May 12, 2021
By Mitch Boehm
Anyone who’s been to the AMA’s Vintage Motorcycle Days event held annually at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, knows there’s a ton of amateur racing going on, from road racing to trials to motocross to cross-country to dirtrack. Signups for all of this dirty fun are coming next week, so keep your eyes peeled for registration announcements on our website and on social media. But in the meantime I’m reminded of a very special motocross event that happened at VMD back in 2007 — one I was fortunate enough to take part in.
It was dubbed the Legends MX race, and included an array of ’60s, ’70s and ’80s motocross and racing legends, including David Aldana (pictured with Boehm in the lead image), Tommy Croft, John DeSoto, Donnie Hansen, Ricky Johnson, Gary Jones, Mickey Kessler, Ron Lechien, Gary Semics, Jeff Smith, Jimmy Weinert and a host of others. Being a magazine editor at the time I was invited to compete (and write about it), and ended up lining up between Aldana and Hansen on my buddy Bill Orazio’s 1973 Honda CR250.
It was a sketchy situation for me (and maybe for Aldana and Hansen, too!), as I’d been up at the roadrace course all weekend doing the MOMBA story (more on that later) and a) hadn’t ridden the motocross track at all during the weekend, and b) had never ridden Orazio’s Elsinore. As I got ready for the start I remember wondering, as I squinted my eyes toward turn one, whether it went right or left! I honestly had no clue!
But it was a total gas, and an honor, as well, as these were the guys I’d idolized as a young motocrosser growing up in Northern Ohio during the 1970s. I finished toward the back, of course, and ended up actually dicing with 2-time 500cc world motocross champion Jeff Smith. Smith was 72 at the time, and rode the wheels off his motorcycle that day, and riding behind him — after he’d passed me — was a thrill I will never forget. I’ll also never forget how tuckered I was after the race; I could barely stand after handing Orazio his motorcycle back!
Whether you’re racing or just riding around on your Hodaka or Trail 70 and enjoying the sights and sounds, you’re sure to generate some thrills of your own at the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days event July 22-25 at Mid-Ohio. Tickets are available now at midohio.com. And if you see an AMA staffer while you’re there, give ’em a high five. They’re doing it for you, after all!