Monday, August 6, 2018

King for a Day


In 1983, after spending over half a million dollars of his own money to field a new, state-of-the-art motocross outfit called Team Tamm, Bob Tamm sold off the majority share of his auto-parts company, United Imports and Exports, and went racing. He had struck a major support deal with American Honda and would take on all of the factory teams and their then-legal works bikes in the 1984 AMA National Motocross Championship Series. Team Tamm started the season with six riders—including ex-factory riders Jeff Hicks and Alan King—six mechanics, and six identically painted red-white-and-blue box vans, as well as an extra van that served as a mobile press office. The manager of the whole program was longtime East Coast motocross fixture George Quay, founder of Keystone Motocross Works and, later, Pro-Action Suspension.

The ‘84 outdoor tour opened at Gainesville, FL, on March 4, with Team Honda rider Bob Hannah winning the overall. Round two was the first day of April at Saddleback Park in Orange County, CA, and was won by Ron Lechien, another Honda factory rider. Round three would be the Hangtown Classic, set the following Sunday outside Sacramento.

Although Team Tamm’s mission was to take on the factories and beat them at the their own game, four months into the ‘84 season, the underdog effort was already beginning to become unglued. Infighting, a wobbly business plan, bounced checks, and several unpaid expenses began to haunt and sabotage the operation. Friction between team members was also beginning to bubble to the surface, as Sunday morning at Hangtown began with a tool-throwing screaming match.

“Jimmy Ray Anderson was wrenching for Alan King, and one of his responsibilities was to carry water for the whole team,” George Quay remembers. “A couple of times during the season, Jimmy Ray had forgotten to get water, and it caused big problems because we couldn’t clean the bikes. So after practice at Hangtown, he and Bob got into a huge fight because, once again, he forgot the water. Jimmy ray stormed off, walked into the crowd, and just disappeared! So it was up to me to wrench for Alan King that day.”

The opening 250cc moto at Hangtown was a thriller. Honda rider Clint Hardick grabbed the holeshot and led Team Yamaha’s Keith Bowen, Suzuki’s Mark Barnett, and Lechien. By lap four, Bowen had caught and passed Hardick and took off with the lead. At the same time, Lechien motored into second, with Team Tamm’s King close behind in third. Then Lechien bailed off, dropping to 10th.

Bob Hannah had also been on a charge to the front, soon reeling in Bowen. The two went at it at it for a lap, banging handlebars and pointing fingers until Bowen and Hannah collided yet again, sending Bowen off the track and Hannah over a fence. King assumed the lead and would hold on to it until the final lap, when Team Yamaha’s Rick Johnson slipped by the Honda pilot on a greasy uphill off-camber turn. Johnson would win the moto, while King placed second. The team was elated.



“Johnson passed me with one lap left, but I wasn’t too upset because I had never had good luck at Hangtown,” says King, who today works construction in his native Michigan. “Between motos, I felt like I had a good chance at the overall. You know, it was so hard win something back then. The factory bikes would go by me so fast—I was 6’ 3” and weighed 190 pounds. Guys like Lechien, Jeff Ward, and Hannah were, like, 50 pounds lighter than me and would just fly by.”

Quay went right to work on King’s bike for the second moto, while Bob Tamm, in light of Jimmy Ray Anderson’s earlier exit, also got in on the action. “Bob was so happy that he completely forgot about Jimmy Ray and jumped right in to help get Alan’s bike ready for the second moto,” Quay says.

Lechien led the 40-rider field out onto the Hangtown circuit for moto two and never looked back. Meanwhile, back in second, King held station. Mark Barnett would catch and pass him a few laps later, but King kept his cool and quietly rode around in third place, knowing that the first-moto problems of Lechien and Barnett would keep them out of overall contention. With two laps to go, though, King almost botched it all. After clipping a fencepost, he hit the ground. However, he quickly got to his feet, kicked the CR250R to life, got going, and held on for third, good enough for the overall.

“I thought I was done right there when I hit the ground,” King recalls. “But less than two laps from the end, the team guys knew I had the points I needed for the overall and kept signaling me to ‘hold position.’ So that’s what I did.”

