give up on the old sidevalve 750’s? They get faster with age.”

Looking back to Ascot 1969 when Mert Lawill won the State Championship once again.

While Lawwill was playing it big in the Expert class Dave Aldana was doing the same   with his BSA in the Amateur divisions.

“Kid-Crash” set a new one lap time trial record then came back to break the five lap heat race time that was set back in 1966. Along the way he found time to jump the starter once and get set back to the penalty line and still win the race.

The final was Dave’s last oval race as an Amateur. He  made it a good one but could not break the record set by the late Geezer Emick in ’68. Keith Mashburn did the chasing for  second place with Don Castro holding off Tacoma’s Squire Tomasi for third. They all move to the Expert class next year.

The West’s top three Novice riders did battle for the last time on the 250’s with John Hateley putting it on Freddie Edwards and Don Emde once again. Hateley was fresh from his Friday night TT win so there is little doubt as to who is the best professional Novice in the land this season.

Before the 20 lap State Championship Expert Final, a special match race was setup with former World Speedway Champion Barry Briggs and his special Yamaha 250cc twin. He challenged Hateley, Edwards and Emde on their AMA type 250’s.

The event was for four laps. The three AMA kids really put it on Barry and ran away right from the start. On lap two the kids turned in a whopping 23:35, the fastest one lap ever turned by a 250cc machine at Ascot. Hateley edged Emde with Edwards a close third and Briggs a distant, very distant, fourth.

 An extra award went into the Expert Final. Sonny Emick, wife at the late Geezer Emick, has started an annual that will now yearly go to the first year Expert that places the highest in the state final. Only two first year Experts made the final, Chinowski and

Mark Brelsford. Chinowski won the new Bell Star helmet and carry-bag with room to  spare as Brelsford found the going tougher than on the National cir­cuit and was the last rider running at the finish. A fine new award in memory of a fine first year Expert who will ride no more.                                                .

Half mile racing resumes in 1970 the first weekend in April. The last AMA race of the year is the TT at Ascot this Friday night. This one is also for the state title.

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