Everywhere you look these days you see vintage motocross machines…on the web, at the track for practice days, in museums and especially at vintage racing events. Once the territory of old-school 3” suspension machines, times have rolled on and now vintage bikes can include monoshocks and 12” suspensions.

So why is it so popular?

First off, many of us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s riding are yearning for nostalgia, a way to recreate those good old days when even the pros raced out of oversized vans. This harkens back to the old days for many riders who moved on after their brief riding and racing careers and hung up their old Jofa mouthguards and JT jerseys, but now have the financial freedom to pursue their old dreams of glory, using the machines they owned or raced against in the wild and wooly days of off-road motorcycle racing.


(Photo Credit: Tom McKelvey)

And around this new found passion for old time fun was formed a loose group of promoters, racers and restoration specialists who have risen up to meet the demand. And this support is helping propel this unique section of our sport to new levels of acceptance as well as providing the much-needed technical support and reproduction parts essential to expanding the ranks of both racers and spectators.

In terms of spectators, these vintage race events have a much more hands-on feel and are generally more intimate affairs than most big race meets, offering up close and personal viewing of both the exotic machines and the riders who raced them. Many of the enthusiasts involved would have no problem explaining in detail how a laid down shock or boost bottle was supposed help their machine back in the day, and most machines are on display during the day for all to see and admire.

Many parents who are riders want to show their offspring how the sport started, what Dad (or Mom) raced on, and seem to want to impart how hard it was to go fast on these older machines with their narrow powerbands and marginal suspensions. This can give the younger generation a chance to appreciate where the sport started and how far we’ve actually progressed since “back in the day”.

We’ve assembled a lot of insight and some available resources for ThumperTalk readers so if you want to get a good idea of what’s going on in the vintage motocross scene, read on.

We spoke to the experts at the AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association), MX Rewind (UnadillaMX), CALVMX (California Vintage Motocross Association) and restorers like ECVMX (East Coast Vintage Motocross) as well as a host of riders to see just why vintage motocross taking our sport by storm.


Different organizations recognize different standards when it comes to vintage motocross motorcycles. The AHRMA, which has emerged as the defining authority when it comes to vintage motorcycle racing, has two distinct categories:

Vintage Motocross featuring motorcycles built before 1975 and according to AHRMA:

“This time period may not be the very beginning of the sport, but marks the period of international recognition after WWII. It ended in the mid-1970s, and is considered to many around the world as one of the greatest eras of the sport.”

They continue: “At the beginning of this time period, the machines raced were basic transportation-based models with slight modifications. They were raced over farmland settings with natural challenges. Higher speeds, terrain and off-camber turns provided the main challenges on these tracks that are typical of those used into the early ‘70s. Our era ends with the advent of specially designed racing machines on specially prepared tracks”

Post Vintage Motocross featuring machines which are post-1975 and according to the AHRMA:

“Purpose-built motocross racers which introduced many technologies, from the very first long-travel suspension through to the advent of water-cooled engines and linkage-controlled rear suspensions found at the end of this exciting time in motocross.”

So “vintage motocross” actually encompasses many different eras of motorcycles, from older 4-stroke off-road twins to 2-stroke water cooled rocket ships, and really it has something for everyone. If you look at the classes just about every type of older off road machine has a place to race.


(Photo Credit: Tom McKelvey)


We spoke with Jill Robinson at the holy grail of outdoor tracks, Unadilla, and she gave is the following insights into the MX Rewind event that has gained immense popularity over the last few years, making it the premier vintage motocross meeting in the Northeast US.

Jill said “MX Rewind is a full weekend event which celebrates dirt bike racing and its history. We start Friday morning with AHRMA vintage cross-country racing and segue into the afternoon with AHRMA post-vintage cross country racing. This year, we added a new event, AHRMA vintage trials to Friday’s line up. Saturday begins two solid days of vintage and post vintage motocross racing.”

She continued: “The weekend is structured to not only be full of vintage racing but to also recognize and celebrate the history of the sport. Our legends also really help bring the history to life. We wanted the weekend to certainly highlight racing but to take it a step further. To that end, we have displays, a swap meet area, and night-time activities that concentrate on the past and how we got to the present. Meet and greets, autograph time, and bench racing with the legends is also a big part of the weekend.”

