Pomeroy was the 1st American in many ways. He was the 1st
American to win a world MX Grand Prix, 1st to lead the world
championship points, 1st to win in his debut GP event and the
youngest to win a GP. Jim went to Spain on a one ride only trip
to Spain. He was supposed to come back after the GP and race the
U.S. nationals starting in Daytona after that. You canít argue
with success though and he stayed in Europe for the next four
years. Pomeroy first went to Europe as part of the Motocross Des
Nations team from the United States in 1972. Jim finished his
1st year in Europe in 7th place after moto wins in Italy and
Poland. He came home to be the 1st American in the Inter-Am
series (3rd overall). 1974 didnít treat Jim well with mechanical
difficulties in Europe limiting him to 13th overall in the GP
standings. The only saving grace was to finish top American in
the Motocross Des Nations. Back at home he was the 1st American
in the Trans-Am races and won the Houston supercross. Pomeroy
improved in 1975 with greater consistency in equipment and
finishes. He finished 2nd in the Trophee Des Nations (250cc
race). After finishing with his high mark of 4th in the
championship, Jim moved back to U.S. for 1977 and 78 for Team
Honda. He followed only Bob ďHurricaneĒ Hannah in 1977 with a
second in both the 250cc nationals and supercross. An injury
prone year in 1979 with Honda had Jim wanting to return to Europe
and the world championships. Honda wanted him to stay, but the
heart was elsewhere. Pomeroy finished his career with two
unproductive and frustrating years with Bultaco and Beta.
Jim was the
1st Washingtonian motorcyclist to gain international fame and also
American to reach such motorcycling heights. If a young man from
the extremely small town of Sunnyside could place his stamp on
Europe and the world, what were our excuses? The colors of red,
white and blue became fashionable to wear at the racetrack. We
were proud to be Yankees. We could fight toe to toe with those
foreigners and win. 197 years after we as a people declared our
independence from Britain, Jim declared independence from the
superiority of European racers. It was a great day to be alive.
In the days when we watched the movie ďOn Any SundayĒ and went to
the chilly Puyallup Trans-Am races in November to see the MX gods
of DeCoster, Mikkola, Weil, Robert, Aberg, Ake Jonsonn, we could
also see Jim sitting with them in Olympus. If Jim could do it
then so could we. We have done it. Thanks Jim.
elected into the A.M.A. Hall of Fame.
What got you started in motorcycles in the first place?
My father. He started riding in the 1950ís. He started a shop
out of his garage and then in 1964 he opened a shop in a store.
In 1964 and 1965 Bob Kneivel, Evel Kneviel, actually worked for my
father. My father, Jack Cameron, actually taught Evel how to wheel
walk and fire crash through walls and stuff like that. My dad got
me really enthused about riding. He was my hero.
BR: What role
did your family have in supporting your early riding?
My mom and dad never came to very many races. I got to buy the
bike from my dadís shop and then resell it after the racing
season. I remember when I was 15 and was getting ready to buy a
car; I had to sell my bike to afford it. For three months I
wasnít racing anywhere. I had a car and couldnít afford a bike.
My dad wouldnít give me a bike unless I paid for it. Tony Schatz
was the first guy that called me up, and said come over here and
ride my bikes. I rode a 360 Yamaha and a 250 Greeves for Tony.
How long after you started riding did you start to race?
One year. I started riding when I was ten. I was eleven years
old and starting to race. I first started in scrambles, flattrack,
hillclimbs. We actually tried a little bit of everything: cross
country, trials, TTís, shorttrack.
BR: Were you
successful when you first started?
No. I wasnít at all. I was always really scared and afraid.
What really got me motivated in racing, I found out years after
that the first trophy that I won, I didnít really win. My dad
bought it. I finished out of the trophies every time for about a
half a year. I was always one or two places away from a trophy.
They didnít have a 14 and under class back then so we raced
against the men. After he presented that first trophy to me it
just sparked everything and lit a fuse. I started winning right
BR: What was
your first race that made you stand out from the rest of the
When I was 14, 15 and 16 years old, Ricky Poulin and I dominated
the whole eastern Washington area. Norm Kopp from Spokane told
them about me to his sponsor Maico of Canada and I went racing
with him in Calgary. That Calgary Canadian Championship race
sparked most of it by winning it at age 15. That is where I got
recognition from the west coast, Canada and America.
you were in Europe did you have any problems communicating in so
many foreign languages?
