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Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming:
"WOW, what a ride !!!"

The AMERICAN Historic Racing Motorcycle Association
Salutations and Frustrations


Stu Osborn

AHRMA as an organization has been around since the early 90’s facilitating Vintage Roadrace and Superbike, Twins and Singles, Tourist Trophy and Dirt Track, Vintage Motocross and Cross-Country, Post-Vintage Motocross and Observed Trials events across the entire nation and that’s a heckuva lot of racing to oversee. AHRMA has had its issues over the years but by and large, AHRMA as an organization has done a decent job of reacting to their membership’s disparate views, political and non-political, wide-reaching and specific, individual and massive. AHRMA is by nature controversial having been assembled from several large vintage racing organizations pieced together to form a single national effort made up of members with very diverse backgrounds. And as such there exists a wide range of opinions about AHRMA, both good and bad. Even members and non-members who endorse AHRMA have conflicting viewpoints about its leadership today. Mostly AHRMA has done a fantastic job serving its members, providing volunteers from the membership to organize and facilitate so many different events. The Board of Trustees has worked very hard to delineate the many, many different classes that must be maintained to keep the wheels turning across the nation.


Shot taken at the NW Regional
Lumberjack series awards banquet

Some members are very happy with AHRMA, are so happy to be racing that they don’t pay much attention to political opinions and rather choose to concentrate on the great people behind AHRMA and the events themselves. But there are those who think the AHRMA Board of Trustees is capable of tremendous blunders in judgment as evidenced by the way a long-running court case designed to unseat the senior members of the board was handled. Rob Iannucci of Team Obsolete, a former founder has fought AHRMA in court for years over an alleged vendetta to make AHRMA pay for an argument with newly-elected board member Jeff Smith just before Iannucci’s subsequent banning from the organization. The actual reason for that argument has long since past by the wayside but the resulting so-called “frivolous” court case and subsequent Chapter 11 action ending in bankruptcy and disgrace not only took away most of the organization’s funding, including the Benevolent Fund ear-marked for injured riders, but it also has taken away a lot of confidence many AHRMA members had in their organization. This complicated of a mission, to provide a national racing organization for over 1200 members is a daunting task and heck, not even my home region, the Pacific Northwest can accomplish everything exactly right all the time, but the series of ill-advised decisions leading up to the crossroads where AHRMA as an organization finds itself today was at best shocking and at worst a deplorable turn of events for many members.


#39F Bob Brooks at Chehalis, national
125 Sportsman NOV champion who rode 100cc bikes in 2006 to gain the points
title. (Also pictured Ed Chesnut - former
Hodaka employee)

Some members feel exactly the way former AJS pro factory racer Doug Grant feels, “You can put me on record as saying that AHRMA is comprised of passionate, enthusiastic and supportive people, the likes of which one cannot find anywhere on earth. I have been a member for about 15 years and the experience that I have had both on the track and off with the members is priceless.” And Mark “Hollywood” Jarecki sums it up for others when he says, “I am thankful there has been an AHRMA and still IS an AHRMA, in spite of the situation. Like the old saying says, ‘Don’t beat a dead horse.’ “ But others think AHRMA still has growing pains to conquer such as the one AHRMA and AMA political activist Len Lowery points out. “AHRMA as it is now has a reputation for not playing well with others. Think of all the races that have been lost in the NW alone, due to extreme demands and inflexibility on the part of the current board. Many groups have flatly said ‘Never again’, after one round with AHRMA. Dino Daze is a perfect example, and they hold one of the oldest AMA charters in Washington State.” Lowery has been very active politically, leading Pacific Northwest riders to show up in force at Olympia whenever there’s legislative action that threatens to infringe upon rider’s rights to ride without proper representation over arbitrary land use issues that are based purely on decibels with little or no due process for defense. Len also says, “With the current board having such a strong affinity for the preservation of premier and classic era bikes, and constant reminders in Vintage Views magazine that regional coordinators need to be re-educated as to the ‘intended goals’ of AHRMA so there will be no support classes run, it is virtually impossible to fulfill the premise which AHRMA was founded on. Remember that the goal of ‘preservation’ of certain eras is the brainchild of some board members. The official purpose of AHRMA, per its by-laws and articles of incorporation, is to ‘promote’ vintage motorcycling. The term ‘preservation’ never appears in the articles, or the by-laws.”


