Motocross History

Question
·  What bikes did MAL race?
·  Who were your chief competitors?
·  What as the best race you have ever seen?
·  What are your secrets to MX success?
·  What's your biggest claim to fame?

Answer
·  What bikes did MAL race?

I started out on an old 1974 Honda CR125. My first race in Georgetown, KY track had a national Amateur champ, Kevin Arnold who clipped my front wheel and put me in the dirt...so yeah I really sucked.

After a brief ride on a Yamaha 125, Rode a 77 YZ250 with some success before I switched to a 1978 Suzuki RM250. This bike put me into the top five of the 250A class although it proved to be very unreliable. Within a few months I started having problems with the frame cracking and breaking.

In 1979, I switched to a new Suzuki RM250 but suffered DNFs the first few races on the machine and ended up switching to a Can-Am 250 to finish out the season. 

The Can-Am and I clicked right off, winning our first race at the Pendleton Co MX Park. It was pretty cool. The Can-Am was orange and as ugly as a Russian farm tracktor, but the thing had great power and cornering, but was a bit scary in the rough and had terrible brakes.

I continued with Can-Am for several years. Racing in Florida and Texas as well as home Ohio valley states.

In 1982 I had a brief fling with a Husqvarna CR250 a very nicely made bike, but I never did well with the machine...it liked to turn on its back wheel and I liked to turn on a weighted front.

My last Can-Am was in 1984 shortly after Tina and I got married. With Tina pregnant, I found that my risk tolerance plumeted. Moreover, I suffered a back injury when jumping a fence and the back wheel clipped a fence post...didn't make me crash, but drove the seat sharply into my butt and I instantly knew that something was wrong.

Spent some months continuing to race along with frequent visits to the chiropractor. Finally decided to retire from racing.

Shortly after moving back to Wyoming in 2002, I purchased a 1982 Suzuki SP500. A great bike to ride to work and ride on the local fireroads, but blew out one of the rear shocks riding it on a MX track, so...

Twenty-two years after retiring form MX, I purchased my current ghetto Husqvarna 350WXE off of eBay. Picked up some really slick Gaerne SG10 boots which seem to provide excellent protection, but lack the feel of my old school leather Sidi boots from back in the 80's. Was getting more and more used to the Gaernes when the Husky suffered a lower end crank bearing failure.

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·  Who were your chief competitors?

In no particular order:

Alan Poindexter, AJ Spicer, Gene Stanley, Scott Watkins, Harry Watts, Tommy Watts, Dennis Smith, Jimmie Smith, Kenny Hall and many others whose names escape me at the moment.

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·  What as the best race you have ever seen?

Easily, the 2006 Washougal National battle between James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael. James prevailed with the overall win, but both riders were riding at a level beyond anyone else anywhere in the world. Only Chad Reed was close to keeping the pace until he crashed. RC had the second moto win with just two laps to go, when he took a spectacular spill.

I also enjoyed the 2006 season ending battle between Tony Cairoli and Christophe Pourcel in France for the World MX2 title.

And watching Stefan Everts in any race is a delight. While the race itself might be boring (with Stefan routinely winning handilly), his trials inspired, feet on the pegs, style is just soo cooool. I suppose I appreciate this style having riden a couple of novice level trials back in the day myself.

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·  What are your secrets to MX success?

Well the competition is tougher nowadays, but back in my time I'd say my success, such as it was, was due to:

1. Aggressive front brake use 2. Excellent physical conditioning 3. Trails riding experience 4. An super reliable Can-Am MX bike that I could practice on day after day and not worry about it breaking at the race.

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·  What's your biggest claim to fame?

Well my biggest ALMOST claim to fame...at least in my own mind was that for a short time, I was beginning to think that just maybe I had taught James Stewart the Bubba Scrub.

When I returned to observing professional MX in 2005, James Stewarts technique of keeping his bike low off the jumps was all the rage (and still is).

Back in 1979, there was a track in eastern KY (I think it was at the fairgrounds in Owlingsville) that had an Ant-Hill jump. Very steep, pointed at the top with the downhill landing ramp only maybe 10 feet away. I accidently hit upon a process whereby kicking out the rear a bit and clutching the bike I could hit the jump hard, but not gain too much altitude and distance and land smoothly on the landing ramp.

Between motos a young black rider (whose name I only recently recalled) appraoched me asking how I was doing the jump.

The black kid, who i now remember is Eric Higgins, kinda looks like James Stewart's dad....so yeah...for a brief but heady time period I thought maybe, just maybe, I had indirectly taught James Stewart the Bubba Scrub.

After all, back when I was racing, black racers were few and far between. In fact Eric was the only black racer I ever knew back in the 1980s.

So, unless someone wants to restore my fantasy and tell me that Eric Higgins changed his name to James Stewart (Sr), the fantasy has evaporated.

But that WOULD have been my biggest claim to fame! If only....

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