My first motorcycle was a 1963 Yamaha 80cc 80YG 2 Cycle 7.7 hp that I got from a grade school friend of mine for free after her dad backed over it with his car.
I will never forget that Tuesday night. We went to Trojan Speedway in South Gate, CA — a sticky little clay oval next to the LA river, behind the rock quarry, east of downtown LA.
My Dad stopped off at Kmart to get a cool looking orange metal flake Grant helmet that cost a mere $14.35.
I remember thinking, “Is that all my head’s worth?”, but my dad checked the specs, and it turned out that it was Snell approved and everything.
Then it was off to the races! I was so excited to be there that lining up for the first heat race, I actually dropped the clutch early and jumped the start! I ended up going from my row two starting spot clear past row one and the starter! That was hard to explain to my sixth grade school teacher Mrs. Jackie Jacobson and a bunch of my class mates from Vista Del Lavalle grade school in Claremont CA. . .
I learned early on that researching what others have done is your quickest way to the top.
We went to work on the engine — a rotary valve design that was easy to hop up. We installed a new rotary valve, over-bored cylinder, which we seven ported, installed a single-ring piston with a super short cut-skirt, machined radial high-compression head, and a topped it off with a total loss ignition system.
We finished the engine modifications off with a tuned exhaust made by Dick Haycock from Chino CA. Dick custom fabricated it by beautifully rolling and forming the expansion chamber and artfully oxy acetylene welding it together. He then finished off with a 7” long x 1/2” diameter stinger tip – that thing screamed!