From The Magazine To The Internet- The Yamaha Motor Canada Racing Story – Motocross Efficiency Journal

The Early Days Of The Blu Cru In Canada

By Mike McGill

Photographs by Invoice Petro

The historical past of the Yamaha Motor Company’s involvement in Canadian Motocross is lengthy and storied. They’ve been round for the reason that starting and certainly led the cost on behalf of the Japanese producers within the early years of the game. On this, the primary of a two-part article, we’ll have a look at Yamaha and the riders who piloted them to victory from the early 70’s proper as much as the flip of the century within the yr 2000. 

The early years of North American motocross had been dominated by European machines. The game originated in Europe so in fact this is smart however as the recognition began to take off in Canada and the U.S. within the early 70’s the Japanese producers got here into the sport in a giant method and by 1974 the market turned flooded with the shiny new Japanese machines, and the hordes of younger riders the game was attracting purchased them up like scorching desserts.

Yamaha is in fact one of many huge 4, which consists of Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki. Their historical past within the sport in Canada is, as beforehand talked about, an extended and storied one. Just about all of our biggest riders have thrown a leg over a YZ in some unspecified time in the future of their careers, so let’s break it down, make a journey down reminiscence lane and look at the place of Yamaha within the historical past of Canadian motocross.

As talked about, the European equipment such because the German-made Maico, the Swedish Husqvarna and even the Czechoslovakian-made CZ dominated the competitors within the late 60’s and early 70’s however by 1972, Yamaha was able to enter the more and more aggressive dust bike market in Canada and Trevor Deeley group, the who had been the present Yamaha Importers for Canada wasted no time in signing Canada’s prime rider, Ron Keys. George Davis, Keys mentor and mechanic throughout his tenure at CZ, had lately left the corporate and joined the Trevor Deeley group. This allowed him to proceed supporting Keys, solely now on the all-new Yamaha. “It was a giant deal on the time,” remembers Keys who obtained a $2,000.00 signing bonus for inking with Yamaha. “The bikes had been actually trick,” remembers Keys. “All types of titanium components. The, 360 weighed in at 193 kilos. Keys and Yamaha dominated in Canada for the 72 and 73 seasons profitable the 125, 250 and 500 Nationwide championships over the course of the 2 years. The 125 and 500 in 72 and the 250 in 73. Keys and his Yamaha additionally represented Canada nicely within the US on a number of events throughout this era putting extremely in lots of Trans-USA races within the States”.

Larry Mackenzie, Copetown, 1975, Yamaha, Invoice McLean,

The mid-seventies had been really a magical time for motocross in Canada as all of the manufactures acquired concerned within the racing scene in a giant method. The Japanese bikes had been changing into respectable contenders and the European equipment was nonetheless robust. In 1974, Yamaha Canada determined to go in a special course in Ontario and Keys misplaced his trip. On the time the corporate was headquartered in B.C. and western riders Larry MacKenzie and Invoice McLean continued to obtain full assist and manufacturing unit OW tools. Burnaby native McLean was a Yamaha man by and thru as he spent just about his entire profession not solely racing for Yamaha however later working for them in a managerial capability as nicely. Invoice was one of many few Canadian riders who may maintain his personal, and even beat, a lot of the imported expertise within the seventies. Actually, Invoice received the 125 Nationwide Championship for Yamaha Canada in 1973—his rookie professional season. In 1974, McLean had one other nice season profitable the B.C. Provincial Championship and ending second general and first Canadian within the Nationwide Championships.

By 1975, Yamaha had been again with some of the progressive bikes within the historical past of the game. In 74, Yamaha had been testing and racing their radical new mono-shock design in Europe and it was unveiled to the general public in 75. Yamaha jumped again into motocross in a giant method in Canada in 75 fielding a group which consisted of BC riders Invoice McLean and Larry McKenzie in addition to Japanese import Nobuyasu (Nicky) Kinoshita and Finnish immigrant Heikki Ylonen. Kawasaki, with Swedish ace Jan-Eric Salqvist had been dominating Canadian moto in 74 so Yamaha wished to ensure that they had one thing for them with their new bike in 75. Kinoshita was a unbelievable and in style rider throughout his quick keep in Canada ending 2nd general within the 250 and 500 Nationals to Salqvist that season. As of a few years in the past, Kinoshita, who should be practically 70 years outdated by now was nonetheless apparently working for Yamaha of their road-racing division in Asia.

