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Thread: Ice Goes Racing!!!

  1. #1

    Ice Goes Racing!!!

    I started racing motorcycles in 1971 when I was 11 years old. My first motorcycle was a Honda Trail 70, but I only had that bike for about 3 month's because I kept trying to race everyone on it and was going to kill myself. Honda Trail 70's do not make good race bikes. My dad quickly sold the Honda 70 and bought me a Steen. This was the nastiest minicycle on the planet at the time and a real race bike. All the other kids were racing Yamaha mini enduros, which were 60cc and had 14" tires. The Steen had a 100cc Hodaka engine, 16" tires, and a frame manufactured by Rickman, who built some of the best frames in the world at the time.

    I won my very first race on the bike and thought I was pretty badass. So I walked into the local dealer, who was Husky Cycle in Holiday, set my trophy on the counter and told them I was pretty badass and they should sponsor me. After they finished laughing they gave me a Husky Cycle jersey and told me they would give me 10% off on parts, at which point I knew I was a badass.

    The only problem showing up at the race track with a motorcycle better and faster than what everyone else was racing is they immediately went down and bought a Steen. In the long run I think Husky Cycle got their money's worth out of the jersey they gave me as it sold a few bikes. I raced the Steen for two years and only ever lost one race, and in that race I finished second.

    My Steen evolved over the two years I raced it. They came with what was known as the Hodaka B engine. Ours (my younger brother also raced one) were soon updated with the engines out of the Hodaka Super Rat among a long list of other improvements. My dad always loved tweaking our race bikes and they were always wicked fast. In about 1973 the Steen was pretty much outlawed as minicycles were soon restricted to 80cc, but by that time I was out of minicycles and ready to race with the big dogs...

    Anyhoo.... that's the story of my first race bike, I'll try to do a piece on every race bike I've owned when I get the time. Hope you enjoyed....

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  4. #2
    Awesome. Would love to hear the stories.

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  6. #3
    A Hodaka Super Rat was the second race bike I ever owned. If you raced small bore bikes before 1973 you raced a Super Rat as they owned the 100cc class. The 100cc class in that time was made up of huge starting fields so big they were usually split. The 125cc class at the time was an afterthought and no one raced 125cc until 1973 and the Honda Elsinore. Before 1973 the 100cc class ruled and was what the 125cc class would later become.

    In the early 70's you also had to basically build your bike if you wanted to win as no one sold a 100cc bike off the showroom floor that was capable of winning.

    The Super Rat in the picture had the frame lower 2", the swingarm lengthened 2", and the foot pegs relocated. The engine had a Webco head and 34mm Carburetor (they came with a 26 or 28mm I believe). A reed valve had been added and holes drilled in the back of the piston to aid the reed valve. The cylinder was ported and polished and additional transfer ports were cut into the cylinder walls to aid the reed valve. Also a 21" front wheel was added as the bikes came with a 19" front wheel.

    I moved up from minicycle to the Super Rat in 1972. My dad didn't want me racing novice as he said those guys were nuts, so I signed up amateur for my first big bike race. I did OK on my Super Rat and won a few races. Probably my favorite win was I took first place at the Widowmaker Hill climb in the 100cc class. If I remember correctly that win was on the old hill the year before they moved west.

    Anyhoo.... I know a lot of the old guys in this group probably raced a Super Rat at one time or another.

    The four pictures are of the Super Rat in my backyard, at 56, at Manning, and on the starting line of Widowmaker.

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  8. #4
    Very cool. I rode out at 56 as a kid quite a bit and also Lark.

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  10. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by accadacca View Post
    Very cool. I rode out at 56 as a kid quite a bit and also Lark.
    I only rode at Lark once and it about destroyed our race bikes. The acid used in the old leaching process attacked aluminum and magnesium. Not to mention it caused carbon steel to rust almost immediately. I raced really a lot at 56 (Motoqa), probably the only track I raced on more was Bonneville. I also did a lot of races at Manning and we rode Manning and the Cedar Fort area a bunch.

  11. #6

  12. #7
    #LetsGoBrandon BasinCruiser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnrr65 View Post
    Looks Great!

  13. #8
    A Honda Elsinore 125cc was the third race bike I owned. The Elsinore was introduced in 1973 and completely turned the small bore racing world on it’s head. Up until 1973 the 100cc class was king shit and is where all the young kids raced. The Honda Elsinore 125cc destroyed the 100cc class and almost single handedly put Hodaka and their legendary Super Rat on the sidelines for good. The 125cc class became the big class of the day. In 73 thru 75 it was not uncommon to see a starting field of 40 with 38 of the bikes being Honda Elsinore’s. The 125 Elsinore was so far ahead of everything else it wasn’t even close. This wasn’t the case with the 250 Elsinore as several companies (Husky, Maico, ect) were making competitive big bore bikes at the time, but in the 125 class there was only one bike to have if you wanted to win.

