Rex Beauchamp 70s Flat Track hero
In the days when the AMA Grand National Championship included road races, Rex Beauchamp stayed on the dirt and came close to winning a championship anyway.
Inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007, Beauchamp kicked off his racing career in 1968 when he qualified for his AMA Novice racing licence. He made a decision to cut the year short after just two races as he wanted to gain experience in the Novice class before being put in the Juniors and any more points would have him bumped up a rank.
“On his 14th birthday, he got an 80cc Yamaha as a gift. Two days later, he raced at a scrambles for the first time and won.”
The time off didn’t dull his talents and in 1969 he flew by the Novices, finishing with a nearly perfect record after winning all but one race. The story was much the same in 1970, seeing him take the top spot in the Juniors. Harley-Davidson had been watching his meteoric rise and for the first time ever, offered a non-expert rider a factory ride at the Expert rank.
Beauchamp’s success continued in the Expert category and he became part of the ‘Michigan Mafia’, tearing up the dirt and the competition, along with Jay Springsteen, Ted Boody, Randy Goss and Corky Keener. His success was not limited to his position on the track and he was a perennial crowd favourite, an everyman’s racer; “He and his wife, Audrey, travelled the country by van and made lasting friendships along the way” (AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame).
“At the end of my second race I was just two points shy of transferring, so I had to wait for the year.”
Beauchamp scored his first win at the Terre Haute Half-Mile in 1973, his incredible consistency finally leading him to victory. His personal best performance came in 1974, wrapping up the championship in fourth place, despite only racing the dirt events. 1974 may have been his championship year had he not been haunted with mechanical issues throughout the early season.
Despite the fact that Beauchamp never took home a championship, the fact that he came so close without even needing to compete in the full circuit shows his legendary potential. Add to that his flair, ability to excite and charm his fans and a certain iconic bout with Kenny Roberts and you have everything it takes to be a true Hall Of Famer.