Once trick or treating time kicks around this evening, we’ll be inundated by vampires, princesses, vampire princesses, ninjas, mutants, turtles, teenagers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those are some of the characters that will rule the night, but what about those that have ruled our sport?
For this special Bench Racing Ammo, let’s reminisce about some of the all-time characters of moto. Be sure to leave us a treat by dropping your comments below (we’re aware some of the scariest characters of all live in the Racer X comments section).
Evel Knievel could have dressed as himself on Halloween: a hard-drinking, cane-swinging, swash-bucklin' man of action. He was once arrested for beating up a journalist with a baseball bat, went to prison, and then emerged months later to tell reporters that there would be "more frontier justice" if anyone wrote anything nasty about him again. Evel is no longer with us, but his trademark look -- star-spangled jumpsuit, stars-n-stripes helmet, gold-plated "EVEL" signature -- is something that everyone has probably considered dressing up as at least once!
This is Rocket Rex back in his day, but we've seen him hanging out at the races recently, and he still looks tough as nails!
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"Rocket" Rex Staten once got into a fight on ABC's Wide World of Sports, in the middle of the 500cc U.S. Grand Prix. Staten was a bad ass, able to ride the wheels off of piece-of-junk bikes like Honda's early-seventies four-stroke, an over-bored CZ, and even a Harley-Davidson dirt bike with forks as rear shocks!
Gennady Moiseev's USSR teammates tried to crush Jaroslav Falta's title hopes and knees at the 1974 Swiss 250cc Grand Prix finale. Moiseev had the points lead but a serious knee injury and could barely ride. When the other riders saw what was going with the Russians trying to take out Falta, they responded -- including American Jim Pomeroy and Harry Everts, the father of Stefan Everts -- by blocking back for Falta. In the end the Czech rider survived to grab enough points to top Moiseev, only to later be DQ'd because an official said he jumped the gate. Falta never won a title, and Moiseev's reputation never really recovered, although it was his team and party bosses who ordered the hits, not the rider himself.
Jason Lawrence wasn't nearly as frightening as he was funny, but he was still quite a character. His attempts to get in the head of his competition sometimes worked (Ryan Dungey in their West Region SX Lites title bout) and sometimes did not (Ryan Villopoto at Hangtown). We mention J-Law enough that we don't need to catalog all of his tricks here, but here's a personal, bewildering favorite: One year at Budds Creek, before he turned pro, Jason got in trouble with promoter Jonathan Beasley for doing who-knows-what and so he pulled the key out Beasley's quad and threw it in the trash dumpster.
We know, we know, we should just write that "Everything crazy J-Law did" column soon.
Simon Cudby photo
Bob Hannah knew how to strike fear in opponents, with threats to “Break their stinkin’ legs” baked into many an interview. He was adept with costumes, as well. One year, he showed up at Loretta Lynn's Ranch for the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships while racing for Suzuki in order to sign autographs. But the Hurricane arrived late, just in time for the talent/fashion show to start. With the help of Bevo Forti and some other friends, Hannah dressed up like a girl and joined the contest in cross-dress, then went out and strutted his stuff like a stripper. Few even knew it was the legend in drag!
Let’s stick with a Hannah contemporary and mention "Jammin" Jimmy Weinert, one of the all-time great riders and personalities in the sport. Jimmy would stroll the pits with his guitar and write songs about the other riders (disparaging, of course), donned a dollar-collar neck brace en route to winning the Oakland Supercross (while running a paddle tire) and even once claimed to pour a little beer on himself to scare his competition into thinking he had been drinking before the moto!
Weston Peick just plain looks scary. Luckily, we haven’t seen anyone test him, and we doubt we ever will. On the other end, Tyler “One Punch” Evans turned his burly look into schtick, and gained a lot of fans in the process. Few of those fans were fellow racers in the pits, though—Tyler was not afraid of dishing out some hard block passes.
During the Hurricane's #100 season, he and Kent Howerton battled something fierce. A few years later he was off Yamahas and threatening to break legs.
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And speaking of block passes, and characters, Damon “Beast from the East” Bradshaw and Jeff “Chicken” Matiasevich formed an epic duel of rough riding throughout the early '90s. Tyler Evans was One Punch. The Chicken and the Beast was a one-two punch!
Around that same time, “Mad” Mike Jones was a solid 125 East SX contender who wasn’t afraid to get dirty. He then found an even better home running it in on dudes in AMA Arenacross, and later an even better spot during the early days of freestyle. There are plenty of Jonsey stories running around in this sport.
But if it’s rough riding you’re looking for, one of the scariest ever is old Eric Sorby. Some riders don’t have a problem dishing out punishment, but Sore Balls actually liked it! Someone needs to dress as Sorby and go knock on Travis Preston’s door tonight.
For Matthes’ sake, let’s give credit to "Rollerball" Ross Pederson. Steve, take it away:
There’s no one you wanted behind you less than Ross “Rollerball” Pederson with two laps to go. He didn’t get that nickname by accident folks, and I personally witnessed him ram dudes right off the track many times. Ross was aggressive and him and his good buddy Jim “Hollywood” Holley were once voted by their peers as
“Toughest riders to pass.” You want scary? Rollerball will give you scary! As for Holley, he’d play the SoCal character to the hilt during the Canadian Supercross races, making sure to draw the ire of every hockey fan in the winter by rolling out with his surfer look and Hollywood status, then firing them up on the microphone. Roller and Holley were a dynamic duo, for sure.
Nothing in this picture happened by accident.
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Other things that are scary include The Joker Lane, which was so scary that a couple of riders at the MEC just wanted no part of it whatsoever…any mid-80s CR500 were pretty scary unless you were in the stump pulling business…and speaking of those bikes, hill-climb bikes are really scary, what’s up with those things?...Wulf Sport gear, yeah scary as hell for sure…maybe it’s just me but changing Mousse’s were always very scary…the quad at Anaheim back in 2001 or 2002 was very, very scary as were the whoops at Anaheim in 2000….Okay, okay, we’re good. It’s getting time for every motocross trainer’s scariest moment—lots of lots of candy is soon to be eaten! Happy Halloween!