Book Review: When Honda Went Dirt Track Racing

544 pages of Chris Carter’s labor of love: When Honda Went Dirt Track Racing. $240 shipped.

544 pages of Chris Carter’s labor of love: When Honda Went Dirt Track Racing. $240 shipped. el scano

American Chris Carter owns Motion Pro, a firm which supplies products to probably every USA-based motorcycle race team in existence, probably every dealer in the USA and also, probably, most serious, long-term on and off road riders in the USA. But, see, his passion, secret passion, is the Honda RS750 dirt track bike and that entire era of US dirt track racing. This is not a new thing; Carter has been collecting bikes, parts and other RS750 ephemera for well over a decade or two. I have lost count as to the number of RS750s he owns; several are on display at Motion Pro and others at his home (I’m told).

Honda’s RS750 project is the stuff of legends in racing. Honda set out to beat Harley-Davidson on their home turf and did so until politics and divisiveness between Harley and Honda ended the program.

The RS750 remained the late Nicky Hayden’s favorite motorcycle he didn’t own until the day he died. Truth.

Carter has yearned to put all of the RS750 info that he has collected into one volume and this book is the result. Carter shares co-author credit with Gerald Foster on When Honda Went Dirt Track Racing. It is produced on quality paper by an okay graphic designer with words seemingly mostly supplied by Foster.

Things start out pretty well. Dave Despain writes the forward. His writing is clear, concise and entertaining. Very tight. However, and this may be key, there is an unwritten rule in motorsports publishing: don’t let a better writer than you write the forward to your book.

The tightness ends quickly as the book is basically seemingly endless, unedited, transcribed interviews, one after another.  Midway into the book it almost seems like every single person who simply saw a Honda RS750 at any point is granted an interview in the book. There is good info–on the RS750–in some of the interviews but the criteria of the questions is at times maddening. Do we really need to know how Honda MX Team Manager Dave Arnold (who?) got his job at Honda, or details on Ricky Graham’s addiction issues or if Bubba Shobert felt any chest pain before his semi-recent heart attacks? What does Bubba think of Indian entering dirt track racing? Why did the late Graham split with his girlfriend, Ms. Harley-Davidson, in like, 1639? How long did it take Brian Uchida to get RS parts from Japan? Did you know Martin Adams is a race car owner now and hey, here are some pictures of his cars. One interviewee gives a brief schooling on how to weld titanium. Huh? And just when you think it can’t get any more obscure and random there’s four pages of Peter Starr re-living his ancient saga of the Stroh Miles–from 1984/5. By the time you make it to page 312 or so, as a reader, you are half-expecting the next page to be an interview with Don Emde on he and his dad winning the Daytona 200 before the RS750 was even designed. There’s good info in some of the interviews but you have to really lean into it to filter everything.

The graphic design of the book is not going to win any awards, but the photographs are well reproduced and there are hundreds of them. Unfortunately it seems that whoever published the book did not first secure the rights to use some the photos in a publication. I know this as, well, some of the photos were lifted off this web site without permission. I feel bad for Carter, as using photos presumably without first securing the rights to do so is a great way to make your mailbox fill with letters from lawyers and every one of them are probably going to want compensation. Motion Pro paid someone to publish the book. A professional book publisher would have handled this long before publication.

Though the book begs for a real editor, I own this book and am glad I do. I will go through it at some point and highlight the portions of the book which are relevant to the history of the RS750 race bike.

The book is available from Motion Pro, here.


The legend of Ricky Graham gets a thorough telling in this book. WOLF J FLYWHEEL
PAGE 339. Kelvin Hobbs


Jeff Haney dispels his inside Honda nickname of “Mr. Evasive” by contributing to the RS750 book. Elvis Hair

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