Then he tried to get racing parts for it. The Harley-Davidson racing department—which means Dick O'Brien, the racing manager for 19 years—refused to sell him the special cams and pushrods that it had developed. But there is an AMA rule meant to prevent such factory dominance of racing: the engine in any of the top three finishing bikes in a dirt race may be claimed by any competitor in that race for $3,500, and a road-race engine may be claimed for $4,000. So after the first mile of the season, won by Harley team rider Rex Beauchamp with Springsteen second and Scott third, Scott claimed the engine from Beau-champ's factory XR750 to get the special parts he needed. Observers at the claiming thought they were about to witness O'Brien strangle someone who at 5'6" and 130 pounds is nearly half a foot shorter, 50 pounds lighter and 30 years younger than himself.
Late in the season Scott did the same thing—but for a different reason—to Roberts after the Yamaha rider had won a road race at Riverside, Calif. Skip Aksland, a back-door member of the Yamaha team, had protested Scott, under orders from Pete Schick, Yamaha's manager. Schick thought Scott's one-lap-late start in a heat race (he hadn't heard the call to the starting line in the garage area) should have disqualified him from the main event. So Scott claimed Roberts' engine in retaliation, although the AMA disallowed Aksland's protest.
" Scott sure isn't trying to win any popularity contests this year," said one observer.
"No, he's not," came the reply. "He's trying to win the plate."
Most of what motivates Scott never shows; even on the racing circuit few people really know him. But, says one who does, "Gary could shoot you right between the eyes, shrug and walk away and never even think about it."
The AMA Pro Series has two legs. Scott won the first leg, with Springsteen and Roberts a slim six points behind. But Springsteen had been coming on strong. He won five of the series' last seven races, including three miles. His win at the Syracuse Mile was the fastest in AMA history, an average speed of 97.5 mph. Teammate Beauchamp, who finished second by an eyelash, protested the result. And Scott protested Roberts, who finished third, for rough riding.
Said Bill Boyce, the AMA's director of professional racing, "I thought the whole thing was a joke. A definite case of the pot calling the kettle black. Gary had been involved in three or four slambams this year."
"It's easy to be No. 2," said Scott, who knows after being No. 2 three years in a row and now again. "There's a big difference between No. 2 and No. 1, and when you start pushing for No. 1, it gets heavy. You can't afford to back off. Some of the riders understand because they've been there, but a lot of people don't.
"I won't knock someone down on purpose—I haven't got to that point yet—but if he's slowing me down I'll push him out of my way. I'll pass any way I can."
A lot of that sort of thing always occurs at the San Jose Mile, generally considered the most competitive race on the AMA circuit. This year it was also the last mile, and Springsteen broke the lap record by more than a second in qualifying. He also won the final, with Scott second.