Racer and Childhood Friend Skip Aksland On King Kenny Roberts’ 70th Birthday

After dropping out because my throttles were sticking I got to watch the ride that made history.

Geoff Nickless

Happy Birthday Kenny! Who would have thought we would be make it to be old men?

We met when you were 15 years old sweeping the floor at my brother Bud’s shop and I was just 10. The hundreds of laps we cut on the short track my dad built for us are times I’ll never forget. You on your 50cc Suzuki and me riding my Hodaka made it a close race, but not really. You always managed to beat me.

Thank you for all the hand-me-down leathers through out my amateur days. Also for building me a Champion Framed Yamaha Twin to be competitive at Ascot my novice year and having Shell Thuet build me a 750 Yamaha twin my Junior year.

I knew you were going to do special things when you rode your first professional race as a Novice at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and finished third against all the Experts and Junior riders. Then you won two Grand National Championships on the less competitive Yamaha against the factory Harleys; you continued to impress.

When the TZ750 dirt trackers were built you told the powers to be, “Skip needs one too”. When the bikes showed up at Indy, we looked at each other without saying anything and thought, “What have we gotten ourselves into?”. When you got your bike and walked back to me in the practice line and said “Be careful, we don’t know if they are going to turn left!”  I started to get worried. After dropping out because my throttles were sticking I got to watch the ride that made history.

You always made me feel part of Team Yamaha, maybe not as an official teammate, but you made sure I was taken care of.

After I won my first National Roadrace at Loudon you called to congratulate me, kind of. “Just because you won at Loudon don’t think you’re a road racer.” Point taken.

When you broke your back in Japan testing for the for ’79 season I was honored that you told Yamaha you wanted me to fill in for you at Daytona.

Thanks you for loaning Linda and I $5,000 to buy our first house, and yes we still live there as much as you make fun of us today.
Thanks you for always having bikes for Dustin to ride when we would come to the ranch. Most of all thank you for always being our friend. Happy Birthday Kenny; we love you.

Skip, Linda and Dustin.

Geoff Nickless

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