It’s a Vintage Family Affair!
by Randy Smith #324
On March 5th this year my youngest son Austin turned 16 and since AHRMA requires racers to be at least age 16, we decided that we would hit a National MX Race as soon as we could. We would also be bringing along Austin’s buddy Jake who also turned 16 not too long ago. Both of these boys have been racing bikes in the Missouri series but neither has ever raced modern MX bikes. They both have raced little Honda XR 75/80 machines then moved on to chromed tanked Hodaka 100cc Super Rat’s and progressed onto Yamaha YZ 100’s. Just to clarify, 1974 and older bikes fit into “Vintage” and 1975 and newer bikes up to 1984 fit into “Post Vintage”. The Vintage races would be held on Saturday and the Post Vintage races would be held on Sunday. My long time buddy Dave Wiebler would be along for his first National also. My wife Sherry was going along too. We would be driving about 11 hours in the motor home pulling a car trailer loaded with 8 bikes. Two were Andy Lippert’s who would be flying in for some work related stuff in the area and getting a rental car to meet us at the track.. The bikes were as follows-Randy and Andy’s two 1974 Hodaka Super Rat 100’s for the Vintage Races. Austin’s 1984 Yamaha YZ 125. Jake’s 1982 Suzuki RM 125. Dave’s 1983 Honda CR 250. Randy’s 1980 Yamaha YZ 125. Andy’s 1983 Yamaha YZ 250 and a 1978 Honda CR 125 that was a bike sold on ebay to two brothers flying in from Sweden to race in America.
Our Quest was to make the podium (1st, 2nd or 3rd) in all of our classes.
Randy Smith (yellow hat) shaking Danny LaPortes hand as Dave Boydson announces with his hot wife :)
The two weeks leading up to the race was a full on wrench a thon. Austin’s 1984 YZ 125 was in a million pieces and I found out that it takes about twice as long to refurbish a “Post Vintage” bike verses a “Vintage”. Way more parts such as radiators, shock linkage and so on. Dave was a trooper and came over nearly every night and weekends to help and he lives about 20 minutes away from my house. We barely got the bike done, as Austin was only able to put about 10 minutes on the yellow screamer before we loaded it up. Not only did we have race bikes to get ready, we had the motor home coming out for it’s first road trip of the year and that involved de-winterizing it and making sure everything worked. That also involved installing the recently rebuilt generator that weighed a million pounds. The two weeks were a blur of sleepless nights and dirty hands. We made it but it was close.
Danny LaPorte #12 and Brad Lackey #69 racing in the PV +50 Expert Class
We were ready to go but the weather was horrible. We live near Topeka Kansas and there was a solid thunderstorm all the way from Texas, through Oklahoma and into Kansas, There were 20 + tornado’s reported and the storm was moving real slow. With 56 feet of combined length of the motor home and trailer and being nearly 12 feet high the reports of the semi trucks being flipped over with high winds didn’t sound to good to us. Also the reports of flooding made us wonder if we should even go. We had planned to leave right after school on Thursday and with many hours watching the weather radar we ended up leaving at 2:30 AM Friday.
Jake riding the RM at Diamond Don's
THE ROAD TRIP:
As we headed off into the wee morning hours we took a route that would hopefully take us around the storm as much as possible. It would add about a hour to our drive but it was the only safe way to go. We were only about one hour into the trip and we hit hard heavy rain. The weeks of cleaning and shining the bikes was now wasted. As the windshield wipers were running on high speed, suddenly my drivers’ side wiper arm just fell off. Yep, it was gone. Holly Crap, we still had a long trip ahead of us and now what? As Dave watched out his side I slowed down as much as possible. It wasn’t two minutes and his wiper quit. What the???? Picture us driving in hard rain with no wipers. With a flash of lightning I see my wiper hadn’t totally fallen off the motor home but was hanging out the side and below the windshield. We finally see a exit up ahead and pull off and find a Wal-Mart parking lot. Luck was with us as the rain stopped. As I popped the hood I find that the wiper motor had fallen off and knocked the wipers out. The factory installed screws had fallen out but we found most of them lying near the radiator. Luckily I had brought along a cordless drill, drill bits and some extra misc screws. After a ½ hour of work we had it fixed and just as luck would have it, the rain started just when we got done. I drove until sunrise and then it was Dave’s turn. Dave had never driven a motor home before but he started off and I closed my eyes for a few winks. It wasn’t 10 minutes and we were into a thick fog. Soon there after we arrived a tollbooth and much to Dave’s surprise, he was lined up in the wrong lane clearly marked “no semi trucks or trailers”. It wasn’t his fault. We had never gone this way before and with the heavy fog, he couldn’t see the signs. The tollbooth lady had to get out of her hut and guide us through the narrow slot we were in. The mirrors cleared the building by less than an inch and the trailer rims scraped the yellow paint off the curbing. Dave was in full white-knuckle mode. Next came Tulsa Oklahoma road construction and 8AM Friday morning traffic. Dave was really glad to end his driving soon thereafter. The rest of the trip went well.