The first year was the most difficult. Two weeks before the
Spanish GP I almost quit and came home. I had run out of money
and at that time the Americans were considered basically
barbarians. The Spanish and Frenchmen said that we rode like
potatoes. We tumbled; we didnít role smooth like a ball. In
Spain you couldnít get dinner until after 9 at night. I wasnít
use to eating dinner that late at night. Sometimes we would get
done at the factory in Barcelona and we were only 2 hours away
from the border in France. So we would hurry up and gas it to the
border. We would just get to the border at 8:30 to 8:45 P.M. and
then find out that all the restaurants closed at 8:30. So there
were times when I didnít eat because they didnít have Dennyís or
7-Elevens to stop off at and grab something to eat. Then every
country whether it was Switzerland, Austria or Belgium had
different holidays. A lot of times we couldnít get money because
the banks would be closed on the holidays. It was really hard to
get used to the different way of life.
BR: When did
the Europeans stop thinking that you were a potato?
It took until the 3rd GP before all the riders started to accept
me because they thought I was a fluke when I first won my first GP
race. I went to the 2nd GP in Italy and finished on the podium in
third and was still leading the world championship. Then we went
to Belgium and that is where Hakan Anderson came out with the
first monoshock Yamaha. That is when he first started to dominate
because his suspension was so much better than the all the other
bikes. People started to recognize me and started to help out.
Hakan Anderson, Torlief Hansen and other riders started looking at
me as a real threat and a real person, not just a flash in the
BR: What was
your biggest disappointment?
Not being able to be picked up by Class C flattrack racing. That
was my dream to be a Class C racer. It was, and I never was. The
biggest disappointment though was when I came back to race in
America in 1980. The AMA wouldnít let me ride because they said I
wasnít a qualified rider. The year before I was representing
America in the world championships! I went to Daytona, where they
didnít have enough riders to fill the program, and I had every
rider sign a protest that if I qualified I would be allowed to
race the main event. Back then they had three 20 minute events
for the Supercross. The AMA would not let me ride. That was the
most disappointing thing that ever happened to me.
BR: What was
your biggest regret?
went back to Europe and raced for the Bultaco factory in 1979. I
was the only person at the time to quit American Honda back in
1978. They wanted me to race in America, but I wanted to go back
to Europe and race in the world championships. I went back to
sign a contract with KTM, and when I was leaving Europe the
Bultaco engineer and mechanic talked me into going back with
Bultaco. They closed the Bultaco factory doors in six months time
so I didnít even have a full season when I first went back in
BR: If you
were in your racing prime and riding the same equipment as todayís
racers, how do you think you would do?
I would be
just as competitive. I would be as good as McGrath or anybody.
What is the most interesting question youíve never been asked?
think Iíve been asked almost everything that could be asked.
anybody asked you about when you lost your virginity?
(Laughter) I never really bragged about it, or told anybody about
that. Never been asked about that! I donít think I want that put
into the article.
your racing career who was your greatest rival?
Joel Robert (six time 250cc world MX champion). I respected him
the most. Other than my dad, I would say he would be my hero.
BR: Who was
your greatest NW racing rival?
I would have to say Gordy Ochs. He really helped me out a lot
when I first started racing. I was always a little faster, but he
was so much smarter in so many ways like preparing the bikes or
setting the strategy.
BR: Who was
the best racer you saw or raced against?
Joel Robert. He was the best. When I really started racing
against him in 1973 it was at the end of his career. No one else
dominated the sport like he did for so many years.
BR: Joel has
the reputation in his racing career for drinking and partying.
Did you ever party with him?
