FUN AT THE RANCH
CZ's, Maico's, AJS' OH MY!
By Matt Cuddy
Anza California. Where the hell is Anza? After locating and unfolding the dog-eared Auto Club Map, Anza is a mere spec on the map, somewhere in the great stinking hot lower desert, between Temecula and Palm Desert. Ah, but Anza holds something rare and wonderful; a carbon copy of the Carlsbad Grand Prix track, put together by none other than Marty Tripes. You remember Marty Tripes, right? That wunderkind who won the 1st Superbowl of Motocross at the L.A. Coliseum back in 1973? Yes, that Marty.
Well, Marty had a surprise last weekend that for all the old farts like myself, and it was like being in heaven. Old dirt bikes, and the royalty of the sport of motocross from back in the day. Where can you get Gary Jones and John DeSoto on the same track, to battle it out once more, like long ago? Of course Gary’s on a trick 650 Triumph 650 twin, and DeSoto rode four classes, and I’ll be damned if I remember what he rode, the 100cc class was on a YZ100, but that didn’t matter much, as they lined up at the start. It was like magic, lightning in a bottle.
Even my wife wanted to go! Yes, unbelievable as it may seem, for someone like my spouse who hates loud noises, dust, dirt and bugs, Amparo was just as jazzed up about this race as I was. So we got in touch with Rick Sieman and his buddy from Phoenix, Stephen Geatreau, along with Stephen’s daughter Sahra, and put together a fool-proof plan to beat the infamous Southern California traffic, and make it to Anza in time for the 1st race on Saturday morning.
Seeing as both Rick and I are pilots of Chrysler mini-vans, because of their DT1-like reliability, we decided to caravan down to Anza, wherever the hell it was, and turn ourselves into SUPER SPECTATORS. I brought a lot of beer, two cameras, my Honda powered wheelchair, and a big straw hat. Rick did the same, sans the wheelchair, and showed up that Friday evening at my house in Burbank, where we had a quick dinner, and bedded down at a reasonable time to get an early start that next morning.
That next morning the alarm clock went off at zero dark thirty, an obscene hour to wake up on Saturday morning. Now I am not a morning person anymore, and like an old Buick running on 7 cylinders, it takes me some time to get the blood flowing. Now Rick, being the patient type, obviously got disgusted with my turtle-like speed, lack of planning and ability to think clearly before nine AM said he’d meet us there, and blew out of my backyard at light speed around 7:30 that morning, in a blinding vortex of empty beer cans, old B8ES spark plugs and used duct tape…whoosh. He was gone.
The wife and I decided to go at a more leisurely pace, making sure not to forget ANYTHING that would preclude turning around 10 miles from home to retrieve a forgotten beer cooler, loading ramp (for me, never thought I’d need a loading ramp) sun block or greenbacks. But for once we did it, and made a clean escape from Burbank around nine o’clock Saturday morning, the Chrysler loaded down like a gypsy wagon, listing to port slightly, have to get those shocks inspected…
The drive to ANZA went well, as we had the Tom-tom GPS unit cranked up, acquiring various satellites here and there, and we made it to Anza in about three hours (after stopping at the Lake Elsinore outlet mall for an hour or so, the obvious real reason Amparo wanted to go so badly. Tricked again.). Now the road to Anza is a street bike rider’s dream, a twisty two land devoid of potholes or cross-streets that hide the dreaded SUV, and we could see in the distance a track with the dust of dirt bikes rising into the superheated morning air. So after finding the entrance to the track, we stopped at the main gate, only to find this was the wrong race, Marty’s race was five miles down the road at the “Ranch”. The gate lady knew a lot more than we did right about then.
So we kept our eyes on the odometer and at five miles we didn’t see any entrance to anything, anywhere. It was at that time I made the decision to ask directions at the next gas station, something out of the ordinary for me, since it was my wife’s idea. Sure enough, we missed the road to the “ranch” about five miles back. We thanked the gas station guy and beat it back the way we came, and sure enough about five miles later, there, hid from Eastbound traffic was a sign that said “THE RANCH”. Dis must be de place!