Me in the Yellow Hat, my son Austin in the black jacket & Buddy Jake Gergen in blue jacket.
We rolled into Diamond Don’s just about 15 minutes after Andy had arrived so that was good timing. We jumped into Andy’s rental car and drove around looking for a place to park. Lots of the spaces were already taken but we found a large grassy section that faced the starting area of the track. We would have some of the best seats in the house, we though. Everything was wet as it could be. Standing water in several areas. Besides the area where we parked, most of the track was located in a wooded area. We walked the track and found that it was wider and faster than I pictured. Most was covered in new grass and there was about 3 man made jumps thrown in. Looked like fun. We saw Mark Eichorn, Darrin Tucker, Ron Kahan and Phil Ketchum plus lots of other familiar faces. I even see a gal with the sidecars and take an educated guess and introduce myself to Janette who hangs out on the Hodaka site. It was like a family reunion.
Kenneth Ahlstrom & Christer Ahlstrom Two brothers that came all the way from Sweden to race at Diamond Don's
As mentioned above, one of the bikes we hauled to Texas was a 1978 Honda Elsinore 125. Dave and I owned this bike together and had sold it on eBay. What was different about this transaction was two brothers from Sweden were the buyers. They were coming to the United States to race motocross and see some car shows and go to a big car swap meet. They had been promised some loaner bikes but that deal wasn’t looking so good so they decided to buy a ready to run bike that could be delivered to Diamond Don’s. I normally wouldn’t make a deal like that with all the ebay scams out there from overseas buyers. At first I wasn’t sure myself. I asked for a International Money Order prior to hauling but I was sent a Cashiers Check from Sweden. Two banks told me there would be a 5 or 6-week wait and we didn’t have that much time. After some slightly hurt feelings, it was agreed that I would haul the bike and they would bring American cash. Friday night I located them and they had the cash. One of the brothers had turned 50 recently and that was part of the reason for the trip. They have a big Vintage racing series over in Sweden and they race Can Am’s. They brought a “Swedish Racing Team” decal with them and had it on their rental car windshield. Really nice guys and their English was pretty easy to understand. I asked them what they intended to do with the Honda after they raced it and they said they would sell it or take the most valuable parts off it to take home. I told them that I might buy it back at a discount, kind of like rent. They liked that idea. They did come up with some other loaner bikes so they could race in both the Vintage and Post Vintage races.
Mark Eicorn with both feet up on his Hodaka in the mud
Friday night was fun with a live band playing vintage rock & roll following a large BBQ and crawfish dinner. Free beer included. Former MX stars Danny LaPorte and Brad Lackey were there along with some other big names in the sport. Todd from the Motocross File’s TV show was there and he showed some funny out takes from the popular show on a larger screen. We were tired from driving all night so we called it quits early. Andy and I were to race Vintage the next day so we were off to bed soon. At about 1:45 AM I heard some rain begin. By 3 AM there was a big clap of lightning and heavy rain. I invited Dave in the motor home as he was sleeping outside under a EZ Up but he said he was OK. Yet by 5AM he was setting in one of our chairs trying to sleep. I didn’t sleep that well worrying about the not needed rain and would we be able to race. I also worried if we would be able to drive our motor home out of where we parked as I could see nothing but standing water when the lightning flashed.
