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                                                                                      On the line

Each Month I get a fair amount of email from viewers from all over the world. It's really nice to hear from people that all have a common interest and passion for the history of motocross from the "Golden Era." Most of the emails are from viewers commenting on the site or how one particular bike or another in this collection has brought back fond memories. Some of the emails are from people providing leads to different bikes and some of those leads have actually lead to purchases for this collection. Last week I got an interesting email from a former Suzuki employee who was there in the early stages of Suzuki's involvement in motocross. This guys name is Willie. Willie worked in the race/service department at Suzuki's headquarters and actually took part in making sure the works bikes were crushed at the end of each season. How painful that must have been to watch a multi ton wrecking ball flatten a super trick handmade factory works bike. And to top it off, have to take a before and after picture of each bike being destroyed. Now that's torture.

Willie also had another interesting story. He had to deliver the bike you see in the above picture to a photo shoot for Suzuki's advertising department and Champion spark plugs. The bike is a 1970 RN70 (370) used by Joel Robert in the 1970 Trans am series. As you can see it is in the original as last raced condition which in my opinion is by far the most desirable condition for a bike like this. Especially when it has a history attached to it. The photo shoot was to take place in the San Fernando Valley quite a way's from Suzuki's headquarters in Santa Fe Springs California and there he would meet up with the film crew and Joel Robert himself for the photo shoot. The idea was to have Joel sit with the bike on a very posh Saltillo paved driveway. You may remember the ad as it did make print and was featured in many magazines in the day.

The photo shoot took longer than expected and when it was all done, it was late and everybody at Suzuki was gone for the day. Not wanting to take a chance of leaving the bike and van in the Suzuki parking lot overnight, Willie did the responsible thing and took the bike home and even went as far as to take the bike out of the van and put it in the living room of his parents house for the night. Prior to this a couple of other works Suzuki's were stolen and Willie did not want to be responsible for losing this bike. How cool it must have been to have Joel Robert's works Suzuki in your living room back in the day. I doubt Willie got any sleep that night.

The bike was Suzuki's first attempt at building an open class motocrosser. It is very similar to the 1970 RH250 except the 370 featured an all aluminum engine as opposed to the sand cast magnesium engine found on the 250. Another unique feature to this bike is that it housed a four speed gearbox that would be carried over to 1971 and finally discarded for a five speed in 1972. Also, notice how high up the motor sits in the frame. Again, in 1972 the motor was dropped and the handling was improved. Joel rode the bike initially in Europe and then it was sent to the States in the fall of 1970 for the Trans-am series where Joel made it debut midway through the series at Delta Ohio. Joel proceeded to dominate from that point on and this would be the first time one of these exotic works bikes was raced on US soil. This is the bike that Joel was riding in the movie "On any Sunday."  Below is a shot of  Joel racing it in Europe and there are some great photos of Joel on this very bike in one of the 1971 Popular Cycling magazines and also some of the 1970 weekly Cycle News papers. I will try to find them and scan and post pictures on this page so check back.

The whereabouts of this bike is unknown. It is not certain that it was destroyed and to ad to the story a 1970 RH250 that looks nearly identical to this bike as well as a 50cc road racer was stolen and has yet to be recovered. If anyone has any lead to either of these bikes or any bikes like these from this era, there is a reward for information leading to a purchase and top dollar will be paid for the bike. Please contact me with any info at the address below.

 

Terry Good   March 31, 2008

wanted@mxworksbike.com