San Diego salutes it’s motocross heritage
And San Diego saluted that great heritage at the World Famous Del Mar Fair which concluded it’s 2001 run on July 4th. During that time over 1.1 million persons came thru the turnstiles to sample the Fair’s Endless Summer theme.
Marty Smith, Broc Glover, Marty Tripes, Jim Pomeroy, Marty Moates, and others were on hand to “Meet & Greet” Southern Calironia racing fans. I asked some of the guys a few questions, and here’s what they had to say:
Jim Pomeroy – The first American to win a World Championship Motocross Grand Prix.
Rick: Looking back at your career, what does motocross mean to you?
Jim: It’s hard to describe in a few words. Looking back, it’s helped me in so many ways. First of all, I’m honored and proud to be associated with the sport. And I’m pleased to be able to give back to it like we are doing here today.
Rick: What do you feel was your greatest accomplishment?
Jim: It would be my first win at the Spanish 250 Grand Prix in 1973. It was America’s first ever GP win. It helped build my confidence, but it also helped build the confidence of other American riders. I proved that America could compete on the world level.
Rick: What have you been doing since retiring from motocross?
Jim: I retired at age 30. I was tired of seeing so many doctors and therapists for all the twisted ankles and knees I had ; ) Starting in 1980 I did a few motocross schools. I did that until 1987. Then I had a bit of bad luck. I was involved in a head-on car collision. The driver of the car I was riding in fell asleep. That was quite a set-back for a number of years. Lately I’ve been getting more involved with motorcycling again. I do a lot of trail riding.
Also, I’m very happily married to my wife of five years. I’m a landlord and I take care of my properties. I have a four year old daughter, and that has really changed my life for the better.
PHOTO:Rick Johnson & Marty Tripes
Marty Tripes – Winner of the first Superbowl of Motocross at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972. (It’s considered the birthplace of the sport of supercross as we know it today.)
Rick: What does motocross mean to you?
Marty: Like most boys in our hometown back then, I grew up just wanting to ride bikes. I loved bikes. I loved dirt. I loved the challenge of trying to climb the biggest hills. The challenge of going down the biggest hills. Racing around and passing your buddies on their bikes. It was fun. That’s what it was all about – fun.
I guess when things really hit me was the Monday after that first win at the L. A. Coliseum. That’s when I realized what all that practice and training and riding meant.
Rick: Your riding style helped revolutionize the sport. You brought style into it rather than muscle even though you were a strong, stocky guy. You were known for your finesse. Who do you feel contributed the most to your style?
Marty: A Czech professor. My dad is Czechoslovakian. He and I went back to Czechoslovakia when I was 12, and we went to the CZ motorcycle factory there. In Europe at that time you could not race professional motocross until you were 21 years old. They thought it was phenomenal that I had been racing already in the United States.
There was a Grand Prix in Czechoslovakia, and I was asked to do a parade lap. I rode a 250 for that, which I had never done before. I did one lap, and a guy came over and started talking to my dad. He was a friend of Joel Robert and Roger DeCoster. This man was a professor. This man explained things to me like I had never heard before. I could absorb everything he was telling me, and I just went out and did it. His whole method of instruction was based on flowing with the bike instead of trying to fight it.
Rick: When I was a kid, I would watch you ride at the local tracks around our house like Carlsbad, Saddleback, Dehesa, Four Corners, and Speedway 117. There was always this urban legend that when you went to Czechoslovakia they had you on a trials bike. Is that true?
Marty: No. The thing that started that rumor is based on some reality though. I had to stand up all the time because they took the seat off of the bike. They took the seat off the bike and said ‘Ride it kid’ and that opened up a whole new world for me. It taught me to do everything standing up on the bike. And when the professor would explain things to me about flowing smoothly with the bike, it all made perfect sense to me.
Rick: When you retired from racing you did quite a few different things with JT Racing and Paintball. What are you doing now?
Marty: I had 20 years of involvement with Paintball. I’m out of that completely now. Now I’m doing Marty Tripes Extreme Baja Tours. We do tours in Mexico from Tecate all the way down to Cabo. We also do three day tours from Tecate to San Felipe. That’s my new enterprise. I also do Marty’s Gourmet Mushrooms. I cook and saute mushrooms and then package and sell them. Soon we’ll have our web-site up at http://www.martysgourmetmushrooms.com I’m just starting that out.