Al Logue, a particularly gifted rider out of Hamilton, Ontario carried the banner for Yamaha within the late 70’s. Al began his racing profession on a CZ and battled the U.S. and European imports valiantly all through the 70’s. He in all probability ought to have had just a few extra to his title however Al received his one Nationwide Championship—a 125 title for Yamaha in 1977. 

Within the early 80’s, Yamaha pinned their hopes on a younger B.C. expertise Terry Hoffos. In 79. Invoice McLean, who had lately retired from racing, got here again to work for Yamaha Canada. One in all his first orders of enterprise was to signal younger up-and-comer Hoffos. Armed with a full manufacturing unit, and tremendous trick, OW 125 Yamaha, Hoffos, a 125 specialist, didn’t disappoint and received back-to-back 125 Nationwide Championships in 80 and 81. Hoffos, nevertheless started to lose curiosity in motocross after profitable his two Nationwide titles and by 1984 he was out of the game.

Gregoire and Hoover in 1985

Mount Albert, Ontario native Doug “the Sweeper” Hoover was the following nice hope for Yamaha in Canada. After a extremely profitable newbie profession with Yamaha, which noticed him win the 125, 250 and 500 courses within the Ontario Highpoint Championship in addition to the CMA Nationwide Motocross Senior 125cc Championship. In 1981, he secured a manufacturing unit trip for the Professional Class with Yamaha for 1982. Hoover was a unbelievable rider and may have received many Nationwide Championships, however he had one main impediment in his method. That being Ross “Rollerball” Pederson. “That man simply by no means misplaced,” remembers Hoover. By 1984, Doug had solidified himself because the quantity two rider in Canada. He completed second general within the 125, 250 and Canadian Supercross Collection standings to Ross, however the precise possibilities of him de-throning the Rollerball from the highest step of the rostrum appeared to be slipping away.

It wasn’t till the 85 season, his final with Yamaha, that Hoover got here to the belief that he wanted to up his recreation. Hoover began growing a Rollerball like coaching regime of his personal. 1985 turned out to be a breakout yr for Hoover. His new dedication to coaching paid off in a giant method as he went head-to-head with the Rollerball and received the CMA 125cc Nationwide Championship. “I beat Ross straight up fairly just a few instances that yr,” states Hoover. “However for me it wasn’t a lot about beating Ross as I simply had the sensation, particularly within the 125 class, that I used to be going to win each time I acquired on the bike. Hoover additionally took his Cycle World Yamaha Canada sponsored bikes to 2nd general within the 250 Nationals and threerd within the 500cc division. In all probability one my most memorable and satisfying races of that yr got here for Hoover on the 250cc GP of Canada at Moto Park when Doug was capable of rating a 2nd general podium place in opposition to a few of the prime GP rivals on this planet.

The next season, Hoover moved to Honda which left the door open for newly-appointed Yamaha Canada Racing Supervisor Lawrence Hacking to make a pitch to signal the person himself, Ross Pederson, to a Yamaha trip. “The Hoover’s had been positively exhausting enterprise folks,” remembers Hacking. “Each season they wished more cash and it acquired to the purpose that we simply couldn’t re-sign Doug.” With Hoover out of the equation, Hacking was pressured to place collectively a artistic bundle to lure Pederson to group Yamaha. “I didn’t have the finances to supply him the wage that he ought to have gotten,” feedback Hacking. “My bosses wouldn’t have gone for it, however I knew, and so did Ross, about all the contingency or bonus cash that was up for grabs. And naturally, he cleaned that up,” Hacking chuckles. “So, my bosses had been blissful and so was Ross. It labored out nicely.” Hacking goes on to say that it was fairly the “feather in his cap” to have the ability to land Ross for Group Yamaha. The three seasons Ross spent at Yamaha had been arguably one of the best of his illustrious profession with 87 maybe being the best.

