Superbike Archive 1979
by dean adams
Saturday, February 14, 2004

Only four AMA Superbike races in 1979 but plenty of action; Freddie Spencer wins his first Superbike races (on a Kawasaki) and Suzuki's Wes Cooley wins the championship.

Date: March 09, 1979
Venue: Daytona International Speedway

Race Report: Ron Pierce won the Daytona Superbike race in 1979, leading a Yoshimura Suzuki 1-2-3 when Wes Cooley and David Emde finished on the podium behind him. This was the first time the series saw the like of a teenage sensation from the WERA club racing ranks, Louisiana native Freddie (Frederick Burdette) Spencer Junior. Freddie showed up at Daytona in 1979 riding a Howard Racing Ducati (tuned by Reno Leoni). John Long finished fourth on a BMW and Harry Klinzmann fifth on a Kawasaki.

Editor's Note: 1979, like 1978 before it, really showed the power of the Japanese four cylinder machines. Prior, Ducati, Guzzi and BMW machines were extremely competitive if not dominant. Now they were having problems just getting into the top five at times. Spencer ran with the leaders but pitted just before the halfway mark (pit stop ET: 30 seconds) and the bike died. He did not finish. Pridmore's Kawasaki threw a chain and he was out, McLaughlin's Racecrafter's Kawasaki blew a tire in the chicane after blowing several engines in practice and was out.

Joe Weinroth, then the GM for Yoshimura states: "Tonight we're all going to the Hawaiian Inn and get real loose."

Pops Yoshimura is asked on Roxy Rockwood's radio show which of his three riders is the fastest, he answers: "No comment."


1. Ron Pierce, Yoshimura Suzuki

2. Wes Cooley, Yoshimura Suzuki

3. David Emde, Yoshimura Suzuki

4. John Long, BMW

5. Harry Klinzmann, Kawasaki

6. John Bettencourt, Suzuki

7. Kerry Bryant, Kawasaki

8. Jon Minonno, BMW

9. ?

10. ?

Date: June 17, 1979 Venue: Bryer's Motorsports Park, Loudon NH

Race Report: Rich Schlachter wins a shortened Superbike race at Loudon, shortened because of a huge crash on lap eleven involving Dan Chivington and Steve McLaughlin. Cooley led the race until being passed by McLaughlin, then Baldwin led until Schlachter, Ducati mounted took the lead and the win.

Editor's Note: Ron Pierce had to start at the back of the field when the crankshaft in his Suzuki broke on the last lap of practice. Heat races were won by Baldwin and Cooley. Spencer was threatening in the his heat (placing second to Cooley) and in the race.


1. Richard Schlachter, Ducati

2. Mike Baldwin, Kawasaki

3. Wes Cooley, Yoshimura Suzuki

4. Freddie Spencer, Ducati

5. Chuck Palmgren, Kawasaki

6. Dwight Roy, Suzuki

7. Dennis Smith, Suzuki

8. Ron Pierce, Yoshimura Suzuki

9. John Long, BMW

10. Keith Code, Kawasaki

Date: July 15, 1979
Venue: Sears Point

Race Report: This event marked the first Superbike win of seventeen year old racing sensation Freddie Spencer, who had swapped machinery since Loudon: from Ducati to 1979 Kawasaki KZ1000 MkII. Typical Spencer win, he cleared off from the start and did not allow anyone close to him in the race.

Editor's Note: Spencer, competition number eight, rides the KZ1000 formerly ridden by Mike Baldwin, and Randy Hall is the manager of the Kawasaki roadrace team. Dave Emde now rides Vetter Kawasaki as Yosh didn't have a bike ready for him at Sears. Spencer wins 250 race just before the Superbike race. Spencer's margin of victory over Ron Pierce, and Wes Cooley: twelve seconds. He states: "I was really fortunate."


1. Freddie Spencer, Kawasaki

2. Ron Pierce, Yoshimura Suzuki

3. Wes Cooley, Yoshimura Suzuki

4. Richard Schlachter, Ducati

5. Harry Klinzmann, Kawasaki

6. Chuck Parme, Kawasaki

7. Reg Pridmore, Kawasaki

8. John Bettencourt, Suzuki

9. Dennis Smith, Suzuki

10. Roberto Pietri, Suzuki

Date: Aug 05, 1979 Venue: Laguna Seca Raceway

Race Report: Seventeen year old Freddie Spencer wins his second Superbike race in succession, although he tells announcer Roxy Rockwood that he is ill. Spencer beats Wes Cooley and Ron Pierce.

Editor's Note: In tenth place in this race, Carry Keoshgerian, or as you later knew him after his name change, Carry Andrews.


1. Freddie Spencer (Kawasaki)

2. Wes Cooley (Suzuki)

3. Ron Pierce (Suzuki)

4. Richard Schlachter (Kawasaki)

5. Harry Klinzzmann (Kawasaki)

6. Steve McLaughlin (Kawasaki)

7. Chuck Parme (Kawasaki)

8. Kevin Strafford (Kawasaki)

9. John Bettencourt (Ducati)

10. Carry Keoshgerian (Kawasaki)

* *****************************
Final 1979 AMA Superbike Championship Standings:

1. Wes Cooley Jr.

2. Ron Pierce

3. Freddie Spencer

4. Rich Schlacter

5. Harry Klinzmann

6. Chuck Parme

7. John Bettencourt

8. Mike Baldwin-Dave Emde-John Long (tie)


Where There's Soup There's Fire ...
The Big Ouch
Siebkins of Elkhart Lake
War is Hell: Laguna Seca WSC 1997
Lost @ Ducati
Obituary: The Harley-Davidson VR 1000 Superbike
Interview, Erv Kanemoto, 1993
Interview, Tom Kipp Jr. 1993

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