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.

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