Flashback with David Bailey
September 8, 2008 10:01am
Supercross and motocross legend David Bailey goes through a stack of old photos and magazines while taking you on a trip down memory lane.
'86 des Nations podium. When I see photos from that podium in Italy, I mostly remember how cold I was. It was nice to win, but I'd had half of the final moto to soak that in already. At this point, I was just anxious for the announcer to go through the other eight riders up there so I could go back to the hotel and take a hot shower and focus on marrying Gina when I got home. '86 des Nations drop-off. This particular jump was really fun. It was an awesome view and one of the rare places in racing where you just look out at the crowd for a second and really appreciate the moment. I went pretty close to the fence on my right to miss some bumps once and the fans touched me. I changed my line more to the left after that! My dad. Daytona was a special place for me because I watched my dad build the track, test it out a little bit, and then race against the best in the world. I got to ride around out there sometimes on my minibike and sort of dreamed about what it would be like to race there as an adult. I eventually grew up and won the race in 1984, but I still felt like a kid compared to guys like DeCoster, Weinert, Hannah and Karsmakers. My blue Bultaco. This was my first year pro, at a local race in North Carolina at a track called Rolling Hills. I felt pretty fast in those days when I rode local races, but I got smoked at the nationals. That bike was my and my dad's creation. Simmon's forks, Works performance shock(s), homemade tank, seat and pipe etc. Bultaco was just about extinct, but I kept it alive as long as I could. I loved the red engine Honda works bikes back then and sort of copied their bikes, but used blue instead. Fox pose. This was a version of Fox's original colors, which didn't go with Kawasaki very well. I liked wearing the Brad Lackey day glow green stuff. Fox was great, but at the time JT was the powerhouse Fox is today. As part of my Fox deal I was given one of the Fox box vans. I stopped at a gas station in the middle of Texas that year on the way to Denver and the guy wanted to know if I would open the back so he could see the foxes in there. Daytona #45. This was 1981 when Daytona still crossed over pit road and there were 40 riders in the main with a two-row start and the original sand! Mike McAndrews was my mechanic for the day since one of the factory guys was injured or something. I felt pretty special until I fell in the first turn. People have said it's hard to find a bad picture of me, but this one is pretty ugly. Don't ever show that one again. MX des Nations Swiss 500. This was the year I took Donnie Hansen's place at the '82 des Nations, when it was two separate weekends. We had already won the 250 race in Germany and this shot is in Switzerland the following weekend on the 500. JT had just come out with their V-2000 chest protector and John and Rita Gregory were there with a few prototypes. Even though I was a Fox guy, the rocks were so bad on half the track I called dibs on one of 'em and put Fox stickers on it. I had a good day finishing 4-2 and crossed the line right behind Magoo in the last moto as he completed his 4-moto sweep. After the race I signed with JT for 10-times the money Fox was paying me! I drank a lot of champagne and thought my new contract looked pretty good, but I agonized over having to explain to Fox when I got home. Black and White podium. There were a lot of emotions on the podium in Switzerland that day. Magoo, on the left, had just made history with his sweep, O'Mara's hand had been injected with cortizone before the race for extreme blisters, and he broke his foot in the second moto on a wooden stake and needed a piggy back ride. Magoo carried him no problem, just as he had carried the whole team. I was happy, yet a little sad that Hansen was in a coma while I rode his bike and enjoyed the experience and Gibsen rode the whole second moto on a rear flat to help us get the points we needed. Me and O'Show. Johnny and I were teammates at Honda and JT until the '84 season, when he switched to Answer. I thought he was going to look dorky, but when he showed up in his own signature line I was shocked at how cool it looked. I ended up being the dorky one. I had a pre-production ALS-1 JT helmet that didn't fit right yet and felt like a conehead and had a weird looking blue and yellow #1 plate on my bike. It grew on me, but I remember feeling all out of whack that day. Not long after this photo, Johnny won his first SX at Anaheim and cruised to the