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“Steamboatin’ at Jenny Ranch”
AHRMA Premier Classic Trials Series
June 19, 2010
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
By Ron Pocher
Photos By Peggy Cozart and Kellie Arndt
There’s three things that you can always count on when you attend the Premier Classic at Jenny Ranch in beautiful Steamboat Springs. First off, whether you compete in the Saturday trials event or the Sunday motocross, you’re almost guaranteed “more fun than a barrel of monkeys”. Secondly, following the trials award presentation, the Jenny’s always put on what many consider the picnic of the year. They always tap a keg of imported beer before bringing out the first wave of delicious appetizers. Some sort of tasty flesh is always smoking on the pit and the entire contingent throws in their favorite recipes for this “pot luck” extravaganza. Last, but not least, you always get to rub elbows with some true legends of motorcycle racing lore.
Last year’s 2009 spectacle boasted not just one, but three former FIM 500cc Motocross World Champions. Bill Nilsson, Sten Lundin and Jeff Smith were all in attendance; along with one of this country’s most versatile racers ever, Mr. Dick Mann. Nilsson won the first ever FIM World Championship while aboard an AJS in 1957. Lundin claimed two titles during his run by racing his Monarch to the top step in ’59 and snatching his second crown while astride a Lito in ’61. Smith, who was (and still is) rather versatile himself, pocketed consecutive championships while riding for the BSA factory in ’64 and ’65. Mr. Smith, like Mann, was also present at this year’s affair and competed in both Saturday’s trials round and the motocross race come Sunday. The third icon to make his 2010 appearance was the legendary motorcycle designer Don Rickman. Rickman, along with his brother Derek, represented Great Britain in the Motocross des Nations in both ’63 and ’64 before achieving further success with the development of their Rickman Metisse motocross bikes in the following years. The brothers Rickman were credited with creating one of the most important frame designs in early motocross history and their hands-on research and development eventually landed them in the AMA Hall of Fame. The Rickmans at one time were producing as many as 4,000 bikes per year, most of which made their way to America.
The Jenny Ranch motocross track is more reminiscent of the type of circuit one would find in the era of the previously mentioned gents. The only place you would witness something even similar in today’s world would be in the form of a grass track at an ISDE Qualifier. The trials course also resembles those from a bygone point in time, but don’t think for a moment that the sections weren’t considered plenty challenging. Rob Stickler, Don Kelley and Rob Poole formed the dashing threesome who tagged themselves Trials Masters. The technical loop featured eight sections consisting of muddy wallows, grassy uphills, steep downhills and more than a few extremely tight turns. Obtaining precise traction, as usual, was required throughout the traps.
Jeff Smith, Dick & Kay Mann
In the Rigid Heavyweight Expert division, Mike Atkins came out on top with a stellar exhibition that found him sporting a card that only showed 6 marks. Atkins obviously had his ’49 AJS performing on cue while things were just a skosh more difficult for Mr. James Jenny and his 36-point runner-up finish. Rob Stickler filched the Rigid Heavyweight Intermediate gold medal with his tidy 31-point outing.
The Premier Heavyweight Expert class saw a pretty tight tussle, but when play had ended Graham Foster was left holding the hardware. Foster and his ’56 Aeriel only needed but three dabs during the contest. Dave Dewoina scooted home in second via his ’58 BSA Gold Star and a rather skimpy 7-card. Rob Poole finished just 4 points adrift of Mr. Dewoina with his third place 11, while Kelly Shane was just off kilter with his 16.
Fred Mork was able to abscond with the Premier Heavyweight Intermediate class win with a somewhat questionable 182-point finish while Don Kelley chose to tally some worker points with a bit of boisterous observing. Jeff Scott left the site with the Premier Heavyweight Novice gold after punching a fine 16-card with the help of his Aeriel.
