Son Zach, Cousin Weedy and
Rob Poole on race day
MR Interviews Joey Poole
by Michael McCook #41
Thanks Joey, or should I say 'Cousin Weedy', for taking the time and sharing some of your motorcycling history and current VMX enthusiasm with us. Take us back to your youth and tell us about your first experiences with motorcycles and some of your early influences.
It all started around 65 or 66 when my oldest brother, Jim, bought a 62 305 Super Hawk. It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. Nothing sounded like it or looked like it. Then he took me for a ride and I was hooked. My brother just above me in age, Eddy, then bought a 1967 Kawasaki 85 J1T which would later become my first bike. It became mine when I was about 11 or 12. I'd come home after school, and ride the woods next to our house. At about the same time Eddy and I join a local off road club called Track Masters. He ran a lot of Turkey runs and enduros. Of course mom wouldn't let me ride in them so watched from the sidelines. Then it happened. Eddy bought a 1971 125 Bultaco Sherpa S. Still mom wouldn't let me race, but she let me go to the track. I did a little sneaky riding on practice days. Man those track days were a 12 year olds dream. Every cool bike in the world was right there. Open headers and chambers the smell of castor bean. How could you not love it? The first MX race I went to was in the early 70s. It was a pro race with a big purse. It was there that I got to see Barry Higgins, and Sonny DeFeo. I had never seen anything that fast in my life. Oh did I mention they were riding CZs. I've been a life long fan of those two since that day. I can still see the race in my mind as though it were yesterday. It still gives me goose bumps. I was a big fan of Ghost racing. I thought they had the coolest bikes I’d ever seen. They also had Barry Higgins, Sonny DeFeo, and Kerry Kleid. She fought the AMA for her right to race pro MX. She paved a lot of roads. My ultimate dream would be her signature on my “Ghost” Sidepiper. Barry Higgins has signed it, and Sonny has agreed to also. If I could get Kerry to sign it my mission would be complete.
So, did your enthusiasm with motorcycles as a youngster occupy a lot of your time? Did it tend to keep you out of teenage trouble, or get you into it?
I can't think of a time in my childhood through my teenage years that we didn't have motorcycles in our lives. Everyday was a riding day. I came home from school jumped on the trusty SL 100 Honda and off to the woods. Of course an SL 100 was not the greatest woods bike in the world, but no one told me that. I could be Barry Higgins, Sonny DeFeo, Dick Mann, or Jim Rice and never leave home. It was, and still is a complete escape from all the worries in life. Nothing but you and your bike. Man that's a great feeling! I'd practice wheelies, log crossings, and jumps just to be ready for a day in the "real woods". I remember practicing one-handed wheelies and I forgot one important thing. Keep a tight grip on the throttle or you will fall off the back and your bike will fall on you too.
I really didn't have any friends that rode bikes. I usually rode with my older brothers. I can say, without doubt, it kept me out of a bunch of trouble as a lot of my friends were turning to drugs, and booze. While they were getting stoned I was riding with my brothers. I never got into booze or drugs. My brothers were, and still are the best!
As you got older, were motorcycles always a part of your life? Did you and your brothers continue to ride?
Yes and no. When I was about 16 or 17 my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That was the beginning of the end of riding for me for several years. I went to high school and worked to help make the family bills. After dad died I took care of mom while I was going to welding school. Even though I didn't own a bike I never passed up a chance to throw my leg over one. My brothers all but quit riding also. Then when I was about 34 or 35 I had my own business, and it was very stressful. So one day my wonderful wife, of 24 years now, told me I needed to find something to relieve my stress. Out of the blue she says why don't you start riding again. That was all I needed. I bought a clapped out 77 YZ250 rebuilt it, and converted it into a woods bike. Man, I had forgotten just what rush a strong 2 stroke was! Then my older brother Eddy bought a bike, then his two sons got bikes, and then my son got his bike. So for the last 10 years we've been riding again, and now my wife wants to learn to ride. If all goes according to plan we will have our first full family ride with my brother racing for the first time since1974 at Diamond Don's on Nov 19 2005.
I think it’s great when a family rides together! When and how did you discover Vintage Motocross racing?
I first read about vintage racing through the pages of "Old Bike Journal" magazine. That had to be in the early days of AHRMA. I saw a photo of Barry Higgins, one of my early heroes, and thought how cool it was to see him racing.
About 5 years ago some friends and I heard about a vintage race in Hallett, OK.. We made a mini vacation of it. Man it was 1970 all over again. I had forgotten how good Castor and loud pipes were. We had the choices to watch Trials, VMX, and Road Racing all on the same weekend. We watched them all. It was awesome. I saw a man walking around that looked very familiar, but I couldn't put a face with a name. It turned out to be Dick Mann. I spent the day getting up the nerve to talk to him. When all the racing was over I asked him to sign my CZ cap. We chatted for a bit, and I called my son, Zach aka Lil Weed, over to meet him. Zach was about 10 at the time and had grown up watching "On Any Sunday". When he came over to meet him, before Mr. Mann could introduce himself, Zach says "You’re Dick Mann!" Mr. Mann looked a bit shocked that a kid this young would know him. He asks how he knew who he was. Zach says "Everyone knows who Dick Mann is". He then proceeds to ask Mr. Mann If he thought it was a good Idea for him to saw off his cast to race that race in Sacramento. Mr. Mann just laughed and said it seemed like a smart idea at the time. I took a photo of the two of them together and it hangs on my office wall today.
