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Discussion Starter #1
In the early 70's, I had just moved to Virginia Beach, Va.. I didn't know anyone there, but through my work, I met the guys at Bultaco
International (US importer). Although I was just a B rider and had only been riding for a couple of years, they took me in and quickly made me their unofficial test rider. At least that's what they called me. Actually I was more of their crash test dummy than a test rider. At the time, I was young, dumb, and willing. IOW, exactly what they were looking for! Over the next few years, I suffered more stuck throttles, engine seizures, and brake failures than most experience in a lifetime. All at the cost of considerable pain to me, but great entertainment for them.

Around 1974, two engineers from S&W shocks in Detroit came up with a revolutionary idea for motorcycle suspensions. They patented the design of a parallel swing arm, one on top of the other. Final drive was through a jack-shaft to the rear wheel.The theory was that this would eliminate or even reverse the normal loading of the suspension when the throttle was opened. As you know, the norm is for weight transfer from front to back. IOW, the front gets light and the rear "squats" under acceleration.

Bultaco dominated American short track racing at the time with their Astro model bike. Their factory riders were Terry Poovey, and Garth Brow, both of whom went on to become legends in their sport. What better way to demonstrate the effectiveness of this new design than to put it on a flat track bike where front grip is always marginal at best. Everyone was excited about the prospect of what this might mean, and how it might transfer to road racing and even MX bikes. World domination and all that.

Even though it hadn't really been tested yet, the rumor mills were busy, and all of the MC mags were desperate to get pics. Since there was only one of these, and it was transported in my plain (no graphics) van, it was relatively easy to keep it hidden.

One day we were off to Green's Raceway near Emporia, Va. The track itself was nothing remarkable, but it was situated in between some farm fields in BFE Va., so it suited our needs.

Again, the theory was that this would really make the front end "stick" while turning under power. In practice, it did work up to a point. Unfortunately, that point was below actual racing speeds, and when you suddenly whacked the throttle open in the corner, it stood the bike straight up (or worse, high-sided you), and you couldn't turn that bitch to save your life!

After several laps of trying to bring it up to speed, I ran her in to turn one as deep as I dared, nailed the throttle and suddenly found myself doing a perfect handstand on the bars! As I waved a fond goodbye, the bike went straight through the turn one fence! While picking myself up, a couple of kids ran over to see if I was alright. One of them exclaimed "Gee mister, you went straight through that fence like a bullet!" My friends laughed so hard that two of them were actually crying, and it think the other one wet his pants!

About a year later, we were on our way to Daytona for Speed Week. That was years before it became known as "Bike Week", or as I call it, "Poseur Week". CB radios were a fad then, and everyone had to have their own handle (user name).

As we were driving down I95, I was contacted by a truck driver on the radio, and he asked me what my handle was. Before I could respond, one of the guys grabbed the mic and yelled "Bultaco Bullet!" It was as much a sarcastic reference to my riding abilities at the time as it was about my brief, but spectacular, short track career. They thought it was hysterical, but though I was embarrassed by it at the time, the name stuck, and I eventually embraced it.

Those people actually changed my life. Almost cost me my life a few times too, but those are stories for another time. I had come from a life in baseball, but they introduced me to professional racing in all of it's many forms. I was hooked. Through them, I got to meet many of the heroes of that time. I even got to trail ride with a few of them.

I myself was never good enough to race pro, but because of them, I got to compete in trials, MX, Enduros, Hare Scrambles, and more. I also had new bikes to use for whatever I was into at the time. I'll always be grateful; it was a great time in my life. I'm still friends with a few of them, and they still laugh at some of our exploits. It was only years later that they told me how much they admired my willingness to get on bikes that they, themselves would not ride. Young, dumb, and willing. Now you know the story of the Bultaco Bullet.
 

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Good story. Thanks for sharing.
 

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Bob, if I may, that was one of the best "here's-what-my-handle-means" stories ever!

I was at the Indy Mile in 2010 when three bikes touched going into turn 1 and one of them, a young kid, caught the air fence in a way that made it a ramp and it launched him OVER the retaining fence some 20 feet in the air. He landed outside the venue, after hitting a light pole breaking his leg, in a parking lot. He's fine and racing today.

Great story...and welcome!

Chuck
 

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Nice story, these are the real stories, (I guess there are many more) good race movies should be based on, and not those hollywood fiction crap.
Welcome on board.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you.

I'm an old man now, but I've spent a good part of my life in racing. Lots of stories. Some funny, some sad, and some I don't share with anyone.

Steve McQueen once said "Racing IS life. Everything before or after is just waiting". He was right.
 

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Very much enjoyed your story Bultaco, thanks for that!

I only rode two Tacos, both when I was a kid and both were owned by the same friend.

I remember his '70 250 Pursang being a sweet handling thing, but I could never adjust my pea brain to the right side shift. He sold it and bought a new '75 model, which shifted like everything else I'd ridden, and had forward mounted shocks and much longer suspension travel. Didn't get to ride it but once, but liked it a lot.

Thanks again,

John
 
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