Friday, 28 November 2014

In search of Mark Brelsford

Mark Brelsford is no easy man to track down, but we got him after a saga of midnight transatlantic phone calls, messages relayed up mountains by friends and futile emails lost mysteriously to the ether. After big crashes in 1973 and '74 the 1972 Grand National champion quit racing and moved to the great open spaces of Alaska. 'I'd had the last rites two times in the last two years and I thought I'd better get out while I'm still able to walk and talk.' In the new issue of Sideburn, (#19, available now), we hear Mark's memories of racing at Ascot Park in 1969, his first year as a Harley-Davidson team rider. David and Goliath even get a mention. He's shown a year or two later in the shot above - unknown photographer please drop us a line. MP

8 comments:

Nick said...

There are pictures of Mark in a ball of flame in his horrendous crash at Daytona, I think I have it in one of the American Racing books

Mick P said...

Yes Nick, that shot is all over the web. I suspect he gets sick of talking about it.

McQmoto said...

The shot you've blogged is of Mark on an iron XR ('70 - '71). It has the re-worked heads (one of the several versions of) which is why you can see the air cleaner is sticking out on the left facing forwards instead of being on the right. There is probably a lot of other stuff you can't see too. Harley sold them from dealerships as a ready to race machine but in reality, getting that motor to make power, lose heat and stay together took a lot of ingenuity...

McQmoto said...

Oh, and it looks like there's an oil cooler on the right, in front of his leg; so he's probably riding a mile.

Gene Curry said...

I rode the same tracks as Mark Brelsford and new him, he worked part time at a little Honda shop in Pacifica, and his Expert number was 16, He could out ride anyone wherever we had events, I have the AMA magazine showing him covering his face and completely covered in fire, he's on the cover AMA May 1973 edition, he said an amateur went down in front of him that caused the wreck that burned him pretty bad, Mert Lawill was the reason Mark got a ride with Harley, Mert had a choice of 2 riders, and he picked Mark, the other rider was from Oregon and I can't remember his name, anyway Mark posted fast time in Mert's backup bike at San Jose and was the class of the field wherever he raced, he had enough points to be #1 plate in a little over 3 months in "72, He made expert in less than 3 months before turning professional,

nickt said...

Whenever there is mention of Mark and Goliath ,I think it is important to recognize Jim Bellands input.
He made two TT bikes for Mert and Mark and although Mert is pictured on his version on the cover of Cycle magazine in 1970 he preferred to race his earlier twin loop version that Jim also had a hand in.
Mark however took to his version of the TT frame that Jim had based on triumph geometry and it is a measure of what a good rider he was that he could tame the more radical nature of this bike when others found it too much like hard work.....this was the bike that was referred to as "goliath" both versions are extremely compact --they only looked like normal sized sportsters on the track because both Mark and Mert were so slight of frame.

Sideburn Magazine said...

Thanks for the info, nickt. Jim Belland is, indeed, acknowledged in the article in the magazine. What you see above is just a taster. Click the link in the original post to take you to issue #19. MP

nickt said...

thanks..have it on order ,however having just finished replicas of these bikes with both Mert and Jim,s generous assistance,I know that "Goliath" and what Mark accomplished on it means a lot to him.
There is a famous pic. of them coming off the line at Ascot in 1970 side by side---Magic!