Throwback Thursday: Kidd’s Historic Columbus Grand National Win

Larry Lawrence | December 7, 2017
Mike Kidd wins his first AMA Grand National at the Charity Newsies in Columbus, Ohio, on June 23, 1974.
The start of the 1974 Charity Newsies AMA Grand National at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. Mike Kidd (72) would go on to win the race, his first Grand National win. (Photo by Gary Van Voorhis)

In this week’s Throwback we dial back the time travel machine to the year 1974. The Ohio State Fair hosted the Charity Newsies AMA Grand National that season and it would ultimately prove to be an historic race. That June 23rd race saw Triumph factory racer Mike Kidd score his very first AMA Grand National victory, after two-and-a-half years of trying. An overflow crowd of 20,000 fans showed up to watch that year’s race in Columbus.

In the Grand National main event, Kidd got a bad start, but gradually began working his way through the field. At just about the halfway flag Kidd made it all the way up second, after finally getting by Harley’s Mert Lawwill. Defending champ Kenny Roberts had a clear lead on his factory Yamaha, but Kidd found faster lines and began cutting into the No. 1 bike’s lead. With three laps to go Kidd caught Roberts. The two then battled for a few laps before Kidd finally pulled clear to score his first national victory.

Not only was it a personal accomplishment for Kidd, but it ultimately proved to be the final win for Triumph on a big track. Triumph riders would continue to win TTs for the next five years, but the British brand would never again win on a AMA Grand National Mile or Half-Mile.

This photo, by then Cycle News East associate editor Gary Van Voorhis, shows the start of the 20-lap national. Left to right on the front row is Mert Lawwill (7), Corky Keener (62), Kenny Roberts (1), Chuck Palmgren (38), Mike Kidd (72), Teddy Newton (40X) and John Hateley (98). You can also see Dave Sehl (16), Charlie Seale (47), Gary Scott (64), David Aldana (13) and Hank Scott (20R) starting farther back.

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