Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 4: Reality in the Race Shop

The next day at work I witnessed easily the most disorganized and chaotic shop atmosphere I had ever seen in my life. As I was moving in my rollaway toolbox, I realized this place was not a race shop, but a three-ring circus. There was a constant stream of racers wanting parts, bikes prepped and repair work. No one was in charge of anything. I was flabbergasted. Gary introduced me to a few race team 125 pro riders (Davey Williams, Bob Hannah and Gary Denton) who were all there at…

Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 5: Building a Race Team

As mentioned earlier, 1970s motorcycle racing was a world without cell phones, laptops or even EZ-Ups. None of them had been invented yet. The SoCal motocross world was every bit as unevolved. In 1975, privateer motocross race teams didn’t exist in the way they do today. Even the factory-sponsored team riders had just one mechanic and one box van dedicated to each factory race bike. At big races those factory mechanics tried to park their box vans near each other, but it often didn’t work out that way. Since most…

Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 6: Building the Team Bikes

While our pits looked more and more professional as time went on, that professional look meant nothing if the team bikes weren’t fast. At the time (1975-‘76), Yamaha was strongly supporting DG with bikes and parts (mostly 125s), but there was no denying that the Honda CR125 was still the “pay dirt” bike for most aftermarket manufacturers like DG. With that, I set about building prototype test parts at a breakneck pace for both the 1975 Yamaha and Honda 125s. DG had a huge batch of spare parts for both…

Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 7: Understanding The Goals of a Racing Business

During my years at DG, I never lost sight of the reality that DG was a business that sold racing products rather than a shop that raced for glory. My first few weeks at DG were all about organizing the race team. But after that task was handled, the creation of product and servicing of customers was job one. Like everything else at DG, I was doing jobs and creating protocols that never existed before. There had never been any such thing as a product development department. However, I was…

Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 8: The DG Front Office

In the 1970s, the concept of selling race components nationwide by mail order was brand new. DG order takers had no internet, no cordless phones (much less cell phones) and not even a fax machine. Wall-connected telephone lines took all orders. You would think that a business like DG would have a phone sales office filled with gear-head enthusiasts taking all the phone orders. Wrong. The 1975 office staff was all women with little or no mechanical background. That said, all the office gals were meticulous about attention to the…

Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 9: The Competition

While DG may have had the biggest privateer team truck in the 1975 Saddleback pits, by no means did we have the fastest privateer 125 pro race bikes at that time. That did not sit well with me. Having the fastest privateer 125s was my job, and I took that job very seriously. The first part of that job was to identify the key technicians of each of our competitors, and then learn their background, strong points, and weak points. In addition to that, it was important to see DG’s…

Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 10: Painting the SoCal Racer’s Atmosphere

The term “sponsorship” meant something very different in the 1970’s than it does today. There were many levels of “sponsorship,” and there were never any contracts. Everything was done on a handshake, and the future support that most riders got was a function of their race results over the last 2 or 3 weeks. If a pro racer had several winning weekends in a row, he could ask for almost anything (parts, repair labor and entry fees). Conversely, if you had several bad weekends in a row, a racer’s capitol…

Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 11: From Mechanic to I.T. Before There Was I.T.

The skills that got me the job at DG were those that made a good motocross-racing mechanic. And truth be known, being a good race mechanic was all I ever wanted to do. However, after about a year on the job I realized that my job was no longer that of a race mechanic. My job was to develop the products, parts and modifications that race bikes were made of. All of these parts and modifications had very detailed and precise specifications. I had to become expert at developing, documenting,…

Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 12: A Few Words About Engine “Formulas”

During the 70’s, there was a growing abundance of “so called” engine formulas that were claimed to let you easily calculate the ideal port timings, compression ratios, expansion chamber dimensions and carburetion. Even before my days at DG I had made countless attempts to use these formulas while building the many different road-racing platforms I was working with. Despite the lack of positive results from the formulas, I still held hope for them. The 1976 125 DG team bikes were the result of countless hours of “cut and try” testing.…

Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 13: Mechanic Buddies

Once the bulk of the product development work of any one bike was done, I immediately handed off all maintenance and mechanical duties to our sponsored rider’s “mechanic-buddy.” By the time a local pro-racer had gotten to the level where DG would sponsor them, virtually every rider already had a mechanic-buddy (or Dad) that handled all the basic mechanical bike maintenance at the races and on the road. No privateer pro-racer had money to pay a mechanic, so the only time the mechanic buddy got paid was if the rider…