A tough-riding Californian big-bike specialist who challenged among the best in early-80s AMA Motocross, the person with probably the most sticky of nicknames, Todd “Goat” Breker, simply makes it into our High 50 Riders of the Nineteen Eighties (By The Numbers) checklist.
Phrases: Ben Rumbold | Photographs: Jack Burnicle
For entry #48 in our High 50 Riders of the 80s (By The Numbers) checklist, we head stateside for the primary time to level the highlight by way of the mists of time, means again to the heady days of the early-80s AMA Nationwide 500cc Championship. The People have been beginning to beat their European counterparts and the factories have been paying consideration. These riders manhandled manufacturing facility particular two-stroke open-class machines on often baked-hard blue-groove dustbowls, some nonetheless with the chinstrap-mounted mouth guards in place if not the traditional Scott full face masks.
Born: January 1959
Years Professionally Raced: 1978-1985, 1988 (500cc AMA 1978-84, 250cc AMA 1985, 500cc GPs 1988)
Machines Raced: Husqvarna, Kawasaki, Honda
AMA Wins: 3 Total Podiums: 18 AMA Nationals Moto Wins: 6 High 3 Moto Finishes: 39
Nations Choices: 0
Championship Medals: 1 Silver – 1980 500cc AMA, 1 Bronze – 1984 500cc AMA
In 1978 a rangy 19-year-old Californian by the title of Todd Breker campaigned his privately-bought Husqvarna in a number of 500cc Nationals and scored prime tens, then went additional in 1979 by getting prime 6 finishes. None of this working up by way of 125s and 250s, Breker was a protracted lad and again when the smaller bikes had so much much less energy, it was big-bore all the best way! In a single moto he truly saved that yr’s champion Danny LaPorte behind him, and his efforts got here to the eye of Kawasaki.
To begin with, let’s get this straight… why was he even known as “Goat”, many years earlier than the time period can be coined to explain modern-day all-time greats? Fairly a easy reply because it seems, he was the youngest of three brothers and the opposite two have been tearaways. They loved their excesses with alcohol, and worse, and the harm finished to them led the infant brother to keep away from that route. He put his efforts into his sport and stayed clear, however the nickname Goat got here from his household, initially as a joke that he would “actually eat something”… and clearly it caught. A lot in order that even in official factors tables and all-time winner’s lists wherever you look, he’s at all times named as Goat… by no means as Todd!
So on the age of 21, barely even a Billy-Goat, he was drafted in as a take a look at rider for Kawasaki, who have been eager to get to the entrance within the large boy class and construct their stateside profile. Though the 1980 KX440-480cc machines have been offered by Kawasaki, he was technically an unsalaried privateer, having to earn a crust by way of outcomes and bonus cash, and thru the NorStar clothes firm. He made his means!
Instantly not solely aggressive however constant, Goat shocked the most important stars like Suzuki veterans Marty Smith & LaPorte, Yamaha’s Rick Burgett, and Honda’s Chuck Solar and Jim Gibson. 2nd general on the opening day of the 8-round sequence to the severely manufacturing facility Honda of Solar, immediately the lanky child with the farmyard title caught individuals’s consideration. On the midway level within the sequence the bodily take a look at of excessive altitude at Colorado’s Thunder Valley facility meant that every one of his clear residing had paid off – Goat was untouchable and gained each motos for his first ever Nationwide win! He hacked Solar’s sequence result in simply 18 factors and the not possible seemed on for the person in inexperienced. Every week after that he made his Grand Prix debut at Carlsbad and a primary moto 5th noticed him end between Andre Vromans & Brad Lackey in a GP dominated by fellow Californian Marty Moates.
From then on within the Nationals, nevertheless, Chuck Solar pulled the pin and gained the following six motos. Though Breker did his finest, twice following the Honda man residence at Washougal, it wasn’t sufficient to stop the title being misplaced with a spherical nonetheless to run. Even so, in his first yr on aggressive bikes, but nonetheless removed from being a manufacturing facility rider within the days when that basically meant one thing, he had crushed the legendary Marty Smith within the factors to complete 2nd within the sequence. The long run seemed shiny!
1981 didn’t stay as much as the promise, nevertheless, and actually Kawasaki as a manufacturing facility gained nothing on both facet of the pond that yr, in any class! Goat’s was the one inexperienced bike to complete prime ten within the 500s all season, because the sequence was carved up between Solar and new champ Broc Glover. Breker stayed constant however solely received on the general podium at Excessive Level’s second spherical, and misplaced 4th within the standings to LaPorte on the closing spherical.
The next yr had the same finish consequence, with one key distinction – Breker gained once more! Simply into the second half of the sequence, spherical 5 of 8 on the Broome-Tioga facility close to New York, Goat took each motos, beating the likes of Danny Chandler and Mike Bell. The early a part of the yr was too poor for any title hopes, however there wasn’t even one other factors scorer for Kawasaki within the 500s that yr! Breker was to win a moto at Carlsbad within the closing spherical however a second moto DNF would once more see him pipped for 4th within the factors on the final moto.
