“Go Straight, Turn Left”
“Feet Up, Stay Between the Tapes”
By Steve Caro
Photography by Kathryn Caro
Campo, CA. Aug. 1-2
Since its inception in late 2001, CALVMX has two primary goals, to preserve the sights and sounds of the early days of U.S motocross and to provide period correct venues in which machines of past era’s can be raced once again.
For the current president of CALVMX (and newly appointed AHRMA Southwest Race Director for motocross, dirt track and trials), Frank Vrettas, it has been an on going crusade to keep vintage racing viable and growing in Southern California. The goal of CALVMX and its national partner AHRMA is to persuade the owners of vintage machines stored away in sheds and garages to put the machines back into use along with encouraging younger generations of riders to give classic racing a try rather than simply dismissing the machines from bygone eras as antiquated contraptions.
In an effort to increase the attraction of vintage racing in all its various disciplines, CALVMX and AHRMA staged a weekend of flat track and trials competition at Camp Lockett Event and Equestrian Facility (CLEEF) in Campo, California. A designated historical facility, its history includes use by the Buffalo Calvary Soldiers, WW-2 German and Italian P.O.W’s, and a junior-senior high school. Excellent communication between the promoters and the facility’s management led to a highly successful first time event.
Saturday’s event was an open format flat track race held on a short track laid out within the main horse arena. The open format of the races featured machines ranging from 50cc minicycles, knobby tire MX bikes, dual sport machines and rope start mini bikes on up to purpose built flat track machinery (including a two-stroke twin Yamaha with a haunting wail). Joining the program were the crowd-pleasing three wheelers and quads.
Fourteen heat races were run in rapid succession to set starting positions in the finals. Excellent watering by track officials (volunteers Rudy Gil, Elliot Iverson, Eli Iverson, and Brian Bell from the Imperial Valley Flat Track group) kept traction ideal and dust minimal. Class winners included Randi Schaller (Yam) topping Powder Puff Novice while Penny Bridges and Pat Farmer finished 1-2 in Powder Puff Beginner, while Geoff Patrick (Tri) took the trophy in Classic 250 Beginner. A crowd favorite was Rodney “Bubba” Schaller, the young son of racers Randi and Bob Schaller. Suzuki mounted Bubba, having only recently removed his training wheels, rode smooth and consistent to take the under 12- 50cc Beginner class, even putting his left foot out and leaning into the turns at the end of the final.
Former factory motocross pro Scott “The Burner” Burnworth gave oval track racing a try and quickly adapted to having only a rear brake and turning left. By the end of the day, Burnworth had powered his way to three class wins on Ossa and Honda machinery.
One of the most spectacular races on Saturday was the duel between Tanner Pies and Tom Decrescente in the Three Wheeler Expert division final. Never more than two or three bike lengths apart, the two aces broad slid the corners almost completely sideways, throwing huge amounts of roost towards the spectators. Pies’ extreme body lean closely resembled that of a sidecar speedway passenger. After repeated tries, Pies dove inside Decrescente on the last lap and took the victory, followed by Descrescente. Trailing them was Intermediate class entrant Mike Dunn who topped his division.
Sunday’s schedule featured more flat track, along with a ten-section observed trials course designed by Matt Parsons. The flat track portion featured entries by two motocross pioneers (and Baja winners), Bill Silverthorn and Gene Fetty. Aged 74 and 73, both showed fine form on the track with Husqvarna mounted Silverthorn battling with racers some 20 years younger. Even a low side spill exiting turn three and being bumped by a fellow rider did nothing to slow Silverthorn as he took wins in 60+ Sportsman Expert, Open Knobby and a well earned second behind veteran flat tracker Steve Kukla in Open Super Senior Expert. Fetty took wins in Open Senior Intermediate and 60+ Sportsman Intermediate.
