MR Interviews Fred Guidi
AHRMA Mid-Atlantic MX Coordinator
Interviewed by Al Conte #48J
PVR Vice President and President of OC Design
A Graphic Design and Web Communications Company
What is your first memorable motorcycle experience that involved a mini-bike, motorcycle, scooter, or…?
I was 6 years old, and my playmate’s father bought him a QA50. I would rush to his house immediately after school, hoping that he would have it out and that I would get a chance to ride it. Looking forward to those few minutes on the little Honda was all I would think about.
Who or what was your driving force growing up? The one thing that or person that really pushed you in the motorcycle direction.
My father and mother did all that they could to discourage my love of motorcycling. Both were afraid that I would get hurt, and pushed me to more traditional activities like baseball and wrestling. Eventually they caved in to my relentless begging for a minibike, and riding with the older kids exposed me to the sport. My elementary school years were filled with me sitting on the porch, with a gas can, waiting for my father to get home from work, so we could get more fuel.
Did you race in your younger years? How old were you and tell us about your early racing experiences.
I started racing before my 10th birthday. I believe I was almost 8. I had a Steen 100, with a Hodaka 100cc engine, and an Earle’s front end. I would show up to the track wearing jeans, hunting boots, and garden gloves. I would get killed by the older boys. I don’t think I finished my first half dozen races, and did not do very well in the others. In 1973 my father met Dave Coombs, who convinced my dad to sell my Hodaka, and buy a 125 Elsinore. My father took me to Appalachia Lake, and things started to get better. In my 2nd race on the Elsie, I won, and decided right there that winning was better than losing.
Have you ever been involved in other forms of motorized competition? (Race cars, ATV's, Boats)
In 1996, Kawasaki was looking to sponsor racers on the East Coast to showcase their new Jet Skis. I was in the right place at the right time and landed a Kawasaki Support ride to race Jet Skis. That lasted a year before the plug was pulled on the program, but I got to keep the ski. In addition, I raced quads in 1988, and 89, before realizing that bikes were so much more fun that lawn chairs!
Tell us about your bread and butter, what you do for a living?
I support my racing habit by working as the Director of Sales for an international importer. I travel frequently, which was fun before I met my wife, and had kids. Now I miss being at home. At least the bills are paid, and I am free to take off to race whenever I want to.
What other interests do you have besides motorcycles? How do you relax and enjoy yourself?
I really like hanging out with my wonderful wife Hollie, and my amazing kids. When not doing that, I am at church, preaching at a local prison, reading, playing the guitar, and writing magazine articles. The best moments are in the garage, tinkering with my bikes, and thinking about racing!
What CD is in your player right now? Any music preferences?
Fellow racer, Ed Day’s band “Rockin Bones”, Jay Wilson’s “Flint Zipper”, Journey “Third Stage”, and Mercy Me. I am a huge fan of Contemporary Christian, and Vintage Rock and Roll.
Your favorite beer is…? Wine?
Diet Coke, West Virginia Champagne!
What was it that sparked your interest in Vintage racing?
In 1999, I was so bored going to the races and sitting through endless mini motos that I was going to quit. Then I met fellow racer, Rae Weir, at a local race who told me about vintage racing. He offered to let me ride a CZ at an upcoming AHRMA National. I agreed and was born again! In fact I would not give his CZ back, and handed him a blank check. I have been hooked since.
How long have you been into restorations? What was your first rebuild project?
I have a nasty habit of not getting rid of anything, and kept my 1981 Maico 490, and 1973 125 Elsinore, hidden under boxes in my garage. I spent 2 years restoring the 125, and another on the Maico. All together, I have been into restorations for about 7 years, doing about 3 a year now. I will say that the best resto project that I have is one that Bob Siegle and Thor Lawson did for me as a gift. It is a 1978 CR250 that took a second at the HighPoint vintage bike show this year. It is immaculate!
At what level are you capable of doing your own motorcycle modifications and repairs?
I can pretty much do everything from pressing cranks to complete rebuilds, although due to the time I take with my MX Coordinator tasks, Tim Taylor has been doing my motors for the last couple of years. I leave the suspension rebuilds to the professionals like Thor Lawson, and Steve Marpes.
Tell us about the AHRMA Mid-Atlantic series. How long have you been the driving force?
First, I am not the driving force, but rather it is the love for vintage bikes and racing that keeps everyone motivated. The only thing that I do is keep things organized, and try to keep everyone happy. Without Rae Tyson, Thor Lawson, Faye Lawson, Al Conte, Jerry Casciero, and Ed Day. We would not have vintage racing in the MA. And if it were not for my predecessors, like Luke Loy, Terry Banks, and Chris Huhn, we would not be anywhere near where we are today!
What keeps the AHRMA Mid-Atlantic series “fresh”? What is the secret for success?
