The post mentioned that Rich finished fourth in the 250 Spanish GP at Jarama in '81. I thought he also turned the fastest lap, so I pulled out my 1981-82 copy of Motocourse. I was wrong; he had the second fastest lap. It was Silverstone that year, where he also finished 4th, that he had the fastest lap.
But, this sucked me into going through Rich's whole season as reported by Motocourse. It starts with Daytona, 6 March, '81, when Rich stood in for Ted Boody who was supposed to race George Vincensi's Ducati in Battle of the Twins, but broke his collar bone in a practice crash. Rich won the Modified Production class and finished second overall.
The next day was the 100 mile Light Weight 250 race. Mark Homchick, in his report in Cycle magazine, writes: "Rich Schlachter was missing from the heat race results. Working his way up from a slow start, Schlachter had a big-end bearing fail on the back straight, ending his ride." So he had to start the final from the back of the grid. "Meanwhile, Rich Schlachter was making amends for his back-row starting position. His running 2:18s and 2:17s in the midst of mid-packers proved he was willing and capable. On lap 13, Schlachter had moved up to fourth. Unfortunately for Rich, he would get no farther. His bike threw it's chain twice and he retired."
On to the Daytona 200 the next day on the 8th. Peter Clifford reports in Motocourse:
" Spencer didn't win--his bike blew up while he led by an incredible, embarrassingly big margin. Schlachter inherited the lead from Spencer, having moved up from mid-pack, but when his TZ struck transmission troubles Singleton and Frenchman Marc Fontan moved past to finish first and second." Schlachter 3rd. But, that doesn't tell the whole story as John Ulrich reported in Cycle World: "Roberts' race was over, ending with stuck throttles just as Rich Schlacher's race was beginning. Last year, Schlachter fried his bikes clutch getting the hole shot, and retired in one lap. This year he swore not to do that again so eased out the clutch gently as he fed in the throttle -- and promptly killed the engine. Jumping off to push, Schlachter got underway at the end of the first start wave and immediately abandoned his plans for an orderly, cautious approach to the beginning of the 200 miles. Instead he whipped into a series of 2:05 laps and sliced through the field, gaining rapidly on the leaders.
Schlachter was third and closing in three laps, behind Spencer and Cooley and ahead of Fontan, Singleton and Aldana. Crosby already had shifting trouble and would retire in another handful of laps.
By the fifth lap, Schlachter was second, and Cooley started to lose ground as his Suzuki overheated and slowed. At 10 laps, it was still Spencer alone in front; Schlachter , alone in second; Fontan and Singleton in tandem, racing for third; Cooley; Aldana. The 15th lap showed little change except that Spencer was farther out in front of Schlachter and Schlachter was farther ahead of Singleton, who had passed Fontan. Aldana was fifth, Christan Sarron sixth, Stafford seventh, Cooley eight.........
It threw a rod, opening a huge hole in the cases on the next lap. Spencer pulled into the pits, where the broken Honda deposited all its oil on the pavement.
Schlachter led, convincingly. He dove towards Turn One just after someone else had crashed, and ran over debris. His bike whipped sideways on the pit-side banking, flinging I'm up out of the saddle and off the footpegs. Schlachter held on and didn't crash, but his forearms broke a section of plexiglass out of the windscreen.
With the chunks of plexiglass went the bike's fuel tank breather hose, and gasoline sloshed out of the breather, was whipped inside the remains of the bubble, and Schlachter couldn't see through the windscreen anymore.
He could deal with that, peeking above the bubble, straining he is neck muscles against the 170 mph wind blast.
But, when second and third gears in the transmission lost teeth, Schlachter was forced to shift around the troubled gears, slipping the clutch out of turns, which is why he slowed, and why Singleton over took on the 37th lap and pulled off into the distance ahead. It took Fontan a few more laps to overtake and pass, and then he, too, was gone, and Schlachter was left alone, wondering if he could even finish the 52 laps in possession of third place."
|Don Morley Photo from June '81 Cycle World|
Alan Cathcart, in his report in Cycle News, writes: "Current U.S. Road Race Champion Rich Schlachter seemed like a man in form after two second places (sic) at Daytona in the 200 and the Twins. Suffering a heavy cold throughout the weekend-'the English doctor I saw said I had a social disease when I knew damn well I had a virus,' said Rich." (Rich told me that the English doctor told him he had an 'American' disease-Rocky Mountain Fever or something, but I like Cathcart's 'social disease'.) "So I turned right around and flew back to the States for treatment and some medication before I went to Paul Ricard."
Actually, Rich went to the Imola 200 next, but got there too late and they wouldn't let him ride. So, he just spectated that weekend and went to Circuit Paul Ricard for the Moto-Journal 200 the next weekend, 11/12 April, 1981. Rich remembers qualifying 3rd on his TZ750. He put on a new chain for the race, but it came off on the warm-up lap, and Rich confessed that he may not have pressed on the rivet link properly. So, he didn't get to start, but the organizers did pay him start money and told him that he had an entry for the 250 GP five weeks later.
A week later, Rich was at Monza. It was cold and wet and they had taped over part of the radiator to get the operating temperature up. In the race, part of the tape came loose and somehow got in the carb. Not understanding why the bike was running so poorly, Rich retired. DNF; no points.
|Rich trying to start at Jarama with the rest of the field out of sight. Don Morley photo|
|Rich at Silverstone on his way the 4th place and fastest lap. Don Morley photo|
The last GP of the season was at Brno, Czechoslovakia on the old 6.785 mile long road circuit. Rich found it intimidating and, when his exhaust pipe broke up in the race, he was almost relieved to retire.
After Rich stopped professional racing and started a family and built up his business, it seemed he made a conscious effort to stay away from the race track, though always had bikes and rode on the street. After many years, he started going to races to spectate and now follows racing avidly. He's gone to at least one GP in each of the last several years and he's been to the Barber Vintage festival the last three years, anyway, usually riding a bike down the long way. He puts thousands of miles on his bikes touring all over the country. A motorcyclist through and through.