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 shared some prize money from the day’s races (or if a parent helped pay him). In most cases, these mechanic-buddies had a regular job, and played mechanic on the side.
I gladly opened my race shop for these mechanic buddies to work on the race team bikes. It gave me a chance to oversee the work being done, as well as observing the skills and work ethic of these mechanics. The great majority of them were young, enthusiastic and every bit as hard working as I was. Over time, I hired many of these mechanic-buddies to be a full time mechanic for the DG team. In each case, they were initially very excited about working for Team DG. But in time, each one realized that working for the DG team was 5 times more work than just working for one racer. They were right about that. Despite the workload, a job in the DG race shop was the perfect training ground for mechanics looking to work for factory teams in the future. If a mechanic could deal with the 7-day a week pace at the DG race shop, you could deal with anything.
My first assistant mechanic at DG was Pat Alexander, the mechanic buddy of pro-racer Mark Tyer. Pat was a tireless worker, and easy to get along with. Pat wasn’t excited about his regular day job, so I was able to get DG owner Gary Harlow to hire him for the race shop. During Pat’s tenure with me, DG received a batch of brand new RM125A Suzukis in a back-door deal with US Suzuki race boss Tosh Koyama. It wasn’t long before US Suzuki noticed Pat’s skills and work ethic at the track. They offered Pat a job with the Suzuki factory motocross team. Over the following years, Pat went on to be the factory mechanic for several factory Suzuki racers before being promoted to team manager. Today, Pat still works behind the scenes for the US Suzuki race department.
After Pat’s departure, I hired Rick Sparling, who raced locally in SoCal, but had a greater interest in being a mechanic than a racer. Like Pat, Rick worked with Team DG for a couple of years before getting hired by US Suzuki to work for their growing factory team.
Another notable mechanic-buddy was Bill Chapin, who showed up with local pro-racer David Taylor in 1975. Bill worked construction at the time, but he had an insatiable curiosity for making the race bikes better and better. Bill also had an energy level and work ethic that matched his curiosity. Bill spent many hours in the DG race shop working on Dave’s bikes. As Dave became more of a test rider for DG, Bill went on to work for other SoCal pro racers, and started to travel the AMA circuit. With that experience behind him, Bill went on to be the technical force behind the successful Performance JetSki (PJS) racing team operations of the 1980s. By the 1990s he became one of the principals of R&D racing Products that continues to operate today.
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