With the dearth of outcomes from Kawasaki, Goat moved to Honda for the 1983 season. His forceful type, at all times hunched along with his chin over the bars and elbows waaay out, labored nicely on the Honda, particularly in Supercross the place he was by no means a serious power, being just for these buzzy little 250cc issues! He claimed his first prime 5 consequence indoors after 3 years of making an attempt, however once more it was within the 500cc Out of doors Nationals that Breker actually delivered. 2nd solely to mercurial teammate Danny “Magoo” Chandler within the opening moto at Hangtown, and threerd on the day behind his Kawasaki alternative Kent Howerton, confirmed that the change to large crimson can be a wholesome one. Though Chandler received the brand new water-cooled CR500 at Binghamton’s sixth spherical, he struggled on it while Goat took 2nd general on his unique air-hammer! He took the ultimate moto win of his profession at Saddleback in April, and the ultimate general win – at Thunder Valley once more – in the direction of the tip of the season. Nevertheless, a mid-season harm denied him the possibility of a title run and he’d end 7th within the sequence.
His second and closing look in a US Grand Prix, at Carlsbad once more, noticed him battling with Brits Graham Noyce and Neil Hudson, ending simply behind Noyce in race one (9th) and Hudson in race two (8th), which was adequate for 8th general.
Kawasaki had finished nicely in 1983 with Howerton ending 2nd within the 500cc sequence to Glover, however Howerton was happier on a 250 so moved right down to go for his 4th AMA title. This left Kawasaki looking for a alternative within the large class and took Goat again to Workforce Inexperienced for 1984. This was the primary yr of the manufacturing rule within the States, so Goat was the primary to race a machine with the moniker “KX500” within the Nationals. There was a rush to be match for the outside after hurting himself in a Supercross and lacking three races in that sequence.
As earlier than, Goat’s was the one inexperienced machine anyplace close to the entrance all yr within the 500s, and he actually was close to! The championship was dominated by Honda’s David Bailey and Yamaha’s Glover, with the ten rounds cut up 8 to 2 in favour of The Little Professor. Honda even swept the board throughout all three lessons on the second spherical at Saddleback, with Breker the closest to breaking that domination till he crashed out of the lead within the first moto.
From the ten rounds, Goat frustratingly completed both 2nd or 3rd general at 9 of them, and of the 20 motos he truly completed 3rd 15 instances behind the golden pair up entrance! He twice received forward of Glover for twond-placed motos however he might by no means crack Bailey. He actually doubled his profession podium tally that yr!
In 1985, Breker was beginning to really feel the pressure bodily and dropped to the 250 class full-time. In a discipline containing the likes of Jeff Ward, Ricky Johnson, and Johnny O’Mara, the 26-year-old Breker was instantly not on the tempo. Racked with ache from the after-effects of neck and hip surgical procedure, he determined to name it a day on the finish of the yr. Earlier than he lastly hung up his boots, nevertheless, he grabbed a season-best 6th general at Spring Creek, and in the end climbed his one and solely Supercross podium on the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California in mid-August – the ultimate spherical of the sequence.
Beginning behind the Hondas of Bailey and Ron Lechien, Breker ducked inside a crashing Lechien and held 2nd for many of the race. It took a spirited cost from reigning champ O’Mara to place Goat again to threerd. It was considerably overshadowed by a shocking last-lap battle for the championship, gained by Breker’s teammate Ward over Glover, however a unbelievable approach to end a strong profession.
Though he stopped competing on the very highest degree, he stayed lively and gained what the AMA known as the “World” 4-Stroke Championship, and even made a transfer to Europe in 1988 with the intention of racing the entire GP season, however his deal fell by way of after three rounds and he swiftly returned residence.
Goat stayed concerned within the sport as a businessman and race promoter, and even ran his personal model of sun shades for a few years, earlier than most not too long ago operating a resort close to the Mojave desert – useful for some stunning path bike driving! By no means one to hunt the highlight, Todd “Goat” Breker was a strong campaigner amongst among the sport’s first Stateside superstars and greater than worthy of his spot in our High 50.
As with many American racers arising on this checklist, Goat Breker’s profitable common is barely helped by the low variety of races within the AMA Nationals initially of the last decade. Initially run over simply 8 rounds, they’d run two lessons in a day, with totally different combos over the 12 conferences. From 1983-85 all three lessons ran on the identical day in a packed schedule of 11 or 10 rounds. So the 6 years of exercise for Goat amounted to 55 Nationals, whereas World Championship riders would have raced 72 GPs in the identical interval! After all it additionally gave the People much less of an opportunity to extend their win complete, so it evens out! By no means chosen for a Nations and solely twice competing in a USGP, Breker’s 3 wins from 60 occasions simply places him into our prime 50 and the lowest-ranked American in it. He nonetheless had a strong profession towards the riders he confronted, not at all times on one of the best equipment.
Subsequent time we dive again throughout the Atlantic to function a GP star with a protracted profession and an motion hero nickname!
Nineteen Eighties Numbers:
GPs counted: 5 – 0 Wins
AMA Nationals: 55 – 3 Wins
Complete: 60 Occasions, 3 Wins, Profitable Share 5.0
Season By Season:
12 months Class Document Champ Pos US Grand Prix End result
1980: 500cc AMA 8 rounds, 1 win 2nd 500cc – 8th Total
1981: 500cc AMA 8 rounds, 0 wins fifth —
1982: 500cc AMA 8 rounds, 1 win fifth 500cc – 8th Total
1983: 500cc AMA 11 rounds, 1 win seventh —
1984: 500cc AMA 10 rounds, 0 wins third —
1985: 250cc AMA 10 rounds, 0 wins thirteenth —
1988: 500cc GPs 3 rounds, 0 wins N/A —