By: Zap
None other than a pre-factory Honda David Bailey graced the cover of the July 1981 issue  – an issue which if it stood out for anything it very well could have been the array of gear and product ads that featured many of the top riders of the day. Highlights on the inside included a Bob Hannah interview and coverage of the AMA National at Hangtown. And how about that coverline, “Hannah: Over The Hill?” With Honda and Suzuki factory rides still to come, no, the Hurricane was hardly over the hill.
Back in day (as in the way back in the 1970’s) virtually everyone rode with the open frame Carrera goggles at one time or another. In 1982 Brad Lackey was still sporting them, only now he used a closed frame version.  
Originally known as Lancer Leathers until the move to nylon pants came along, Lancer was one of the many offroad gear companies back in the 80’s. The “Boot Savers” also known as gaitors were made popular by Johnny O’Mara wearing them for his win at the Mid-Ohio USGP.
You knew the days of real leather “leathers” were over when the original name in motocross leathers, Hallman Racing, made the move to the lighter and cheaper nylon. How about a pair of Roger DeCoster designed pants for under $100! BTW, Hallman Racing is now known as Thor. 
The price wars were obviously in full-effect in 1981. Mark “The Bomber” Barnett posed for the deal of the month – $95 Fox pants – which were made for them by Yoko in Finland. How about that great ad copy “Other hot berm bashers relying on SuperFox/Yoko protection…”
As you might expect from Bob Hannah, he wasn’t content to just lend his image to a sponsoring clothing company. Hannah started his own company–HRP. Like the SuperFox pants, Hannah’s HiBack pants (with built-in kidney belt) were also made by Yoko and they sold for the premium price of $129. The Flak-Jak was an enduring hit with unique features, some which remain in today’s HRP version. Over a decade after his career ended, you can still check out Hannah Products.
JT Racing was by far the biggest name in motocross gear in 1981. They had all the best riders – and their ads featured many of them – JT never let you forget it! How about a happy-to-see-you Jeff Ward in the upper right corner? That’s Chuck Sun underneath him, with Kent Howerton at Chuck’s right and Danny LaPorte two over with the cowboy hat and very cool Team Honda t-shirt. On the third row down, Jeff Ward checks in again (center), only now sportin’ some flowing locks. To Jeff’s right stands a young and thin Marty Tripes.
“Bad” Brad Lackey returned deeper in the May 1981 issue to show-off some new boots that no one had ever heard of before. AXO was a small Italian company started by Remo Berlese, It would soon become an industry giant (and take over JT Racing’s position as the #1 popular brand of gear). Remo is still around and owns the all-new, all-plastic Jett boot.
The MXA gang proves that its no holds barred testing stance was alive and well back in 1981. In this Can-Am versus Husky shootout the Husky 250 won out over the Can-Am by virtue of being a better all-around package
QUOTE: “If it had European quality, people would buy it for its status. If it had Japanese technology, riders would want that psychological edge. But the Can-Am is essentially a several-year-old bike struggling for its place on the track.”
QUOTE: “Pro riders won’t be satisfied with the engine, but almost every other part of the Husqvarna would send ripples of glee through the pits. The new 40mm forks are vastly superior to last year’s 35mm Husky legs.”
QUOTE: “The Swedes really believe that that what they have is correct, according to the European dogma of motocross. Can-Am is a bike without an identity, built with off-the-shelf products and based on nothing more than keeping the snowmobile line at Ski-Doo busy in the off months. Husqvarna is the better 250 motocross bike because its built for motocross by motocrossers.”   
Mark Barnett (1) returned in the July issue as a race winner at Hangtown. That’s a piece of Johnny O’Mara (Honda # 40) and Jim Gibson (Honda #7) lurking behind “The Bomber.” The “O’Show” lost third overall for the day when he ran out of gas in the second moto. Jim Gibson had been relegated to the 125 class to help take on Barnett – to no avail as the Suzuki rider easily outdistanced the field in both motos. In the 250 class, Barnett’s Suzuki teammate Kent Howerton trounced the competition by finishing over a minute ahead of Bob Hannah in second. In drawing a conclusion from the “Rhinestone Cowboy’s” dominance over the likes of Hannah and Burgett, MXA’s Dennis “Ketchup” Cox wrote what would become some of the most prescient words ever written…“Finishing second is as good as losing to Bob Hannah. It tore him up to be beaten so badly. Next week he vowed it would be different.” The “next week” that Ketchup was referring to of course was the Hannah-Versus-Howertron battle at the 1981 Saddleback National. That race would live in MX infamy following the bruising battle that took place between the two riders. Best of all, you can now re-live the day with the Todd Huffman DVD, Massacre at SaddleBack.
QUOTE: “Fifth (overall) was Yamaha support rider and first privateer Ricky Johnson. Ricky looks to be one of the fastest rising new stars on the circuit.”
QUOTE: “Yamaha has also signed former minicycle champs Erik Kehoe and Scott Burnworth to factory contracts in the 125 class. Kehoe would be riding his first National sans minibike and Burnworth was doing his first full season on a Yamaha after campaigning Suzuki’s last year.”
bob hannahDAVID BAILEYhangtownmark barnettmotoctossricky johnsonroger decoster