Andy Lippert orange shirt. Danny LaPorte black shirt. Diamond Don flag shirt. Taken at the awards
Saturday morning came all too early with a constant sprinkle of rain still present. At 7AM the sound system came on playing “It’s a beautiful morning” plus some other classic songs. Andy and I dug out our Hodaka’s and I pulled my plastic bag off my air cleaner. Dave helped me fabricate a better sealing air box out of white duct tape. The riders meeting was held and we found out that they would not run the grassy starting area right in front of where we parked due to standing water issues. DANG IT! The practice and race times were pushed back a few times but finally it time to practice. Although it was really muddy, my Super Rat was running strong and I was able to pass anyone in front of me. I felt like it was going to be my day. There was four practice sessions so I went back out for a second round only to find the track was much worse and they had diverted some sections around some now rather large mud holes. My bike was still working good and I felt good.
SATURDAY VINTAGE RACES, MOTO #1, “Things that suck”:
We were off to a late start but we were going to race at least. The muddy practice had already claimed a few bikes. The old Vintage bikes are low to the ground and many have down pipes that drag in the mud. Add to that, point ignition and you have many bikes running sour or gulping mud and water through the air boxes. Andy and I were in Sportsman 125 along with Darrin all on our Hodaka 100’s. Mark Eichorn and Ron Kahan were also on the line on their
Hodaka 125’s. There was supposed to be 10 in my Intermediate class but only 6 showed up for moto one. All us Hodaka guys were setting next to each other on the line so that was cool. The start was to be a large hand held number board that went from a #2 on one side to a #1 on the other side then slowly down sideways to the rubber band start. As the board went to the #1 all of a sudden my bikes starts to foul a plug and go sour. NO, NOT NOW!!! Sure enough, the race begins and my poor bike was popping and farting and barely able to pull me off the line in last place. The Classic 125’s were in a wave behind us and it wasn’t long before they were
passing me. I think most people would have pulled off the track but I am no quitter and just held the Rat wide open all the way around the track hoping for it to eat what ever it had that made it go sick. By lap two my bike came back alive and I was riding hard and soon caught up to Mark who was in third. I was able to pass him but he was hanging close. I bogged down in a deep corner and the bike went sour again and there goes Mark ahead of me. We headed for the final jump on the track, which had been giving me fits all day. The face was rutted and real slick. The landing was worse as you would land in 8 inch deep ruts covered in soupy mud. I had been kicked nearly over the bars in practice here so I didn’t like it much. My bike perked back up and Mark and I were nearly neck and neck with him slightly ahead. We were in plain view of most of the crowd and he went to the right and I went to the left grabbing third gear at the face of the jump. Mark went off first but landed crooked right in front of me roosting me bad. I was already committed speed wise and when I landed I my rear end went sideways in the slime. I then was cross-rutted yet still holding the throttle wide open hoping to recover. I went down hard, real hard about 50 feet past the jump. I always wear a plastic chest protector and really glad I had it on as my chest was the first thing to hit the ground THUD. It still hurt but I got up. My bike was still running with the left handle bar buried in the mud holding the clutch lever in. I couldn’t lift it up at first. My ribs were hurting and I couldn’t reach the clutch lever. It died and I got her standing upright. Now it wouldn’t restart so I just set there winded and watched the last lap go by. As the last few bikes rolled by I got her started and the scorekeeper waved to me it was OK to come on by and get counted as finishing. I had to yell out my number as the number plates were covered. Back in the pits Dave went to lift my bike up on the stand and said the little Hodaka was now about 400 lbs with all of the mud on it. Mark & Darrin came over to see what had happened to me and said I had actually placed 4th or 5th just because I finished and some other didn’t. Mark had placed 3rd in my race and Andy had placed 2nd in the Novice class. I didn’t remember how everyone else did, sorry; I was preoccupied to see what went wrong with my bike.
My son Austin #826 and his refurbished 1984 YZ 125 prior to Diamond Don's trip
Dave helped me clean 20lbs of mud off the top of my engine. The spark plug “top” metal tip showed carbon build up and I took the spark plug cap off and cut it open and it also was covered in the black powdery soot. What was happening was my plug wire cap was allowing the spark to ground out through the muddy water on top of my engine. I replaced the cap with an extra one I had. It wasn’t a “Sparky” waterproof type but it was at least new. The bike fired right up and sounded as strong as ever. I quickly look through the duct taped up air box showed my air filter was very clean. Excellent! I told Mark my goal was to just beat him in moto two.