So we turned off onto the dirt road that lead to the track, and stopped at the entrance gate/booth, where I learned that I was “on the list” and didn’t have to pay. Wow, a celebrity! So we slowly chugged up the off-camber road into the parking area, following the water truck of course, that resulted in about nine hundred pounds of adobe stuck to the undercarriage of the mighty Chrysler, sinking it down even lower to the ground.
After driving around the pits/parking area a few times looking for Rick, we found a place next to a bunch of Husky riders, and unloaded the beer, the Honda chair, more beer, water, a chair for Amparo and finally me. I made the transfer to the chair without falling on my ass, and cranked it up, at which time I was mobbed by the Husky guys who had never seen a wheelchair with a gas motor in it. A lot of picture taking ensued, along with good wishes from the Husky guys, who pointed us in the right direction to find Rick “Super Hunky” Sieman and his band of cut-throats. Of course, being a newly minted Moto journalist gave me the right to plow through peoples camps snapping pictures with the mighty Olympus, until we found Rick’s Chrysler parked on an overlook right above the start line. Lucky bastard always gets the good parking spots.
My wheelchair has a Lifan Chinese knock-off Honda 70 motor, high compression Wiesco piston, poweroll cam, and valve springs. It can usually make mince meat out of any dirt situation, but unfortunately that day it was fitted with street tires, and got me stuck more than once in places I’d normally blast through with no problem. So I stayed on the well-worn hard pack dirt roads, and it was no problem getting around. Because of that, my wifee, Amparo was given picture taking duties at the start line, and took some excellent “artsy” shots of the start of the 100cc class, and the “run what you brung” class of every thinkable dirt bike ever made, even an AJS was in there somewhere. I hate to say it, but a YZ490 got the hole shot in the run what you brung class, much to the dismay of Super Hunky (who despises YZ490’s if you didn’t know that already.).
Rick had parked right across from the Noleen motor home of Clark Jones and family. Clark came by and we shot the bull for a while. Clark was obviously impressed with my wheelchair, and I was impressed with the Vintage Yamaha his son was going to race. Clark is one of the nicest guys you could ever know, and is a wizard on dirt bike suspension. So if you have an old dirt bike with shot suspension, Clark’s shop, Noleen Racing can transform even stock DT1 forks into cushy top notch forks that work better than the most expensive Ceriani, so you might want to remember that if you’re into vintage dirt bike racing.
A veritable panoply of Dirt Biking’s royalty from the nineteen seventies hung around Rick’s parking spot, and I got to meet John DeSoto and a bunch of other great riders whose names escape me at the moment, but you could see Rick was in his element, and the bench racing was hot and heavy. I tried to get a word in now and then, but it was useless, so I made my way to the hot dawg stand to munch down another dog, and washed it down with another ice cold Corona. Ah, it doesn’t get much better.
I was getting around four o’clock in the afternoon, and being in the sun that long, in a gas powered wheelchair, along with a few dozen beers had finally taken it’s toll on me. Amparo sensed that when I started making no sense when I tried to speak, just able to blurt out stuff like “Bultaco” “YZ” “OSSA”…and point at stuff that wasn’t there. So she rolled me back to the van and loaded me up like an old 305 Honda, not before saying our good bys and thanks to Marty, Rick and Stephen. We took the road east since my Mom lives in Palm Desert now, and wow, what a ride, the view was fantastic, and I took quite a few shots that turned out to be the door frame of the van, along with my right foot and the dashboard. No more Coronas for you…
Thank you Marty Tripes for putting on a fantastic event that brought riders from far and wide to run in your extravaganza. I hope there’s another one next year, because now I know where Anza is, and what turn off to take for “The Ranch”. No more guesswork next year.