Oh yeah! Always after the racing was over though. I never
partied before. I heard a lot of stories about him and DeCoster
and Sylvain Geobers always partying before races, but I never did
that. One story that I remember after the races were over was
when we were in Finland in 1973. We were coming out of the trophy
awards and my Spanish mechanic Rubio and American mechanic Arty
Beamon were talking, and Marcel Wurtz said ďSee that Volkswagen
over there, Joel Robert can lift that up.Ē I said ďNo way!Ē My
mechanics and I made a bet with Joel to see who could lift the
car. I tried lifting it and could barely get the springs to
lift. Then Arty and me tried it. Then Arty, Rubio and me tried
it, and we couldnít get the back wheels off the ground of the
Volkswagen Bug. I watched Joel Robert come over and just grab it
and lift the whole wheels off the ground and set it down all by
himself. Thatís how strong he was. He never trained, never
worked out. How he did it was beyond me. It was just amazing.
BR: What do
you think made you different from all the other racers and made
you a champion?
I feel like my confidence was a lot stronger. I didnít party at
all. I didnít drink at all. I didnít like alcohol. In the back
of my head I always knew that even if I didnít get the holeshot
and had to work my way up through the pack, by the last 20 minutes
of the race I had more left in me and I would beat them in the end
of the race. So my conditioning and confidence made the
BR: If you
were to start motorcycle racing today, what type of racing would
I would do Class C flattrack racing. I wouldnít change anything
of my past though.
BR: What was
your favorite track?
Carlsbad, Saddleback, Unadilla, Straddleline, Startup. I liked
them all. I didnít really have a favorite track. The Namur track
in Belgium was grassy and loamy where other parts there were lots
of trees. It was scary because there were parts where you
couldnít put your handlebars through the trees because it was so
tight. You would jump onto cobblestone streets and then back onto
the dirt. It was a scary track.
BR: What do
you see as different in todayís racers good and bad as to when you
Why McGrath is so dominating today is that you see him using his
legs as suspension as we used to do. We only had three inches of
rear suspension that finally evolved up to twelve inches over the
years. We would use our legs for extra travel, pre jumping and
bunny hopping. McGrath was the only racer using that technique in
the early 90ís. I was really bummed out about the racers in the
80ís and 90ís on how they block passed. When I first started, if
you were caught block passing you were put a lap down. They would
never allow that, and now they do. Itís a little chicken shit on
how they allow that. They donít try to beat them, they just try
to brake stop them. I think thatís really piss poor. The way
supercross tracks are set up today though you have to have contact
and brake stops though. You donít see to many people passing over
the big sky jumps. Itís usually in the corners either coming in
or coming out.
BR: Did you
have any superstitions when racing?
I always changed and wore clean shirts for races.
After the Trans-Am in 1974 at Brad Lackeyís ranch in the San
Francisco area, everybody who was anybody was there. There were
minibike national races at night.
memorable moment as a racer?
Spanish Grand Prix in 1973. I really didnít know what I had done
at the time.
BR: When you
won that GP it swept across the U.S. as this huge wave of shock,
pride and patriotism. What did that feel like?
the start of the race I was in 10th or 12th place. Within 300
yards of the completion of the first lap I had taken over the
lead. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was
concentrating so hard to look forward and not look back. I was so
nervous. It was a hard panned very wide track, and smooth. I
used a lot of Class C style of riding; I didnít use a lot of front
brakes. I knew I had to learn to use front brakes after that
race. I really started learning and practicing it after that
race. My racing lines were totally different from anyone elseís.
All the Europeans were cutting straight to the inside and squaring
off and you could never really pass them because they had a
shorter distance. The track was 60 to 100 feet wide and I would
ride two gears higher flattracking the bike around the outside of
the corner, which is why I passed everybody on the first lap.
BR: What rider
from another era do you wish you had a chance to race against in
your top form?
I would like to race against McGrath. Guaranteed I would have
done better than McGrath.
BR: Who is the
most impressive upcoming racer today?
I think Kevin Windham is one of the most impressive. He has a lot
of potential coming up. He is very young still and is looking
BR: What has
kept you involved with motorcycles for over 30 years?
and the atmosphere. There have always been good and honest people
that I have always been able to depend upon.
BR: Where do
you see motorcycle racing heading in the future?
become so specialized today. In the old days you could do several
types of racing. Now you have to pinpoint your type of racing
early in your career. I feel thereís a good future in racing
because of the popularity of supercross, motocross, roadracing and
even flattracking. They are all selling out their events. Itís
only going to get better in the future.
BR: You have
seen friends who are racers die or become seriously injured in
career. Did this ever want to make you stop?
