Sunday, August 31, 2014


A big Thank You to all those who came to Sears Point. Ex-racers came from as far as New York (kudos to Peter), wandering in and out during the day as old friends reconnected. I enjoyed hearing many more stories about early CA roadracing and seeing a few beautiful classic machines.

You guys keep me excited about this sport--and renew my respect for how much it has been affected by California racers.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Is There Food?

Don't know how I forgot to mention food in my earlier post...

This is an informal party so you're own your own for meals. There's a pretty good cafe in the paddock; I suggest going before or after the racers' lunch break 'cause it gets crowded. You can bring your own food or if you're the real friendly type maybe you can join in on a racer's pitside BBQ.

Traffic Note: I-280 Northbound in SF will be closed between 101 and King Street. That's the route to the Giants Stadium so you shouldn't be headed that way anyhow, but it may affect traffic on the parts of 280 and 101 you do want.

Can We Top This?

The "experienced" race bikes on display at our 50th Anniversary.
Bring Your Bike!
We have an even larger display area this year--let's impress the new kids.

Latest update: There's 5 confirmed bikes...the tally is growing.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Who Put Me In Charge of Herding The Cats?

I went to the AFM meeting on Wednesday and settled some of the details. It's great that the group is on board with the celebration.

We have a confirmed area for displaying race bikes! If you have one from any AFM era, bring it down (or over, or up) so others can drool over it. The bikes will be front and center in the paddock, in the area where tech inspection takes place on Saturday morning. After Tech closes down (by 10 am) we'll have that area for your machines. So far, I have two bikes confirmed and would sure like to see the 50th, the bikes were one of the highlights for everyone.

Official time for the Unofficial party is 10:00 am until Sundown. All that means is that I get to sleep in a bit later and the final showing of the AFM 50th retrospective will be at sundown. We'll follow that showing with a special presentation of a more-recent AFM short film that is just stunning--you won't want to miss it. 

This is a full AFM race weekend so the track gates will be open by 6:30 am and racers will be hanging around all night. Come early and stay late if you want the full experience. Track entry is $12. If you tell them you're there for the 60th, it's still $12. If you bring the kids or grandkids and they're young enough they get in for free.

There's a raffle being held with all proceeds to benefit the AFM. I'm not sure what prizes will be available for the raffle so you'll have to come and see for yourself.

The AFM will set up their Benevolent Fund booth to sell t-shirts, hats and other AFM gear. All proceeds go to the Benevolent Fund (duh) to help injured racers. There may be something special for the 60th Anniversary..we're working on it.

We're also working on a few other surprises so clear your schedule and come to the racetrack.

Did You Know? The AFM... [Part Troix]

Has raced at Sonoma Raceway (née Infineon, née Sears Point, née Golden State Raceway) since 1973.

Held its first motorcycle-only Laguna Seca race in 1974. Noise complaints prohibited any more races for several years.

Had 85 teams signed up for the 250-mile (4-hour) endurance race at Sears Point in November 1978. It was rained out and took place on Thanksgiving Sunday.

Created Formula Pacific (FP) as the premier class in 1992. It originally did not count toward the overall championship. In later years all top 10 numbers came from FP, and a more recent change set the top 5 numbers from FP and 6-10 from other classes.

Started racing at Thunderhill Park in 1995.

Started racing at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in 1997.

Ran the California State Championship Series with Willow Springs in 1997 and 1998. Races from each club counted toward overall class championships.

Introduced electronic timing and scoring in 1999.

Introduced online registration in 2001.

Held its first race in over 40 years in Las Vegas in 2003. It was popular with those who went, but not a financial success.

Added AirFence soft barriers at Sears Point starting in 2005.

Has had at least 5 overall Champions who repeated for a second straight year, but has never had a Champion for 3 years in a row.

Did You Know? The AFM... [Part II]

Was considered an “outlaw” club by the AMA in the 1950s and AMA riders were barred from competing with the AFM.

In 1960, John McLaughlin threatened to sue the AMA in California for anti-trust practices because they were banning racers who participated in AFM events. The AMA stopped their restrictions. Forty-one years later John was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Was an AMA affiliate from 1972-1975. All AFM racers had to show both AFM and AMA licenses at each event.

Until 1963 or so, often held races as part of sports car events. The bikes would have one race during intermission, with everything from 50cc to 500cc on the track at the same time. Santa Barbara races would have over 20,000 spectators!

Had Wes Cooley (Sr.) as President from 1960-1964. He left the AFM after a dispute and formed the ACA, which led to the ARRA and the present WSMC.

Had a special year in 1965. In California, the AFM incorporated as a non-profit, held its first Scrambles, its first Enduro, and its first “Moto-cross”. (Well, the moto-cross was on January 1, 1966 but that’s close enough.)