Alan King’s win was huge for both Team Tamm as well as the privateer way of motocross life in America. For not only had he won Hangtown with his 2-3 moto scores, but King had also become the first true privateer to lead an AMA Motocross Championship Series after more than one round. “Suddenly, Team Tamm’s Alan King had the points lead,” Bob Tamm offers. “It was the best moment in the history of the team.”

Sadly, Hangtown would be the last great moment for Team Tamm. By the end of the summer, the money had run out, American Honda had pulled the plug due to the financial straits the team had found itself in, and the riders were beginning to defect.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

1982 FIM 250cc Motocross World Champion Donnie Hansen on racing GP Motocross




“You’d have races where you felt like you were going to lose your stomach in the rougher sections. You would get so tired that after a while you couldn’t get yourself up off the seat – then it would get even worse. I’d have to say it was one of the hardest years I’ve ever had. The thing about racing the GPs against guys like Georges Jobe was that I have to ride this hard every week to beat him.” - Donnie Hansen

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The short, wild career of Darrell Shultz



“Carlsbad was actually the worst. The track itself was just so hard pack and brutal. There were such huge holes and bumps. Some of the uphills, I don’t think they had ever been graded in the history of Carlsbad. The uphills before and after the monster-long downhill, the holes must have been three-feet deep and they were as hard as concrete. That was bad. I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to finish the motos. In the first moto, every jolt I hit hurt my lung and me knee so bad. I just cruised around in 10th and just tried to take it as easy as I could and still get some points. I hung in there and I wrapped up the 1981 500cc championship in the first moto.”

Sitting in the shade of his box van after all was said and done, Shultz knew the handwriting was on the wall. “I wasn’t in agony, but the whole year I had been seeing signs and thinking, ‘Man, maybe this is it. I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to race next year.’ By Carlsbad those thoughts were definitely in my head. I just was feeling as invincible as I had before. I honestly thought I could take any amount of pain or bumps on the ground and could withstand it. I could tell my body was pretty much giving up on me.

“I knew it was over as far as my career after that race,” he added. “I was through with racing and immediately it was just horrible, deep depression. I had to do the sensible thing and I knew I had to quit racing. I even had a contract filled out for Honda for 1983. I was just living on pain pills and alcohol and from there it got worse. Basically, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to race again – ever. Honestly, after being a pro motocrosser, there wasn’t anything left for me. There was nothing on this world or on the Earth that I thought was worth living for. I went from the highest of all highs - to not even be able to ride for fun. It was more than I could take. Mentally, I wasn’t ready to have to quit, but I had to listen to my body and quit. As it turned out I might have just kept racing and cripple myself. It was horrible. Some of the car wrecks I had tried to do that to me. It was all downhill, man. I was trying to get it over with. It got pretty bad. I was lucky I had a really strong family. They never gave up on me or shut me out. They kept talking to me and saying, ‘You’re better than this. It’s kind of stupid what you’re doing. You’re going to kill yourself.’ I thought, ‘I can’t die and I’m not going to commit suicide and no matter how hard I crash into something, I just don’t care.’ I didn’t care about anything. All the car wrecks and all the street bikes I totaled. I was always drunk and just running from the cops. It was just all the craziness I could get into out there.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Gene Romero’s 1970 Sacramento Mile National victory



From the seminal motorcycle racing film On Any Sunday, said protagonist Gene Romero:  "I don't want to hurt anybody, but I just gotta get out there...get third or come and visit me in the hospital, man, I dig carnations." And that’s exactly what the man did to lead 50 laps of the 1970 Sacramento Mile National and earning the AMA number-one plate for his C.R. Axtell-tuned Triumph 750. "Everybody at Sacramento but me knew I'd won the championship!” Check out the victory ad for Romero that Triumph ran in the 1970 edition of Cycle News.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Bob Hannah on his infamous battle with Kent Howerton: '81 Saddleback National


