~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.


aristide said...

nice life

mq01 said...

great stuff!! and it's such a shame that all those great tracks are vanishing on us... what will those younger than us have soon?...

Mr. Motorcycle said...

I'm laughing my but of as I read about black and white. Too funny. The video was cool too.

FLHX_Dave said...

I was trying to figure out what my current financial situation had to do with the lack of color I have been experiencing.

"If you were there it was pretty cool"???? Well, I wasn't there but I think this is still pretty cool. I learned a few things here. I dig the bob's big boy jumper.

Thanks for posting. This was pretty cool and I enjoyed it. I actually watched the video a few time. I must have been enjoying it.

Jac Brown said...

Great film. I love the kidney belts, I love the full face helmets on a motorcross bike, I love the whole concept of the race. It must have been great fun.

It was also great to see old Carlsbad again. I knew it from the late 80's when there was still some motorcross on the "official" track, but most of the rest of the track was in disrepair. We used it for measuring accleration times on the old drag strip. As I recall, we had to correct our times quite a bit because the drag strip was up hill for the later part of the quarter mile.

Thanks for the flick and the memories.

Doug Klassen said...

Glad you guys enjoyed the old movie. I updated a link in the post about the fate of Carlsbad after I got an e-mail from the Mark the Admin guy for vintagemxr.us

He pointed me to some photos he was able to take after Carlsbad was shut down:


Good stuff, a little sad to see, but as noted in the blog entry, it seems the fate of most race tracks to finally be swept under by what passes for modern civilization.


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