Mike Buchholz rode his ’68 Greeves just like he usually does – about as close to perfect as you can get. Buchholz entered and exited all 24 sections with nary a dab on his way to the Premier Lightweight Expert victory. Buchholz is the reigning AHRMA National Champion in the Modern Classic Expert division, but chose to have a go with his older mount for this year’s season. Hugh Campbell rode his exquisite Triumph Tiger Cub to a fine 9-point second place finish. Randy Skiver steered his way to third with a 15-card while well-known restorer Terry Hyde came home in fourth with his 51.
Former world champ Smith, was able to enjoy the spoils in the Premier Lightweight Intermediate class while astride his ’62 BSA but classmate Chuck Bullwinkle’s parade wasn’t quite so sunny as he had to retire early with a dnf. John Bergener was certainly on fine form in the Premier Lightweight Novice group as he reached the top step with a charming 3-point ride. Tony Hagger was only ten points arrears in second while Bill Burr had a rather trying afternoon but still drove home with third place points.
New Mexico’s Eugene Waggoner and Wyoming’s Bob Strohman fought to the finish in the Classic Expert division, but Waggoner and his sterling Bultaco proved to be just a tad stronger, besting Strohman by but a dab, 5 to 6. Mike Becker snatched the gold in the Classic Intermediate ranks by punching a 44-card with the help of his little Honda. Roy Haines and his impressive 9-point finish lifted him to the top rung in Classic Novice.
Ron Pocher and John Clement were both somehow able to post final loop 4-cards in the Modern Classic Expert class, but Clement had spotted Pocher a few marks too many during those first two circuits. Pocher and his ’75 Suzuki RL 250 finished with a final tally of 31 while Clement bravely rode his Honda TL 125 to a 48-point finish. Clement was probably wishing for a bit more motor on some of those steeper uphills but he and “Big Al” Duke are currently building one that will bring him up to a 180cc displacement.
The Modern Classic Intermediate division was the usual “knock down, drag out” affair with a mere 8-point spread covering the top five. The man who holds the current AHRMA national number one plate for this group came out on top, but it was a real squeaker. Bill Brokaw and Tom “Wolfy” Maddux both finished with 9 marks dropped, but Brokaw got the nod on cleans 20 to 19. Brokaw was holding one more “hole card”, since he’s eaten a few more birthday cakes, so “Wolfy” would have needed one less point or two more cleans to have claimed the gold. Wyoming’s Dan Straka rode his stunning Ossa “Mick Andrews Replica” to a third place finish just one dab adrift of the above duo. Dirk Murphy was only three points back, with his 13-card, while Mick Holloway rounded out the top five with 17. Ten ill-mannered gents pulled on their boots in this highly contested class. Peggy Cozart chose to save her considerable strength for Sunday’s motocross and nabbed her worker points by observing Section 4. Cozart, who had been competing on a lovely 125cc CZ, chose to ride her big BSA in this year’s edition. “Peg It” Peggy usually keeps a fairly ample stable of vintage machinery on hand.
As usual, the Modern Classic Novice ranks boasted the day’s largest contingent with 12 plonkers gearing up for action. Ray Arndt rode flawlessly all day and punched his first ever “clean” trial to take the top prize. Steve Papenfuss and Tim Evans were both knocking at the door but each cowboy had to put a foot down somewhere during their impressive outings. Both gents finished with 1 point and 23 cleans but Papenfuss edged Evans on age and walked away with the silver. Maybe edged isn’t the right word – Steve’s seen 53 birthdays while Tim’s only been around for 25. Steve Doyle was just another dab back, in fourth, with his 2-card. Shane Arndt, who almost always gives Papa Ray a run for his money, had an off day but still rounded out the top five with 6.
The Beginner class really had a brutal wrestling match, as the top three finishers all turned in clean rides. 37-year old Ron Lee just nipped sister-in-law Kelly Arndt for the gold while Kelly’s 31-year old usual rival, Shawn Hardman, had to settle for the bronze. Lee was the surprise winner in his very first observed trials competition. Jerry Pokorney was just off the pace with his 9-card while Van Walbridge rolled home in fifth with 12.
Bob Egan was just able to slip by Devon Hunt, 40 to 41, in the Twin Shock – Line 2 group in a battle that raged to the end. Danny Halloway claimed the gold in the Modern Support – Line 2 class with his fine 35-point effort.
