Review by Mark “Hollywood” Jarecki 45Q -
The Video, “Yamaha Motocross”, is truly vintage material. Lots of big names being thrown around like, DeCoster, Mikilea, Lackey, Pomeroy and many more. There are three segments to this Video. Starting in Japan with Japanese riders the first segment is cool but lacks any familiar names. It’s 1971 and all Yamaha. Not bad.
Segment two of the video is mostly old school European Motocross, very cool indeed. It’s getting better. Shot with 8mm and pretty clean, the voice over reminds you of ABC’s ‘Wide World of Sports”. When Motocross was new everyone thought this was amazing and incredible stuff. “How do those lads stay on those machines…” or “Watch here as the boys really mix it up over the big hill”… is the typical narration sequence. The narration continues and is pointed, dry, factual, but actually very, very cool. Mixed with the Video and background audio it describes the brutal physical strength and coordination necessary to be a top rider, claiming “motocross is the most physically demanding sport on this planet.” (Side note: Hollywood concurs with that.) Lots of great footage from all over the world. Watch it and you’ll see what I mean.
Next up is a 1973 race in France with Brad, John Banks on a BSA, and Roger DeCoster. We move to Carlsbad , more good Vintage racing. All Grand Prix stuff, 1971, 1973 and 1977. Segment three in 1977 features DeCoster and his competitors and the competition between them, racing in Holland and Austria and ??????. This is 70 mph Motocross, the good stuff. Oh yeah… Nothing wrong with this Video except perhaps navigating thru the short menu, it doesn’t highlight the year as you select the segment. Or, is it just me…
This is great video in my book, a real classic. It makes you want a RC cola and a moon pie. I give it 4 spark plugs for being truly old school Vintage Motocross. Michael, can I keep this one? See ya at the races…
Review by Randy Smith #24 -
This movie covers 3 years of Yamaha Moto-Cross Racing 1971, 1973 and 1977 and is basically a propaganda film boasting of Yamaha’s great achievements over these 3 years. The movie starts out in Japan and a two day race called the Japan Grand Prix in the hilly countryside on a very large track. The movie says there are 300 entries and 70,000 people watching. The interesting thing I noticed was the riders shown were all Japanese with no mention what so ever of any other brand of cycle other than Yamaha or no other rider other than Yamaha’s stars. The narrator sounds like that same guy that did the sex ed films when I was in grade school in the 1960’s and there are some times of total silence or a few tunes. The early part of this movie is old looking washed out color film that looks nearly black and white but the racing is good and interesting enough to watch. The track looks real whooped out and there are plenty of rear end kickers on those old trail bike DT 1 type Yamaha’s. I don’t recognize any of the racers names but when the racers win, they get rear knobby tires wrapped in colored paper or foil placed as a wreath around their necks. There are some good close up shots and one thing that I noticed was even in 1971, the Yamaha factory bikes were painted white. In true propaganda fashion the 1971 results show all of the winners names but no machine make unless its was a Yamaha.
The 1973 portion is called “Cross Torque, the Story of Yamaha Achievements 1973”. The film quality is much better and even though its only 1973 you see the first glimpse of the future with Mono Shocked rear suspended white Yamaha’s with straps holding on the gas tanks. The earliest YZ’s no doubt. Unlike the first 1971 portion this section shows all of the top riders as they are walking past the French crowd with their countries sign being held by a female escort. Brad Lackey was the only American there at this early 500 Grand Prix. The thing I noticed was the “forward” falling start gates and how the racers actually rammed into them and jumped over them as they were falling. No wonder today’s racers use “rearward” falling gates. This track was in a strip mine with lots of rocks and dust. Then you are off following the series that goes to Carlsbad California, then to Denmark, then Yugoslavia, Then Austria and Britain. Apparently in 1973 you had to have handlebars 3 feet wide as all of the bikes pictured looked that way. The film became jerky and notchy and it had garbled for a little bit but smoothed out fairly quick. There is a neat slow motion portion that shows how the new Monocross suspension keeps the rear tire on the ground. At the end of this part, Yamaha has won its first World Title and now has more Grand Prix wins than any other manufacture. The 1973 portions ends with the old slogan “Yamaha, it’s a way of life”.
The 3rd and final portion of the film covers the 1977 season and everyone is wearing yellow Camel hats as this is the Camel Challenge Series that will pay $50,000. Remember when cigarette companies could sponsor sporting events? Even in 1977 the “forward” falling start gates were still being abused. The film quality is now very good but there is some funky out of tune music playing at times. Unlike the beginning 1971 Yamaha biased portion, this part of the film introduces many top riders and what bikes they are riding. Of course these are the top riders that will be beat by the almighty Yamaha’s but at least you get to see other riders and other bikes this time. The racing is intense and really good. I liked the tech inspection part where they were weighing bikes and get this, they had a weight minimum to prevent the works bikes from being too light. They also do a decibel reading on the exhaust as they are trying to quiet the bikes down which is interesting considering that the AMA is currently setting maximums on noise in 2005 almost 30 years later. I really liked the 1977 part as there is much more behind the scenes parts and not so much Yamaha is the only bike made.
I would say that this film is definitely worth watching even though it is a little boring in parts. It starts out slow (1971) and ends nicely (1977). All in all it isn’t that bad. I give it 3 spark plugs.