Concours bound: Jimmy Ellis' 1975 Can-Am
November 08, 2012
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Concours d'Elegance always features motorcycles for every taste. Participants show bikes from several eras and disciplines. Some bikes are expertly restored while others are near-perfect preservations of the original.
One participant for this year's show is Dick Lague, and he is bringing a bike that used to belong to Jimmy Ellis—an inductee for the 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Lague worked for Yankee Motors and Can-AM in the 1970s. He led the Petersen Motorcycle group of magazines for 25 years and is now a partner in IGNITION3, an award winning motorsports film company.
We spoke with Dick to get some inside knowledge on the specific motorcycle that he is showcasing at the Concours.
Q: What bike are you bringing to this year’s Concours?
I am bringing the 1975 Can-Am 250 Supercross bike that Jimmy Ellis rode in the 1975 Supercross series. This is the bike that Jimmy rode at the Los Angeles Coliseum Superbowl of Motocross race in July 1975. Ellis won the four-race Supercross championship series in 1975.
Q: Why did you choose to bring this bike?
Jimmy Ellis is being inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame this year, so I thought it would be fitting to reunite Jimmy with a bike he rode that season.
Q: What makes it unique or interesting?
Can-Am was a Canadian motorcycle manufacturer. They were the off-road motorcycle division of Bombardier Ltd., and they exploded onto the MX scene in 1974 when Gary Jones, Marty Tripes and Jimmy Ellis placed first, second and third in the 250cc AMA National Motocross Championship. No other manufacturer has ever swept a motocross race series to this day. The Can-Am 250 MX was the bike to beat in the mid-’70s MX world.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of this bike?
This bike is very similar to the production MX Can-Ams. The frame is quite standard chrome alloy. The steering head angle is adjustable. The fork triple clamps are custom made of billet aluminum and are one of three pair made at the time by Scotty Sader in Can-AM R&D. The rear suspension is special S&W upside down shocks with custom two-rate springs. The shock mounting points were experimental. A custom high-mounted expansion chamber was built for the Supercross bikes. The handlebars are Jones V-shaped cross brace bars.
Q: Is there anything special about this year’s induction ceremony that you’re looking forward to?
I am really looking forward to meeting Jimmy Ellis again after 37 years. I was the director of marketing for Can-Am motorcycles during the period that Ellis rode for us. I was at the Coliseum the night that he won before the largest Supercross crowd to date. Our production company, IGNITION3 will be releasing a DVD of the 1975 race this December. Portions of this show will be shown during Ellis’ Hall of Fame presentation.