Throwback Thursday: Silverdome Short Track AMA Grand National

Larry Lawrence | December 27, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Silverdome Short Track AMA Grand National

Pontiac Silverdome Grand National 1976
Gary Van Voorhis photo

In this week’s Throwback we dial back the clock to America’s bicentennial year of 1976. With the success of the AMA Grand National Short Track and TT Doubleheader at the Houston Astrodome, it seemed only a natural that the same thing could be done when the Pontiac (MI) Silverdome was built in 1975. Afterall, Michigan was the absolute hotbed of flat track racing and the Silverdome, with a capacity over 80,000, could hold nearly 30,000 more spectators than the Astrodome.

Maybe it was the Detroit-area economy suffering with the American auto industry facing stiff competition from Japanese imports as well as oil embargos, or perhaps the timing of the race in early June, a time of year when the last thing winter-weary folks in the upper Midwest want to do is go back inside for a sporting event. Whatever the reason, the doubleheader Short Track and TT Nationals played in front of a sparse crowd of maybe 5000 per night. A crowd of that size absolutely rattled in the massive indoor stadium.  Needless to say, the race was not on the calendar when the 1977 AMA Grand National schedule was announced.

This photo shot by then Cycle News East associate editor Gary Van Voorhis shows Silverdome Short Track action with Mike Gerald (No. 15) leading a tightly-bunched pack that included Billy Labrie (No. 65), Steve Eklund (No. 74z), Hank Scott (No. 14) and Kenny Roberts (No. 2). Eklund was coming off a win on Friday night in the TT National. Ted Boody would go on to win Saturday night’s Short Track event.

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Larry Lawrence | Archives Editor In addition to writing our Archives section on a weekly basis, Lawrence is another who is capable of covering any event we throw his way.