On this week in racing history: April 16
Spencer, Hennen and Polen feature this week
by dean adams
Friday, April 16, 2004

  • Honda's Freddie Spencer won the "Nations" GP at Misano on April 15 1984, beating Eddie Lawson and Raymond Roche in what was his first win of the 1984 season. Spencer won the 500cc title in 1983, beating Kenny Roberts but his 1984 season was as bad as the '83 was good, Spencer was plauged by injuries in 1984. Rival Eddie Lawson stayed healthy and won the title. Nuff said, as Ed used to say.

  • American Pat Hennen won the Spanish GP at Jarama on April 16, 1978. At that time, Suzuki-mounted Hennen was thought by many to be the great American hope in the battle against his team-mate, Barry Sheene. And his Jarama win proved his mettle.
    Hennen's accomplishments in racing are often overlooked but shouldn't be, as his mark on seventies GP racing is notable. For example, he is the first American to have won a 500 Grand Prix, doing so on August 1, 1976 at Imatra, Finland.
    If Hennen had stayed healthy, there is every possibility the history books regarding 1978-80 would look very different where the names of Kenny Roberts and Barry Sheene now reside.
    Tragically, Hennen suffered massive head injuries in a crash at the Isle of Man in 1978 and never raced again. Most think he's dead; he's not. Hennen now lives a quiet life in Southern California.
    From the landmark book "Team Suzuki" (1982): "GP experts acknowledge that, but for Hennen's accident, he could have become the 1978 World Champion."

  • On April 18, 1993 American Doug Polen won the AMA Superbike race at Laguna Seca Raceway after setting pole and a new lap record on the Ferracci 888. Polen defeated Scott Russell (Kawasaki) and Miguel DuHamel (Kawasaki) in the race.

    Even in the lean period of 1993 there were ten factory Superbikes on the AMA Superbike grid. Eleven if you count Quarterley's Muzzy rental bike.


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