Randy Goss was a two-time AMA Grand National Champion in the 1980s. A winner of 16 AMA nationals, Goss was one of the top racers of the early '80s and rode for the Harley-Davidson factory racing team for five years. Never flashy or outspoken, Goss approached his racing in a workmanlike manner, putting in a solid effort every race, but rarely pushing past his limits. He earned the well-deserved moniker of “Mr. Consistency.”
Goss was born in Hartland, Mich., on Jan. 12, 1956. He grew up racing motocross, but tried dirt track racing one day and instantly knew that was the sport he wanted to pursue.
Early in his career, Goss studied under the tutelage of Motorcycle Hall of Famer Bart Markel. He turned rookie expert in 1977 and earned an impressive six top-10 finishes that season. He followed up during his sophomore season on the circuit by earning eight top-10 finishes.
Goss came into his own in 1979. That year he won three nationals – his first coming on the half-mile in Middletown, N.Y., scored national points in a total of 21 races, and finished third in the final standings. That performance was good enough to earn him a ride on Harley-Davidson’s racing team.
Harley-Davidson’s faith in the young Michigan rider proved well founded. Goss edged out Hank Scott by one point to win the AMA Grand National Championship in 1980. That season, he finished in the top 10 in 19 of 20 dirt track nationals, and polished off the year with a win on the San Jose (Calif.) Mile.
Goss barely missed defending his title in 1981. He was in the title hunt with only two races left in the season, but a faulty bike in his heat race at San Jose cost him dearly. Going out in true style, Goss did all he could to defend the title by winning the final event of the season at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif. But Hall of Famers Mike Kidd and Gary Scott both finished in the top five at the race and Goss was forced to be content with a third-place finish in the battle for the title.
In 1982, Goss proved his versatility when he won the prestigious Peoria (Ill.) TT race. Ultimately, Goss would win in every form of dirt track racing (mile, half-mile, short track and tourist trophy).
Goss bounced back in 1983 and became only the eighth rider to win two AMA Grand National championships. Along the way, Goss won two nationals and finished in the top five in 17 of 26 dirt track nationals. He was the only rider that year to score points in every race he entered.
The 1984 campaign proved to be the most satisfying and, at the same time, perhaps the most unlucky year for Goss. For once he shed the “Mr. Consistency” title and broke through by taking four national wins and fighting for the series lead most of the season. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse during the main event of the San Jose Mile. Goss was involved in a three-rider accident and suffered a broken leg. The injury kept him out of the final four dirt track nationals and cost him his shot at a third title. Amazingly, despite missing a major portion of the season, Goss still ended the season as the third-ranked rider. It would prove to be the last time he would be ranked in the top 10.
Goss left the Harley-Davidson team after the 1984 season and soldiered on as a privateer for the remaining couple of years of his racing career. He still showed flashes of brilliance that earned him his titles. As a privateer, he won the Houston short track race in ’85 and the Ascot Park half-mile in 1986. It was fitting that Goss’ final win would come at Ascot. It was the track where he enjoyed his greatest success, winning five nationals on the fabled circuit. Goss retired from racing after the 1986 season.
Popular with his fellow riders, Goss was known for his soft-spoken and friendly manner. He might occasionally pull practical jokes on his friends. His wife, Vicky, (herself a motorcycle racer) was a constant companion at the events. Brent Thompson was Goss’ longtime mechanic and one of the keys behind his unfailing success. Goss enjoyed ice racing in the winter and relaxed between races during the summer by piloting various types of watercraft on lakes near his Michigan home.
After his illustrious motorcycle career, Goss moved into the world of automobile racing. He became a crew chief for a top NASCAR racing team.