Has it really been 12 years since I last attended the Corsa Motoclassica at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, California? A lot of things have changed and a lot of things have stayed the same. Willow Springs still feels (and looks) like the place I raced a box stock Suzuki GS550 in 1978. There are new attractions around the main road circuit (the Walt James Stadium, a kart track, skid pad, the Streets of Willow) but Big Willow is still the raceway’s heart and little has changed. It is at Big Willow that the American Historic Motorcycle Racing Association (AHRMA) racers gathered for the 2018 Corsa Motoclassica.
The most noticeable difference was more classes because the last time I attended, 1990 and early-2000 motorcycles were not “vintage” yet. Now, they are welcomed by AHRMA. The next obvious difference was younger riders. They may not have been (on average) younger than the 2006 event, but I’m 12 years older so they looked younger to me. Still, gray hairs were the biggest contingent of racers.
MISSING IN ACTION
The Garage Company founded the event and used to be the title sponsor. This year, they were not even on the event poster. Bummer. Seeing Yoshi Kosaka (the owner of the Garage Company) at the 2006 event on his beautiful MV Agusta was a highlight. The Garage Company website said to visit them at the event, but I never saw their display if they had one.
Also, the late Gilles Vailancourt was racing back in 2006. Gilles, an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame member and owner of Works Performance Products, died of a heart attack in 2015. I did more than one double-take this year when I thought I saw Gilles walking through the pits with a shock in his hand. The event was not the same without him.
SHOW AND SWAP
It may be due to Yoshi’s absence but the vintage bike show was not as impressive as the last time I attended. There were interesting bikes on display, but there weren’t as many of them. The swap meet was weak in 2006 and it was weak this year too. It seems that every old desert hoarder from Rosamond to Lancaster drag their sandy backyards and anything metal that the tilling reveals gets thrown in the a pickup and offered at the swap meet. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. The vendor row was lean.
The 2018 event didn’t live up to the last one I attended, but with an admission price of $15, I got my money’s worth. Roaming the pits is a pleasure for two reasons. The first is checking out all the amazing vintage race bikes from better-than-new steeds to duct-taped-and-safety-wired abominations. The second reason is the people. They are an interesting cast of charactors. And yes, the racing is pretty fun to watch too. Hope to be back in 2019.