VMX Club Profile
Hammer & Tongs
HAMMER & TONGS is the Pacific Northwest's Summer Vintage Motocross Scene. It is more of a scene than a club, which is its primary strength. The sole mission is to KEEP VINTAGE MOTOCROSS CHEAP, EASY AND FUN. And six years in it has become a series that draws very healthy numbers from a loyal base.
BEGINNINGS • In speaking about Hammer & Tongs, you have to mention VDR, from which it all started. In the Pacific NW there were always two scenes. VDR, ran in the winter, and Ahrma in the summer. VDR was local, and quite unlike regular clubs. You were never required to join, there were minimal rules, no politics at all, and everyone was happy; no politics because it was a monarchy. Of course a democracy is a great for a country, but it is always a mess for a club. A single handed style depends on the man at the top being a reasonable person, and VDR's man Monty Price was just that; reasonable, shrewd, and a man of few words.
But VDR didn't run in the summer, and in those months Riders who owned only Evo bikes just had to wait. All of a sudden May until September is a long time to wait for VDR to start back up again! So riders were delighted when in 2000 AHRMA introduced classes for Post Vintage.
But the delight was short-lived; there followed a heated debate as to whether Post Vintage Riders were welcome or not. Ahrma leaders declared that unless you were involved in organizing the races you shouldn't be criticizing anything, and that those persons should "step up". Instead of being crybabies, PV Riders should away and start a "stand-alone" series.
So Bill Grubin and the Gas-It-and-Go Riders did just that; step up and organize a race. Of course it wasn't an Ahrma Race- that would mean having to ask permission about everything at every turn. And it was just one race- a July 2003 date, and there were various suggestions for what the name ought to be, and rather than call it something or another classic which makes it sound like a Golf Tournament, I suggested they give it a name with some teeth- like Hammer & Tongs. There was a vote, and to my surprise, the name stuck!
NO OFF SEASON • In the beginning, Grubin hadn't started out to be fashioning a new series; it was just a good thrash in the summer- and he just used VDR as a model- same rules, same easygoing approach. And so VDR and Hammer & Tongs have evolved to be two sides of the same coin. The summer & winter series now overlap, which means that the Pacific Northwest never sleeps- we have no off season. Often if I find myself in a conversation with a possible recruit, the guy will inevitably ask "when does the season start?"
And I say
dude. ...it never stops!
VARIETY • The VDR tradition has always been to run the Winter Series at Woodland (or Riverdale last year) and so in contrast H&T has striven to keep the variety alive by running races at different tracks every Spring & Summer. This has a controversial aspect as one track will vary wildly (in feel and style) from the next track.
In the bad old days one thing we used to fight about with Ahrma was whether Vintage & Evo could run on the same day. One marvelous advantage to running all the motocross on Sunday is that Saturday is wide open for TRIALS or GPs, or any other thing you can think of. So we've had one hour Grans Prix, Relay Races for specific brand teams, Observed Trials, and this year a 3 hour Team Race with the track's transponders on Goldendale's seven mile GP track.
THE CROWD • New riders constantly remark how NICE everyone was, and that in the throes of the insanity that often accompanies the new racer, people whom they had never seen or met came out of the woodwork to help them work on their bikes, lend them tools, or even their own race bikes. And Hammer & Tongs is about the riders, and as such doesn't focus on hero worship. It isn't necessary to pay former motocross stars to come out to make the events legitimate. The Races hold their own by being about every racer, and his own experience. Among other things this means that there is no in-crowd; if you show up you are immediately part of the picture, and accepted as an equal. Of course you still have to deal with the thundering herd on the track...
CLASSES • Most arguing in any club is going to be over the rules, and what gets allowed in what class. And as an old Road Racing Colleague once said to me the more rules you have, the more grown men act like a bunch of babies. Hammer & Tongs (in the VDR tradition) started with few rules, and we've tried to keep them to a minimum. Evolution classes cover everything from 1975 to 1981 or so. Air-cooled, drum brakes, non-linkage. Some clubs divide this era into three eras. But dividing things means the race day gets longer and longer, as one thing gets traded for another. In an effort to make things "fair" (which they never were in the old days anyway) you give away daylight, and guys end up racing alone more often, and the trophy bill goes through the roof. So H&T has that as one era- bigger gates, more action. And instead of huge trophies, Class Winners at the end of the Season are awarded a winner's Jersey with that year's Championship Design.
Hammer & Tongs had a 100 Class before anyone other Vintage Racing, at least on the West Coast, and without all the ignominious yammering about "viability". We added an Inter-Am Class for bikes that fall through the cracks at the early 70s, like DT1s and Sidepipe CZs. www.siegecraftnw.com/InterAmRules.htm
And this year we followed that with a corresponding class in Evolution, for the bikes that fall behind even in Ahrma's Historic Class- the 1975 bikes, like the V75 Montesa and similarly lesser bikes; enduro models like the DT175. www.siegecraftnw.com/TransAmRules.htm
Hammer & Tongs Vintage Classes
Hammer & Tongs Evo Classes
SUMMATION • There are many who make the mechanics of a race series possible - The Organizers: Jim Conway, Dirk Williams, Lyndell Raphael, Blake Landon - The Photographers: Nancy Richards, Chris Holzbach, Stu Osborn, The Scoring Crew: Debbie Sullivan, Kris Green, Carin Landon
Our great thanks to The Series Sponsors: Moses Lake Powersports, Poulin's Honda, Motocentre, Grubin & Co, Bent Bike, Vintage Iron, AMS Racing, Legend Harley-Davidson, Lake City Powersports, Ledum's Floral, EP Northwest. The support of these outfits make possible the series poster and the winners' jerseys.
So that's Hammer & Tongs. If you're from another part of the Country, and in town for business see if you can take in one of our races. Bring your gear- we might be able to scare up a ride for you!