The Royal Bolt
by staff
Monday, May 12, 2014

King Kenny Roberts with his left foot down on the Roberts dirt track last weekend.
image by willy ivins

Most of the Kenny Roberts stories we've heard, if you didn't know him, sound like exaggerated urban legends. You know, like the 'fell asleep in an airport, work up in a bath of ice minus kidneys' or that 'tranquil old PBS star Mr. Rogers was a former SEAL sniper with 40 kills to his name' kind of stuff. So completely unreasonable but that doesn't stop them from still being repeated seemingly every day.

Roberts urban legends? The 1975 Indy Mile story of course, or the time he, with a recently broken leg, rode a perfectly nice RZ350 at breakneck speed into the ocean one night in Hawaii. Or how about shooting down the Michelin man balloon at a race with his own rifle? Or the time his car went into a lake in Italy and Gene Romero had to dive in and save him, but later when Roberts told the story he remembered it as he was saving Romero, who wasn't even in the car to begin with. All very entertaining and equally hard to believe.

The Roberts dirt track in Modesto has been the scene of almost as many stories as the famed Sunset Downs in Owensboro. The racing, of course, begets story upon story but the level of equipment that fearless Roberts had taken to the dirt oval help spawn head-shaking stories. It all started in the '80s when Roberts unleashed a full V-Max streetbike on his oval, (post session comment: "didn't seem that fast, to me," he told then Roberts mechanic and witness Merrill Vanderslice). After that a long line of bikes not intended for oval track use were unleashed by Roberts on his home track including a special SRX-600, an R6, or whichever bike has gas in it when Roberts feels like riding.
By the looks of the above photo, it appears that we can add a 2014 Star Bolt to the list of Roberts urban legends.


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