VINTAGE MOTO #2 "A Shocking Moto":
The muddy carnage had claimed many victims, as many riders were not showing up for moto two. The starting lines were looking thinner in all classes. As we were revving up ready to go I see Mark kicking away on his bike. Next he is pushing it up and down with no luck. The last thing I see as the number board was flipping over is Mark has his bike on it’s side like it’s loaded up. It looks like I will get my wish on beating him but not as I had planned on doing it. Off we go and my Rat is hanging right in there with Jubal Brown’s Suzuki and a Honda Elsinore. The three of us are way ahead of the field and I hit the first big water hole. Bogg, Bogg, Dead. NO, NOT AGAIN!!! I roll up a rather large hill with a dead engine. I drag the bike off the track and wrap a bunch of yellow ribbon around my wheels. GREAT, now I have a dead bike and look like a dork. I wiggle my new plug cap and she fires up. Off I go only to have the same thing happen at every splash of water on the course. Sometimes it dies and other times I reach down and wiggle the wire and get the dog doo shocked out of me. Have you ever been shocked by a CDI ignition running at about 5000 RPM”S? It will make you jump with each and every pulse it makes. Made me forget about my ribs hurting though . As mentioned, I am not a quitter so I proceed to race each lap as I fight to keep my bike alive all while getting shocked many times each lap. The race ends and I am worn out. Mark and Darrin come over and tell me I ended up in 3rd for the day. I am totally happy with that and that proves you should never give up no matter how bad things seem. Mark did make it out on the track but was a few laps down. Andy nailed 2nd place for the day. Later in the day I see Ron Kahan and he had broken his collar bone on his Husky in another moto. He had been in my class on his Hodaka earlier but I don’t remember if he made it to moto # 2. Ron, if you are reading this I hope you are feeling better.
Austin Smith #826 and Jake Gergen #14U both age 16 and new AHRMA members race in the Ultima 125 Novice Class in their first National.
The cloudy overcast weather has now passed and we had clear skies and even some sun. YEAH. As the awards were given out by World Champion/Pro Racer Danny LaPorte, I walk up to get my third place plaque and was greatly surprised how many people hooted and hollered when I tell announcer Dave Boydson that I was riding a 100cc in the 125 class. Andy gets the same response. Another Hodaka racer that I had never met comes up and says hi to me and shakes my hand. I don’t remember your name so please make yourself known if you are reading this.
THE TRAIN AND DOWNTOWN JEFFERSON TEXAS:
Diamond Don owns a live steam small gauge (36 inch rail width) train that you can ride into the town of Jefferson for $5. My wife Sherry and boys Austin, Jake and I run from the awards presentation and barely make the loading deadline. Pro Basket Ball player turned Vintage Racer Rick Smits is seated behind us along with a buddy and some young boys. It turns out the buddy was one of the photographers that day and remembered my crash and says he has a shot of me lying on the ground. (I need to see that one) Diamond Don’s is only 50 miles from Shreveport Louisiana so the area is all swampy. The train goes through this area with a river on one side and green scummy water on the other. We can see the markings of the 6-mile long hare scramble course that Phil Ketchum had ridden on Friday. It looked like a fun course. When we get into Jefferson, we were told that we had about 2 ½ hours before our return trip back to the racetrack. We went to a large antique shop and were looking for something old and motorcycle related to remember our trip with. My son Austin finds a really cool 1960’s square metal lunch box with the raised edged pictures. It is called “Rough Riders” and has vintage looking dirt bike racers on it. The riders have open face helmets with football mouth guards mounted to them just like the real deal in the 1960’s. What a find! We buy it and go for a walk in downtown Jefferson. Lots of old buildings everywhere so we pop in a old general store that’s loaded with all the old candies, signs and memorabilia. We get some large ice cream cones. Yummy. Pretty soon it’s dark out but the full moon has things lit up. It’s getting cold out and we are in shorts and tee shirts. Lucky for us the train provides blankets for our ride back to camp. The train ride back is called the “Ghost Train” as the steam, full moon, the swamp mixed with the announcer telling us creepy stories all the way back home. It was a neat experience.
