Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 3: Getting a Foot in the Door

My Riverside California 125-pro buddy Rick Stout and I took the 40-mile drive to the DG headquarters to meet with Gary. After the initial introduction, Gary was not too impressed with me. Then my friend Rick went into his “used car salesman” mode telling Gary how I was the tuner responsible for the Rex Staten USGP CZ400 (at the time, it was still big news in the motocross world), and Rick followed up with how fast I had made his YZ125 race bike.

Yamaha Motor Corp. had provided a large batch of YZ125C mono-shock bikes and parts to DG’s racing effort. Yamaha was hoping that DG could help them make a dent in the Honda-dominated 125cc class at Saddleback. After Rick’s YZ125 testimonial, I had Harlow’s full attention and he waved us into the back room of the race shop. This room had shelf after shelf filled with more new YZ125C engine parts than I had ever seen in my life. Gary asked, “Do you think you can build a case-reed YZ125? I said sure but it would take a lot of parts. In minutes, Gary had pulled brand new cases, cylinders, heads and reeds from the shelves. He instructed me to “bring back a case reed motor.” I was aghast that Gary would give so much new stuff to someone he had just met. For him it was just a well-placed gamble.

Harry’s case-reed YZ125 didn’t win many races, but it sure got DG a ton of attention. Motocross Action Magazine published a 6-page story on Harry’s trick-out YZ.

I took all the parts to my brother’s machine shop in San Diego where we planned how to do the build. At the same time we marveled over how someone I had just met gave us a bushel of brand new engine parts. Within a week we had a finished set of cases with cylinder and case reed. I took the whole package back to the DG shop to show to Gary. He was stunned. First, because I actually built the motor, and second because I brought all the parts back to him. Upon seeing all the finished prototype engine parts, Gary immediately hired me to work on the DG race team bikes. The salary offer was more than I had ever made before, and the job was exactly what I was looking for. I was in. I would later learn that Gary half expected to never see me or any of his YZ125 engine parts again. It was a gamble that worked out well for DG Performance.

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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