Great Races: 1976 Sears Point Trans-AMA

July 3, 2006 8:57am

Warren Reid on his way to the '76 Trans-AMA Support class win at Sears Point

photo: Dick Miller Archives

The familiar old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, when former Team Honda factory rider Warren Reid opened the latest issue of Racer X (September ’06), he spotted a Gate Pic from the 1976 Trans-AMA race at Sears Point Raceway (now Infineon) in Sonoma, California. It sparked memories of a great day for Warren, and he jotted down his memories to share with everyone here.

While thumbing through the new Racer X issue right after the mailman delivered it, I came upon a two-page photo of a motocross track. I always notice photos of natural-terrain MX courses. I immediately identified the course as Sears Point, then I read the caption and confirmed it.

The year was 1976. I had recently turned 18 and was a second-year AMA pro. It was the Trans-AMA Series and my first series on 250s after two years in the 125 Nationals. The Sears Point Trans-AMA was my fourth AMA race on a 250. Honda let me ride an old 1975-model works bike called the Type 1. My step-dad/spare-time mechanic, Jon R., dusted off the mothballs, rebuilt it, and got it ready for a 120-pound rider.

Decoster was the winner of the International class that day

photo: Dick Miller Archives

The Support class in the Trans-AMA Series at that time was of a higher competition level than the current Lites/250F class. In the Support class was Jimmy Ellis, who won the SX title the year before, four-time 250 National Champ Gary Jones, future champions Danny LaPorte and Mike Bell, and Steve Wise, Marty Moates, Richard Eierstadt, and a host of other top national racers.

The course was awesome and totally natural. It was exactly the type of course I was taught to practice on by Marty Smith: fast, hard, steep, complicated. The only thing different from Unadilla was the hard ground. It was really tacky that day, though, so there were lines everywhere. I was able to pass anywhere and at will.

Gaylon Mosier (23) leads Jimmy Weinert, DeCoster, Tommy Croft and Billy Grossi on the natural track

photo: Dick Miller Archives

I still think of that race as one of the greatest of my life. I came from outside the top 10 in the first moto to win, passing all of the guys named above. In the second moto I came from outside the top 20 to get third and the overall victory. It was my first big win. Pierre Karsmakers was in his final year with Honda and was cheering me from the pits toward the end of the second moto. I didn't have a mechanic or a pit board that day, so Pierre's body language told me what I needed to do. He was frantically waiving and pointing at Danny LaPorte in front of me a few laps from the end. I knew that passing LaPorte was the key to the overall. I got him, and Ellis, on a Can-AM (remember those?) and ended up second overall.

When I was 18, I looked like I was 14. When I went up to the awards-ceremony platform that afternoon, I was told by the promoters/officials, "Get the hell off the stage, kid!" I was arguing my case to no avail when the International class winner, Roger DeCoster, showed up and set them straight. I don't think I got a trophy. I certainly don't have it now if I did. Ironically, this race was part of a major AMA series, and winning a round of it or the series was a major accomplishment. The Support class was like a National and the International Class was like a World Championship and was more important than even the SX series was until about '78 or '79.

Thanks for the memories that photo brought.

Reid (far left) with the rest of the 1977 Honda motocross team