The next year we attended Diamond Don's first national event. I knew then that would be where I would race the very first race of my life! Like I said before, my Mom wouldn't let me race, but it was now April of 2005. It was the most fun I ever had losing a race in my life. I could see my wife Marcie waving me on, and when I pulled into the pits the two of them giving me the thumbs up was way too cool!
Off track here for a moment, what kind of music do you enjoy and what is your idea of a fun evening with family or friends?
When it comes to music I love every thing from Glen Miller to BB King. I like a little bit of most music. As far as a fun evening a good Bar B Que with family and friends on a cool fall evening. I'm pretty much a homebody. I’m not much for nightlife or a trip to the mall. I love a peaceful evening at home. Of course a good day woods riding never hurts.
What bikes do you currently own, what bikes do you plan on acquiring in the near future and what bikes do you dream of owning?
Bikes I dream of owning: Matching set of CZ twin pipers 250 & 360, Bultaco 125
Sherpa S, Maico 501, Harley XR 750, Rickman Triumph or BSA, BSA B50 MX
Really, to many to list!
Bikes I own: 1970 CZ 250 Side Piper, 1971 CZ 360 Side Piper(next for resto), 1972 CZ 250 Yellow tank, 1972 CZ 125 (currently finishing for Lil Weed), 1970 BSA B 25, 1970 BSA Thunderbolt Both-BSA’s future MX projects. 1975 Honda 125 Elsinore, 1976 Honda XL 175, 1974 Honda CT 90, 1977 Yamaha YZ 250 built for woods riding, 1976 Yamaha TT 500, 1973 Yamaha TY 250. Yes I am a bike junkie. It takes me awhile to build my bikes because I do most of the work myself. My CZ engines get special treatment from my friend, and CZ mentor Lee(CZ GUY) Holth. He's taught me a lot about Zeds in the last few years. Rob Poole has also given me valuable information on my BSA projects. As for what bikes do I plan on acquiring.....Well, I never really plan, they just seem to show up. So who knows!
You are endearingly known as ‘Cousin Weedy’. How did you get that nickname, and tell us how and why you started what is now the coolest CZ enthusiast group on the Internet.
Ah yes. I was wondering when that would come up. It all started when I bought my 980 Sidepiper. All I really knew about it was it was a CZ a guy was going to haul to the dump. 50.00 later it was mine. I didn't know what dumb luck I'd stumbled into.
Well I found a website called CZ World ( http://members.cox.net/czguy/ ). I sent a photo of my bike to a guy that later would become a very good friend. His name: Lee Holth (the CZ Guy). I was working on a do it myself shoestring budget, and needed all the help I could get. I would email Lee several times a day. He even taught me how to lace, drill and, true rims over the net. He would end each email with play on words from the TV series "Kung Fu". Instead of saying "patience grasshopper" he called me weed hopper. This later was shortened to Weedy then just Weed. I added the Cousin Weedy name when Lee, and I started the CW board. I wanted it to have southern flair to it.
As to why I started the CW board, it was really simple. I couldn't find any sites dedicated to CZ discussion. That's not to say they weren't there I just couldn't find them. It seemed all the VMX discussion groups had very little info on CZ, and much bickering, and backbiting, and griping about AHRMA. Lee and I talked it over and asked, "what if we had a CZ discussion group based on a bench racing format." A virtual garage so to speak. A place to have fun, but also be able to talk about your bikes. That's what you do at the track, why not on the net? We set the basic ground rules. You must put your real name and general location. We've found most trouble came from people hiding behind a screen name. No arguing or fighting. Keep your AHRMA opinions to boards set up for that. No griping that my club is better than yours. In other words keep the politics out of motorcycle racing like it's meant to be. KEEP IT FUN. That's what bikes are all about. I don't ride bikes to create stress; I ride to get away from it.
Yes, I know we cut up and play a lot. We mock each other in good fun. Mark "goat boy" Skarpol summed it up best when he posted "but we all like each other". It's our members that make this group work. If you want Zed info put a question out there, and see just how much CZ knowledge is on our board. You'll get more answers than you know what to do with.
We started with 6 members, and 30 messages in Aug of 2003. Then Reese Dengler put a link on Czechpoint. Then Farmer Mike, Bob Borg, & Lee Holth put up links. Of course there is the link on McCookRacing.com also. I owe all you guys many thanks. We now have almost 300 members from all over the globe!
Michael, Thanks for doing this interview. It made me realize just how good my childhood and my life has been, even through the tough times. I'm about to celebrate 24 years of marriage to the same woman, & my son tells me never to change. As Joe Walsh would put it,"Lifes been good to me so far". I would tell anyone to surround themselves with your wife, kids, family, and friends. My life has been blessed.
Thank You Cousin!