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The Cutting Room Floor

With all books, there are quotes that don’t make the final book, for one reason or another. Here is a selection of some that didn’t make it but still have something to say about Kelly Moran. 

 

 

“The people at Hull loved Kelly because they watched him struggle, then they watched him get better and better. Kelly would always have a pint with the people, wherever he went they loved him.” – Pete Rovazzini

 

 

What was your impression of England when you went over there with Kelly in 1978?

“England was a lot different place back then, it’s changed so much now. There was still the Cold War going on, the economy was bad, things were tough, people wanted their heroes, like PC, Ole, Michael, Ivan, and whoever else was riding for their team – it was a great time.” – Pete Rovazzini

 

 

Were you surprised Kelly went so well in England?

“Yes and it was so inspiring for us, we all wanted to go over there, and Bruce (Penhall) did the same thing. He was over there for the first time in the same year, 1978. I wanted to go over in 1975, John Louis was trying to get me over but I couldn’t go over because my dad was ill – he died later that year. I never got another chance to go in 78.” – Bobby Schwartz

 

 

How serious was Kelly about his racing?

“There were times when he was totally serious. I used to see him around the individual stuff and the qualifiers and leading up to it, [but] it was the team events and I didn’t see much of him in the first year in England because he was at Hull and he’d fly through, stay with us a few days and then take off. If you were to put a percentage on his seriousness, it was probably 75% having fun, laughing and hanging with the guys, and 25% serious.” – Bruce Penhall.

 

 

Were you proud of Kelly when he got fourth in the 1979 World Final or a bit a jealous?

“A little of both, I was so submerged on my own my racing and felt that I had a good opportunity to get there. And we always knew, as Americans, that our hardest qualifier was the American Final. Because you had to ride on a one-off track and they only took two guys, so it was going to be a crap shoot for all of us. You had to be extremely good that night and have a good deal of luck. When I saw Kelly do so well, obviously, I always thought that he could always do it. But I always had it in the back of my mind that he was going to fall short of becoming World Champion because of his lack of dedication. But his talent would far exceed everything else that he was trying to accomplish, he could literally ride blind-folded. To see him get that far and have such a good night was obviously tremendous and I see pictures today of him up and around the podium with Ivan, the crowd, it was great. Selfish thinking? I wanted to be there, but I was happy that Kelly was there.” – Bruce Penhall

 

 

“There was so much politics involved in those days. The AMA, back then, didn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. They didn’t understand speedway – period, they were so much more interested in the other sports and left us hanging there,  and there was so much politics that it was ridiculous.” – Bruce Penhall

 

 

“They (Kelly and Shawn) were extremely articulate and great communicators, and the reason was Tom, their father. Tom had told me that when they were small he had got them used to microphones and impressed upon them the importance of expressing themselves. They were used to being interviewed and that, coupled with their natural exuberance, meant they were a dream to deal with because they were always approachable.” – John Chaplin

 

 

You were once quoted as saying that Kelly was one of the hardest riders to race against; he was very talented wasn’t he?

 

“If he made a start and got out in front - see you later really. He was so light, kind of like Michael Lee, if he made a start - and in my mind I think he was one of the best starters around at that time - if Michael or Kelly didn’t make a start, you’d never know where they were going to be because they’d be all over you. If I was riding next to the boards, they were on the boards to try to pass. Kelly was one of the hardest guys to race against. The only other issue, if he didn’t make a very good start, if he would have a little work to do to catch up to you, that was the only sort of easement you’d have. But if he started second behind you, you’d better be on your toes because he could ride anywhere at any time.” – Bruce Penhall 

 

 

What was he like to ride with, did he help you?

