~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Carlsbad Motorcycle Grand Prix 1970

I've posted another video made from my old Super 8mm film collection. This one is of The Brush Barons' M/C "Carlsbad Grand Prix" in 1970.

The Brush Barons were the dirt bike racing club I belonged to back when if you wanted to race "official" sportsman races you had to belong to the American Motorcycle Association and also your local, AMA sanctioned racing club. Clubs back then had interesting names like "The Sod Busters M/C" or the "Los Ancianos M/C." The latter club was formed in 1960 and still exists.
In the late '60s and early '70s there were enough official dirt bike clubs in the San Diego area that between them all the could field a full year of off-road bike racing with each club putting on two races. We raced scrambles races and that new motocross thing in the summer and desert racing in the winter. Most of the old racing clubs in the San Diego area including the one to which I belonged have come and gone.

Racing was a smaller affair then, at least in the San Diego area. You knew people, knew their club by their racing jumper; their level of riding skill by the color of their number plate and the number on it. What you wore when you raced said something about where you fit into the club and your level of skill or experience, not just what garishly logo'ed jersey was on sale at your local "powersports store."

Each club normally had a distinctive color and patterned "jumper" to wear over your racing shirt so that you could be picked out from the pack during a race and when heading in for pit stops during a long desert race. There was an actual purpose in the design other than selling a product. The jumper in the photo above is mine from the Brush Barons. They were made by wives in the club, not a sweatshop in China. The colors were bright but not garishly so and there were no trite descriptors like "Monster," "Xtreme," "Insane," or "Madness." Everyone knew motorcycle racing was dangerous and slightly crazy, there was no need to point out the obvious with stupid graphics and ridiculous product names.

You might note in the the picture above of your's truly racing in a motocross near Santee, CA in 1971 or so, a general lack of logos, garish color, and for some reason, even a lack of my club jumper. Just a plain white sweatshirt covering my svelt and racing-toned young bod. Ok, the helmet was stars and stripes like Capt. America but it was on sale. Most young racers now do not realize it but in fact, most often we raced in black and white in those days. The track, the plants, trees, cars, people, everything. Black and white. No color. We didn't always have enough money to race in color. Millions of pictures from that period in time attest to this.

A little background on the race in the video: After the previous year's Elsinore Grand Prix some of my fellow club members thought that it would be possible and fun to host an Elsinore GP-style event at Carlsbad Raceway in Carlsbad, CA. Carlsbad was the home of the USA round of the FIM Motocross World Championship, also a well known 1/4 mile drag strip, and weekly motocross racing under the auspices of the CMC, an upstart sanctioning organization in those days. Someone in the Brush Barons had an in with the owner of Carlsbad Raceway so the details of using the facility were arranged. The only caveat was that we could not use the actual Carlsbad GP MX course as that was contracted to other people.

On a Saturday in May or June several of us met up at Carlsbad Raceway with our race bikes and set up camp in the middle of the drag strip. Under the leadership of the more experienced racers like Mark "Steve" Stevens we smashed, chopped, cut, and used our racers to run-in a rough course around the Carlsbad property using old trails and dirt road were we could and blazing some new trail as needed. It was all connected then with the part of the paved road racing course and the 1/4 mile drag strip.

At the end of the day it was blazing hot and we were resting down by the drag strip. I was squatting down (my knees still worked in those days) and Steve Stevens proceeded to pour a cold beer into the gap at the back of my leathers. Not only was it cold but I went home smelling strongly of beer and had some 'splanin' to do to since I didn't drink. Come to think of it, that beer is probably why those leathers shrunk over the years and no longer fit me.

In due course the race was held and I think it was deemed a great success by the riders except for the guy who endo'ed right in front of me while transitioning from the dirt to the pavement. That was the moment that sold me on some sort of face protection for racing.

Carlsbad Raceway is gone now, over run by commercial development as is often the fate of great race tracks. I used to tell my wife that when I died I wanted my ashes spread on the Grand Prix motocross course at Carlsbad. I guess she'll have to find another spot for me now

Anyway, here's the video. As always seems the case at interesting events I wound up holding the camera instead of the handlebars. The original 8mm film is dated July 1970.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Perseverance Or Just Too Dumb To Give Up?