Starting in 1964, limited female competitors to 50cc-125cc.

Had a street race around the Sacramento fairgrounds in 1968.

Had a race, the Tastee GP, sponsored by Tastee Freeze in 1972. It was at Riverside.

Used push-starts until the early 70s. For a while after that, bikes would line up in their grid position but facing backwards. Just before the race start, the bikes would be fired up, ridden in the reverse track direction for a short distance, then turned around and gridded as usual.

Member Art Baumann won the National Championship road race held at Sears Point in 1969 during the filming of “Little Fauss and Big Halsey”. Riding a Suzuki 500 in the 125-mile race, he lapped up to 4th place while suffering from hepatitis. It was the first time a two-stroke won a National Championship road race.

Former member Don Emde won the Daytona 200 in 1972 on a Yamaha 350. It was the first 200 victory for Yamaha; it was the smallest engine ever to win; and it was the first time a two-stroke-powered machine had won the race. It was also the only time a father and son have won at Daytona. (Don’s father, Floyd, won Daytona in 1948.)

Former member Steve Baker became America’s first roadracing World Champion in 1977 (World Formula 750).

Friday, August 8, 2014

Did You Know? The AFM... [Part 1]

Has had chapters in Florida, New York, Illinois, Mississippi, Nevada and California.

California chapters have included Manhattan Beach, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.  In 2014 there is one chapter: Northern California.

Started racing at Willow Springs when it was oiled dirt and gravel.

Has raced on at least 18 locations in California.

Has included not only road racing, but also road rallies, observed trials, short tracks, speed trials, flat track, scrambles, enduro, and motocross.

Started in 1954 as the American Association of Grand Prix Riders, then changed to AFM in 1956.

Incorporated in California in 1956, and was re-incorporated in 1965.

Was the United States’ representative to the F.I.M. in the late 1950s and early 1960s. AFM racers could (and did) race overseas using their AFM/FIM license.

Originally followed F.I.M. rules. These required race bikes to have non-folding footpegs and handlebars below the triple clamps. AMA rules, in contrast, required folding footpegs and handlebars above the triple clamps.

In keeping with the European rules, had push starts for the sprint races and LeMans-style starts for the Endurance races.

Had more road races in the 1950s and 1960s than the AMA.

In March of 1960, held the first race ever sanctioned by the F.I.M. in the United States. It took place at Willow Springs. The total cost for an International License, Rider Entry, machine and Pit Man was $10.00. The entry list included Mike Hailwood and Luis Giron, a champion from Guatemala.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Need Another Reason To Race To Sonoma?

The people checking this blog are most likely to be racers and have a different perspective on facing death. Different than the non-racing populace, that is, who generally seem to be afraid of the whole discussion. While not yet looking forward to it, I don't fear death but I do get annoyed that it's been the reason for the last three racer reunions I've attended.

August 30 is a celebration. The opposite of a memorial service, it's a chance to see old friends and realize that this club--your club--is thriving and still fostering champions. Every former AFM (and ACA and USMC*) member has been a part of keeping the AFM going for an amazing 60 years.

Dammit, all I'm trying to say is Time Flies. Come on over before you're dead. Call your buddy and tell him the same thing.

*United States Motorcycle Club

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Building It

This little party will be what we make it. Besides bringing yourself and any other experienced (i.e., old) racers...gather up your photos, programs, t-shirts and classic bikes and share them with the world. At least our little part of it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Throwing The Green Flag

Somebody had to do it. The AFM (American Federation of Motorcyclists) is the oldest amateur roadracing club in the USA. At 60 years old, it's been around longer than Honda. It has survived the Korean conflict, Vietnam, the riotous Seventies, gas rationing, inflation, deflation, the dot-com crash and The Great Recession.

That's a cause for celebration. Sure, there could be a celebration in any year--but we like to celebrate in jumps of five and Sixty is a good number. In fact, the larger the number gets the more of our early racers we lose. (Not to put too fine a point on it.)

It's been 10 years since the last anniversary party. Enough waiting! Come to the track. See old friends. Meet new ones. Watch our racers on everything from Vintage to Superbike.

Plans are still developing but all a party really needs is people. As a bonus, we'll show the never-publicly-released retrospective film from the 50th party...with footage from Carlsbad, Cotati, Orange County and many more lost-but-not-forgotten venues.

The Unofficial AFM 60th Birthday Party
Saturday, August 30
Sonoma Raceway (Infineon Raceway, Sears Point Raceway, Golden Gate Raceway)

Instigated by Kevin Smith
AFM President 2005-2008 (Ret.)