 

“Yeah he did. He would always give you room, he’d always think about you, he’d look behind, I was kind of an outside guy, so was Kelly, so we both wanted the same piece of the track, but Kelly would look up to see where I was and change his line and let me have the preferred line. We’d talk about things beforehand, what we would do if this happened or that happened. He was a great team rider.” – Dennis Sigalos

 

 

“Kelly was always hanging around with us when he was 14-15 years old and you can see the talent he had way back then. And he proved it, I don’t think anybody when through the ranks as fast as Kelly, not even Bruce.” – Pete Rovazzini

 

 

“He’d never rebuild an engine or anything like that, but he understood the workings of the mechanics. If he could find someone else to do it, he was damned sure he wasn’t going to touch it! He didn’t want to do that shit, he wanted to show up at the track and ride! ‘I don’t want to wash my own bike I don’t even want to wash my own leathers!’ Which was pretty much how Kelly was.” – Ken McGoldrick “KK”

 

 

“I don’t even know if Kelly knew how to adjust the clutch. Everybody would adjust the tappets between races and the clutch and keep their eye on things, but Kelly would just show up with his bag and his leathers and go and get the job done. I think a lot of that played into his riding because his riding reflected his attitude toward life, he lived it to the fullest.” – Scott Autrey

 

 

The rivalry between Hans Nielsen and Kelly…

 

“Kelly got along better with him than I did. A couple of times Hans Nielsen would come in and glare at Kelly and he was the up and coming golden boy of Danish Speedway at that time. The heir apparent to Ole, but then Erik Gundersen came through and I liked him a lot. He wasn’t like Hans. I don’t know what it was about Hans.” - Kenny Best

 

 

‘Kelly seemed to race so easy, it was so effortless. There are so few guys where it was effortless. The Danes worked so, so hard at it, people like Tommy Knudsen, Ole Olsen, and you can go on and on. The dedication and every effort they’d put into it. Kelly could almost achieve the same results with the most carefree attitude that you could have. There are guys that are carefree but don’t produce, but Kelly could have that carefree attitude and still produce results. That’s why they came up with so many nicknames for him because he amazed people all the time.” – Rick Miller

 

 

Talking about the Denny Pyeatt Memorial meetings at El Centro.

 

“He was really good in those races. He was really good on rough tracks. He could pick a line…I got some footage of those races. He could pick his way through the holes, whereas everybody else was backing it in sideways, and when they hit a hole they’d do a big wheel stand. Kelly would go, two-wheel it in underneath everybody, and then square off the corner and use one of them holes to launch himself by everybody. I watched it over and over on the video and it was pretty classic.” – Ron Preston 

 

 

“Complete lunatic that bloke, unbelievable rider, but it’s hard to imagine how him and Shawn could be so good with a motorcycle and then carry on the way they did. I just couldn’t understand it. Kelly got away with it for a long time, but I suppose that was his ultimate downfall. He played it hard all the time.” – Phil Crump

 

 

“If a rider crashed he would be the first rider over the fence to see how he was – it didn’t matter who he was, whether he could speak English or not, he’d be there. He was such a caring, loving person and I think that’s one of the things that sticks in my mind. He was such a fun-loving person he lived life to the full didn’t he.” – Mike Patrick

 

 

“Years later I’m working on this project out here, Raceland, and one of the guys on this board, an airport landing commission board member, it was pivotal decision and I needed these guys to vote in favour in our project. So I take this guy out to lunch and he said, ‘Where did you come up with this idea?’ So I start telling him about speedway and all that stuff, and he goes, ‘You know what, I went to those races at the fairgrounds, was that your deal?’ It’s funny man, this little guy, I’m trying to remember his name, he came to Calipatria, and he was in this rehab up here. I met him at church, he lived at Rick Bradford’s motorhome and I used to pick him up and take him to church with my family,’– and it was Kelly.” – Ron Preston

 

 

‘He was the sweetest guy and he just wanted to be loved, you’d see it all the time. He wanted to be loved by the fans and everyone. He was reaching out for that.” – Rick Miller

 

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Bobby Schwartz

Bruce Penhall

Dennis Sigalos

Scott Autrey

Rick Miller

Ron Preston

Phil Crump