Harry Klemm was standing at ground zero when the Southern California motocross bomb exploded in the 70’s. In addition to being a highly-respected mechanic, engineer and tuner, Harry is a consummate story teller. Reading his manuscript, The DG Years, 1975-1976, is like looking into a unearthed time capsule for those of us who had the pleasure of living through those times. And there is plenty here for new generations of racers, mechanics and dreamers to learn from.
I asked Harry if I could turn the manuscript into a serial format and post it on Jimmy Mac On Two Wheels. To my surprise, he was all for it. I didn’t edit Harry’s stories. I simply separated them to make it all easier to consume while reading off a screen.
If you enjoy these stories, Harry has plenty more to tell. We just need to convince him it is worth his effort. You can no longer reach Harry at the DG Technical Support line (you’ll get this joke when you read episode 8), but you can drop him an e-mail at Groupklemm@aol.com. or check out his latest company by clicking here.
Harry’s Preface To The Series
I am not a motocross historian, nor a long-time motocross industry “insider.” I was merely a motocross mechanic/tuner who was lucky enough to be exposed to numerous exciting years, and countless interesting people in the 1970’s and 80’s Southern California motocross scene. I’ll be the first to admit that there was plenty of stuff going on during that time in the motocross scene that I was completely unaware of.
Like most of the other guys working in the business at the time, I was just focused on completing the duties of my nearly impossible job. I didn’t have the time to pay attention to all the “fluff” and the rumor mills around me. That said, my job as race team manager and head of research for DG Performance from 1975 through 1980 gave me a “crow’s nest” viewpoint of the sport that was unequaled. And this all happened during a time when the growth of the sport was also unequaled. This series is not a history of everything that took place in Southern California…just an account of what I saw and experienced during that time.
The DG Years, 1975-1976 is dedicated to Yvette, who was my significant other (and best friend) during my years at DG. Yvette was a 5’7” energetic redhead whose positive personality was every bit as brilliant as her appearance. For several years, Yvette worked the DG phones, and she knew as much about motocross bikes and engine parts as most guys. She often attended the Sunday races to help with the race team in any way she could. She was the only female I ever knew who could break down a Mark Charles race stand, and fling it up into the back of the DG race van (no easy task). The DG pro-racers respected her, and their waif-like girlfriends were a bit scared of her. After our DG days, Yvette and I went our separate ways, but kept in touch occasionally. She went on to have a successful career that gave her great satisfaction, and an extended family that loved her very much. In 2010, Yvette began a long fight with cancer. In 2013 she lost that fight…a very sad loss for everyone. God speed Yvette.
Story Index (Click on any title to read the episode)
Episode 1: Understanding The 70s SoCal Motocross Atmosphere
Episode 2: My Road Into Motocross
Episode 3: Getting a Foot in the Door
Episode 4: Reality in the Race Shop
Episode 5: Building a Race Team
Episode 6: Building the Team Bikes
Episode 7: Understanding the Goals of a Racing Business
Episode 8: The DG Front Office
Episode 9: The Competition
Episode 10: Painting the SoCal Racer’s Atmosphere
Episode 11: From Mechanic to I.T. Before There Was I.T.
Episode 12: A Few Words About Engine “Formulas”
Episode 13: Mechanic Buddies
Episode 14: 1976 Turning Points at DG
Episode 15: Facing the “Race-Gas” Era
Episode 16: The Retail Chamber Birthplace
Episode 17: The Mammoth Motocross Classic
Episode 18: The DG/Saddleback Launching Pad