The bike that would be a star
The year was 1969. American motocross was young and struggling to climb out of obscurity. In October, at the Inter-Am motocross race in Pepperell, Massachusetts, it got its big break: “ABC’s Wide World of Sports” showed up to film the event and expose would-be American fans to the European stars who dominated the sport.
Although Sweden’s Arne Kring won the race on his works Husqvarna, CZ’s American rider, Barry Higgins, became an underdog hero to a national audience. He finished fifth, and top American, on this machine, beating several Euro stars.
“Motocross racers were far from sports heroes then,” says Higgins, who now runs H&H KTM World in Douglasville, Georgia. “We were thought of as hooligans on motorcycles, and getting on TV was a big step to help change that.”
Higgins is quick to credit the bike for his performance. Thanks to trick stock parts and solid reliability, the Czechoslovakian-made CZ was a natural choice. The year before, Jawa had won the 500cc and 250cc FIM World Championships, as well as the U.S. 250cc Inter-Am Championship.
“The Czechs built a solid bike,” Higgins says. “It was bulletproof compared to the Huskys, Bultacos, Maicos or anything else out of Europe. My mechanic did make a downpipe for it and ported the cylinder, and we ran alloy wheels, but everything else was stock—stock forks, shocks, brakes, chassis.” ... Read more