Marty Moates – First American winner of the United States 500 Grand Prix of Motocross at Carlsbad Raceway.
Rick: What does your motorcycle career mean to you today?
Marty: I’m proud to have done what I did and got where I did in motocross. I think most of those things happened because I was honest in all my relationships. And that philosophy has helped me today in business with No Fear and Spy. And I’m really happy to be involved with all these guys that are sitting at the table here next to me.
Rick: How special then is it to be here with your peers?
Marty: It’s very special. I was telling one of the guys here that I quit high-school because his dad called me and said ‘Rickman (a motorcycle company) wants you to come to Florida with Marty to race’. I really think they wanted me to go because I was about six months older and I could drive ; ) I know all of the guys here very well. We’ve had a great time over the years. They all have accomplished a lot more than I have. I’m just a lucky guy to have these great friends.
Rick: What are you doing today?
Marty: Fortunately, Mark Simo was my mechanic when I raced the USGP in 1980. When I was at a cross-roads in my career and trying to figure out what to do with my life Mark started a company called No Fear. Well, fast forward a number of years and I’m a partner in No Fear and another company called Spy. I’m a vice-president in both, and I’m happy as can be.
PHOTO: Broc Glover’s 1983 factory Yamaha
Broc Glover – 6 time AMA Motocross Champion
Rick: Broc, you were my idol growing up. Now we are here together. What has motocross meant to you?
Broc: Motocross has been very, very good to me ; ) Seriously though …. motocross has been very important to me. It’s a part of my past, and it was a major part of my life. I enjoyed doing it too. I still like the sport, but because I’m no longer winning motorcycle races doesn’t mean I’m heartbroken. My life didn’t stop because racing ended.
Rick: Both of us see many young riders coming up. Would you like to give any of them advice?
Broc: If someone wanted my advice, sure, I’d love to help out any way I could. Does anyone want my advice? ; ) Would they listen?
Marty Smith adds: Many of today’s kids were not around when we were racing. They don’t know us. I don’t think they have any respect for us do they Broc? ; ) I deal with a lot of young riders. Many of them just want to go out and look stylish and cool … they don’t care about getting serious enough to win.
Broc: I agree. And Marty really has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening with today’s young riders because he deals with them on a daily basis. I know when I was a kid, I wanted to do whatever Marty Smith was doing. He was “it”. He was the best at the time, so I wanted to do what he was doing, and add my personal touch to it. It’s probably the same with young riders today – they are only looking at what Ricky Carmichael and Jeremy McGrath and Travis Pastrana are doing. Maybe with Ricky Carmichael winning so convincingly you’ll start to see a shift back to an emphasis on physical conditioning and training. Ricky had a lot of unfulfilled expectations the past few years. Then he got more serious about his physical condition this past season, and his results show it. Maybe a few people will take notice that if you put in the extra effort it will show up on the race track.
Rick: What’s important to you today?
Broc: Right now the single most important thing in my life is my family. I have a young daughter, and I want to be a good father and husband. My family is where most of my focus is at today.
PHOTO: Broc Glover & Marty Smith
Marty Smith – 3 time AMA Motocross Champion
Rick: Marty, now that you look back on your motocross career, what does it all mean to you?
Marty: Now it’s very important to me because I have a son named Tyler, and Tyler is riding. He sees what the sport is doing now, and he knows about the things that I’ve done in the past. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more TV coverage back in our day? ; ) I’d love to show that kind of stuff to my son, and I know he’d like to see it. But the bottom line is my son knows what I’m about. My son loves motocross. I don’t want him to follow in my footsteps though. If he wants to race, I’ll back him 100%.
People ask me today “Don’t you wish you were racing in today’s era because the money is so great?” And I say “Heck no!” The money was great in my day too …. it’s all relative. No way would I want to ride and go thru what those guys go thru today. I’m happy as can be right where I am.
Rick: Being here today with some of our peers, is this special to you?
