MXA test crew in 1976: (Back row) Paul Boudreau. Jody Weisel, Cherry Stockton and mechanic Alan Hahn. (Front row) Kurt Evans, Pete Maly and Al Baker.
When you read an MXA bike test, you might be tempted to think of it as the product of an in-house editor (Jody, John Basher, Dennis Stapleton or John Minert). Not true. MXA runs a giant race team, for which we provide the bikes, gear, helmets and parts to a select crew of Pro, Vet, Intermediate and Novice motocross racers. On any given weekend at Glen Helen, the World Four-Stroke race, the World Vet Championships, Racetown 395, Piru (which is just down the road of the palatial MXA Towers), “Day in the Dirt” or at Cahuilla Creek (which John Minert lives right across the street from), the MXA gang could be as large as 12-riders strong.
What do the riders who are on the MXA team supply in exchange for the free ride? Feedback. We have teenage riders, Pro riders, vet riders, industry legends, several AMA Hall of Fame members and then, lastly, we have editors.
MXA test crew in 1982: (Left to right) Ketchup Cox, Lance Moorewood, Gary Jones and Jody Weisel.
The MXA wrecking crew is a weird mix. It has aggressive young riders like Dennis Stapleton, Billy Musgrave, John Minert and John Basher; Vet Pros with solid credentials (Larry Brooks, Willy Musgrave); crazy local amateurs (the Alamangos brothers come to mind), Vet riders (Zap, George Kohler, Ray Pisarski, Mark Hall and Tom Hinz) and old-line racers from the 1960s and ’70s (Lars Larsson, Feets Minert, Bengt Johansson, Jody Weisel and Horst Leitner).
We couldn’t do the job of testing motorcycles without the help of the complete crew. When you mix them together you have MMI graduates, AMA Mechanics of the Year, team managers, aftermarket company owners, suspension experts, clutch specialists and more than our fair share of professional wrenches.
As a rule, MXA never fires a test rider; thus a test rider who raced for us decades ago can always get a ride with us. What other race team keeps its riders around after their Pro days are over? We like motorcycle racers. We appreciate the contributions that Lars Larsson, Feets Minert, Alan Olson and Horst Leitner have made to the motorcycle world. We show our appreciation by doing everything we can to help them race. Their enthusiasm to race is amazing?and they race every week and have been for decades. We benefit because we get their expertise.
The MXA test crew in 1985: (Back row) David Gerig and Gary Jones. (Front row) Lance Moorewood and Jody Weisel.
You may think that it impossible for us to field as many as 12 bikes and riders on a weekend, but all you have to do is show up at a local Glen Helen race to marvel at the vast number of orange helmets in every class. There are people who whine that MXA has too many old guys, but we knew these guys when they were young (and we aren’t so callous as to drop them now). Plus MXA‘s old guys know more about motorcycles, their development, the technological advancements over the years and how a bike performs than any ten teenage wunderkinde. Would you rather have a bike tested by a guy who knows not only how to build a bike, but how to design one?or by some 16-year-old kid who’s looking for the next free deal?
The old guys are offset by the young MXA guys. MXA editors John Basher, John Minert and Dennis Stapleton are all 30 and under. They fall back on the old guys for background info and depend on the help other pros for more feedback. It is obvious that we are also into second generations: Billy Musgrave (son of Willy Musgrave), Casper Larsson (son of Lars Larsson), John Minert (grandson of Feets Minert), Davin and Derek Brooks (sons of Larry Brooks) and Tim Olson (son of Alan Olson) were all brought up under the MXA umbrella.
To all of these test riders (and the families that supported them when they were gone to the races) we say thank you for your help. And a special thanks to the old school MXA test riders from the past like Kurt Evans, Pete Maly, Bill Keefe, Mike Basher, Ed Arnet, Gary Jones, Clark Jones, Tim Olson, Lance Moorewood, Ketchup Cox, Mike Hooker, David Gerig, the late Al Baker, the recently passed Rich Eierstedt and many others (including Jeremy McGrath, Mike Craig, Mike Chamberlain and all who helped).
John Basher: When John was still in college, his brother Mike worked at MXA. John interned every summer and got to see the photographic part of magazines by watching his brother work. When John graduated, he moved to MXA full-time and now shoots photos that rival his brothers work.
Willy Musgrave: Willy joined the MXA wrecking crew while still racing the AMA Nationals and selected events. Willy, originally from Washington, runs the MTA accessory company and still races every weekend (both days and he often switches back and forth between motocross and karts).
Billy Musgrave: At only 18-year-old Billy is going to college and working his way up to the Pro ranks. He started as an MXA test rider when he was five.
Larry Brooks: Larry was drafted as MXA‘s minicycle test rider back in the 1980s and moved up through the ranks wearing the fabled orange helmet. Larry currently is James Stewart’s team manager at the L&M Yamaha team.
