Monday, August 15, 2011

AHRMA Vintage Motocross National

Yesterday, I headed down to "The Farm" in Chehalis (that be Washington) to check out some vintage motocross action. Action being a stop on the AHRMA Legends of Motocross National MX Series; a vintage event for bikes 1975 and older, so pre long travel suspension and old school four strokes included.

My dirt bike/motocross days started in the mid '70s, so I'm familiar with the later models included in this series. I know a bit about the really old iron as well, from magazines and friend's bikes "back in the day".

I haven't ridden a dirt motorcycle since 1981, but have been checking out the vintage scene via websites and a show a few months back. This was the first vintage race I've attended, was curious - though I already had a good idea. People out having a good time on older bikes. Competitive stuff, but the emphasis on fun.

Two pronged approach for the afternoon: Check out the bikes and folks involved, and fire up the new Nikon my wife bought me for turning 50 years young. Killer overkill present. Twelve year old bicycle rider/racer son Ian, who knows nothing about motorcycles, shared the day with me. "Will it be loud?" "Will it smell?" Maybe he knows more then I think...

The Farm offered a bumper crop of racing action, trick old bikes, and nice people. I paid no attention to who won each race, just walked around soaking up the vibe and grabbing pictures.

Some samples in random order. Clicking on 'em will get you a bigger view...

White flag dash. Gas it up dudes, one lap to go. Course was a rolling grass affair, no real jumps or whooped out sections. Perfect for vintage bikes and racers looking to have fun with minimal risk.

Twin pipe CZ doing a little grass cutting.

Twin Pipe CZ styling. Compared against modern motocross bikes, or post vintage iron with long travel suspension, this era of motorcycles are tiny. Like roosting around a really fast mini bike.

Gather around kids. Before modern four stroke motocross bikes existed, we raced on two-strokes. Before that, really old four strokes - like this Triumph - ruled (roosted?) the roost. Quite a few old school four-strokes out for the day, fun to watch and hear.

Follow the leader. Racer 13R aims his vintage Husky for the kill.

Tony D! NOS Preston Petty fender. Everybody ran these fenders in my era. A few people had items for sale, including these fenders. I still remember drilling holes in mine, to mount on my Suzuki RM125, back in 1979.

Vintage action in full swing. Nice setting for a race, eh?

Appears to be a race prepped Suzuki TS. TS? Who cares? It looks great.

Sweet! 1974 Suzuki TM125. I owned this model, ridden from 1976 - 1978, while in high school. Flashback machine for me. Great memories.

My TM125 also sported a Webco head, and rubber band to keep the kickstart lever from flopping around. This dude is even running the slippery TM pegs. Awesome. I'm a total sucker for that yellow paint and green stripe. Visions of DeCoster in my head.

Thanks for the visit Suzuki TM125. Only an old motocrosser can appreciate seeing their teenage bike alive once again. Man, I'd love to give this TM a few laps around the track myself.

Many bikes from Hodaka represented today, including this Super Rat. Nice.

Hodaka, Can-Am, Penton go for the holeshot. If not for the modern riding gear, this could be 1975.

More start action. Wheelies 'R' Us.

Old school rubber band starts were the order of the day.

Off they go.

High roost, low roost. I'll meet you in the S curve.

CZ officially blurs the hay bail. How does he do that?

Mid-day rebuild. The simplicity of two-strokes open to view.

Rider down, reportedly with a broken arm. There's always some risk to two wheeled tomfoolery. Sometimes you gotta pay to play. Hopefully nothing serious. Heal quick.

Vintage motocross puts a smile on your face.

Start line chat.

This guy was probably racing before you were born - and he's still at it. Fantastic.

Pre race thoughts.

Old dudes, old bikes, modern safety gear. Not a bad combo.

Clean looking Penton hits the track.

Race ready CZ. Many of the bikes were battle scarred and well used - not big budget museum restoration pieces. Very cool to see.

Super clean Maico and fast rider. With the number 1, assuming he's the series champion from last season. Rock on.