Ross Pederson in 1986

Using, that yr, for the Yamaha Motor Canada Group, Ross had a few of his most interesting outcomes each at house and on the worldwide stage. Ross was a daily down within the states in fact and whereas he was capable of constantly put in strong leads to the US, his greatest finishes occurred throughout that 87 marketing campaign, when he scored a third general on the Hangtown Nationwide within the 250 class. He backed that up with a fifth at Southwick on the YZ 250 and scored one other 3rdgeneral at Pink Bud on his air cooled YZ 490. He even completed within the prime 10. 9th to be exact, that yr in AMA Supercross despite the fact that he didn’t attend all of the rounds. Fairly spectacular. As was usually the case Ross dominated the whole lot in Canada that season together with the Montreal and Toronto Supercross’ in opposition to some stiff American competitors. As Marshall Plumb, Ross’ mechanic throughout this era recollects, if Ross had of been in a position entry some higher tools throughout this era, there was little question in his thoughts he would have been a constant podium menace within the U.S, significantly outdoor. “His bikes simply weren’t fairly pretty much as good because the U.S. manufacturing unit machines,” he laments. “He ought to have been a manufacturing unit man.”

After the 88 season, Yamaha Canada modified their course but once more and their budgets for motocross dried up considerably. Ross went again to Suzuki and Lawrence Hacking left his function as Racing Supervisor in Canada and headed over to work for Yamaha in Europe. Nonetheless, Hacking remembers this era as some of the rewarding of his profession. “It was actually nice,” remembers Hacking. “Working with guys like, not solely Doug and Ross, however others as nicely.” Hacking goes on to say a number of different standout Yamaha pilots of the interval akin to Glen Nicholson, Jeff Sutherland and Serge Gregoire. “It was nice enjoyable and we had a extremely good vibe on that group.”

Glen Nicholson in 1987.

It was presently that Yamaha turned to a younger 24-year-old Mark Stallybrass to run their racing program. Stallybrass in fact will probably be most remembered within the sport because the founder and guiding drive behind the CMRC Nationwide Motocross Collection in Canada. However earlier than that, he labored for Yamaha of their advertising division and as talked about, finally rose to change into supervisor of the motocross program.

The motocross program definitely struggled for just a few years, however the hard-working Stallybrass developed a number of progressive ideas which allowed Yamaha riders in Canada to obtain some much-needed assist throughout a down time. Yamaha’s racing finances was extraordinarily low on the time so Stallybrass instituted a delayed financing program for the group riders which basically meant that they might race their bikes for the season and promote them on the finish of the yr after which pay for them. This follow is widespread now however was one thing new on the time. He additionally organized glorious gear offers with a number of completely different firms for all of the group riders and mainly put Yamaha again on the map so far as motocross was involved. Among the riders who benefitted from Stallybrass’s applications included Kevin Moore, Brad King, Glen Nicholson and Chris Pomeroy in Ontario and Jason Frenette out west. 

One other spotlight of Stallybrass’ tenure as supervisor of the Canadian Yamaha Motocross group got here in 1989 when he in some way managed to steer all the U.S. Manufacturing unit Yamaha group to come back and take part within the inaugural Toronto Supercross on the Toronto Skydome. Making the journey had been Micky Dymond, Jim Holley, Mike Larocco and a 17-year-old phenom out of Charlotte, North Carolina named Damon Bradshaw. They placed on fairly a present and Bradshaw notched his first skilled win on the two-day occasion.

Jim Holley on the 1989 Toronto SX.

Outside motocross in Canada was in a reasonably shameful state within the early 90’s. The CMA, who had been working issues, mainly into the bottom perpetually, had been lastly out however Stallybrass’s new CMRC Collection was struggling to make any actual head method or achieve any kind of significant legitimacy. For sure, the producers, Yamaha included had been reluctant to change into concerned. Actually, the primary couple of seasons of the CMRC Nationals in 93 and 94 consisted of only one occasion which passed off at the side of the Newbie Nationwide Championships which Stallybrass co-promoted with the Lee household in August at Walton Raceway.

