14 February 2009

Vintage Scrambles

This is a fascinating video from about 1966 or '67, narrated by Murray Walker of the BBC.

As motorcycles go, this is pretty literally from the Dawn Of Time, before such things as suspension travel were invented. Watch these things bounce around under the Iron Men who (barely) controlled them. Keep in mind that long travel suspension was not introduced for the comfort of the rider but rather to keep the rear wheel on the ground so it would produce forward drive. All the horsepower in the world will not make the machine go faster if the rear wheel is in the air.

This race is also at about the point in time when lightweight two-smokes started to take over from larger displacement heavier four-strokes in competition as you will see. It was in 1965 that Gary Conrad on a 250 Greeves beat the 40-cubic-inch twins and 30.50 singles for the overall win in a SoCal desert race for the very first time. Opinion was divided amongst those who said it couldn't be done and those who said it was a fluke and would never happen again. Heh.

Do not miss this, and particularly the sorta spectacular race to the finish line. Enjoy.

Thanks to mudhugger.


This video brings back a personal story. Jeff Smith, a World Champion and prominent in the video, came over to the U.S. to race in the late '60s. He gave an evening school on riding motocross which I attended. It was free. Motocross was just getting going in those days, so most of the attendees were desert racers. He gave a lot of good tips and advice, like yelling at the rider in front of you to get him to move over. I've tried it and it works!

He also said to never ride faster than you can see to stop. Makes perfect sense, but it brought the house down! When the laughter stopped, there stood Mr. Smith with a really puzzled look on his face. He had never ridden a desert race and was giving this piece of advice to a roomful of guys who were completely comfortable riding as fast as they could go in dust so thick they couldn't see their front wheel! I didn't say we were smart. Someone explained it to him and he grinned and shook his head. I don't think he thought we were very smart either.

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