Interesting thread, to say the least. I grew up in Southern California
, graduating from High School in 1970. I remember the GYT kitted Yamahas at Trojan speedway, and at Elsinore
Fresh out of high school I got a job porting cylinders for the once famous EC Birt, owner of Precision Cycles. Precision Cycles was a small shop that sold Macio, Rickman, Hodaka and a few obscure brands like Zundap, Puch, & Carabela. EC had a reputation for speed tuning, you told him what kind of rider you were and he developed a package for you that typically included a port job, custom expansion chamber, head work, and carburetor. Long before the factories used reed valves EC had picked up on them from the kart racers. We were making tons of money converting piston port bikes to reed valves. One of the more popular reed valve conversions were for the CZs being sold up the street by Joe Kubacheck. One thing you have to remember was that most of the 2 strokes being sold were really mild in their tuning. With little effort at all in the early 70’s you could double the horsepower of a stock bike. Bikes that werent too mild were too wild (Suz 400 cyclone) there you made money by building a pipe with more center section and mellowing them out. The guys who bought our stuff thought we were magic. EC had a huge ego and somehow he figured out that magazines have no clue as to anything other than selling magazines and that they were always desperate for something to write about. EC came up with the idea of inviting a magazine into his shop so he could share his “Hot Tips” and secrets. OMG, the sales went through the roof! We were cranking out a half dozen port jobs and a dozen pipes a day.
The down side was that EC was a pain in the ass and a real jerk to work for. His main mechanic was pissed off enough and had a good enough relationship with the customers that he decided to open his own speed shop. He started in a garage he didn’t even attempt to try to pick up a dealership. I used to port for EC during the day and then at night I would go over to my friends business in the garage and port at night. Oh yeah the mechanic’s name Donny Emler. In a very short time, one of his best customers bank rolled Donny into business as Uncle Donnie’s Flying Machine Factory.
All of this happened just about the same time the Honda Elsinores took off. Honda had done their home work and the “You meet the nicest people on Honda” took motorcycles from Hells Angles to the guy next door. Southern California
was exploding with motocross. You could race 4 to 5 times a week if you wanted to. The 125 Hondas were easily improved with a port job and a pipe. Uncle Donny took full advantage of EC’s magazine techniques and soon he was off and running selling all we could make via magazine exposure. The biggest thing to happen for Donny and what became FMF was that one of the riders he had sponsored as a young gun got picked up by American Honda. That young gun, Marty Smith, demanded that his bike use a FMF pipe, and as such, FMF became the first after market pipe on a “works” bike. I guess it was kind of good for sales eh?
Well, my glass of Scotch is empty and the rest is a blur anyway, so I'll leave it at that for now.