By Heather Wilson
Photos by Zayne Watson
Jeff Fredette’s first race may have been in 1970 or so, when he was just 12, but the passion that race kindled has not been extinguished in the intervening decades.
“My first race was a trials competition somewhere in Illinois,” Fredette said. “I rode a Hodaka Ace 90. The clutch and throttle were on the same side. That was the good ole days when stuff didn’t cost anything and you rode it forever.”
Fredette drove six hours from Beecher, Ill., to race the 40-49 class on a 1974 Kawasaki 250 at this year’s event and took home an AMA National Championship.
He said that, years ago, when he first took the bike for a ride down the road before he bought it, he thought, “I’d never race this thing in dirt.”
Then he brought the bike out to race. He’s raced in the vintage hare scrambles every year since 2011. He was also the Grand Marshal for AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days in 2012.
Fredette competed on a U.S. team the International Six Days Enduro for many years and still is involved with the team efforts to this day.
For many, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days is not just about the bikes.
“It’s cool to get to meet up with all the old guys I used to race with and to meet new guys,” Fredette said. “And all the stuff in the ‘junkyard’ [swap meet]. I got a bunch of plastic to use for my ice racing bike and an old license plate.”
Now, racing may be a little more expensive, but there’s still plenty of bikes you can get for a reasonable price.
“Get yourself an old bike and come out [to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days],” Fredette said.
AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days continues through Sunday, July 10, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
For 2016, with the generous support of Suzuki Motor of America, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days honors the career of Suzuki rider and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Wes Cooley.
The infield display, Celebrating 40 Years of AMA Superbikes, presented by Suzuki, showcases the rich history of AMA Superbike racing with a number of historic championship-winning machines. The central piece of the display will be Cooley's 1980 championship-winning GS1000, which Cooley will ride in demonstration laps around the road race course each day.
Sunday's events include the American Motor Drome Wall of Death, a classic motorcycle field meet, demo rides of current production bikes, seminars, live music, raffle bikes and displays of AMA clubs and custom bike builders.
Tickets are available for purchase on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course website at www.midohio.com or at the gate. A single-day admission for Sunday is $35. Kids 12 and under get in free.
For more about AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, see www.facebook.com/AMAVintageMotorcycleDays.
AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days is a fundraiser for the nonprofit AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Financial contributors include Moto Armory, Nationwide Insurance, Suzuki Motor of America, Federal Motorcycle Transport, Old Bike Barn, Iron Pony/Pony Powersports and Sena Technologies Inc.