Jake Gergen #14G on his sponsored ride. Randy Smith's 1982 RM 125
SUNDAY, IT’S COLD OUT:
With the clear skies the temperature really dropped in the night. Near freezing. Dave was back outside under his EZ UP in a semi damp sleeping bag. Andy is near by lying in his rental car. I am up early cold and hurting from my crash. Diamond Don has a quite time from 10PM to 6AM so no generators are running and we are cold. I am literally standing there with my cell phone in hand waiting for the clock to turn 6AM. As soon as it’s time I fire up the generator and furnace in the motor home. Dave comes in immediately and Andy’s fires up the rental car for some heat. The sun comes out but its still cold. The boys and I need to take our Post Vintage bikes up for 7 AM tech inspection. All goes well there and Dave, Austin and Jake are allowed Novice stripes for their helmets. You see AHRMA makes you sigh up as a Intermediate until you can prove that you are a Novice. The day goes quickly and the muddy track is greatly improved. They used bulldozers to scrap all the liquid mud holes out and refaced the jumps smooth again. Practice goes well. It’s a little slick but a way better track than the day before. Andy needs to catch a plane mid afternoon but he is in moto #14 (Ultima 250) but Dave is in moto #1 (+40) so I recommend Andy switching classes. He does so that solves that. Dave and Andy will both be in moto #1.
Me preparing to wash off my Hodaka after I picked the embarrassing ribbon out of my wheels and axles
SUNDAY POST VINTAGE RACES:
The Sunday Races went fast. They had a fairly large turnout, as the weather was much nicer. We had a late start, which had Andy watching his time. Dave, Austin and Jake were all racing their first National. I was now on a tall squishy feeling 1980 YZ 125 that felt weird after racing my stiff low to the ground Hodaka the day before. In Dave and Andy’s +40 class they have a ongoing battle like tease on who is going to hole shot who. Andy can out ride Dave but Dave constantly beats Andy off the line. No surprises here. Dave beats Andy to the first corner yet Andy beats Dave on the track in both moto’s. Andy nails another 2nd place and Dave gets 4th which is one of his better finishes. With the boys, they are both riding newer bikes. Jake is riding my 1982 RM 125 and coming off his first ever win at the last Missouri Series Race (www.MOVMX.com) but has been plagued with poor starts. I had been working with him lately. The coaching pays off as he hole shots moto #1 with my son Austin (former hole shot king) in tow. After the first moto, Austin asks me why I had been coaching Jake like I should be playing favorites to my own son in a kidding way. I explain that for one, Jake is riding one of my bikes and two, making Jake faster will make Austin faster. Moto two Austin decides it’s time to show Jake who is the real king of hole shots and gets there first but Jake is right on him for the whole race. They finish Austin 2nd and Jake 3rd in both moto’s and for the day. I am real proud of both of them. I proceed to get the hole shot myself in my first moto but would fade after about two laps with hurting ribs and getting smoked by some lightweight small guys. They were way faster than I was in the deep, I mean REAL DEEP ruts. The track was torn up bad. The PV bikes are taller and they make deep ruts that keep going until you hit a tree root or something that will kick you hard. I wasn’t in no mood to crash again so just enjoyed my good starts and staying upright. In the second moto I had a sharp pain that assured me that I had broken some ribs so I just stood up and cruised to the finish. (remember, I ain’t no quitter). It was a good day for all of us fun wise except Dave did tweak his leg a bit causing him to limp.
I think there were 8 Side Car rigs there. I had never got to see them run in person before but have always been attracted to them. You see I raced heavily modified 3 Wheelers for about 15 years so I can relate to the wild body moves needed to get them to turn. Controlled insanity is how we used to describe racing the 3 Wheelers and standing there watching them race made me think about doing it. That was until I saw one of the monkeys loose his footing and slam his ribs into the handhold. OUCH, my ribs were hurting enough anyway. Janette that hangs out on the Hodaka site was the monkey for her husband and they spanked the whole field bad. I saw them clearing the jumps like a lighter weight two-wheeler. That was Ultra Cool Janette. You are my hero.