As a group, we try to read trends and come up with new things. The nice thing about working with Thor, Jerry, Ed and Al, is that these guys are passionate about Vintage Racing and are never short of ideas. Sure not all things work out, but we keep plugging! We have the right combination of people involved, and we are all friends. It is truly a labor of love!
What types of riding gets your heart really pumping?
For me, the best part of this sport is waking up at the track on race day, stepping out from the motor home, with a cup of coffee in my hand. Seeing a well groomed, jump filled track awaiting the first knobby of the day! Debbro has my bikes ready, and Faye has her Kimono on. I am 16 again, and I can barely contain myself. I love pure old school Motocross and I am incredibly grateful for every lap!!
What is your favorite track and why?
I have two, and for different reasons. I love Budds Creek. Racing Budds, the same track that the best riders in the world have raced on is a thrill that a non-rider cannot grasp. For normal every day riding, it’s tough to beat Tomahawk Raceway in Hedgesville, West Virginia. Not only is the track a vintage friendly jump fest, but also the people there are the best in the world. (Chad we love you!)
How do you physically prepare for a race?
By pushing Bultacos! Seriously, it’s tough at this age to balance race prep with family and work. But I watch what I eat, maintaining a balanced diet, and ride a stairmaster 3 to 4 times per week. Otherwise I just ride.
Tell us about your current stable of motorcycles and those which are your favorites.
My current collection contains over 30 machines, with the most prestigious being a 1981 Wheelsmith Maico 490.
I have favorites, depending on the era. My favorite Vintage racer is a CZ250 RedFrame, which is a great all around bike. Post Vintage I have an ugly 1977 Suzuki RM250 that just keeps on running. I have done nothing to this bike but put spark plugs and oil in it for the last 5 years, and it always starts first kick.
Recently I convinced Ed Day to sell me his ultra-trick 1977 YZ400, which is an absolute joy to ride! In the modern era, the 2007 Honda CRF250 is the best bike I have ever ridden period! This bike makes an old, worn out racer, feel like Superman! At the end of the day however, my newly acquired, near perfect, 1973 Hodaka Combat Wombat, is the one that makes my heart race.
If you could own any one motorcycle (street or dirt) and money is no object, what would it be?
One of Bob Hannah’s Works OW’s from the late 70’s. Jerry C can I borrow some money?
If you could thank one person (alive or dead) that has had a large impact on your life, who would that be?
My Grandmother. She was a Women’s professional golfer, back when it was a man’s only sport. She had won over 1000 trophies, and I would count them in her attic, while growing up. I would tell my parents that someday I would win a thousand trophies. My Grandmother would come to my races and offer encouragement and give me advice. She once said that whoever said you can’t win them all was a loser looking for excuses. Damn she was tough!
What would your dream job be?
I love what I do, but given the choice I would love to head up a national racing body like the FIM, or the AMA. It seems like folks that do not have a clue about racing, and run these organizations like political fiefdoms usually manage these groups.
If you could change anything in your life, what would it be?
Not a thing. I am so blessed to have the best family, friends, and career that anyone could ask for. I wish I had more time to ride and train, but we all say that. Oh I would change the poor gate pick that I made at Elizabeth City 2 years ago. I shoulda gone to the inside so Ray Weir could not have stuffed me! Other than that all is just great!
What are your plans involving motorcycles for the next few years?
I plan to broaden my racing footprint, by competing in more national events, promote additional Mid-Atlantic activities, and broaden the appeal of Vintage and Post Vintage MX in our region. At this age I understand that a weekend missed is one that you can never get back. You will see me at the gate!!!
Where do you see the future of Vintage Racing in America in the next five years? Ten years?
I think, and I hope that I am wrong, that over the next 5 years, vintage entries will continue to decline while Post Vintage entries will continue to grow. There will be a demand for “Bomber” classes, and there are number of reasons for this. The first is that track owners are not going to modify tracks for vintage bikes. The numbers are just not there.
In addition old bodies just can’t take the beating that a vintage bike dishes out on modern tracks. There are a lot of mid to late 80’s machines sitting in garages, and for now parts are still available. With the cost of new bikes approaching $7,500, pre-modern racing makes a whole lot of sense.
What do you feel will help our sport continue to grow in the coming years?
Vintage racing is at a crossroads. In my mind there are too many egos, and too many people with agendas, that if they were able to find a way to work together, vintage racing would explode. I have seen the smiles and the excitement at events, not only from old men like us, but also from folks like Marty Smith and Ricky Johnson.
There are several groups that are trying to take control of vintage racing in this country, with little regard for the overall good, but rather to satisfy a need for power. If we want this sport to grow, we have got to get together and find a way to build on a strong base of enthusiasts who just want to race their 30 year old bikes. Truth be told, no one could care any less about what some of these credit card national winners have to say anyway. Let’s put together a strong national program that makes sense, and regional events that are inclusive and not exclusive. Lets get families involved, and lets get started now!
McCookRacing Thanks Fred Guidi for his time and insight!