    The second interesting thing that happened was the Honda Elsinore was introduced just before the long travel suspension revolution which became big in 1974. So beginning in 1974 the first thing you would do with any Elsinore, or any motocross bike for that matter, was to lay the shocks down or move the bottom mount up on the swing arm.

    I bought a used 1973 Elsinore in the early spring of 1974 for $350. I sold my Hodaka Super Rat and the first thing we did to the Honda was tear it completely apart and rebuild it into a top of the line race bike. The frame was repainted black and the tank and fenders were repainted white. The engine was rebuilt, the cylinder was ported and polished, the head was milled, A reed valve was added to allow the use of a 36mm Mikuni carburetor. I also added a “snail pipe” which cost me $85.

    Suspension was the big key and my Elsinore went through several phases. At first we moved the bottom shock mount forward on the swing arm and added Koni shocks, which gave use 7.5” of travel.

    At the time I worked for G&L Equipment, and they were the local Yamaha shop located about 1500 South State Street. Their was a company called White Brothers that sold a kit that would add 1” of travel to any Yamaha front fork. After looking at the White Brothers kit and figuring out how it all worked I didn’t see any reason I couldn’t do the same thing with my Elsinore. The only problem was I had to machine a special damper rod in my high school machine shop to make it all work. Now I look back on that and think it was pretty damn cool for a 15 y/o kid to figure this all out and machine his own damper rods. This might be why I eventually became an engineer and now own an engineering company.

    With my special front forks and new rear suspension I had 8.5” of travel in front and 7.5” out back, which was huge in 1974. I ran that rear suspension for a couple of races and then my dad and I experimented with different rear suspensions and decide to lay the shocks down which gave the bike 8.5” of travel in the rear. This is how the bike lived the rest of it’s motocross days.

    I quit working at G&L Yamaha and began converting other Elsinore’s to long travel and I’d charge $125 plus the cost of shocks. My dad bought me a gas welder and built me a jig so I could do the rear suspension really easy. I also figured out how to convert the front forks with a spacer and drilling new holes in the damper rods and brazing the old holes closed on the front forks. Instead of having to machine new damper rods I could rebuild your old ones for $5 in parts and a little welding. I could convert one bike a night after school to long travel (front and rear) and I had 2 or 3 bikes to convert every week. I was making a wheelbarrow full of cash at the time and I was only 15 y/o. To understand how much I was making remember you could buy a year old Elsinore at the time for $350. My high school welding and machine shop class has served me well over the years. I think I converted about half the Elsinore’s in the valley to long travel.

    I raced my 125 Elsinore in the amateur class for two years. I did good on the bike, usually finishing in the top three, but I didn’t win a lot overall on the bike. Part of that might have been the 125 amateur class was extremely competitive, I was also young at 15 compared to many of the other racers who were late teen’s to early 20’s. Perhaps the highlight of my Elsinore days was I entered a desert race and finished first overall in the 125 class beating all the amateurs and experts. By 1976 this bike was gone from my life when I moved up to big boy bikes. By 1976 my long travel money making business was also drying up as all the factories were now selling their stock bike with long travel suspension of some type.

    This same Elsinore did came back into my life in about 1978, when I bought it back as a basket case for almost nothing. We converted the bike into a short track racer so I could race the winter short track series in the Coliseum at the Fair Grounds. If the pictures post correctly the final picture is the Elsinore in short track form.

    Anyhoo… so that’s my life with a Honda 125 Elsinore story…

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  14. #9
    Awesome. Those are great pictures! That last picture is back when Yamaha’s were yellow.

  15. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by accadacca View Post
    Awesome. Those are great pictures! That last picture is back when Yamaha’s were yellow.
    Yup... we'll get to those bikes eventually :-)

  16. #11
    Now is probably as good of time as any to finish the story of my 125 Honda Elsinore. Did anyone here ever race or watch the winter short track series in the Coliseum at the Utah State Fairgrounds? I know it's not motocross but every top motocross racer I knew of was racing the series. Many would just slap a set of track tires on their MX bike and go racing as there was nothing else to do during the winter. I had a 125 Honda Elsinore that was a dedicated track bike. This had been my motocross bike several years earlier. We bought it back from the guy I originally sold it to in a basket for cheap. We rebuilt the bike and turned it into a track racer.

    If I remember correctly they raced a winter series January-February 78 and 79. I'm not sure if they continued past those years or not. Anyhow... here are a few pictures. The series was a blast and really taught you to bang bars and muscle your way past another rider. You also were not allowed to run a front brake so there was no out braking the other guy. You stuck your front wheel inside him and shoved him out of your way... fun times... and also a few fist fights because some guys didn't really like being muscled out of the way... hahaha...

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