No. Not really. The friends that I have who have been hurt
seriously like Danny ďMagooĒ Chandler, David Bailey, Andre
Malerbhe, Tony DiStefano, Willi Bauer donít regret anything that
has happened to them. In fact they have become even more involved
in racing, but in a different perspective.
BR: Why did
you stop racing?
to enough Doctorís and therapists throughout my career, and I had
torn every ligament, tendon in every joint in my body that they
convinced me that my body would not heal itself if I didnít quit.
BR: What was
your worst crash?
several worst crashes. 1973 at the Carlsbad Trans-Am was a real,
real bad one. I was in 5th gear doing 80 M.P.H. going downhill
and Arne Kring clipped me. I donít remember much of it, which is
why it didnít stop me the following week from returning to race
again. The Doctors told me my career was over after a crash at
the 1976 Trans-Am race at Puyallup. I came off a jump and landed
in a corner where I was faster than anyone else and smashed,
twisted and pulled my knee apart. They couldnít operate on it for
2Ĺ weeks until the blood vessels healed up. They said I wouldnít
be able to walk up stairs, ride again or do anything. It was nice
to prove them wrong.
racers did you hang with in your career in the U.S.?
We all hung out with each other. There was a lot of camaraderie
back then. Whether it was Gaylon Mosier with the Maico team, Gary
Semics with Husqvarna, Lackey with Kawasaki, Weinert with Yamaha
we would have 8-10 vans and trailers where we would caravan
together across the U.S. We didnít have anyone else so when of us
would break down we would all wait for each other and help out.
They donít have that today. When it came to race day it was
competition, we were out to beat each other. No friendship was
going to stop that. After the races were over we were friends
again. I still see Lackey, Weinert, DiStefano, Gary Semics,
Billy Payne, Tim Hart, Tom Rapp and a lot of the guys at vintage
BR: In one
word what would you say about your racing career?
Pomeroy Update - 9/2003
is what hasnít Jim Pomeroy been up to lately? Anyone who has ever
come into the slightest contact with Jim will know that he can
turn a mere 15-word answer into a gloriously detailed 1,500 words.
So when youíre talking with him, an occasional ďSTOP! Time Out!
Whoa Doggy!Ē will slow him down, though it wonít stop him from
telling a great story. If all else fails you just have to live
with it. Ask his wife. Just recently Jim was the Grand Marshall at
the fourth Annual Hodaka Days in Oregon, where he was also the
referee and starter for the Grass Track TT and Scrambles. What
else? He just got back from England, where he raced in the World
Twin Shocks Championships. He roomed with two-time 500cc World
Motocross Champion, Bengt Aberg from Sweden, while there, and got
to hang around a pub with British World Champions Graham Noyce and
Last year he
was invited to the Spanish Motocross GP at which he led a parade
lap, and received more cheers and applause than all the modern day
GP heroes. They treated him as a national hero. Could it be that
the Spanish motorcycle racing fanatics were applying for sainthood
for Jim because he won GPs on a Spanish-built motorcycle? He was
also the Grand Marshall for Bike Weeks at Daytona, Sears Point and
Mid Ohio as they celebrated a tribute to Spanish-built
motorcycles. Next year he has been invited to race in Spain,
Sweden, France and England.
currently leading the AHMRA National Vintage MX Championships 50+
class after the first eight rounds on various Bultacos. Would he
ride something other than a Bultaco? What he actually does is show
up at each race with his own set of tuned Works Performance shocks
in hand, and looks for a ride. Someone always seems to have a
running Bultaco (not an easy thing to do in the first place) on
hand for Jim to race. Jim in his adult life has actually never
owned his own race bike.
the AHMRA, Jim puts on a MX School the day before the race, which
pays for his family to travel with him. That is a very important
thing, for Jim as a family man. As with many ex-racers, he is
having a better time racing now, because he gets to race when he
wants to race. The pressure is off, and the fun is on. Now he can
bring his family along with him, and gets to play a quasi-US
ambassador to the MX world. For the last few years the world has
rediscovered a hidden gem in the first American, and he is having
the greatest time getting people involved in the sport again.
Every week is a new adventure for Jim. Arenít you exhausted just