Jamie and Sandy Jenny are as gracious as any hosts you’ll ever have the pleasure of dining with. They certainly know a thing or two about entertaining - being as how they’re in the restaurant business and all. Just the pleasant atmosphere and the feast “fit for a king” would probably be enough, but getting to visit with some of your childhood heroes makes it even more appealing.
While I appreciate meeting all of the motorcycling legends that have attended the Jenny Ranch event the past two years, Smith and Mann hold a special place in my memory. I actually got to see these two gents race, in person, while still a mere youth.
I was lucky enough to catch Smith racing in the ’70 Trans-AMA Motocross Series in Lewisville, Texas with the British version of the BSA “Wrecking Crew”. My sometimes questionable memory wants to recall that the bikes that he, Dave Niccoll, John Banks and Keith Hickman were riding that year were full-on works machines; using every possible means of saving weight with titanium frames, axles, handlebars, etc. I want to say that the bikes didn’t even have kick-starters and had to be bumped to life for each session.
Thanks to my dad, I witnessed Mr. Mann in action on even more occasions but the event that stands out in my mind is the ’71 Astrodome double-header. I remember rooting like mad for “Bugsy” to win Saturday night’s short track race so he could complete the first ‘dome sweep, after taking the win in Friday night’s TT. Mann came up just a few passes shy, after challenging eventual winner Jim Odom for the lead, with us hootin’ and hollerin’ all the while. Great days indeed.
RIGID HEAVYWEIGHT EXP: 1. Mike Atkins (6); 2. James Jenny (36).
RIGID HEAVYWEIGHT INT: 1. Rob Stickler (31).
PREMIER HEAVYWEIGHT EXP: 1. Graham Foster (3); 2. Dave Dewoina (7); 3. Rob Poole (11); 4. Kelly Shane (16).
PREMIER HEAVYWEIGHT INT: 1. Fred Mork (182); Don Kelley (worker points).
PREMIER HEAVYWEIGHT NOVICE: 1. Jeff Scott (16).
PREMIER LIGHTWEIGHT EXP: 1. Mike Buchholz (0); 2. Hugh Campbell (9); 3. Randy Skiver (15); 4. Terry Hyde (51).
PREMIER LIGHTWEIGHT INT: 1. Jeff Smith (46); 2. Chuck Bullwinkle (dnf).
PREMIER LIGHTWEIGHT NOV: 1. John Bergener (3); 2. Tony Hagger (13); 3. Bill Burr (173).
CLASSIC EXP: 1. Eugene Waggoner (6); 2. Bob Strohman (7).
CLASSIC INT: 1. Mike Becker (44).
CLASSIC NOV: 1. Roy Haines (9).
MODERN CLASSIC EXP: 1. Ron Pocher (31); 2. John Clement (48).
MODERN CLASSIC INT: 1. Bill Brokaw (9/20); 2. Tom Maddux (9/19); 3. Dan Straka (10); 4. Dirk Murphy (13); 5. Mick Holloway (17); 6. Reese Dengler (31); 7. Ed Peacock (37); 8. John Lambrick (42); 9. Jimmy Allison (43); 10. Rick Field (84); Peggy Cozart (worker points).
MODERN CLASSIC NOV: 1. Ray Arndt (0); 2. Steve Papenfuss (1/23*); 3. Tim Evans (1/23); 4. Steve Doyle (2); 5. Shane Arndt (6); 6. Tim Jackson (13/21); 7. Herbert Morris (13/18); 8. Debbie Poole (14); 9. Rick Hill (15); 10. Bob Bergener (23); 11. Keith Campbell (33); 12. John Hoyt (173).
BEGINNER: 1. Ron Lee (0**); 2. Kellie Arndt (0); 3. Shawn Hardman (0); 4. Jerry Pokorney (9); 5. Van Walbridge (12); 6. Patty Bell (16); 7. V.J. Walbridge (25); 8. Phyllis Pickard-Bullwinkle (50).