MX Bob Bike History - Chapter 11
1983 Honda CR480R
Florida Winter Sand

For the second bike in a row, I bought brand new, my first new Honda since the 1973 XL100. I got this bike from a dealer in Orange, Virginia who I will refer to only as Scott Schafer, which may or may not be his real name, but in fact is. He gave me a good deal on the bike and a nice discount on the parts. I was looking forward to starting the season in A class and having a new, hopefully better suspended, more reliable, motorcycle.

I got the bike at the awards banquet in early December 1982. Orange was a long way from Norfolk, so meeting at the banquet worked out well. I took the month of December off from riding. After the banquet, I rode the bike once, real easy just to break it in. Then, unexpectedly, I had an opportunity to race a round of the Florida Winter Series.

The track I believe had the name West in it and was located within the city limits of Orlando. I'm quite sure that the track no longer exists, and hasn't for several decades. I had never been to the Florida Winter Series before, but I had read about it for years in Cycle News and MXA.

Foolishly, I signed up for A class. I was unaware of the unwritten "sign up at least one class lower than you race back home" rule. I was a bit out of shape, way out of practice, not used to the bike, not accustomed to the deep powder sand, and taking my half year of experience in A class against national caliber amateurs.

Luckily, there were a few guys that were as slow as me that I got to dice with. The guys in front were way faster though. It was as if they were riding a different track. I remember getting lapped by Kevin Foley in a long section of whoops. It had gotten very rough, I was too tired to charge anymore, and I was floundering. When he came by, he was in the meat of the powerband of the big Yamaha, in what must have been fifth gear. He just hit the top part of the whoops and was easily going 30 miles an hour faster than I was. I finished 18th out of 27 overall, which seemed OK under the circumstances.

The coolest part for me was seeing Minnesota's own, Tom Benolkin, there. He was off the factory Kawasaki team, and riding at Florida, on a Honda, once again, to show what he could do. He won the pro class that day, and I got to puff my chest up about Minnesota to my Virginia friends. Blake Grossman was also there in the 125 A. I donít remember how he did. Sorry, Blake.

Once back to Virginia, I did a lot of sand riding at a track near (on?) the Coast Guard base. I adjusted to the bike quickly. The power was smooth, it handled nice, and the stock suspension was much better than the Maico. I had trained hard, got to practice quite a bit that winter, and thought I was ready to do something in Open A. Things didn't turn out that way.

The first couple of races were all at clay tracks that were pretty muddy. All winter, I had practiced at a sand track, so I really felt awkward in the slippery clay. I was finishing about as well as the previous year, which was disappointing to me. Then at a track near Elizabeth City, North Carolina, I broke my wrist and was out for a while.

My time off was not used wisely. Several "distractions" had crept into my life. The first was that there were now women on board the ship. I really didn't have a girlfriend when I was in the Navy. Somehow, I didn't perceive the invitation to "drive 3 hours to watch me race" or to "hang out while I work on my motorcycle" to have too high of a success rate. Besides pursuing that more, now that I wasn't spending all my time and money on racing, I was able to go out more and see live music.

I had good friends in Virginia, guys that lived in Tidewater and raced, or used to race, and who shared my love of live heavy metal (as it was considered in the early 80s). It was during my "wrist break" that we heard there was going to be a Supercross race at the old RFK Stadium in Washington. Hannah had been winning like crazy again, the fabled start of the 1983 season. Bailey was a contender. We had to be there.

Don, Leonard, and I all had vans made into race vehicles. None of us wanted to drive them in DC, so we decided to rent a car. To save money, we rented from a place that I think had for its actual name, Rent-A-Wreck. We left Friday and were going to stay overnight the night before the race itself. All seemed well as we got into DC and successfully checked into our motel.

It was still kind of early so we thought we'd go down to Georgetown area and duck our heads into a music establishment or two. It wasn't that far from the hotel, but in that short distance, the car started acting strange. It was an automatic, but it was like the clutch was slipping. Finally, as we are driving through the middle of the main Georgetown strip looking for a place to park, it came to a stop altogether. There was no parking at all on the main drag, or the closely adjoining streets. We pushed it a long ways, with an appreciative audience at times, until we could finally turn off and park it.

When we found a pay phone, and called the number on our rental agreement, we got a recording saying basically that they turn the lights off at the office from Friday evening to Monday morning, and itís a single-location store. It was Friday evening, an hour or too late. We were on our own.

Donís father sold used cars and knew a mechanical trick or two. When we called him, he told us that the quick fix for transmission seals leaking was a bit of sawdust. I have no idea where we found sawdust and transmission fluid, but I remember we walked a long ways, through sometimes scary-looking streets, in our grand quest for these two items. By the time we got back and got the car going, we just went back to the motel.

The race itself was great. Bailey ended up winning, but Hannah looked good in second. Making it a full podium of my favorite riders was Mark Barnett in third. For the second event of 1983, I splurged on an event T-Shirt. Our makeshift repair of the car held for the rest of the trip.

Once I came back from my wrist injury, I raced the bike a few more times with mid-pack results, the one exception being what I consider to be my best A Class race. It was on a sand track near historic Fredericksburg. There was always more competition there because, besides District 13 (Virginia), many riders from District 7 (Maryland) would show up. I got the holeshot out of 32 riders one race, and top three the other, finishing 6th overall with a 5-5. They only had trophies back to 5th no matter how many riders signed up, so I didn't get one, but I think my name was in Local Results section of Cycle News.

More than anything wrong with my wrist, the issue was that I had discovered things that I been sacrificing to race, and grew to like them. I had lost the rabid dedication that I needed to offset my mediocre talent level. To make things worse, I was now a short-timer and was getting ready to get out of the Navy and move back to Minnesota.

After I got out of the Navy, there was about a 2 month break where I didn't ride this bike (see following chapter), and then I raced a few times back in Minnesota. I had dropped back to B class, because I thought, quite correctly, that the racing was more competitive there than in Virginia. Even in B class, I didn't earn a trophy. Looking back, I didn't give myself enough time to get back into practice or learn the tracks, but I was discouraged with racing. I didn't know where to ride, I didn't have a good place to work on my bike, none of my old friends seemed to race anymore, I was running out of money, and I was about to start going to electronics school. I thought I may race again once I had a decent job and a garage, but, for now, I was done.

When I sold the bike, it was very strange selling it for a reason other than getting money for another one. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the bike lived on for many years. I sold it to a local Cycle News contributor who I will refer to as Rolf O, which, well, you know the disclaimer by now. I hear that he rode it into the 1990s.

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Revised July 2017