When I arrived at DG in 1975, the majority of the DG expansion chambers where built by a large nearby fab shop called J&R Manufacturing. J&R was a big shop that specialized in metal fabrication. They made their own line of chambers for various bikes, and spec built mass-produced pipes for shops like DG and others. J&R was not particularly important in the Southern California motorcycle racing scene, but the teenaged kids that got their first motorcycle industry job there were very important. If you were in Orange County and you wanted to be part of the pipe business (and learn how to do it), you got a job gas welding cones together at J&R.
The alumni of motorcycle industry heavyweights that started at J&R is impressive. Among others, there was Ross Liberty (future owner of Factory Pipe Products), Tim McCool (future owner of Cobra Engineering), Bill Cevera, (future owner of Bill’s Pipes), Lee Schaffer (future owner of Lee’s Pipes), and last but not least: Bob Hannah. DG owner, Gary Harlow, met Bob during one of his visits to J&R. At the time Bob was racing an old thrashed Husky, but he was voraciously enthusiastic. Gary offered Bob a ride testing one of the new YZ125Cs that DG had just gotten from Yamaha. Bob starting going “pro level” fast right away, and the rest is history.
It’s worth noting that the other popular So Cal pipe shop of the day was Bassani Pipes owned by Darryl Bassani. Dave Miller (future owner of Miller Mano) worked briefly at Bassani, but got most of his mentoring from Nick Adams at Orange County Kart Supply. Nick was a very experienced two-stroke tuner. Donny Emler got much of his early mentoring from early two-stroke tuner E.C. Birt.
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