“MX Rewind always amazes us. For the whole weekend, we are surrounded by racers and their families who love to keep the historical side of the sport alive. They treasure their bikes but love to show them off and ride them. They work hard to make sure that they are as close to, if not, 100% authentic. That isn’t easy for bikes that are over forty years old. But they are dedicated and put their heart and soul into it. They walk up to the legends and say “remember when” and get into racing discussions and, depending upon the legend, technical discussions that are certainly not superficial. They help each other out and they are serious about what they are doing but with a lets-have-fun-and-enjoy-ourselves attitude.”

TT: Who are some of the big names participating at MX Rewind?

According to Jill Robinson, some of the big names that have attended the MX Rewind event are: Brad Lackey, Danny LaPorte, Trampas Parker, Ron Lechien, Donnie Hansen, Barry Higgins, John DeSoto, Tony D, Guy Cooper, Jeff Stanton, Gary and Dewayne Jones, Mark Barnett, Mick Andrews, Jimmy Weinert, Warren Reid, John Dowd, Doug Henry, Larry Maiers, Gunnar Lindstrom, Carlo Coen, Bruce Stratton, John and Jack Penton, Sonny DeFeo, Pat Maroney, and Gary Bailey.

She continues: “All but a small number of our legends have raced either as a team captain in the Team Cup Challenge or raced as individuals in several of the classes. Honestly, Guy Cooper can still ride the wheels off of anything you put him on!”

So, if you’re looking to get it all in one place, MX Rewind at Unadilla is a great place to introduce yourself to the vintage motocross scene. With racing, displays and vendors coupled with one of the most historic AMA national tracks as the backdrop, MX Rewind at Unadilla is a mecca for vintage motocross fans.


Another cornerstone event in the vintage motocross world is Vintage Motorcycle Days held at Mid-Ohio. This is the big daddy of these types of events in our minds and is billed as “North America's largest motorcycle swap meet”. I’ve never seen so many antique and vintage to present day motocross machines in one place before, even the swap meet portion is mind-blowing, with every brand and model bike you ever remember is represented.

According to the AMA: “Every year, tens of thousands enthusiasts join the AMA and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, and nearly 1,000 independent vendors at vintage motorcycling’s biggest bash. The event includes racing, the country's largest motorcycle swap meet, seminars, stars from the sports past and present, bike shows and more, all designed to recapture a simpler time and remind us what's fundamentally cool about riding motorcycles.”

We would have to agree with that. The show area is amazing and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame tent and the Classic Club displays are always incredible with some of the country’s best restored machines on view.

Racing at Vintage Days is the focus and there is a lot of friendly competition. The off-road courses consist of many disciplines, including motocross, flat-track, trails and hare scrambles so the variety of racing machines is immense.

If you’re looking for a place to start learning (and maybe even racing) vintage motocross, the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days would be a great place to start.


CALVMX is a huge vintage motocross club based in the southwestern US and they race at some of the most revered tracks from back in the day…today.

Tracks like Carlsbad, Cahuilla Creek and Glen Helen to name a few.

We took some time to talk to Frank Vrettas from CALVMX about how the organization works and what they do to help further the sport:

TT: Why was CALVMX formed and how many members are there?

FV: CALVMX was formed to offer a venue for racers of all ages to have an opportunity to compete in a more relaxed atmosphere and the emphasis on having fun and preserving the sport of vintage racing. It was our goal to showcase bikes made from the 50's on up and let younger riders see how motocross machine evolved over the years. Many of the racers are ex racers from the 60's, 70’s and 80's.

CALVMX has over 250 members and among them are moto-legends like Marty Smith, Bob Hannah, Marty Tripes, Preston Petty, David Bailey and Malcolm Smith.

TT: What are the most popular classes raced?

FV: Vintage 250cc bikes (pre 1975), then GP 1 class (pre 1980) classes are among the most popular. (To see the class listing, click here: CALVMX classes – Ed.)

TT: Biggest event of the year?

FV: That would be the AHRMA National which is two times per year and sees over 300+ entries. ThumperTalk readers may want to note that this year we are hosting a very large event, the 40 year anniversary of Women's Motocross event on September 6th in conjunction with AHRMA National at Glen Helen, and we expect well over 400 entries for this event.


