“They don’t pay me enough to ride that thing.” Kenny Roberts to ride TZ750 again at Indy Mile.
“After the race in 1975, I said they didn’t pay me enough to ride that thing and this year will be no different,” said Roberts about being reunited with his machine for this year’s event.
Considered unrideable by anyone but Roberts in his prime, the bike built by Kel Carruthers is powered by the 125bhp, 750cc four-cylinder two-stroke engine from the Yamaha TZ750 road racer. Like all trackers, it has no front brake, but can reach speeds of 250km/h (150mph) on the Mile’s straights.
In fact, it was considered so dangerous that the AMA banned it from competition. Roberts agreed with the ban although it caused a huge outcry in the bike press, most notably from Cycle World editor D. Randy Riggs who rode Steve Baker’s TZ dirt tracker, and argued that if it was okay for Harley dominate flat-track, why couldn’t Yamaha?
“You had to throw it sideways to get it slowed for the corners,” said Roberts looking back on the 1975 race. “There weren’t a lot of riders who could throw it sideways at 150mph.” At the ripe old age of 57, it should be interesting to see how the three-time World 500cc Champion and two-time AMA Grand National champ handles the bike which he said was wheel-spinning at the end of the straight at Indy in ‘75!