Stu and racing legend Dick Mann
at the Chehalis Classic, 8/12/06

Yet the effort to preserve the old-school, lightly-entered premier classes seemingly at the expense of post-vintage is apparent when it’s suggested by some coordinators that PV events should be run on separate tracks and on separate days than vintage events allegedly because PV bikes “tear up the track” too much and as discussed by some regional coordinators, when PV events are run on the same day as vintage events, the number of vintage entries will drop. But those charges historically have not proven out as valid or true at non-AHRMA events such as VDRNW and Hammer & Tongs where Vintage and PV bikes are run on the same day, same track. Historically, entry numbers for both classes have for years remained just about even.


100cc racer Tom McAlister with his
Suzuki TM100 at Hannegan Speedway, Bellingham, Washington for the Lumberjack NW series race in 2006

With the recent Board of Trustees election having just ended with both Western incumbents Dick Mann and Fred Mork being reinstated for another 3-year term and one founding member, Jeff Smith being elected back onto the board in the East along with first-year board member Bob Goodpaster, one-quarter of the membership who did cast their ballots decided to stay mostly with the status quo. But Lowery illustrates an astute viewpoint when he says, “Representation needs to be more diverse, particularly in the West. One fourth of the Western leadership is California-based, P&C participants. The East is becoming more diverse than us (in the West), as far as geographical and disciplinary representation is concerned.” Not diverse enough representation can mean decisions aren’t made on behalf of the majority opinion.


Stu on his YZ 100 racing the 100cc class
at Hammer & Tongs Round 2 in 2006
in Onalaska, Washington

Arizonian Bob Fredette won’t be joining AHRMA anytime soon and neither will Oregonian John Patterson of Athena. They both feel that embracing younger riders and promoting 100cc machines that were being ridden widely at the dawn of the motocross era will bring in new members and embrace riders such as themselves. Fredette says, “I'm NOT an AHRMA member and was going to join to vote for Dave Boydstun of AMS Racing and southern California good-guy Mark Arsenault, but I couldn’t bring myself to. You see, my two board choices stood in front of me at Whitman & DEFINITIVELY opposed the 100cc class. I was absolutely stunned & disappointed! I hate to overshadow the good both have done and will do, but this is a passionate one-issue election for me. How will the future of vintage racing survive for the young ones if they're allowed to ride modern bikes on vintage race days like they allow here locally?! Why shouldn't they have to ride (100cc!) vintage bikes or whatever? I didn't want to slam them publicly. Just wanted you to know why I'm NOT joining AHRMA.” It turns out Dave Boydstun was speaking as an AHRMA employee at the time and has since come out loudly in favor of youth and the 100’s. John Patterson would also welcome a 100 class and then join AHRMA. “I’m new to racing and I only own a 100. (Former Hodaka factory racer) Harry Taylor helped me with this bike and I won’t join AHRMA until they have a class for me to ride it in. Why should I? There are plenty of non-AHRMA races for me to ride that have a 100 class.”