Vendors such as East Coast Vintage Motocross (ECVMX) are helping lead the charge in the vintage restoration arena. ECVMX is owned and operated by Chris, Jim and Jason Weaver and the vintage moto restorations are performed by their house restorers Jim Pennington and Michael Baker.


Photo: ECVMX Facebook

We spoke to Jason about what was going on at ECVMX and his thoughts on vintage motocross racing:

TT: Why would someone come to ECVMX to have their vintage bike restored?

JW: Our family has been involved in some sort of motorsports activity since the early 70's. We have motocross, flat track, and even sports car racing backgrounds. Like most of you out there we have owned the CR's - KX's - Bultaco's - Maico's and Husky's that we wish we would have held on to! Our passion is now finding these bikes, bringing them back to life, and letting their new owner's enjoy them for years to come.

Jim Pennington has been with us since we started as a hobby business back in 2010. He has grown as we have grown - and his expertise has followed suit. He can handle pretty much anything need on any make off road machine and Michael Baker has just started with us as our second in house technician - is a graduate of Wyotech - and has an extensive 2 and 4 stroke background. He has quickly gotten up to speed on the "quirks" of 40+ year old motorcycles and we are glad to have him onboard.

TT: What is the most popular bike or class/size of bike restored?

JW: We restore more 1983 Honda CR250/480's than any one bike. They are a very dependable and popular model in the AHRMA classes - and are easy to obtain parts for as well as being very competitive. The European bikes are popular as well - many vet riders lusted over that Maico or CZ back then but couldn't afford it - but now have the means.

TT: Why do you think vintage racing is so popular?

JW: “I think there are a number of reasons that Vintage MX has stayed strong and is continuing to gain popularity. One being is the relative affordability of the sport. If you compare the overall spend to sports car racing / collector cars / boats etc - a $2500 vintage bike looks very affordable. Not to mention the fact that most of these bikes are actually appreciating or at a minimum holding their value. We are in a prime era of the guys who rode in the late seventies early 80's now getting interested again in riding the 40+ and 50+ age classes.


Photo: ECVMX Facebook

In conclusion, vintage motocross racing is becoming a big part of our sport and seems to growing every day with the meets getting larger and the classes expanding to accommodate almost all the older machinery racers may have stashed in their garage. If you’re ready to explore more of the vintage racing scene, visit the links below.






User Feedback

I love the look, sound and ride of these classics. I am 50 now and started racing at 15 years old on a Montessa 250. I am now riding a 2010 KLX 331,m but would love to go old school again.

Share this comment

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Graham Gower,


It's never too late to get back into MX via the vintage route.  If you're already riding regularly, so that's half the battle.  Just go find a bike that fits what you want....or better yet, what you were familiar with 35 years ago!  They really aren't as expensive as you think.  I raced 1966-1981, but then work, life, etc got in the way.  I retired three years ago and bought a 72 CZ 400 and a 73 CZ 250 the following year and went right back into it.  I ride the Pac Northwest AHRMA series and love it.  I just wish there were more races in the series!  


I'm 68 now and although I'm not real fast, the smiles are even bigger than when I was younger.  There are guys out there at ever event who run in the over-70 and over-80 classes too, so you're definitely not too old to start!


C'mon out and won't regret it.


This is the start of the 'old guys' moto at Bellingham, WA a few weeks ago.  Ignore the guy on the far left, because I don't know who it is.  However, the other four guys have a combined age of 298 years!  No that's not a typo.....the average age of those four is 74.5.  Really, try'll have a great time.


Share this comment

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Reply with:

  • Similar Content

    • By Havingfun
      Have an old book sitting on the shelf and thought I up load some picts.  Waiting for the smoker to do its thing so have some time to kill.  
      I got this from my so called stepdad, he had a type setting company and I am not sure how/why he acquired it.  I will ask him next time I see him.  Not sure if he did any editing, or it was just a gift to him.  I believe this was done for a Italian mfg, not sure.  Anyway, some cool picts bring back mems.  Excuse the camera it is not the best, most are painful to look at so will only upload a few.


