The Yoshimura Time Machine
by dean 'I barely remember Merkel' adams
Friday, February 04, 2005

So-Cal racer Jimmy 'Rabbit' Chen on his Yoshimura Honda, circa 1970. Note Yosh' decals on the fairing & peace sign on the back of his helmet (Thanks, Don Emde). Click for larger image.
image by allen ivins
Many times Yoshimura R&D acts as motorcycle roadracing's very informal historical marker. Having been around in the US for 35 years (and another 15 or so in Japan--Pops Yoshimura was a boy pilot in the WWII Japanese air force) one can easily gauge how long an enthusiast has been following racing by asking them who the first Yoshimura rider is that they can remember.

For some, "old" Yoshimura riders are Thomas Stevens, Tom Kipp and Fred Merkel from the early to mid-1990s. For others, it's Jamie James and Scott Russell in the late 1980s.

Before that, some recall Wes Cooley winning two Superbike championships on Yosh-powered machines in the early 1980s (Don Sakakura was his "touring mechanic"). However, largely, modern day Yoshimura racing memories end there, even though Yoshimura was fully active in US racing for most of the 1970s with riders like Yvon DuHamel, Ron Pierce, and Steve McLaughlin. Very few remember when Yoshimura was actually called "Dale Starr Racing" and the firm primarily raced Hondas—CB750s and later those cool little CB400Fs on the West Coast.

Far left, the Yosh' Honda. This was back when sponsor logos were as large as the tank they were painted on.
image by allen ivins
These images are from that time period, and show rider Jimmy "Rabbit" Chen on his CB350-based Yoshimura Honda at Daytona in 1970 or 1971. In this era 350 four-stroke motorcycles were allowed to race against 250 two-strokes in the AMA's then Lightweight class.


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