John Patterson of Athena, Oregon racing 100cc class Hammer & Tongs Round 1 in 2006 at Goldendale, Washington on his Harry Taylor-built Hodaka 100

The new Sportsman Stock class has been talked about for years and is finally being given a go as a Regional Support effort in the NW this year on a trial basis without the red tape of a Rules Change Proposal and board action... This new class is being sponsored by Board member Tom Bentley. Some wonder why this same thing isn’t happening for the 100's??!! The catch word, "VIABLE" was mentioned once again by Post-Vintage Motocross Rules & Eligibility Committee chairman Al Wenzel recently at the NW Lumberjack Series Awards Banquet in the context of creating the new Early Sportsman Stock class... which is now being promoted on the NW AHRMA website. But there isn't an AHRMA NW web page mentioning a NEW 100 CLASS to be offered as a test this year. Nope, the 100 class needs to prove its viability IMMEDIATELY with riders showing up to race against bigger bikes with no promotion of the class, no regional support classes as a trial and no "1st 100cc" plaques this year, even though dozens of 100's showed up at Mid-Ohio during last year’s Vintage Motorcycle Days. And there were more 100's entered in regional 125 classes across the nation than anyone at AHRMA apparently kept track of. The NW Vintage Region doesn't put on PVMX events and guess what, many 100cc bikes that were made were PV, probably more than three-quarters of all 100's on the track at VDRNW and the Hammer & Tongs series are PV… (Machines made after 1974) That leaves a quarter of all 100's made prior to 1975 to draw VMX entries from, which is a small number. But many think that the 100's would eventually be a viable class if they were ever given a chance to run in support like the Early Sportsman Stocks. Even though the Board came out in favor of them in 2005, 100cc Regional Support classes weren't promoted last season and so riders didn't bring their vintage 100's out to AHRMA events.


Stu Osborn of Bothell, Washington racing 100cc class Hammer & Tongs Round 1 in 2006 at Goldendale, Washington on a Hodaka 100

It's the promoter’s choice to run 100's and even though the Board of Trustees has come out in favor of 100cc Support classes at the regionals, they haven't been promoted partly because promoters are likely being influenced by AHRMA Regional Coordinators. But there's more to it... Small bores were never run in the pros "back in the day" and much of the leadership and direction that AHRMA has taken has been influenced by former professional competitors. Promoters are very likely taking direction from AHRMA with regard to the support classes that are being run and have not promoted a 100 class because as NW Regional Coordinator Ed Parsons says, partly because there haven't been at least six 100cc bikes show up at any one event. Well that’s because there was no class for them!! Three vintage 100's showed up without a class last year at Hannegan Speedway in Bellingham, Washington and to promoter Kevin Blackburn’s credit and the credit of the tireless people like Marlene Parsons and her scoring crew, Kevin organized and Marlene’s crew scored two separate 100 classes, NOV and INT and posted results separately from the Sportsman and Classic 125's. Kudos to Kevin and Marlene on that!

But here's where I want to drive home my main point in closing about AHRMA old-school leadership and apparent bias... To cite an example of the way many board members apparently are stuck in the long since past, compare the way the new Early Sportsman Stock class is being promoted as a trial support class in the NW compared to the way 100's are not being promoted as a possible class. I'm fully aware that the unwritten goal of AHRMA is "preservation" of certain eras of vintage machines and as the brainchild of some senior board members that means an emphasis on the premiere and classic machines but most of what I'm saying is that 100's were there in their era, too and there should be no reason why they should be ignored as a viable class. But it concerns me when I see Vintage Motocross Rules & Eligibility Committee member Ron Winget come out in Vintage Views stressing that that "regional coordinators need to be re-educated as to the intended goals of AHRMA so there will be no support classes." This statement cannot help but to influence promoters. Saying something like that in the pages of V-V seems to be quite a contradiction of the Board's stated opinion as per Board Chairman Dave Janiec and as such is counter-productive to building membership and giving the 100cc racers a chance to have their own national class in the future.

That might take awhile but it would likely happen. It's a catch-22 and chicken vs. the egg thing. Promote the class and riders will eventually start to show up. But if a 100cc support class isn't promoted anywhere at all, how can the riders know they have a class to ride in and how can anyone in their right mind expect them to show up and race?

***

Stu Osborn is MR’s Roving Reporter


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