40. Saddleback Showdown / AJS Stormer 410cc
The production version of the AJS 410cc Stormer is due for its debut at the Racing and Sporting Motorcycle Show in January 1972, and this new model will supersede the previous 370cc version. So Vic Eastwood gave it a final shakedown before its public review, here, in the November sun, in Irvine, California, at Saddlleback Mountain.
Vic Eastwood / Newbury 1971 / ericmiles47
The AJS works rider, blitzed all comers at the CMC’s 500 Experts, riding this very fast and functional looking motocross machine. Vic cruised around the Saddleback course with an inspired Dave Smith dancing in his shadow. In all three motos, Eastwood won the drag race to the top of the start hill. In the first moto his quick lead allowed him to spend the first couple of laps learning the berms and ruts created by the earlier 250’s in their ten races.
Morris Malone on his AJS 370cc, held second place, with Smith just keeping up in third.
Then, Smith, Open Class winner at last weeks CMC, made his move on his Maico during the third lap. He shot past Malone and set his sights on Eastwoods thirty-yard advantage. On the last lap Smith put on a super burst of speed and almost caught Eastwood. Dave’s challenge didn’t catch Eastwood off-guard though, the NV Ace countered by teaching Smith the art of the 180-degree turn.
The second moto saw Eastwood slide gracefully through the first cormer into a precarious lead. Smith was hot on his heels with his Maico flat out, and Feet’s wasn’t far behind on his hungry Husky. Dave passed Eastwood as they headed for the Liveoak Grove Switchback, and gained about a ten-yard lead over the Englishman as they left the bend.
After two unsuccessful chess moves, Eastwoods Ajay lived up to its name, and stormed past Smith after hitting the throttle early, out of the bend the next time round, Smiths Maico had nothing left and Vic drove the lead home.
Eastwood then encored the first two races, in the final, his machine leaving the others, humbled, by its superiority, combined with Eastwoods masterful riding. They had shown us Americans, “how”, the general consensus of opinion at the end, was that this machine,
“Is just a tad, faster…. “