A Special Preview of the Primm MX Collection
by Perry Sconzert #99D
Recently I was fortunate to tour the “Primm MX Collection” in Las Vegas, Nevada. Greg Primm has had the foresight to preserve the history of motocross and is also a generous benefactor to the sport. He has sponsored privateers and paid for the painting of MX des Nations helmets for the USA teams for the past 10 years. I was recently on vacation in the area and was able to view the collection through the help of Rick Doughty of Vintage Iron (sponsor of ACR Northeast vintage racing series and father to most of the restored bikes in the collection). Rick was recently featured with the museum on Speed Channels “Two Wheel Tuesday” show that aired this spring.
The Primm MX Collection is located in an 8000 square foot warehouse in a business complex near the airport. Even though I had viewed parts of the Collection from the TV feature and various magazine articles over the years, I was not fully prepared for the sensory overload of seeing over 350 fine motocross bikes in one spot.
There is a colorful assortment of jerseys, helmets, pictures, and posters on the walls. Also several display counters with memorabilia including one of Bob Hannah’s aluminum works tanks, David Bailey’s JT helmet, Jofa mouth guards, Scott boots, Fox shocks, DG radial heads, MX models, etc…
On pole position by the entrance was Marty Moates’ famous # 23 USGP winning 1980 Yamaha YZ465. It was reported to be mostly original except that the magnesium Simon’s forks were replaced with works Honda Showas. It did have the original White Brothers modified shock with finned reservoir and is still owned by Marty Moates.
Equally impressive was a mind-blowing group of 8 of Roger DeCosters’ works Suzuki RN’s ranging from mid 1970’s to 1980. It even included Roger’s 1981 Honda RC. The Suzuki RN’s were all very clean and still had Roger’s knee marks on most of the tanks. These were some of the same bikes that I cheered on at Unadilla Trans-Am’s (& Trans-AMA’s ) in the late 1970’s. Roger won the Unadilla event (and series) each year 1974 -1977. It was very interesting to see the suspension development from 1977 to 1980 with different swing arms, shocks, and reservoir types. Also evident was that pre 1978 Suzuki RN’s had the aluminum swing arms painted black to make them look like stock steel RM swing arms.
DeCoster has stated that he and Sylvain Geboers cut their Suzuki RH and RN frames themselves back in 1973 when Maico started the development of long travel. Can you imagine any current motocross star working on his own bike! Carmichael admitted that he has never changed a top end!
Three of Gerrit Wolsink’s works bikes were also featured, two 1970’s RN’s and another Honda RC. One of Wolsink’s RN has a raised seat similar to the old CZ “GP” seat kits. Gerrit’s bike also featured knee rub marks on the tank.
Johnny O’Mara’s white 1980 Mugen ME125 water pumper was also on display with a handwritten note from “O-Show” himself. His sponsor Al Baker who was the Mugen importer at the time built this bike. I had the opportunity to see this bike in action at Broome Tioga (Binghampton, NY) 125/500 National back in 1980. Johnny was jumping every bump on the track, a very stylish rider.
There was a row of Honda’s from the first 1973 CR250M and 1974 CR125M with each year represented up to mid 1980’s. Similar lineup with Suzuki TM / RM’s. Also well represented were Yamaha YZ’s, Kawasaki KX’s, Husqvarna CR’s, Can Am, Bultaco’s, Maico, Penton, CZ, Carabella, SWM, Derbi, Puch, AJS, Cotton, Tyran, etc.
Other exceptional bikes noted were a 1973 Maico 501 in new condition, various tricked out Honda XR75s that Jeff Ward raced, 1975 Suzuki RH250 (with owners manual), brand new AJS still in the original shipping carton, flame-tanked yellow 1981 Maico 490, and aluminum framed / Ohlins suspended works Honda CR500. Vintage Iron has expertly restored most of the bikes.
The Collection is not open to the public yet since it is starting to outgrow its current location. They are considering a new building. The official public opening will be announced on the website (www.primmmxcollection.com). If you have any vintage motocross gear, pictures, parts, etc of interest, send donations to Greg c/o Rick Doughty at Vintage Iron (www.vintageiron.com). In the meantime lucky motocross fans in California and Nevada can enjoy Greg’s fine new beverage “Moto - Brew” Pale Ale (www.moto-brew.com). Besides the excellent Troy Lee old school vintage logo design, it tastes great. Hopefully “Moto - Brew” will make it out back east!