The race will be remembered as much for Scott's performance as for Springsteen's, although Scott's came after the race when a season of frustrations was released in the rest room of a bar.
Bill Werner is one of the best tuners on the dirt-track circuit, and he knows what he's doing with an XR750. He is Springsteen's tuner. Last year he was Scott's tuner. Last year he was also Scott's friend. This year it was his job to help Springsteen take away Scott's plate. As Werner described it, "It wasn't even a fight. I was standing in front of the mirror combing my hair and the next thing I knew someone was flailing away at me." A row of black stitches on Werner's lip moved as he talked. "I can't say it surprises me. I've known Gary well for two years; I've seen him operate. He's like a light switch. Snap! He goes off.
"It was a disappointment. A tuner always thinks he has a special relationship with his rider. Pressure will do funny things to a guy.
"Maybe it wasn't even personal. Maybe Gary just wanted to say, 'Look, everybody, get off my back; I mean business!' Now I'm tuning for Springer and Springer's beating him; maybe he felt I should have quit at Harley-Davidson and stayed with him. Gary has been a lonely man this year."
Scott's version of the story is not much different, except for one thing. "Bill was going out of his way to torment me and rub it in after Springsteen won at San Jose," he said. "I just decided I wasn't gonna take that stuff. Everybody thinks I'm a bad guy, so I might as well be one."
Motorcycle dirt-track racing isn't like most other sports, but it is a lot like NASCAR stock-car racing in that it has its own code of ethics. The man who will do what it takes to win, no matter what, will be respected for it. There may not be much fondness for Scott on the dirt-track circuit, but there is a lot of respect.
Gene Romero is a former teammate of Scott's and was No. 1 in 1970. He is one of the men who "has been there and understands," as Scott says. Romero says, "I don't like the guy, but this year he flat astounded me. He started the season with his back against the wall and clawed his way out. You got to lean on guys to get the job done, put them in the fence if you have to, and that's what Scott did. He was a racer all the way. His problem was he not only burned his bridges, he blasted the banks. He'll never be able to go over the same ground again."
Scott was not completely without supporters. One of them is road racer Steve McLaughlin, who has his own reputation as being the most outspoken professional in motorcycling.
"I've known Gary for years," McLaughlin says. "He's a hardheaded little guy. Once he gets upset, he gets stubborn. This year he did a lot of rotten things because there was so much pressure on him. Understand, I don't defend his childishness; I just defend the guy's audacity in bucking Harley-Davidson. He was right last year. When you have a team, you should have team racing."
One thing everyone agrees on is that even though Scott didn't keep the plate, this season he rode better than he ever has. He raced bikes with assorted setups and different tuners, everything from an obsolescent English Triumph to the latest Yamaha road racer, and he supervised the mechanical work—and did most of the legwork—himself. Not even O'Brien begrudges Scott's effort this year. "I may not have been happy with his behavior, but I can't sell his riding short," the Harley racing manager says. "He had a point to prove and he rode hard and he rode good to prove it.