Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 2: My Road into Motocross

In the early ‘70s, I often raced in SoCal amateur road racing. At that time, local road racing was a sport that moved at exactly the same relentless pace as the amateur motocross world. The bike preparation and traveling in 1970s amateur road racing took long hours, little sleep and offered even less pay. My thin wallet and a few broken bones helped convince me that it was much safer to be a road race mechanic and tuner, rather than being a rider. Along with that, being a tuner was a much less expensive way to be part of the Southern California racing scene. I worked on many different bikes and engine designs at the road races. Most racers were more than happy to let someone else take on the tasks of engine tuning and maintenance.

Besides my involvement in road racing, I had been dabbling with local motocross and flat-track machinery from 1973 to 1974. It was a high-paced life, but well worth all the effort. At the time there was no school anywhere that taught all the skills that a motocross race mechanic needed to have. For most aspiring race mechanics of the day, going to the races 4 to 5 days or nights a week was the only “accelerated school” that kept up with the sport. I was enthusiastically a full-time attendant of all the amateur weekday races that took place at that time. With that, I was quickly becoming very familiar with the building and tuning of many different engine layouts and displacements.

Rex getting the holeshot at the Carlsbad G.P. Photo by Tommy Nugen.

After a few service-department-mechanic stints at a local Honda, Can-Am and Kawasaki shop, I was lucky enough to get a full-time race-mechanic job working on 250 and 400 CZs for a top local SoCal pro racer named Rex Staten. It was tons of work and it paid very little, but it was the launching pad into motocross that I was looking and hoping for. The CZ experience was educational to say the least. Very sadly, I learned a lot more about racing politics than racing engines. You can read more about it by clicking here.

With the whole CZ experience behind me, I looked for the next horizon. My Riverside California 125-pro buddy Rick Stout knew the owner of DG Performance. There was talk that DG was looking for a mechanic for their in-house race team. Within a week we arranged a trip to DG to meet with owner Gary Harlow.

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

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