“Kent Howerton had something to prove. Through the 1980 season all he heard was, "If Bob Hannah would have been here, you wouldn't have won." He was pissed. He disappeared at Hangtown. He would have won Saddleback if had left me alone. But he started playing games and running into me. He did it four times in the first moto. One time I gave him the bird. Then he nailed me again and I flipped out. My agenda was then to break his leg. I knocked him down at one point, but he came back and passed me to win. In the second moto, we raced the entire time. He had me everywhere: on the hills and everything. He was lucky I wasn't on that Suzuki. It went down to the last lap, then to the last corner. I had been taking the inside line in second gear in the corner the entire race. I knew he was going to ram me. So at the last second I hit the outside line in third gear, clutched in, and pinned it. I looked over and sure as hell he had squared-off the inside turn and was coming right at me! RIGHT before he T-boned me, his front end washed out. I tried to kick him in the head when I went by. That was absolutely the hardest moto I had ever ridden in my life.”
- Bob Hannah

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

OSCAR BY ALPINESTARS: WHEELS AND WAVES 2018


OSCAR by Alpinestars' rich heritage took center stage at the 7th edition of Wheels and Waves in Biarritz, France.  




Naturally, OSCAR by Alpinestars was right at home at the four-day celebration of classic and vintage motorcycles, music and art.  


The OSCAR booth pulled in the crowds with live demonstrations of Alpinestars’ jacket-making craftsmanship and an exhibition of original period posters, photos and vintage boots.




Monday, June 11, 2018

Bob Hannah discusses winning the 1987 Motocross des Nations at Unadilla

In the twilight of his career,  Bob Hannah goes to the starting line on Sunday September 13, 1987 for the Motocross des Nations at Unadilla. He’s never won the race and he’s never been a part of a victorious American team. With a hard rain falling and the track quickly deteriorating, Hannah and his Suzuki RM125 will play a huge role in what would be an epic race.



The odds were stacked against me from day one on that deal. I was all set to be the scapegoat. Everyone was on my back. Rick Johnson and Jeff Ward were total pricks. They said they were all about the team and wanted to hold hands and ride together, yet they stuck me on the 125. They tried to get Jeff Ward to ride the 125, but he refused. he wanted to ride the 500 and Johnson wanted to ride the 250. So they tell me I have to ride the 125 and I say "screw it! But then Suzuki comes back to me and says, "Bob, you have to do it! It can be prestigious for us!" So I tell Suzuki to get me two works bikes. I get Suzuki to put two mechanics on my test bike, and then they had them put Randy Bruninga on my race bike. I didn't want anyone messing with Randy. Myself, I ran six miles a day for 21 days straight for that race. I never missed a day. I also rode every single day. Rick Johnson and Jeff Ward were all over me because I wouldn't practice with them. I was more like, "Leave me alone. Don't baby sit me. I know what to do." DeCoster - the team manager - was smart enough to leave me alone. Johnson, Ward and I were teammates on race day, but I wanted to tell them to kiss my ass. I haven't liked either one of them since that race. And, oh shit, it was one of the worst days ever.

It rained like hell and the track was all mud. In the first moto - when the 125s ran with the 500s - I got knocked down on the opening lap and it took me three times to finally get over the Elevator Shaft hill. I was dead last. I rode my ass off in that moto to get back to ninth overall. In the second moto (the 250cc/125cc moto) only Rick Johnson and Eric Geboers - both on 250s - beat me. I beat everyone else and won the overall in the class. It was a no-win situation, yet I had won. Thank God. I was never so happy to have a race over in my life.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Mick Doohan on winning five straight 500cc World Championships


“To win the championship was a relief because I had been close in ’91 and close in ’92, so ’93 was just a recovery year and to finally win it in ’94, well that’s what I jumped in the World Championship for – to win the thing. It was a dream come true, but I also had told myself that I didn’t want to win just win one World Championship, I wanted two, I wanted to win two back-to-back. Then it was a different game. The pressure of trying to retain the championship wasn’t as easy as I thought.” Mick Doohan

Mick Doohan on winning five straight 500cc World Championships

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Dream Team: ’85 Team Honda

The Yankees: Be it the sport’s introduction to the United States in the late 1960s or 2018, to many race fans and motocross industry members, the 1985 Team Honda motocross and supercross squad one of the greatest, most charismatic and stylish motocross teams in history. From left, Johnny O’Mara, David Bailey, Ron Lechien and Bob ‘Hurricane” Hannah were not only champions, but incredibly talented, driven and determined racers who thrilled crowds, whether they be 25,000 fans at a USGP or 71,000 fans at Anaheim Stadium. O’Mara, Bailey and Hannah all won supercross titles and National Championships, while Lechien won the 1985 125cc National Championship.

