Vintage World Championships 2003 - Feature Review - Dirt Rider Magazine

Glen Helen Raceway Park gave us another fantastic weekend of racing. This time, we've gone back in history. Rick Doughty's Vintage Iron World Championships brought some classic bikes and classic people out of retirement to tear it up at Glen Helen's National track.We saw bikes in all stages of restoration or upkeep. Some were showroom clean, and others looked as though the owner recently found the bike in his backyard grass. What really impressed me was that most of the bikes ran so well. Only occasionally did you hear one suffering from really terrible carburetion or timing. Only a couple failed, and had to be pushed back to the pits. Remember, old bikes can suffer break downs, and parts are readily available. Sometimes the parts are not available at all. That is a far cry from our parts-every-week lifestyle at the local race shop.Tommy Bennochi gets the kudos for coming the farthest, and for suffering the most. Tommy B. drove all the way from Minnesota to ride in this race. In 1981 he was 5th place National Champ for 125 class, and one of the top Supercross contenders for Factory Kawasaki in '81 and '82. Tommy told me it was great to get reacquainted with some old friends. He wanted to see who had hair, and who was still fast. In the first moto, Tommy broke the swing-arm on his Mugen Honda. Yes, I said broke the swing-arm! Remember when that was a risk? Well, in the typical brotherhood-of-motocross fashion, somebody stepped up to help him with his repair. Scott Davis from took off on a 30-mile drive to get a swing-arm that he had for that bike. Imagine that, a 20+ year old bike, and he has the swing-arm for it. So Scott returned, the pit crew of friends hurried through the replacement, and got it all ready. The bike started, and he was ready to roll. Unfortunately, the severity of the broken swing-arm torqued the trani enough to break something. The bike only rattled instead of rolled. Too bad for the rest of Tommy's racing day, but a heroic effort by all, nonetheless.Some of the race classes were; Pre '65, Pre '75 500cc, Pre '72 125cc, "Evolution" (drum brake and made after '74), Side Hacks, also rider's age and bike year combos. "The Race of Champions" brought us Ron Lechien, Jim Gibson, Jim Holley, Warren Reed, Brian Myerscough, Gary Jones, and other past masters for some great competition. Our own Ken Faught joined some of these guys in the "Evolution" class for two motos. The Evolution class is distinguished by rear drum brakes on bikes made after 1974. That may seem like a strange classification, but it works to distinguish a particular era.Sunday's racing brought a "Motocross Des Nations" class. This was a 3-man team race with some really clever scoring by the officials where low score wins. If your bike was Pre '70 your moto score was cut in half. If you rode a bike that was Pre '75 then your score was equal to what you got. In the Evolution class your scored was doubled. You could ride a "Modern" bike here, but your score was tripled. This was clever scoring by Doughty to try to even the playing field. The result of this was that Mickey Diamond and his teammates on 1982 bikes, won the race. Second place went to 1974 bikes, and third place was taken by the team on Evolution bikes. No team riding current bikes made it to the podium!The Vintage Iron races really attract the folks with the heart and soul of our sport. In a sport where everything's newer, stronger, and faster, these guys put all that aside for nostalgia. They paint their old engines, shine up their chrome fenders, and go out there and ride as fast as the bikes will carry them.History teaches us many things, not the least of which is to appreciate how far we've come in this sport. Get ready, new things are already on the horizon to put our "modern era" bikes in the history books.

"Ron Lechien was smooth, aggressive, and fast as he bossed the CR 480around."Photo by Russ Rohrer
"Jim Gibson won just about everything he entered at the Vintage WorldChampionships by putting the power on his Maico like this."Photo by Russ Rohrer
"Ken also brought a camera crew to the Vintage Iron races. The crew is fromOutdoor Life Network. Dirt Rider is excited to be on TV with OLN."Photo by Russ Rohrer
"Ken Faught had fun chatting with old friend Ron Lechien. Ron, "The Dogger"looked great out there, aggressive and smooth."Photo by Russ Rohrer
"Ken Faught enjoying early '80s Maico power. These old bikes could go fast,but we are all happy we now have better brakes."Photos by Russ Rohrer
"Warren Reid at the Factory Yamaha Semi, Do you think this truck is littlenicer than his era?"Photo by Russ Rohrer
"Brian Myerscough grabs a handful of loam at The Vintage Iron WorldChampionships."Photo by Russ Rohrer
"Jim Holley looks back for Reed during their friendly duel. These two hadsome of the best racing of the day"Photo by Russ Rohrer
"Ken Faught (#98) near Jim Gibson (#2) on the start of the 'Evolution Class'. Is Jim stuck on the starting gate?"Photo by Russ Rohrer
"Side Hacks came out to tear it up and remind us about one of thealternative forms of our sport"Photo by Russ Rohrer
"Clean KTM lovingly restored to "Show Condition" was there to race."Photo by Russ Rohrer