Really old school heavy iron. Dirt prepped Norton.

Dive bombing Maico. Look out below.

Super sano Maico 250. Very well done indeed.

Equally clean Maico 125 in the background. Nicely turned out Yamaha for company.

Yet another nice Maico. Event was the epicenter to find trick old bikes.

CZ lay down action. Please stick front wheel, please stick...

One of the few jumps on the course.

Husqvarna at rest.

I can't see the forest for the Hodakas. Being green is in.

Old Hodakas never die - they just go vintage racing.

To continue the Hodaka roll - a very nice example.

Very cool old Greeves.

Another Greeves, complete with leading link fork.

Everybody is friends, even on the start line.

Bring a wad of cash and take home a bike. A few choice models to choose from.

Flat out. When in doubt, gas it.

CZ cornering action.

CZ blurring action.

CZ roosting action.

More CZ blurring action.

More CZ roosting action. My favorite shot of the day, if I may say so...

Finally, CZ resting action. Whew....

Cornering Elsinore CR style.


Jaroslav Falta? You be the judge.

If you had $3750 burning a hole in your pocket, this could be yours...

...race it or display in living room? I vote to race it.

Another CZ? Come on already...

Okay, the last CZ pictured - I swear. This one exceptionally clean.

Styling in front of the barn. Eyes already glued to the next corner. Racing 101.

Back in black. Oh yes, I roost the track.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I got a kick out of seeing the vintage steeds up close and actually in motion. People I talked with all seemed cool, and open to anyone getting involved with this little subculture. This kind of shindig is right up my alley. I know the history and the bikes, and was itchy to actually ride on the course while spectating. It's racing, but on a tamer level - no mondo jumps seen in modern motocross. The risk and thrill is still there, but down to mere mortal levels.

If time and money allowed, plus access to somewhere to practice - I could easily get involved with this scene. Just doing a few races a year would be worth it. I'd be fairly open on what bike to race with, but would really dig something like a mid '70s CZ or Husqvarna 250. A 125, like my old Suzuki TM would be a blast as well.

For now, this is just mental vacation material with occasional visits to Vintage Land. The idea of it all however, remains embedded in my defective mug, for possible future deployment. Who knows what the future - or past - holds.

Ride on.


  1. Loved the old TS pic! I had a '72 for years. Looks like fun. Great pics with the new camera too. -J

  2. Great pics, makes me wanna get on one again, but that would mean money and less time to pedal, decisions, decisions...:-)

  3. Thanks all. Yeah, the old bikes are cool. As mentioned, if money and time allowed - this little shindig would be in motion for me. I still dig bicycle action more, though doing this occasionally would be blast - and a return to my roots.

    The new Nikon works fantastic. Considering I've only fiddled around with it a few times now, I grabbed some pretty decent pics. I have few zillion others not posted. Worlds better then my old Point 'N" Shoot, which is worthless for action photos. I giggle like a school girl when blowing through a few frames per second in bust mode. Awesome.

    I did mess around with 35mm photography a bit decades ago, though I'm just the hobbyist hack. It's also been decades since being around a motocross track, but all still buried in my aging brain. It was super fun shooting this stuff, will do so again - as well as bicycle races - especially cyclocross.

    Thanks for stopping by the blog, always cool to get some comments.

  4. It's not that a twin pipe CZ is small its because the guy on it is 6'7"

    Great Blog thanks

  5. 6' 7" ?? Yeah, that would make any bike seem small.

    Even so, the older bikes were smaller for sure. Back in the day, my '74 TM125 was quite a bit smaller then my '79 RM125. Doubling the suspension travel will do that.

    Then compare the old CZ against something like a modern BMW GS1200 or KTM and it really looks small. Goofy comparison, I know, but I think you get my point.

    Thank for checking out the post.

  6. Great photos and blog, thanks.

  7. From the insightful comments to the smooth, classic pan shots, you did a great job covering this event. I suspect you will be there riding next year.....

  8. Great pics, Dan. I can almost hear and smell the action.