Saturday, February 13, 2021

Skip Aksland addendum

I recently ran across two races that Skip Aksland had competed in of which I wasn't aware on two successive days.  I saw a photo of the start of the Formula 750 race at Mosport Park in Canada, 17 Sept., 1978 and there was Aksland on the front row with  Johnny Cecotto, Yvon Duhamel, Kenny Roberts and Mike Baldwin. 

Photo courtesy of CSBK/PMP

I checked back, I saw that I had included Skip's 4th overall (5th in the first leg, 4th in the second) in the text, but had left it out of the list.  But, in researching this, I learned that Aksland had raced the previous weekend (10 Sept.) at the F-750 race at Laguna Seca, which I thought he missed because of injuries from his crash at Sears Point in July.  Laguna may have been his first race back after that crash.  In th first 100km leg, Skip finished 2nd to Roberts and ahead of Steve Baker, Gene Romero and Mike Baldwin.  In the second leg, he made only two laps before pulling into the pits with a "broken coil". Two weeks after Mosport, Skip was 8th in the San Jose Mile and a week later 11th in the Ascot Half Mile, both on a XR H-D.  Then, the next weekend (7-8 Oct., '78), Skip finished 8th overall in the AGV Cup of Nations at Imola, Italy.

Then I stumbled across an old post on the WERA forum by Larry Lawrence.  He had come across an old floppy disc that he had made on the history of the WERA GNF.  I was surprised to see that in 1978, Skip had raced in that year's GNF at Texas World Speedway.  This was three weeks after racing at Imola, 28 Oct.  In the F-1 heat race on Sat., Lawrence says the Aksland and Freddie Spencer 'tangled' and both went down.  Cycle News says they both hit oil and crashed virtually simultaneously on the last lap while dicing for the lead.  Lawrence says Aksland got a 'badly injured hand'.  Cycle News says both were unhurt other than Aksland's sprained thumb.  Evidently it was bad enough that Aksland didn't start the next day's final.  Mike Baldwin arrived after the heat races Sat., and started the final Sun., from the back of the grid and went through to win over Spencer and Aldana.

Quite a busy and varied two months for Skip, racing a four stroke V-twin on the dirt and an inline two stroke four on the asphalt, in three different countries and two continents.