Marty: Always. I used to hang out with some of these guys 32 or 33 weekends a year. And you get close to each other, and many times you become friends. Tommy Croft is a good example. He’s my friend, I wish he was here today, but unfortunately he couldn’t make it. All of us here go way back together.
Now that we are older, and we hang out at events like this, it’s even more special. Back them we were friends, but we were all friends because we had to be. Now when we get together there is no competitiveness ….. it’s great to see each other.
Rick: What are you doing today?
Marty: I teach motocross schools all over Southern California. I’ve got a web-site http://www.martysmithmotocross.com That’s a big part of my life. The main things for me are my family and my schools and having fun.
PHOTO: Allan Seymour & Gavin Trippe
Gavin Trippe – Race promoter who brought the 500cc U. S. Grand Prix of Motocross to America
Rick: What was the genesis for getting that event started?
Gavin: When I first came to America there was no motocross racing. Edison Dye started the ball rolling with what he did to get motocross into this country, but I believe it was more marketing based.
We arranged for a meeting with the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association). At the meeting we went up to the chalkboard, and explained the rules for Grand Prix. We applied to have a Grand Prix. The guy in charge at the time just said “Sure, why not?” They wanted us to run three races that were without points for the championship to see that we could do it.
That very first Trans-AMA race was 30 years ago. The first true Grand Prix was in 1973. That was won by Willi Bauer on a Maico. We ran 17 races all together.
At the same time, I helped take the first Americans over to England for road racing. Those were the Trans-Atlantic Match races. We took Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson, Freddie Spencer … all kinds of guys over there.
Rick: Today the sport has become very polished and organized. Can you remember any stories from back in your day that maybe show where the sport has come from?
Gavin: There are all kinds of stories ; ) Some things that you think didn’t matter at the time actually ended up influencing a lot of peoples lives. I was a promoter. The racers were racers. When those racers were young back then, they think they are “self-important”.
Well, about six months ago I bumped into Freddie Spencer. He came over to me and said “Hey Gavin, when you took a chance with me and took me over to England to ride Irv Kanemoto’s Yamaha I was around 18 or 19 years old. When I walked thru the tunnel at Brands-Hatch and saw 50,000 people there, it was at that moment that I knew what it all meant to me. That was a turning point in my life.” That made me feel very good.
As far as the Carlsbad GP goes …. it had it all. Topless ladies running around, tires being burned, people smoking dope, fights, beer drinking, overnight camping problems … nightmares everywhere. I’ve got lots of stories on those ; ) We did 17 events and never had a lawsuit. Can you believe that?
One time we actually had a guy sneak in at the Carlsbad race, and he thought it would be a good idea to try and fly a flag into the crowd. He hit a lady in the back, and it injured her quite seriously. I got the ABC Wide World of Sports helicopter to find and follow that guy. They followed him as he was trying to get away in his dune buggy over the back hills behind Carlsbad Raceway. The ABC guys called the police, and by the time he got to the paved road the police where there waiting for him.
Allan Seymour – Organizer/Promoter of getting all these guys together here at the Del Mar Fair.
Rick: How did you pull it off to get all of us here today?
Allan: My company (Seymour Productions) produces special events. Those events range from dealer conferences to special race shows to something like we are doing today. Here for the Del Mar Fair I was hired to do the Endless Summer Exhibit (Endless Summer is also the theme to this year’s fair). My interpretation of the Endless Summer beyond the surfing part of it was to showcase summer-time extreme sports. That’s how we came to do this with some of the pioneers of motocross.
Bruce Brown is the person responsible for both Endless Summer and On Any Sunday. Both of those are classic movies. In talking with Bruce, he suggested I talk with some of the guys to make this all happen. I networked with a lot of people to get things going. I talked with Malcolm Smith …. I know Marty Moates from years ago, and Marty helped me connect with all the motocross guys here. The camaraderie these guys have together is great.
Malcolm Smith’s vintage Husqvarna
Marty Moates winning bike at the 1980 USGP
Rick: FYI – other San Diego county moto-residents include Jeremy McGrath, David Bailey, Ron Lechien, Tommy Croft, Mike Craig, and many more.