2004: I was riding a 2003 Kawasaki 1600 Classic

Today marks the 5th anniversary for Forty Years On Two Wheels and as with each past anniversary I'm slightly amazed that the blog is still here and still active. I think I write that every year. That I did not let 40on2 go orphan years ago must be testimony to my near mystical ability to find things about which to blather on, to occasionally say something useful, and to fill in the gaps with pictures or cartoons.

Over at Copyblogger.com Jonathan Morrow wrote "Now great is no longer good enough. The Web is full of so much remarkable content that bloggers don't have enough time to read it all, much less link to it."

At the NY Times website they note "According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled." [my bold]. Guess I've beat the odds here.

There are many, many excellent motorcycle blogs out there and a goodly number of them are better than this one. By excellent I don't mean necessarily blogs with the fanciest graphics or the snazziest pictures or the most links or with famous names attached to them but excellent in that the people writing those blogs are putting together something that is an honest expression of themselves and what is important to them about motorcycles (or scooters). Those are my favorites.

I sometimes I go through 40on2 reading old posts, looking things over, fixing the odd typo on a three year old post, seeing how 40on2 has changed or how little it's changed and I think "Darn, in total this is all amazingly good. I'm proud of myself." Yes, 'tis true, humility is my greatest virtue.

Other times though I wonder what kind of fool I am to spend the time, the effort, and take the emotional risk to plunk stuff out here for the world to see and with little to no chance of reward beyond self-satisfaction and the kind comments from the regular readers. I thank you all for your time spent reading 40on2, your comments, and encouragement. They do make a difference.

Unrelated: I still miss the look and the sound of my Aprilia Falco. I don't miss the clip-ons.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

San Diego Desert Racing 1972

No, not me. I was number 308

It was 110° today here in my little corner of Arizona, not a fit day for man nor beast to be out and about so I spent the day messing around at the computer trying to wrestle some new video software into submission. It was a draw.

I have been putting together videos from old Super 8 footage I took way back when and did another video today from a desert race in 1972. No idea about the location of the race anymore except that it's east of Sandy Eggo, CA in the desert, probably near the Plaster City area.

Since the race was put on by the club I belonged to, the Brush Barons M/C, I did not race that day but worked "home check" for race. Home check was the place back at the start / finish line where riders would get a colored marker stripe on their helmet card as proof they were staying on course. Out on the course there were other check points manned by less lucky club members. I recall a guy riding in slowly at the end of the race on an AJS scrambler (2-stroke kind) with his front wheel looking like a pretzel. The final climb up a powder dust hill about did him in. Poor guy was exhausted, his bike was broken, his wife and kid looked on in concern and when he rode over to his truck the brakes on the bike didn't work or maybe he didn't work anymore and he rode into the front fender of his own truck and landed spread eagle on the hood. Ah memories!

I was putting together the bits and pieces for the titles in the video and wanted to use a still shot of some sort. Rather than keep using ones of me (I don't have that many) I decided to grab a frame from the video. Saw a fellow with a nice low number on a white "expert" number plate and thought "Ah ha!" But then I decided to use some mid-pack racer like me. The fast guys always get their pictures used for stuff. Slow guys only get picked if we crash spectacularly (I have some experience with that). So the guy above, Husqvarna rider No. 323 with a red and white novice plate, got the honors.

When I look through the old 8mm movies I shot I know from experience now that the bikes were pretty rough and the course conditions often less than unsafe. But if I could spin the clock back I'd do it all again. It was a fine time to be a racer.

Here's the next video on YouTube:

technorati code: sfjac4e2p5

Thursday, June 18, 2009

AACME 2009 Vintage Bike Event Pictures

I finally got around to sorting and uploading my pictures from the 25th Annual Antique and Classic Motorcycle Show and Swap Meet. This event is probably the largest vintage only event in Arizona and is hosted by the Arizona Antique and Classic Motorcycle Enthusiasts club.

1971 MZ ES125G

Attendance in bikes and spectators was pretty good this year with some outstanding examples of great bikes to be seen and also a very odd MZ 125 from 1971.

As always there were interesting people too. Bikes are great but it's the people that bring some real character to an event, otherwise it's just an outdoor museum.

You'll find the rest of the pictures here.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Two more photos from the vintage bike meet a couple of months ago. I enjoy the contrast in feeling between these two images and bikes that are worlds apart. The first is a 1931 H-D that is most definately not restored. The second is the Honda CBX that has is a nicely refurbished original except for the exhaust system. Hard to ignore the allure of those six exhaust pipes.

You can click on the images to see them larger.  More vintage bike photos here.

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