Friday, June 23, 2017 | TSTM
 

MStar 500 at the 1986 Gila Bend GP

The photo is of me at the Gila Bend GP in Gila Bend, Arizona in January of 1986, the bike is an M*Star GM 500. As you well know this is a motocross bike, with a small gas tank. The race was a GP format with a parade lap through town and as it turned out I should have either skipped the parade lap or refueled before the start of the race. Why? Because I ran out of gas on the first loop. Luckily the Arizona Desert Racing Association (ADRA) required all racers to carry a canteen (pre camel back era).


However, the canteen rule did not specify what liquid should be in the canteen; so I had pre-mix in mine. This race was the first time I had ever ridden a dirt bike at near sea level. I spent the better part of a day trying to jet my bike perfectly, and then chickened out and ran it a little rich. This proved to be one of the few smart things that I have ever done since the race was run through some fast arroyos with deep sand (just like we have here in Albuquerque but we are at 5000ft).


Another lucky thing happened, my buddy seized his 250 KTM in one of those long fast arroyos. This was only lucky for me, not for him. As it turned out I would not have had enough fuel to finish the race, but since he was just standing around at the last pit I was able to bum some from him.


I am glad I got to experience the awesome power of my Maico at sea level, not that it is not powerful at 5000ft. I had heard from people that raced Gila Bend the previous year that there would be an abandoned highway section so I ordered the biggest counter shaft sprocket available and the smallest rear sprocket. I know that I got the tallest gearing available because the counter shaft sprocket actually rubbed the swingarm, and the rear sprocket was so small that the chain just touched the sprocket bolts.


I can't prove it but I am pretty sure that I was going 100 mph on the highway section. I went by everyone so fast that I think the paint was sucked off of their motorcycles. My eye balls were bouncing around in my goggles so fast that I missed the turn at the end of the highway and blasted out into the cactus like an out of control rocket. Of course everyone passed me back and luckily I didn't crash. I'm pretty sure I got 4th Open Am and it turned out to be the last time I ever raced on the M*Star or any other motorcycle for that matter.


The following April I crashed big, ended up in the hospital for two weeks, sold all my bikes ('84 250 KTM, '85 500 M*Star, and 650 Seca), and gave up riding. I did ride a Sherpa T at some local trials for about two years. That was fun but it just wasn't the same. I recently bought a '97 XR280 that I trail ride in the near by mountains, but more importantly I bought really grodie old '73 or '74 MC400 Maico radial and if I can scrounge enough parts it could be ready for vintage MX someday. I will race again!


 
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