My Third Motorcycle


Today you can buy a factory dirt bike from the local motorcycle showroom, and add a variety of aftermarket parts from hundreds of manufacturers. But back in my day you basically had to build your bike for dirt track racing—especially if you wanted a competitive advantage. I mean why just run what everyone else was running? After racing my first motorcycle, my Dad and I decided to build something special.

This Champion Yamaha DT/RT250 / 360 was the first bike my dad and I built from the ground up. We started with a custom designed TIG welded Champion racing frame that was built to our specifications by Doug Schwerma, the founder of Champion Racing Frames.

Jim Watson’s Champion Framed Yamaha DT/RT360 AMA District 37 #16X

Our Champion-framed Yamaha was set up specifically for Dirt Track TT, Flat Track, and Rough Scrambles racing with Ceriani dirt track forks, Barnes quick-change wheels, disc brakes and Pirelli tires.  For those of you who don’t know, TT is the English term for Tourist Trophy—a track set up with right and left-hand turns and jumps.  And “scrambles” was the early term in the U.S. for Motocross—a light version with tracks that were more groomed rather than the rugged terrain of today’s SuperCross and outdoor Motocross tracks.


Those were the days– I built this bike in the bedroom of my apartment in Glendale CA!

We bought two engines from Yamaha of Montclair a 250cc and 360cc and modified them for optimal speed and reliability.  We had a couple versions of custom tuned exhaust pipes fabricated by Dick Haycock from Chino CA, he made every pipe from rolled sheet metal and Oxy-Fuel welded them together.  It was a cool set up – with two engines, I would ride the 250 (light class) and 360 (open class) the same day!  Man was I tired after each race meet– 6 motos of racing in one day was tough!

Thanks to my Mom, Dad and sisters for all their support, good food and for driving me to dirt tracks all over southern and central California!  If you want to experience what it was like back-in-the-day–- check out the movie On Any Sunday by Bruce Brown – it’s epic!

I never rode this bike long enough to post any wins in the Pro Class as a Lightweight Expert.  After my family moved closer to my Dad’s new job in downtown LA, I sold all my motorcycle racing gear, and got into Sprint Car racing!


This is what it looked like when I listed the bike for sale in Cycle News


3 comments on “My Third Motorcycle”:

  1. Tim

    Sorry to inform you this is not a YZ250/360 engine. This is a 1972 DT/RT 250/360MX engine. YZ’s didn’t come out until 1974, and their unique feature was a magnesium right side engine cover with place for right side shift. Also, these are not GYT kit top ends, The are stock DT/RT MX cylinders and heads.

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  2. Harry

    Hi Jim, Im putting together a champion based vintage tracker for the uk series, my question is was there a big difference between the 250 and the 360? which was the easier to ride fast, we run on short 300 yrd loose tracks used for speedway racing. Im also looking for a Rt3 motor to fit my frame. regards. Harry.

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