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                Danny LaPorte, Marty Smith, an unknown privateer and Terry Good line up for moto one at Delta Ohio.      Photo: Werner Straub  

                                                       On the line

Just when you think you've seen and know it all, along comes a bike that just floors you. Such was the case when Marty Smith's 1976 RC125M Type 2 showed up. The bike arrived disassembled in 2 crates so I got to a chance to inspect most of the parts closely as I was cleaning and assembling the bike. I was really surprised to find out how trick and innovative the bike is. Much different that what I thought it would be as there were parts and design ideas I had never seen before. The engineering and detail to each part is staggering. Every little part is machined with precision and has it's purpose to function and be as strong and light as possible. The inside of the motor is an absolute showcase of engineering and machine work, some of the parts inside would pass for jewelry. This is one bike that was way ahead of the curve and it's a shame it only saw 3 races in the US.  It is obvious that a blank check was issued when they designed and built this bike. I happened to be at the 125 National at Delta Ohio when this bike was debuted and it was the talk of the day. Everybody was lining up to check it out. Right before he first moto, I was making a few practice starts down the start straight to clean my bike out and on the third run, Marty pulled up next to me with the Type 2. I went first and was well on my way when all of a sudden Marty passed me as if he was on a 400! I had never been passed like that. The bike sounded so crisp and made amazing power, what a humbling experience right before the start. It happened just before the picture above was taken. Talk about getting your confidence zapped. I was talking to Marty a couple of weeks ago and he remembers the bike as being light years ahead of what he was previously riding. Bob Hannah remembers it well too. "If Marty had that bike from the start of the 76 season, it would have been a different series." Without a doubt the 70's was the "Golden Era" of the works bike. Not to take anything away from the 80's as we all know the mid 80's Honda's are the trickest and most expensive motocross bikes ever built, but it was the 70's that saw the most change. Remember how cool it was to go to the Nationals or Trans-ams and check out the new works bikes? These bikes had nothing in common with what you or I could buy and they were often updated on a weekly basis. There was always some new widget that left the spectator wondering what the purpose of it was and how much magic it possessed. What would it be like to ride one and how much faster could I go on one of these handmade specials? They were the result of  engineers pushing the envelope with what seemed like unlimited budgets. Half of the fun was just seeing the new bikes at the races and that's kind of the essence of this site, to preserve that era.

I'm almost done with Bob Hannah's memories from the 1976 125 Nationals from the interview that I did with him back in November and it is full of never told before Hannah folklore from his early days. Bob was really gracious to share his memories and I'm sure you will enjoy this. It will be posted very soon.

I have released a couple photo CD's that are on ebay right now and are very reasonably priced. One is of Marty Tripes' 1979 RC250 Honda and the other is of Johnny O'Mara's 1981 RC250 Honda. Each CD has between 120 and 130 photos of every imaginable angle and detail of the bikes. They are large files (over 1 meg. each) and can be used to make prints. Also, you can zoom in on all the special features of each bike. Both bikes are in un-restored original condition so it's like having a pit pass back in the day. I use the Windows Picture and Viewer. Just go back to the news page and click on the ebay icon. More bikes will follow.

Terry Good    January 29, 2008