championship. JT Helmet. It's hard to look at this photo without laughing. I used to love going down to JT and working with them on what I wanted to wear. The year I signed, all the Honda gear was red, and I asked if they could swap all the red out and use blue. They showed up at a Golden State race that weekend with blue pants and everyone dug 'em. Then I took a chance on the bright orange, and that was a hit too. This headband and the repeating "JT" on the helmet were my ideas as well. I had a great relationship with everyone there and used to love to watch the designers, Chris and Jerry, draw. Years later, I ended up working there with them. Laid over. This shot was taken by my wife, Gina! Broc and I had battled during the first moto, and I finally got him on the downhill. During this second moto, a fan oblivious to who Gina was said, "Hey, Bailey's gonna get him right here, if you want to get a good picture." So she aimed and got this wild shot of my pass on Broc. He was ready for my downhill move that time, and we came in really hot. Once I knew we were over our heads coming into the corner, my plan was to lay it down and keep it running to avoid a nasty take-out. I figured I wouldn't lose much time and could still possibly win with the few laps remaining, but somehow I stayed up. The whole outdoor season was like that. Everything I did worked, and my bike was unbelievable. Wrangler. This was taken the day before the SX at Foxboro in 1983. Wrangler was trying capitalize on their investment, and I think it's fair to say that was the only time Lechien or I ever wore their clothes. It seemed like we stood there forever as they snapped away, trying to get a good shot with riders going by in the background. Our shirts were all pinned in the front to get the wrinkles out and we had to hold perfectly still. It was exhausting. The next day, it poured rain and I won after a good battle with Jeff Ward. My wife, Gina, was there, but we didn't know each other yet and she was rooting for Ward! Cover. This cover shot was on my property in Virginia. It was taken at the end of 1983, after I'd won the SX, 250, and Wrangler GNC title, and I'm riding my 480. I used to have all the bike sizes and liked to mix it up and stay sharp. Most people never saw me ride a 125, but I loved riding it. This was one of those days where I could've ridden forever and was just having a blast hitting jumps and stuff over and over wherever the light was good. Not my favorite cover, but it reminds me of how much I used to ride and how much I loved it - and to always wear a facemask when cameras are involved. Me and Gina. This was right after I won the Anaheim SX in ’86, and I was still sweating from the excitement. My fiancee at the time, Gina looks really happy too and is the only one who truly knew how much preparation I put into it and how nervous I was to get back on track after a lousy season in '85. Me and RJ. This was during the opening ceremonies at the '86 Motocross des Nations in Italy. I spotted this guy with a solar-fan hat and traded him my custom Dunlop hat for it. As soon as I went back under the umbrella, it quit, so I think RJ was busting my balls, saying, "Dude, it only works in the sun." We were fierce competitors, but his unique sense of humor always made me laugh. I'm not much older in that picture than my son Sean is, and I see a lot of him in that shot. When I'm out at Perris and see Rick's son Luke, he is an absolute carbon copy of Rick! Time sure flies. Race chair. This photo was taken for a story in Moto Verte by Marc Blanchard of One Industries in the old JT parking lot. That year I had a few top finishes in the biggest chair races in the world - the L.A. Marathon (8th), Boston (7th), and Sydney, Australia (10th), and I was finally digging out of a funk and feeling somewhat strong and capable again. Not long after that photo was taken, I got a call from ESPN.... Lake Sugar Tree. I traveled the country with my mom and dad with no home until we pulled into Lake Sugar Tree in 1975. We had seen plenty of nice tracks, but nothing compared to the early days at Lake Sugar Tree. The owner, Avery Mills, offered my dad an acre of land, and we built a house and Bultaco dealership called Gary Bailey's Cycle Barn. I was lucky to live there when the nationals and Trans Ams came through during the ‘70s, but every time I got ready to ride the next day on a track that was all bermed-up and rough from the race, it rained and ruined it. Eventually, I bought the place from Avery and held my own nationals. I won the first race in 1986 on the 500, and it stands out as one of my most emotional wins - and proof that dreams come true!