Mary says: #97 Ron Pierce and Mike Baldwin dueled for first in the 1977 Loudon Superbike event. Mike crashed just a few yards from the checkers and pushed his Moto Guzzi across the finish line, but was penalized a lap and dropped to 6th for having help with the push. Victory went to Pierce.

Ron Pierce, commenting on Facebook: What happened, the full story. Mike and I were going the same speed. I couldn’t get away from him and he couldn’t get away from me. We had a great race going on. I moved wide on a turn to let Mike get by (to watch him and see where he was making time and where I was making time.) He went high in the hairpin every lap. I call it the Mike Hailwood line. I tested him a few times on the inside but he didn’t try to block me (Mel taught me this move). The last lap I dove down low (what is known as the Bakersfield line), I used it for block passing. I had him right there. I stayed low on the last turn, his only line to win was high and outside. He lost his bike doing his best but I had the advantage.

That was a shame that they docked him a lap. I didn’t know the officials did that to him. Mike is one of those guys that you just loved to race with. He liked to get close and bump. He was a great racer and I truly enjoyed watching his career. What fun we had, it was never about money for me, it was always about the competition.

Bad luck for Mike; this may have been the last time a Moto Guzzi had a shot at a race win in the 20th century.

  • Rachel Renee Grothe

    Hello there. This is Mary Grothe’s daughter, Rachel Renee Grothe. I am the younger of her two daughters and was born in 1973. What my mother may not tell you is that while she was working the road races, she still had my sister and I in tow. I was just a toddler, maybe 3 or so, and my sister not much older than myself. Back then, women who worked were delegated to more traditional roles, and then generally retired to become a housewife when they became pregnant. Not my mother. She would enter into the pits with my sister and I at her heels. (My father would be there, but racing.) Initially, it was not uncommon for her to be intercepted by pure-hearted work crews looking out for her safety. With good intentions, they would try to redirect her to where the rest of the racing fans awaited–until she would explain to them that she was a motorsports photographer and she was there to work. With a combination of shock and awe, they would let the odd trio of us in. (Of course, my sister and I would be situated in a safer area.) I remember watching my mother running dangerously in front of the motorcycles for that special shot. Years later she told me how her own father (my grandpa, Papa Seegers), taught her to “….shoot when you see the whites of their eyes.” And boy, she did. Many of her photos capture the expressions of the racers. The feeling of the moment…the urgency, the anxiety, the agony…as well as the mischief, the glee, and the glory. Her photos are great. Her photos are real–all without the benefit of modern day digital cameras and all without the artificiality of photo editing software. And she did this as the only professional woman in the industry (that I know of) with two babes at her side to boot. Perhaps that is most amazing of all. Later, I seem to recall reading an old 70’s article in a prominent racing periodical saying how my mother was “the greatest motorsports photographer in the country.” However, my mother, who has always preferred to be behind the camera instead of in the lime light, will insist with vehement modesty, this is not the case. Well, my mother may deny the greatness of her talent, but one thing that cannot be denied is her cultural contribution. She contributed to the Women’s Movement as a spectacular role-model in a [dangerous] male-dominated industry; she contributed valuable historical documentation to the early world of motorsports; and finally, but perhaps most importantly, she keeps the memories of those pioneering motorcycle racers alive.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Very well written and informative story, Rachel.

    • john burns

      I am glad to have stumbled upon her photos, and grateful to your mom for allowing me to share them with MO’s readers. Many of these shots are GP and F1 bikes. When Mary saw “Superbikes” in the headline, she wrote:

      If I had known you were focusing on Superbike racing I would have given you shots of the first AMA SB race in 1976 with McLauglin BMW, Pridmore BMW, & Nielson Duc, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd. Pridmore is directly behind McLaughlin. Fisher broke. Butler & Smith allegedly spent 100 grand in their campaign for the win and the racing was this tight to the end…Battle of the Boxers. Cook was amazing to keep up with the R90’s!

      So, sounds like more to come! Thank you, Rachel, thank you Mary!

    • JTH

      guess that you are similar age to my daughters, they got to hang out at races too … born in 77 and 80 … both with some mechanical talents (also got to play in our “race shop” …

  • Kamohelo Mohudi

    These pics show what true knee-dragging is, no pucks or anything,
    Great pics

  • Starmag

    Whoa. Set the wayback machine Sherman. Thanks for sharing this JB. I was 15 and just getting into racing and Cook was my hero when superbike started. Great photos and captions. Thanks for the follow up background Rachel. I need to see more.

  • Russ Schaeffer

    Great photos but they are not all Superbikes from the 70s, much less the top 10 Superbike pictures.

    • Rachel Renee Grothe

      If you read the follow-up comment posted by John Burns, you’ll discover that my mother did not realize his request was for superbike photos. Also, my impression is that she had only about 24 hours to dig up photos for him. And given that she was having to select from a massive chaotic heap left over from a house fire, this was the best she could come up with on short notice. My mother is aware that these are not her best and is already self-conscious about it, but given more time, she may be able to come up with better–it all depends on what she is able to recover from the house fire. There is still the possibility a part II of this article may come out in the future. In the mean time, I encourage you to read both the article and comments. You’ll be able to glean a lot more information there.

    • DickRuble

      You’re the only one who noticed.. Hence my vote. Burns wouldn’t know a Superbike if it ran him over.

  • JTH

    Minor note : Cook was on a very strong 750SS, not 900SS. We raced both 750SS (eventually bored to 925 and very fast) and 900SS as endurance bike. GTRacing, late 70’s into ’80’s.