Johnny O’Mara, David Bailey, Ron Lechien and Bob ‘Hurricane” Hannah

Monday, April 30, 2018

TODAY DAYTONA, TOMORROW THE WORLD.

“When I first showed up to race for the World Championship everybody from Europe – including Barry Sheene - said about me, ‘Oh, he’s going to struggle. He’s no threat.’ I was pretty much unknown when the season first started. Sheen was famous. He was the number one athlete in Great Britain two years in-a-row. I came from America, and if you weren’t into motorcycle racing, you’re never know who the hell I was. I knew on the race track what was going to happen, though. Off the race track, I didn’t care. Once you’re on the race track and you’ve got your helmet on, racing is racing.” - Kenny Roberts


World Championship Barry Sheene athlete Great Britain America motorcycle racing race track helmet racing Kenny Roberts

Thursday, April 26, 2018

ALPINESTARS 55TH ANNIVERSARY

Founded on the philosophy of “race on Sunday, innovate on Monday”, Alpinestars host a party in Austin over the MotoGP weekend celebrating 55 years of innovation, focus, commitment, design and a winning tradition that is very much part of motorsports.

“It is phenomenal to watch athletes at the top of MotoGP ride at the level that the sport is today. Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso and all other current top riders really raise the performance level of such a demanding sport” states Alpinestars President Gabriel Mazzarolo, “It is these type of athletes that we live and share goals with, who truly represent our personality as a brand and as a company pushing the limits of performance and safety in motorcycling.”


MotoGP, Circuit of the Americas  Grand Prix, Americas GP, Alpinestars, Gabriel Mazzarolo, Michael Woolaway, Woolies Workshop in Venice, California, OSCAR by Alpinestars, Tech-Air suit, Italian, Ducati, Akrapovic, Michelin, Alpinestars 55th Anniversary Party in Austin Texas


As a tribute to the company’s passion for motorcycling and to celebrate 55 years of innovation, manufacturing and product design, Alpinestars worked with Michael Woolaway, the friendly high profile custom builder and designer who heads up Woolies Workshop in Venice, California.

Woolie’s challenge was to communicate the heritage of the brand, its rightful place in history, connecting the beginning of the OSCAR by Alpinestars legendary charisma to today’s forefront of technology and style.

“Alpinestars has covered my body and protected me for all the years I have raced. I have watched it go from its start in boot manufacturing in motocross, to leather race suits, to the mind-boggling innovation baked into the Tech-Air suit they recently brought to the US market. So, after talking with Gabriele at Laguna Seca two years ago, I found a new 1974 Ducati 750 Sport build race engine still in a crate. This motor was built to period race spec and would be the perfect Italian heart of the bike, but the bike also had to have current race spec components to tell the whole “new and old” story of this brand with styling from 1960’s Italian GP and a bit of more modern Ducati GP. Legendary frame builder Jeff Cole and I collaborated on the frame, and Jeff agreed to build the central section for this project”.


MotoGP, Circuit of the Americas  Grand Prix, Americas GP, Alpinestars, Gabriel Mazzarolo, Michael Woolaway, Woolies Workshop in Venice, California, OSCAR by Alpinestars, Tech-Air suit, Italian, Ducati, Akrapovic, Michelin, Alpinestars 55th Anniversary Party in Austin Texas


There are references to Alpinestars’ history throughout the bike, like the thumb rear brake as a special nod to Mick Doohan and the style of the seat that recalls Nicky Hayden’s Ducati, both riders very significant to Alpinestars history and close to Gabriele.

“Very importantly, I wanted the bike to remind people of Alpinestars Italian roots and heritage in racing, so it needed to look and sound like a real race bike, which it does!


