Story and photos by James Holter
Michael Weinman, 48, from McDonald, Pa., and his son Matthew, 16, are smiling ear to ear in the pits at the round of the AMA Vintage Dirt Track National Championship Series held at Ashland County Fairgrounds on July 9.
Michael Weinman and his son Matthew drove from McDonald, Pa., to race in the vintage dirt-track event.
The race, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, is part of AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, the country’s grandest celebration of vintage motorcycles and the people who love them.
They are pitted with Jerry Berardinelli from Cokeburg, Pa., who is late for his heat race and doesn’t have time to chat: “I gotta go, boss!”
The Weinman’s have plenty of time before their qualifier, though, and they’re excited to talk about vintage racing, something the father and son enjoy immensely.
“I ride a 1972 Trackmaster Yamaha 360,” Michael says. “Matthew has a 1974 Yamaha 250.”
“We’ve always grown up riding motorcycles. My dad to me and now to my son. The vintage racing community is just a great group of people. And he just grew into it. We’ve been riding motorcycles forever. He started when he was 4, and I’ve been riding my whole life. It’s how we grew up.”
“The vintage bikes are so much fun. The AMA needs to keep doing it and writing about it. I love it.”
“Vintage racing is a lot different than the modern racing,” Matthew says. “You don’t see too many bikes like these anymore. It’s simpler and easier. I love the racing. This is my first time here (Ashland), and it has been a blast.”
“I’ve been coming to this before he (Matthew) was born,” Michael says. “We’ve been coming for years. I came as a spectator, and that was it. It took one time for me to see the vintage flat track, and it was decided. That fall, I had one in the garage, and we’ve been doing it ever since.”
“The environment is great,” Michael says. “Modern racing is fun, but for us, the vintage is just a better program to enjoy it.”
“Keep it simple,” Michael says. “Anyone who is a racer wants to go full bore, but you don’t have to do that. It’s inexpensive to start. We’re just racing for trophies. No one is out there to run anyone over. It’s all about the camaraderie and having a good time.”
“I think the AMA is doing a great job, but I think they should push vintage racing even more,” Michael says. “It’s real easy to make it whatever you want. We got that bike (the 1974 Yamaha), and made it into a flat track bike and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.”
John Plumb from Macedon, N.Y., is pitted the next row over with his grandson-in-law Garrett Johnson, 15, and friend Bob Engert.
L-R: Garrett Johnson, John Plumb and Bob Engert pose with Plumb's racebikes.
Plumb says coming back makes him “feel like I’m old and tired!”
But Engert, who drove to the races with Plumb in the 1970s, interjects: “At Daytona, he was like a kid again. He loved it!”
“Vintage dirt track racing really is the most fun I’ve ever had racing,” Plumb says. “I’ve raced professionally. I’ve raced cars. I’ve never had as much fun as I do on the vintage stuff.”
Plumb says he started racing in 1972-73. He advanced through the ranks, but the grind of the pro circuit wore him down.
“I quit for a while, and then got into vintage from 1995 through ’99,” Plumb says. “I won six national vintage championships and then got out of it. This is my first year back racing vintage again. It’s a great time.”
Engert observes that Plumb isn’t alone.
“I can’t believe the amount of people here,” Engert says. “This is amazing.”
Two of those people are Greg Boyd, 33, from Akron, Ohio, and Sylvia Shiposh, 32, from Akron, Ohio. Boyd is anxiously waiting his heat race while Shiposh entertains two toddler-age fans in the couple’s pit area behind Boyd’s Star Racer framed 1978 Yamaha TT500.
Sylvia Shiposh and Greg Boyd from Akron, Ohio, enjoy an evening of dirt track racing at the Ashland County Fairgrounds.
Boyd, who just took up vintage racing two years ago, says he was a fan first, then a racer.
“I saw my first vintage race in 2011 and just watched for several years,” he says. “Then two years ago I started racing, and I haven’t looked back.”
When Boyd’s original race bikes “stopped running,” he picked up the TT.
“Las year, I impulsively bought this one so I could race the rest of the season,” he says. “It has taken me about a year to get it where I wanted. This will be my first opportunity to run it to its potential.”
As a relatively new vintage racer himself, Boyd recommends it to others.
“It’s a good way to start, even if you want to race the modern stuff,” he says. “This is how it all started anyways.”
Boyd says that it’s no secret, though. The word about vintage racing is getting around.
“I was over at (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where the rest of event is held), and the crowd seemed like it was better than it ever has been,” he says. “More people than I’ve ever seen. The whole vintage scene is definitely growing.”