The plaques given out were funny. They had Diamond Don’s head placed on Brad Lackey’s body while on his RM back when he won his championship. Unfortunately due to the number of pre entries neither Dave (4th place), or Jake (3rd place) received a plaque. I didn’t get one either because I was slow. Andy’s second place was a Vintage plaque from the day before but he had already left to catch his plane and we didn’t notice it until we got home so couldn’t really exchange it. Austin was tickled with second place and was given extra attention for placing in his first National event and being barely age 16 but looking older due to his size (5’ 11” and 210 lbs). He got the cool Diamond Don plaque, a tee shirt and a Kawasaki Coozie (we have two Kawasaki’s at home). I felt sorry for Jake. He rode hard; the best so far and even had the hole shot. When we got back home I gave him my third place (Jake also was third) plaque from Saturday signed by Danny LaPorte. Jake lit up and gave me a big hug. It was the right thing to do.
THE NO FUN PART:
We had been walking, camping, racing and standing in two and three inch deep water for 3 days now. Needless to say the Motor Home was stuck after a solid 75 foot run at the road in reverse while backing a trailer. Yes it was a crazy move but the only one I had. What killed us was the trailer hitch dug into the road and stopped us cold. To the rescue was Diamond Don his self. He was busy pulling out people right and left but he is so very cool, he acted like he had all the time in the world. I hooked up the chain to the frame while I laid on a trash bag in the mud. He told me only to steer and put it in neutral. He pulled us with a small track type bulldozer like we were a lightweight kids wagon. He even had time to turn around and make a face with his hands in the air as my wife took a picture from inside the motor home looking out the windshield. What a cool guy. THANK YOU DIAMOND!!!!!!!!!! As I drove around the circular road that surrounded the pits Dave and the boys sloshed through the goo to get all of our bikes, gear and tool boxes to the edge of the road. What took 2 hours to load at home took about 30 minutes in what I called “Power Loading”. Dave was limping, the boys were worn out from their intense battle with each other and my ribs limited my strength and movement. Needless to say, we were blocking one of the two roads out of there but we had no choice. The sun was cooking us as the humidity was real high. We were on a mission but the teamwork was high.
THE COOL PART:
Just as we were about done, the Swedish brothers show up and made me a buy back deal on the Honda 125 that I couldn’t pass up so we exchange some money, load another bike and say our good byes to our friends from across the ocean. They invite us to come to Sweden and stay and race with them sometime. That would be cool. They had a great time and did well in their races with one of them winning a class on Saturday in the mud. They said that they have snow 5 months of the year and they practice in it so the mud felt like home for them. What a cool experience for all of us.
THE DRIVE HOME:
The drive home was no fun, never is. The only problem was we were leaving at about 6PM and driving a minimum of about 10 hours or so after broken sleep the last two nights and then racing in tough conditions with ailing bodies. We got gas after dark and with some idiot cutting me off in the town of Paris Texas; I missed a turn that added about 20 minutes to the trip. Later on I misunderstood a turn as Dave was sleeping and that caused me to have to turn around the motor home on a two-lane highway in the middle of nowhere. That is no easy feat being 56 feet long at night on a narrow road. Luckily my wife Sherry was awake and we hadn’t gone too far out of our way. I drove non-stop for 8 ½ hours and made it to the Kansas border and handed off the final two hours to Dave while I dozed in and out. He is a morning guy and I am a night owl so it worked out good. We arrived home at 4:30 AM Monday. The boys had school so they had slept most of the way home but still napped a little more once home. I stayed up until 10AM and put things away then went to bed for about 3 hours.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Once I woke up I went in and had my ribs and chest Xrayed. Luckily nothing was broken or fractured. The Doctor told me I was “Bruised, Contused and Abused”. I still feel it but glad it’s nothing more than some bruising. Dave went mushroom hunting that morning and walked his leg pain out so he was OK. Probably a pulled muscle or a bad cramp caused his pain.
We feel that we came pretty close to meeting our Quest for podium finishes for all of us. The way it ended up was as follows:
Andy-two second places Vintage Sportsman 125 (on a 100cc) and +40 PV Sandbagger err Novice
Austin-second place PV Ultima 125 Novice
Jake-third place PV Ultima 125 Novice
Dave-forth place PV +40 Novice
Randy-third place Sportsman 125 Intermediate (on a 100cc)
Would we do it all again? You Bet! Diamond Don’s is a class act and a must do event. If the weather had been nicer it would have been even better. Marking it down for next year. Now if I could only get Andy to drive the Motor Home next year. Then I could fly in like a big shot. Must be nice to have a support crew waiting on you (Grin)
Randy Smith #324