MotoGP, Circuit of the Americas  Grand Prix, Americas GP, Alpinestars, Gabriel Mazzarolo, Michael Woolaway, Woolies Workshop in Venice, California, OSCAR by Alpinestars, Tech-Air suit, Italian, Ducati, Akrapovic, Michelin, Alpinestars 55th Anniversary Party in Austin Texas


True to the collaborative team spirit of motorsports, contributing manufacturers helped fuel the design and specifications of the build. Akrapovic made the MotoGP-level exhaust system. Another MotoGP linked partner was Michelin who came on board to supply their tire technology and a number of other special and highly skilled collaborators participated to the project.



Wednesday, March 7, 2018

EUROPE'S FIRST AMERICAN KING

Looking for a new challenge after dominating the AMA Grand National Championship during the mid-1970s, Kenny Roberts headed across the Atlantic Ocean to race the 1978 500cc World Championship. “I did not want to go to Europe – I wanted to win the 500cc World Championship,” said Roberts of the decision. “Most people said I couldn’t. The 500 was the class. It was the ultimate thing to win if you were a roadracer. I basically went to Europe to win it.” And with his dirt tracked influenced rear wheel-sliding style, Kenny Roberts gracefully maneuvered the 500cc beasts he mastered through the well-worn corners of the World’s great racetracks and in the span of three years, won three consecutive 500c World Championships.

Friday, March 2, 2018

MCGRATH JUMPS TO VICTORY IN 1993


On Saturday night, January 23 at Anaheim Stadium, Jeremy McGrath, aged 21, started the 20-lap main event right behind teammate and reigning Camel Supercross Champion Jeff Stanton. Three laps in he went flying by the three-time champion, never to be touched. He had won his first premier class supercross in a waltz. “It was amazing to win the race, but it was also a really strange feeling because I had to pass one of my heroes, which was Jeff Stanton,” pointed out McGrath. “I knew from all the pre-season testing that I was riding well and I was as fast as those guys. There were no problems with any of that. Mentally, though, when you have to go pass one of your heroes, it was kind of a weird deal. I remember sitting behind him for a while and saying to myself, ‘Oh man, how do I handle this?’” furthered McGrath. ‘Well, shit, I guess somebody has to win and it might as well be me.’ I remember the pass being fairly easy and then I just pulled away. It was weird because it was one of those things that just felt so easy. It really wasn’t supposed to be that easy. You dream about that all your life and then you get out there and you think it’s going to be really difficult and it really wasn’t that difficult. When I pulled away so easily it kind of got the momentum going that I could do that every week.”

Monday, February 12, 2018

HOPETOWN AND THE FOUR HORSEMEN




While it is often claimed that history has the benefit of 20/20 hindsight vision, that's simply not always the case. Take the introduction of motocross to America, for example. While opinions vary on how the sport first came to the USA, in the eyes of many of the sport's insiders, it was a race dubbed Hopetown that truly put the sport on the map here. An event held in Southern California just short of Thanksgiving in the year 1967, Europe's premiere motocross racers came to Hopetown to show the American race fans what the sport was all about. Not really prepared for what they were to see that sunny afternoon, the style, technique and brilliance displayed by the Grand Prix racers not only spellbound the American fans, it left many of them slack jawed in astonishment. Roger DeCoster, Ake Johnsson, Torsten Hallman, and especially Joel Robert, simply blew the minds of the 25,000 fans present on Bob Hope's movie that epic day. Check out the lead of the story featured in the November 23, 1967 issue of Cycle News: “Would you believe that we could have a real moto-cross here in this country with huge crowds like Europe? We did Sunday at Hopetown where come 2 p.m. we were told 25,000 paid admissions had come through the gate.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

BRAD LACKEY CELEBRATES 4TH OF JULY ON BRITISH SOIL


“You just don’t go over to Europe and win a World Championship, you’ve got to pay your dues,” said Brad Lackey a few days after becoming the first American to ever win a 500cc World Championship Grand Prix. It was a long time in coming for the then 24 year-old. After winning the 1972 AMA 500cc National Championship, Lackey packed up his belongings and took off for Europe. Determined to fulfill a dream of making a run at a Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme World Championship, half a decade later it all came right when on July 3, 1977 at Farleigh Castle, Wilts, England, Lackey rode his full-on factory Honda RC-400 Elsinore to an impressive triumph over GP stalwarts Gerrit Wolsink and Bengt Aberg.