Friday, April 10, 2009

Ron Bishop the long distance rider

Ron Bishop became a legend in long distance off-road races such as the famous Baja 1000. Bishop raced every Baja 1000 from its start in 1967 to the time he was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2001 and beyond. He won numerous class titles in many of the major off-road motorcycle races of the 1960s through the early 2000s, such as the Baja 1000, Baja 500, Tecate 500, Mint 400 and Mexicale 300.

During the mid-1970s Bishop was also a two-time member of the American team in the International Six-Day Trials (ISDT, now called ISDE). Bishop was a factory off-road racer for Kawasaki and later Rokon.

In 1960, Bishop began racing scrambles and TT races.Bishop learned from watching some of the San Diego area’s top riders, such as Cal Rayborn and Ralph White. While Bishop enjoyed racing TT and scrambles, he found the waiting around between races to be excruciating.He qualified for the 1973 ISDT, held in the United States for the first time in the scenic Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Bishop’s, and the other factory Kawasakis, all experienced gearbox failures in the international competition and he did not finish the race.

The Baja 1000 first ran in 1967 and quickly became one of the best-known off-road races in the world. Over the years, Bishop became a legend in the race for competing in every Baja 1000 from its start in 1967 through the early 2000s. His best result in the race was overall runner-up in 1972 with co-rider Don Bohannon. The two of them rode a highly modified Suzuki TM400.By the 2000s, the average speed of the race nearly doubled from the time Bishop first raced Baja in the 1960s.

All pictures : © 2009, Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum

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