Cycle News

Cycle News 2019 Issue 24 June 18

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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CN III ARCHIVES BY LARRY LAWRENCE I t was almost preordained that Honda factory rider Marty Smith would win the 1976 AMA 125cc Motocross Championship. After all, coming into the 1976 sea- son, Smith was the only 125 MX champ there ever was. He'd won the first two titles after the series was launched in 1974. And Smith didn't just win the championships, he utterly dominated while racing the stunning, bright red Honda RC125 works machine. Coming into '76, Smith seemed invincible. Yamaha, however, had been doing its homework. The com- pany had not only developed their own ultra-trick works bike—the water-cooled Yamaha 0W27—they also hired a 19-year-old unknown desert rat named Bob Hannah. Hannah had practically grown up on a motorcycle. From the age of seven, he rode endless hours right outside his door in the des- ert of Lancaster, California. Years of play riding in the desert and nearby mountains honed Hannah P130 looks, Smith was the envy of every schoolboy racer and the dream of female fans. The contrast between him and Bob Hannah couldn't be starker. Hannah was this gritty unknown from the high desert, more cowboy than a surfer. Smith was a textbook rider with perfect riding style. He looked both effort- less and incredibly stylish when he raced, almost as if every corner was a magazine shoot. Still so new to racing, Hannah hadn't yet ac- quired a "riding style," unless you call holding the throttle wide open and bouncing off everything in his path a style. When Hannah raced, it was like a hurricane hit the track. Cycle News race reporter Jimmy "The Greek" Gianatsis noted that fact and the nickname Hurricane Hannah was born. Still, you could excuse Smith of not taking much notice of Hannah before the '76 season. "I saw he was winning some CMC races, but winning those and winning nationals are two into a brilliant rider, yet he was mostly unknown. Turns out that Hannah's dad, an excellent desert rider in his own right, was dead set against his son racing. He knew too many guys who raced and got injured, and he didn't want that to happen to his son. So, this uber-talent went unknown until Bob was old enough to make his own decision to race. Suddenly, in 1975, this wunderkind was un- leashed to the world of motocross. When Hannah entered his first amateur race, he was so dominant that after just one race, officials told him he would have to move up to expert. Coming into the 1976 AMA Mo- tocross season, the stage was set for what would become the most unexpected upset the sport had ever seen. Marty Smith was not only a two-time champion racing for mighty Honda, but he'd become the sport's first rock star. Hailing out of San Diego with surfer good At one time, Marty Smith (right) a god in the 125cc MX class, and then Bob Hannah (left) showed up. MR. SMITH, MEET MR. HANNAH

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