Championship rounds had been added in 95 nevertheless with Ste Julie and Ulverton in Quebec together with a further Ontario spherical in Barrie at R.J.s Motorsport Park to go together with Walton. It was in 95 that very long time Ontario Professional and Yamaha rider Marty Burr pulled off a legendary efficiency on the season finale the place he swept the professional courses profitable all 4 motos on the day. The next season in 96, the collection was actually beginning to construct momentum and the paddock was starting to look far more skilled. It was in 96 that Burr lastly received his one and solely Nationwide Championship title for Yamaha within the 125 class.

The collection continued to construct momentum for the following a number of years, however it wouldn’t be till 2000 when Yamaha would make yet one more enormous splash and usher within the 4-stroke period in professional motocross on this nation. The North American economic system, which so many individuals had been so involved about in regard to the Y2K bug really appeared to be rising quicker than ever, and by way of motocross the massive producers had been lastly prepared and keen to spend cash once more. Large cash as a matter of truth, and the CMRC Nationwide collection was about to reap the advantages of this new-found largess.

Marty Burr was a quick Yamaha rider within the Nineteen Nineties and received the 1996 125 Nationwide Professional Championship.

The actually huge story that yr was the considerably shocking entry of former prime U.S. Professional Doug Dubach into the MX1 class. Dubach was in fact well-known to any motocross fanatic, having competed within the U.S. Nationwide Collection and Supercross for the Manufacturing unit Yamaha group for a few years. Actually, Dubach was arguably the most important title to ever compete in any Canadian Nationwide Motocross Collection at that cut-off date, and despite the fact that he was on the tail finish of his profession and approaching the age of 38, the Costa Mesa, California resident was clearly nonetheless a drive to be reckoned with. The architect behind bringing Dubach to Canada in 2000 was non-other than Dave Gowland. Dave in fact had an extended historical past of involvement with the game in Canada having raced himself as a teenager rising close to Mississauga, Ontario. Dave would later transition to the mechanical facet and wrenched for Canadian motocross legends Ross Pederson and Carl Vaillancourt earlier than packing up his toolbox and shifting stateside in 95. After all, it was all fairly final minute for Gowland and his new group. “It was really after Christmas after I actually began to get critical about doing it, so I needed to act quick,” remembers Gowland. And so, with the restricted assist he had been capable of safe by an outdated Indy Automotive contact at Fed-Ex and new Group Supervisor John Bayliss, from Yamaha Canada he determined to take a flyer and put in a name to Mitch Payton at Professional-Circuit, to see if he could be keen to assist in any respect. “Mitch was all for it,” chuckles Gowland, “and he additionally instructed me ‘Hey, I do know simply the rider you must rent’.” That rider turned out to be Doug Dubach. It must be famous that Dubach, on the time had totally transitioned from lively racer to full-time check rider. Actually, Dubach was just about the primary check rider within the improvement of the 4 stroke YZ program having taken the bike proper from its infancy within the early phases of 1996 up till the discharge of the manufacturing YZ 426F in 1999.

“It was actually an ideal storm,” remembers Dubach. “I joke round with my outdated mechanic (Allan Olsen) to this present day that we may by no means duplicate that season once more, even when we had a thousand probabilities to take action.” Dubach confirmed up on the opening spherical with handlebars, forks, shock and a bone-stock YZ 426 which brought about Gowland some misery. “He was all the time asking me if we must be doing a little motor work or altering pistons or one thing like that,” laughs Dubach. “I might inform him no, simply change the oil and clear the filter. It was pretty-funny,” recollects Dubach. “Again house in California and all through the States for that matter, the 4 strokes had been already fairly in style. They had been actually beginning to catch on however I’m telling you I Canada mine was actually the one one on the beginning line. I had the selection between driving the two or the 4 stroke however by this time I used to be just about identified to be a 4-stroke man. I knew that was the longer term, though,” he laughs “apparently in Canada they didn’t know but.” However they had been about to search out out.

Dubach received the Championship in convincing style and Yamaha was again on prime of the motocross heap in Canada. The pattern would proceed over the following 20 years as a veritable who’s who of Canadian and worldwide expertise would go well with up for Group Yamaha within the years to come back. Within the subsequent difficulty of MXP, we’ll have a look at Yamaha’s continued upward trajectory within the sport. The innovation, the groups and the riders which have formed the brand new millennium within the sport of motocross in Canada.