In a flashback to the late 1960’s, pull start mini-bikes took to the short track on Sunday. Featuring both home and factory built mounts, the diminutive machines put on a great show. Class winners were Gar Wood in Novice, Ron Wood in Beginner and CALVMX President Frank Vrettas in Open Intermediate.
Interspersed with the flat track program, Sunday included observed trials competition. Scott Burnworth again showed his versatility on two wheels by entering his first observed trials event. Using a Keith Lynas supplied Ossa Mick Andrews Replica, “Burner” maneuvered his way thru the ten sections successfully to take the win in Modern Classic Novice, followed by Luke Sayer. In Modern Classic Expert, Rick Daniel (Yam) showed he could dominate a challenging trials course as well as he frequently does in vintage motocross competition. Ed Lowenberg tallied a second behind Daniel.
For a first-time event, the two days of classic racing at a new venue was a successful venture. Crashes and bike damage were minimal, with the most serious injury on the weekend being a minor forearm scrape to one competitor. Local residents turned out in healthy numbers and facility managers were highly impressed with the execution of the event. Tentative plans for a race series at the venue for 2016, along with an old school scrambles event for pre-1975 machines are now in the works.
Classic motocross resumes August 22 at a new venue for the vintage community. 212 MX Land in Boulevard, CA, will host VMX for the first time. Although a bit of a drive for racers living outside of San Diego County, racers are highly encouraged to attend and make this a venue a site for future events.
Further photos and race coverage can be found at:
Flat Track Entry Forms
CALVMX CLASSES AHRMA CLASSES
Dinosaur: Pre-1952 Dinosaur: 1951 & Earlier
Classic 250: Pre-1967 Classic 250: '67 & Earlier
Classic 500: Pre-1968 Classic 500: '67 & Earlier
Sportsman 250: Pre-1975 Sportsman 250: '74 & Earlier
Sportsman 600 Pre-1968 Sportsman 600: '67 & Earlier
Sportsman 750 Pre-1968 Sportsman 750: '67 & Earlier
Plus 50 Sportsman Senior Sportsman
Plus 60 Sportsman Super Senior Sportsman
70's Singles (Bomber) 70's Singles: < 501cc 4 Stroke
70's 2 Stroke Pre-1982 70's 2 Stroke '81 & Earlier 250
70's Singles : 50+ 70's Singles: 50+
Post Vintage 250 250 Framer: '99 & Earlier
Post Vintage 600 4 Stroke Super Single <601cc
Open Any bike
Open Super Senior +60
Powder Puff Any Bike
Hooligan- Street harley
Open 3 Wheeler
Adult Mini 80Less than 81cc
Adult Mini 100Less than 101cc
Adult Mini 150Less than 151cc
Pull StartLess than 6 HP
Pull Start Open
Youths 12 & Under Less Than 51cc
Youths 12 & Under Less Than 101cc
Youths 12 & Under Open Any Size
Youths Up to 16 Less Than 51cc
Youths Up to 16 Less Than 101cc
Youths Up to 16 Open Any Size
CALVMX/ AHRMA SW Trials Classes
Note: All classes further divided into Expert, Intermediate and Novice rider ability levels (plus a Master class in Modern Classic). A separate non-points-paying Beginner category is offered for riders on any AHRMA-eligible trials machine.
*Girder Fork: Any rigid-frame, girder-fork machine.
*Rigid Heavyweight: Any non-swingarm machine utilizing a 301cc or larger, non-unit-construction four-stroke engine
*Rigid Lightweight: Any non-swingarm machine, utilizing a two- or four-stroke engine, up to 300cc.
*Premier Heavyweight: Certain pre-1965-era machines 350cc and larger.
*Premier Lightweight: Certain pre-1965-era machines up to 250cc.
*Classic: British kit-framed two-stroke machines up to model year 1974 with 175cc or smaller OEM engine, and Spanish four-speeds to 250cc in original OEM frame.
*Modern Classic: Any US-model unit-construction machine up to model year 1979
Visit the AHRMA.org for further Observed Trials info.