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by Michael Gougis
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A group of American Vintage racers, including National-level stars of years past, is heading to Australia to compete in the the International Island Classic vintage motorcycle racing event, scheduled for January 25-27 at Phillip Island.
Gary Fisher, former AMA Pro road racer and Yamaha factory rider, will serve as captain of the American team, riding a Rusty Bigley-prepared Yamaha TZ250. The event pits teams of 13 riders against each other for overall victory and for team supremacy. This is the first year that America will officially field a team in the event, Bigley says.
The featured class is "basically the old AMA Formula One rules - 750cc two-strokes and 1300cc air-cooled four-strokes," Bigley says. Throwing down the gauntlet for the American team in the category will be AHRMA standout Dave Crussell aboard one of his TZ750s, AMA Pro and AHRMA title-winning racer Pat Mooney aboard a P&M full-race Kawasaki Z1, James McKay on a Z1 and Ralph Hudson on a Suzuki GS1000. Others aboard Bigley-prepped Yamaha TZ750s include Rob Simpson, Larry Dinmore and Mike Himmelsbach - the former, a multi-time National champion, will race a very special Spondon-framed TZ750 machine. John Conklin also will roll on one of the fearsome Yamaha four-cylinder two-strokes, while Deano Swims and Ottis Lance will grid up on four-cylinder four-strokes, Swims on a Honda CB1100R, Lance on another Suzuki GS1000.
On the smaller-displacement entries are Mike Studzinski on a TZ350, Brian Filo on a Yamaha XS650, Wade Boyd on a Honda CBR400RR and a sidecar, Sean McKay on a Kawasaki EX500 and Ervin Kollek on a Suzuki GSX-R750.
The bikes and spares were crated up and shipped in November, Bigley says, and Crussell, the organizer, says all have arrived in Australia.
The International Island Classic is a major motorcycle event in Australia, with tens of thousands of people attending each year. This year's event will be the 20th consecutive, and GP legend Giacomo Agostini is scheduled to be the guest of honor.