John Minert: John earned his spot on the MXA wrecking crew because his grandfather, the famous Feets Minert used to bring him to the races when he was a little kid. As John grew older, he was given more assignments at MXA. Today, he works in-house.
Dennis Stapleton: MXA has a calendar on the wall that attempts to keep track of Dennis’ travels. At any given time he could be racing in Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, the Philippines or South America?but he is always back in time for the next test session. Thanks Dennis.
Jody Weisel: For a guy who started racing motocross in 1968, Jody has logged a lot of hours in pursuit of test info. Jody has ridden more vintage bikes than any man alive (and he did it by riding them when they were new?not antiques).
Zap Espinoza: Zap was a local racer on the SoCal scene before heading to college. He came straight from law school to MXA?now he splits his time working at Road Bike Action magazine, but you can see that he has found a way to mate motocross and road cycling by hanging out with Bob Hannah (above).
George Kohler: A drag racing clutch whiz, George joined the MXA gang way back in 1990. He provides valuable feedback on technical matters from his years working in the race car business (he currently runs the quality control department at AMP Research). When George isn’t racing motocross he is out on his Harley.
Mark Hall: Mark is an organizer who gets things done. He is MXA‘s go-to-guy when we need info. He is an industry insider who currently works at MTA, but has worked for the White Brothers and VP Fuels in the past.
Chuck “Feets” Minert: Before most of us were born, this AMA Hall of Fame rider was winning the biggest races in America. Feets won the Catalina Grand Prix, raced the Trans-AMA series, raced the Daytona Road Race (when it was still on sand) and was a BSA factory rider. He’s 79 now, but still races every weekend. MXA is proud to know him and we took him on after that upstart BSA team called it quits.
Roland Hinz & Roger DeCoster: Roland (right) owns MXA and Roger DeCoster worked at the magazine for two years (between Team Honda and Team Suzuki).
Tom Hinz: Tom is the son of MXA founder Roland Hinz, who also owns Mountain Bike Action, Dirt Wheels, Dirt Bike, Road Bike Action and BMX Plus. Although Roland is an avid offroad rider, he didn’t want his son to race motocross. So, Tommy took up racing and never misses a weekend.
Lars Larsson: Swedish rider Lars Larsson was a factory Husqvarna rider who was the first European to move to the USA to teach the sport of motocross to American teenagers. He was hired by the famous (and infamous) Edison Dye. Lars was inducted into the AMA Hall of fame for his contributions to American motocross and for the races he won.
Bengt Johansson: MXA can’t have just one Swedish test rider, we needed two so that when Lars Larsson is off on the World Speedway circuit with his rider Greg Hancock, Bengt Johansson can keep us amused with weird pronunciations of words we’ve never heard before.
Dan & Chris Alamangos: Along with two Swedes, MXA also has two Australian test riders (who both live in the USA). Chris recently got married and had a baby, so his riding time is curtailed, but Dan Alamangos (above) is still racing and testing every weekend. You haven’t lived until you have seen an Alamangos brother ride (there are four of them)?just don’t stand too close to the fence.
Rich Eierstedt: We lost Rich in 2010 and will miss him dearly (as will his family and friends). Rich was a factory Honda, Bultaco, Can-Am and Harley-Davidson rider.
Ray Pisarski: Ray is MXA‘s mechanical whiz. Ray owned his owned automobile repair business for decades before taking the reins at Horst Leitner’s AMP Research development company as their head development wrench. We couldn’t keep all of our test bikes running without Ray’s technical know-how. Thanks Ray.
John Perry: His brother is Yamaha’s team coordinator, but John has an equally exciting life. He finished the Hawaiian Ironman, owned ProTrac trailers, was a sheep shepherd, worked for the AMA Nationals in 2009 (even moved from Durango to West Virginia for a year) and still manages to squeeze in lots of races. Now he works for Glen Helen as a coordinator for the World Two-Stroke and World Four-Stroke Championships.
Alan Olson: Alan became an MXA test rider while he was still a pro racing the Saddleback/Carlsbad circuit. He would go on to become Steve Lamson’s, Craig Anderson’s, Doug Dubach’s and Chad Reed’s mechanic. He would also win nine World Vet titles in between spinning wrenches. (Above) Tim Olson, who worked at MXA for a decade before moving to Yamaha is shown with his son Aidan and dad, Alan.
Horst Leitner: The Austrian-born engineer moved to the USA to make his motorcycle fortune. Horst had raced the Grand Prix circuit and held four ISDE gold medals, but decided to build his own motorcycle. Horst started ATK, before moving on to design mountain bikes and automobile accessories. Horst is a very inventive guy.
THANK YOU TO EVERY MXA TEST RIDER OVER THE YEARS…