AMA Motorcycle Racing’s Harley Hero

Jay Springsteen made it look easy.

AP Photo

Stop into an AMA Grand National event on any given night during the late Seventies, and you’d probably witness the following scene: The Harley-Davidson XR 750, dancing across dirt, leading a long line of the most talented, hard-nosed motorcycle racers in America. The guy in the lead? That’d be Jay Springsteen, Harley’s most celebrated factory-backed rider. Road racing and flat tracks, 250s and liter-bikes—”Springer” did it all. He earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1975, then three consecutive championships starting the following year. In 1982, he became the first rider to capture 30 outright AMA wins. When the man retired in 2003, he’d raced in a record 398 AMA nationals.

"I started out on a little Harley-Davidson minibike, riding around in circles in my front yard,” he once said. “I guess not a lot changed during my career.”

This short documentary follows Springsteen’s 1979 campaign, the season he began experiencing the stomach pains that plagued him for years. He missed four of the first five rounds, then rallied back and go on a winning streak. It is vintage gold.