Story By Pete Peterson
Photo By Betsy Robin
If you’re reading this story, then you think dirt bikes are cool and you have a computer, so you’ve likely already seen the web video of Jerry Robin racing his dad’s 1985 Honda CR250 at the Loretta’s qualifier at Millville. It wasn’t a CGI special effects trick and it wasn’t a joke. Sixteen-year-old Jerry Robin qualified on the 28-year-old bike with finishes in the 250B Mod class of 17-1-7 for eighth overall; and in the Two-Stroke class he went 1-3-7 for second overall. He took the old bike to the Loretta’s championships, but some mechanical problems looked like they might prevent him from racing it. I got on the phone with Jerry and his dad, Dan, to get one of the coolest ‘How I Spent My Summer’ stories.
Pete Peterson: First off, where did this bike come from?
Dan Robin (dad): I got it from a friend of mine about seven or eight years ago… It was just so I had a bike to ride when we went trail riding, like to Grand Junction, Colorado every year, and we do a couple other trail rides in Minnesota. And I just wanted one of those bikes because that was the last one I had when I raced back in the day.
Jerry Robin: When we got the 1985 I wanted to ride it every once in a while, and then this year when the 125 broke it just kinda escalated where I had to ride it. It just developed from there and then I raced it at Regionals and then all this happened. I guess it’s pretty cool.
PP: So you were a 125 guy. Was that your plan, to race Loretta’s on a 125?
PP: What happened to that bike?
Jerry: At an Area qualifier the transmission went out and we didn’t have enough money to fix it. So then we busted out the CR and I started riding that and set it up for me and just rode it.
PP: Dan, what did you think when you saw your son motoing on this old bike?
Dan: Well, it’s always been pretty cool watching him ride it because he started doing some local races on it probably a year or so ago, just once in a while he’d do it to get more track time and keep some time off his 125. Every time we busted that thing out and he rode it everyone at the track always thought it was pretty cool. We just did it for fun.
PP: Jerry, have you ever raced Loretta’s before this year?
Jerry: Yeah, this year was, I believe, my seventh time going to Loretta’s. I made it six years in a row until last year.
PP: And when did you decide to race the ’85 CR at Loretta’s this summer, knowing what the competition is like?
Jerry: We decided at Regionals because we realized what people thought of it and we didn’t really have enough money to fix the 125. People just loved seeing the bike being rode so we just, [thought], ‘Might as well keep it going for Loretta’s.’ And people loved it there, so it was awesome.
PP: Do you think this bike maybe puts a target on your back, or makes riders try harder not to lose to you when you’re on it?
Jerry: Oh, for sure. I felt at Loretta’s, I didn’t feel like people hated me, but I feel like a lot of people were kind of like against me. It’s hard to explain what I felt but I don’t think the other riders liked it as much as I did.
PP: And Dan, do you have any perspective on this from watching the racing?
Dan: At Regionals I was standing up in the practice chute before the first round of open practice. And when Jerry pulled up there on that bike I think a couple kids thought it was a joke or something. Some kid actually said, ‘Is this a %$*& joke?’ And Jerry just kinda of gave him a dirty look. And then when that round of open practice started and Jerry smoked by all of ‘em going through the whoops section at Millville, they knew it wasn’t a joke then.
PP: Have you guys ever checked your laptimes on the ’85 bike versus a modern two-stroke?
Jerry: My laptimes at Millville, I had third fastest lap times at Regionals, so that was pretty cool. And at Loretta’s I was probably only a few seconds off my times that I rode [with] the ‘07, so I don’t think I was that much slower on the ’85. But one big disadvantage about the ’85 is that the fork legs hang down another two inches or something like that, so it drags through the ruts really bad and you can’t lean it over that far. That’s the only disadvantage I thought about that bike. But I felt like I rode the ’85 pretty good at Loretta’s.
PP: I think everyone loves to see this bike out there, I think it’s really cool. And I want to put you guys on the spot and ask you how much of this decision was that it fit your budget to race this bike and how much was it realizing how much attention it would get you?
Jerry: The budget part was like, after Regionals, so many people helped us out to get to Loretta’s and kinda keep me racing and keep me practicing and riding. So many people helped me and I can’t thank them enough.