    • By fatpastyhead
      Hi All.
      I have just finished getting my YZ 250 F road legal here in the UK and so I thought I would make a post about it in the hope that it makes someone elses life that little bit easier should they need to do it. There are lots of posts about this on the net but most are outdated already.
      I will lay this out in steps for ease. These are the steps in which I did it. At this point I will assume you already have a bike and you want to know what to do next.
      1. Contact the bike manufacturer.
      - Yamaha
      - Kawasaki
      - Suzuki
      - Honda
      - KTM - Give them a call
      Contact the above bike manufacturer and tell them you have purchased a bike and would like a 'Certificate of Newness'. Each manufactuer charges different money, foe example Yamaha charged me £45 and it took 3 weeks to arrive and my friend has a Kawasaki and they charged him £42 and it arrived the following week.
      2. MOT - You can only do this once you have the above certificate in your hand
      Now after ringing around various MOT bays it become quite clear that this is a bit of grey area. Each testing bay had their own idea on how a "daytime MOT" should be done. These are the things you will need to look out for;
      - Road legal tyres - They cannot say "not for road use" and should ideallly have an "E" number of some sort on them.
      - A Horn - Every single testing bay I called required a horn. You can get a strap on horn from eBay for about £20
      - Rear Brake Light - Some testing bays told me I needed a rear brake light. In the end I didn't need 1 for my MOT but I fitted one afterwards using a Total Loss System*.
      - Speedo - I did not need on but if you do get asked for one then you can download a speedo on your phone and attach that to your bike.
      * For the total loss system I replaced the bango nuts for bango brake switches, added a cheap rear number plate holder with light and added a 10 battery holder pack under the seat then wired it up. If they ask for this then remember it does not have to run off the bike so don't worry about fitting heavy duty stators etc.
      Each MOT tester is different so phone around and find the easiest way of doing it.
      3. NOVA Declaration
      Now at this point you should have an MOT certificate and a certificate of newness. Before you go any further, check your certificate of newness and if it states that the bike has been added to the NOVA database then you can move onto the next step. If not, then your bike has to be added to the NOVA database. You must do thi, I cannot stress that enough. If you do not have a NOVA reference on your certificate then follow the steps below;
      - HMRC NOVA - Go to this site. Register or login
      - DeeperBlue NOVA Walkthrough - This guy, Deeperblue,  has a step by step guide on YouTube. Follow this and you should have the bike added easily.
      It is worth noting that the HMRC will want to see a copy of the reciept for the bike(my friend made me one on a bit of paper as I got it from him) and your certificate of newness.
      4. V55/5
      At this point you should have been accepted by NOVA, have your valid MOT and your certificate of newness.
      - Order your V55/5 form here
      - DeeperBlue V55/5 Walkthrough - This guy, Deeperblue,  has a step by step guide on YouTube. Follow this and you should have the form filled in and sent easily.
      You will need to send a £55 registration fee and money for 1 years tax. You can check the current tax bracket for your bike at
      Send off all required documents with the above V55/5 along with your cheque or postal order for your tax and registration.
      5. Complete
      If all went well you should have all your documents back in the post along with your new motorbike log book. Now all you need to do is get a number plate made up,  get some insurance and have some fun on your bike.
      If I can help by answering any questions then I gladly will. Big big thank you to DeeperBlue for his help with the videos.
      Mods/Admins, I hope this post is OK in these forums. There is so much stuff on the internet which is not clear so I wanted to help with that.
    • By Jon-D
      selling my motovan due to an injury.  its a great van and was well taken care of.  it's a rare find with the high top, HVAC unit, and low miles.  below is the link to the ad which contains photos and a description.  if you shoot me an email (through craigslist) be sure to let me know you saw the ad here that way i know its not a scam.  Thanks.
    • By 04 yz250
      New to this site, I am currently having problems with my recently purchased 2004 Yz250 2t, when i first got the bike it had trouble starting and possible carb issues, so i sent it to a local bike mechanic.
      Got the bike back 2 weeks later, he cleaned carb on bike and done some other small bits that arent related to this problem. The starting isues were resovled by useing the correct sparkplug and it now idles great however midrange to high revs its useless, not hitting power band atall, today i took it out and really tryed to give it some beans to see if it was clogged with somthing that it could maybe spit out (bad decision I am not bike smart)
      It proceeded to backfire and stall out, hasnt started since, (still has compression and is not siezed)
      Any help would be very appreciated!
    • By sam351
      Anyone know if he's racing?
      Also is the mini os just supercross, or whats the deal? -answerd