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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Cbarn


Vintage Motocross in the Northwest

The inside scoop on a year-round tradition

Story by Siege

The race is about to start. I sit on the right end of the gate, revving the engine with my throttle hand, the fingers on my left hand twitch in anticipation of the start; a blitz to the first corner. The long day of racing is waning, and the sun is low. This is the last race- the Grand Prix. I am exhausted, dirty, but determined that THIS time there will be no prisoners taken. My bike is my trusty old yellow '77 YZ400

Photo: Mark Sullivan on his Suzuki TM250

Sixty feet ahead of me stands a man with the 30 second board; a square piece of white plywood with a large number 30 on it in black. The board turns, the gate opens- and KLONK- down it falls. I roar up the hill with the gang to my left, and see my brother Jonathan has gotten the holeshot on his 79 CR250R - and behind him Greg going great guns on his 74 MX250.

There were a few others in front of me, and I struggled by them one at a time using up my first lap - and then the chase is on. Jonathan and Jon have opened up a space- and I strive to cut it into ribbons. I've lost my fear of flying on the YZ.

The jumps which had almost pitched me off in the morning, I now find myself going over far faster than I had earlier- and I'm clearing them- and concentrating on not slowing- and I'm in the rhythm that I needed all day.

... and suddenly I retreat into a silent world. Everything slows down. Fingers of dusty light and long shadows slit the grass blades at the sides of the track. The sound has long since dimmed down into nothingness and I fly along slowly through syrup, the monster beneath me growling to itself: now twitching, now bucking, stretching its muscles like a cat, with me holding on in a dream, at one with the machine.

Photo: The author on his vintage YZ

...I can see Greg ahead of me. I begin to reel him in- bit by bit, and suddenly I'm on him, and to my surprise he yields, waving me by- I'm almost disappointed- having caught him I wanted to take him in anger. I can now see Jonathan ahead. I am going so fast, that I am clearing the tabletop and sometimes landing in the corner itself and wondering if I was even going to make it.

I am now reeling Jonathan in, but not fast enough. At the very end my brother slows and we go over the finish line, his front wheel a foot ahead of mine . A fitting end to the day- I'm never sorry to lose to Jonathan. It feels as though we both won. I try to gasp out a howl of victory as we pulled off the track, but it is lost.

OK- stop for a second- this is a glimpse into the world of what Vintage Racing is like. The Pacific Northwest may have the richest vintage motocross scene on earth. We race year-round, with no off season at all, and there truly is no friendlier scene, no cheaper racing, no easier way to reclaim that urge to GO that we all had at one time or another.

But wait- WHAT IS VINTAGE MOTOCROSS? What counts as Vintage? What counts as Evolution?

Photo: JT Kroupa on his Montesa

Vintage is 1974 or before, and Evolution is 75 to 80. The classes are based on engine size or rider age with a few classes like 4-stroke, women and an XR75 class for kids. We race during winter with VDR (Vintage Dirt Racing NW) and during summer at the Hammer & Tongs Series, and at AHRMA races (American Historic Motorcycle Association).

Brand loyalty sometimes runs high- and to PROVE that your brand rules, whether it be Maico, CZ, Husqvarna, Yamaha or Bultaco, we have a race at noon at the Hammer & Tongs events where a four man team races for the top spot. All riders ride the same make of bike. Not the same bike, not even the same model. But four Husqvarnas or four Czs or four Yamahas and so on. A rider waits for his teammate to come in and hand off. The "baton" is a hair scrunchie on the rider's wrist, and as he arrives home after one lap, the two other members of his team have to get the scrunchie off his wrist and run it over to the departing rider before he can leave the gate. Roger Landberg's Bultaco Team are the defending champions. A Yamaha team of fairly fast men was unable to beat them and finished second.

To get involved, I always tell a guy that he should borrow an old trail bike and come down to a race (there's one at least every month), and see if it bites him. You don't need to go practice- the racing IS the practice.

For more information visit theVDR website .

Photo: Kyle Moulton on his CZ

All photos by the author except where noted.

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