Dan: As far as the budget goes, we were in a spot a few weeks before Regionals [after the 125 broke] that our plan was to go to Byron, Illinois and do the 125 [class] ….. I was in a position to either spend $1500 on getting ready to go to Regionals with the 250 at Millville, because it was right down the road, or take the chance on getting the bike  fixed and getting to the Regional in Illinois. And it was a choice we had to make that day and we decided to go for the sure thing and, ‘Let’s just go to Millville first and just see what happens. And if you qualify we’ll just worry about getting a 250 before Loretta’s.’ And then all the stuff blew up, people started helping, that was when we decided to just stick with the CR through Loretta’s.
PP: And I understand you got invited to South of the Border. Was that a development from all the attention?
Jerry: Oh yeah, for sure. Ryan Schafer and Mike Burke, they called us before we could even get out of Millville, actually. They called us Sunday, on the last day of racing, and they wanted me down next week at South of the Border. But we couldn’t do that because we had my sister’s grad party to go to. [But] being down at South of the Border helped me so much for Loretta’s.
PP: For people who don’t know what it is, can you give a brief explanation of what South of the Border MX is?
Jerry: South of the Border is a training facility in South Carolina in basically this tourist town, so you’ve got the interstate going right by the training facility and that was pretty cool. You could pretty much go anywhere and it was right there, you didn’t need to drive too far. You could just walk somewhere. It was pretty cool how they had it set up, it was like old 50s style, like strip mall style, where riders could stay and the track was only [about] 200 yards from the hotel. It was a really cool set up, I loved it.
PP: But then you had some bike problems once you got to Loretta’s?
Jerry: I think it was the second lap of practice, the crank went out of the ’85. That definitely stressed us out. So my plan for Loretta’s was to race the ’85 in both classes, Two-Stroke and 250B Mod, and when the crank when out, South of the Border, they brought down a bike for me to ride. They called some people from the Border and had them drive down to Loretta’s to drop off a bike, and that was a 2007 [Honda CR250]. I rode that in Two-Stroke class, and we got the 1985 fixed. We found a crank in an extra motor that we had that was pretty used up. It was still in there, not in the greatest shape, and then we planned to race the 1985 in 250 B Mod and that’s basically it.
PP: Dan, I understand you had some heroic moves to get this bike able to run.
Dan: I knew we had the bike coming from South of the Border and it kinda seemed like Jerry was going to end up racing that in both classes and I was, I don’t know, the day before his first moto I was sitting there about one, one-thirty in the morning. Just sitting there kinda looking at the bike wondering what the heck to do. A lot of people were really bummed out that the ‘85 wasn’t going to be getting raced. And I did have one more engine sitting there that was in a bike that we had. And the motor only ran for five minutes. It was spewing antifreeze out of the head and everywhere and it rattled a little bit, so we didn’t even think of it as a backup at first until as I was sitting there that night; I decided I better take that thing apart and see what’s going on, maybe I can salvage something. So when I took it apart I could tell the piston was pretty loose in the cylinder, and we had the other cylinder that Chad Watts had done, and I had a new piston for that, and so I checked out the crankshaft, and it didn’t seem too bad, at least worth a try to put together. So I stayed up all night, swapped the top end over from the motor that broke onto the bottom end that I had, put it all in the bike and we took it over to a practice track for about 45 minutes and it seemed to run pretty good, so we decided to race that in one class. And the reason we decided not to do it in both classes, I just didn’t quite trust the motor to go that long. But now, since then Jerry’s raced the bike at a couple of local races and it’s still hanging together. Who knows, maybe the thing will still be running next year.
PP: And how do you feel about losing your trail bike to this young racer?
Dan: Oh I’m all right with it. It was always fun watching him ride it, but next spring or whenever we get to go to Grand Junction again I’ll be riding it when we go trail riding. I didn’t really lose it.
PP: Does this bike have a nickname?
Dan: One of my friends named it “Godzilla.”
Jerry’s results on the 2007 CR250R in the Two-Stroke class were 1-5-1 for first overall – that’s a National Amateur Championship. On the 1985 bike in the 250B Mod class he went 9-18-17 for 11th overall.
SPECIAL THANKS TO -
South of the Border, Jeff Majkrzak/Geico Honda, Watts Perfections, Enzo, Klotz, Wiseco, Fly Racing, 6D, Alpinestar, Oakley, Darius, Hot Foot Moto, Sikk Shades, Fast Guy Stuff, ICW, Steve Benolkin, Cory Olson and many friends over the years.