Ron Lechien - Raiders Of The Archives

THE EVENT: Binghamton National 1983, Lechien's rookie year on the circuit. "I just remember it being really rocky. It was the first time I'd been to the track and it was super rocky back in the day. And I remember they would run practice, I don't know if it was just the factory guys, but they would run practice all together and I remember Magoo was there andthere was this kind of over-the-top-of-the-hill; you would take a left than then rise over this hill, and I remember him passing me, and him swapping so bad in practice that he was covering the complete track in rocks, there was nowhere you could hide when he was coming by you. I just remember thinking, 'Holy $%&# that guys' out of control.'... Once I got the first win, I guess it was the first weekend after this at Whitney, the floodgates opened. Once you know you can do it, then it's easy. I think I went back to back - Whitney, and then I won my first supercross the weekend after that, and then I won Colorado and Millville. And Millville, man we really had the bike going good. I remember that race pretty vividly. Me and Barnett just had the frickin' gnarliest battle for 35 minutes. It was probably one of the toughest races I'd ever raced, just going as hard as I could ride for the whole moto and he was just breathing down my neck the whole time and it was a part of that Wrangler overall Grand National thing. I won the first moto and Barnett got second. In the second moto it worked out if Barnett won, he won the overall in the Grand National championship, I think it was 30 grand to him if he won, and if I won, then Bailey would win the championship. So I remember that second moto, all the Honda guys were cheering me on and it was a pretty big deal... I'd raced Johnny and Wardy and Barnett and all those guys a lot in Golden State, some of the CMMC stuff, and beat 'em, and I think the first time I raced Johnny was in '81 at Mammoth. That was my first big race win and O'Mara was in there then, so I'd beaten him before and that was before I had factory equipment, so I was ready. I knew 'em, and I'd raced 'em a bunch, so it wasn't like just coming in and racing with guys I didn't know... I still looked up to those guys, but I tried not to let them know that."THE BIKE: "I know that during the middle of that year we started getting the bike working really well, since it was that rotary valve bike. I think we DNF'd the first round at Hangtown, one of the motos we had a DNF, so we were kind of trying to work our way back and catch up from the beginning. The bike was decent in the beginning but like I said we had some mechanical issues at the first round, and it just seemed to keep getting better and better and better throughout the year. I'm thinking by around Binghamton the bike was starting to get pretty good. And I know we had a really good battle, I've seen a lot of photos with Wardy, Barnett and me, all battling out at that race. I don't remember exactly the results, but I think sounds about right... We'd fly into the races and test the bike. I remember flying out Friday, testing Saturday, then going to the races on Sunday. There were a few of the nationals where we went to either local tracks or Keith McCarthy knew somebody that had some property that had a track, and we were going to kind of some secret places and testing. And if I remember correctly they were getting cylinders from Yamaha Japan that were cylinders they were running on the 500s that they would just, I think on the old roadrace bikes, the old 500s were just four of those cylinders... We were starting to get some cylinders from the road race guys that were working on that bike.... And they were also testing over in Europe, because Gibson was riding the same bike over in Europe, and I think he was having some of the same problems that we were. They were just trying really hard to find stuff to get that motor up to par.... At that time I was still pretty light. I want to say I was about 165-170. I was always pretty tall, but I wasn't too heavy at that time yet for the 125. I was just 16 so I was kind of lanky and skinny enough so it was still alright in '83. Then in '84 I went to 250s for outdoor stuff, I was a little weak for that, and then came back in '85 to the 125s, and I think after '85 then I build up enough muscle to handle those bigger bikes, like the 500s outdoors." TODAY: "I'm still a part owner in Maxima (, I've been a shareholder/part-owner since 1984 and so day-to-day I run the rider support and sports marketing promotions here. I work with a lot of riders, which is cool, I'm still happy to be a part of that, and I still get out in the warehouse, I like to work out there, and just kind of do a lot of different stuff. I still do all the shows, all the distributor shows, work with all the reps and track support, I guess I wear a lot of hats over here.... My dad started the company in '79 with his partner Roland. And in about 1984 when I was riding for Honda my dad came to me and thought it was a good time to bring some money into the company to do some more stuff with marketing and advertisement. I bought in in '84 and have been a part owner since then." PHOTOGRAPHER PAUL BUCKLEY ON THE SHOT: "This is Binghamton 1983, one of the best years ever for the 125 class. Just out of this shot are Mark Barnett, Johnny O'Mara and Jeff Ward and I do mean "just out of the shot" these four guys battled hard that day. Barnett came out on top that day. This was shot in the last turn, right before the finish line and the track owner had built a small hump right at the exit of the corner so that the riders would be still laid over from turning but wheeling at the same time, I thought that made for a cool shot... I shot this with an original Canon F1 and some Kodachrome 64, that was a pretty fussy setup since shooting at ISO 64 meant the depth of field was little to none and the exposure had to be spot on or the slide was junk... This was probably Yamaha's trickest 125 ever, it was a rotary-valved engine dubbed "the baloney slicer," it might have been over-shadowed by O'Mara's RC125 Honda works bike but it's still one very cool 125."