Second Annual Hopetown Reunion Celebrates Dirt Bike History

Jul. 18, 2013 By Rick Sieman
Inside the dirt bike museum at the Hopetown

Last year, for the first Hopetown Reunion there were about 5,000 people who attended. The Zimmerman brothers, who put the original reunion together, were more than pleased with the feedback they got and decided to hold it once more.

This twin-pipe CZ was on display.

This Swedish flier won the Baja 500 in 1970.

The Zimmerman brothers run a high-tech machine company that does a lot of defense work and they have a huge building that houses the whole works. On the second floor of this building they have a personal museum full of dirt bikes. This museum is not open to the general public, but the hundreds of bikes on display are there simply because the brothers are dirt bike fanatics. You’ll find row after row of totally prepared Huskies, Maicos, CZs, Bultacos and just about anything else you can imagine. The brothers opened their private museum for the crowd.

Check out this 172-pound 125 Husky.

This twin-carb Puch stopped people in their tracks.

And a crowd it was, as about 10,000 people showed up on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Simi Valley, California. To ensure that there would a good turnout, they invited a whole bunch of legendary racers to attend as guests of honor. World Champions Torsten Hallman, Joel Robert, Roger DeCoster and Brad Lackey showed up and spent hours signing autographs.

The champs (from left to right): Roger DeCoster, Joel Robert and Torsten Hallman.

Of the 10,000 people who showed up, a huge number were legends within the industry, or former racers. Some of the faces in the crowd included John DeSoto, Preston Petty, Gary Bailey, Dave Aldana, Jim O’Neal, Tim Hart, Mike Chamberlain, Sue Fish, Keith Mashburn, CZ Joe, Jim Holley, Marty Tripes, Kenny Zhart, Gary and DeWayne Jones, Dave Ekins,  Skip Van Leeuwen, Eddie Mulder and other famous folks.

If you like Triumphs, take your pick: a stocker or a Rickman.

Here's what they raced before the hot two-strokes took over: a 250 Honda twin.
Like last year, all the expenses for the reunion were covered by the Zimmerman brothers. The food was prepared by Marty Tripes, and was free, as was entrance into the affair. The only money you could spend was on raffles, and the profit for this went to supply powered chairs for Vets who lost the use of their limbs in the Middle East.

Monark riders had to be dragged away from this beauty.

Ultra-rare! Lito drew a crowd at times.

Around the huge Zimmerman building were large protective shades, and under these were all kinds of dirt bikes. These bikes were owned by various collectors, shops and individuals who brought them out for the event. There were all sorts of bikes and you could see just about anything and everything. There were literally dozens of big British twins, 500 singles, and early two-stroke bikes that we all grew up with. Everything from exotic bikes like twin-carbed Puchs to twin-piped CZs were on display. You could even find absolutely pristine Bultacos and Maicos. It really made you want to go out and find a good old bike and restore it.

Wow, a twin-pipe Suzuki before they were yellow.

Plenty of Buls and Montesas were looking like new.

A bit of background on Hopetown is in order. The race was started in the ‘60s and died in the ‘70s. Originally, the property was owned by a stuntman named Corrigan and he sold all the property to Bob Hope, and the name naturally got changed to Hopetown. The Dirt Diggers Motorcycle club put the race on and it became a really big event. Over 50,000 people would show up over the two-day weekend, once a year. In the late ‘60s, those great European motocrossers came over here and kicked our butts with ease. This changed the way dirt bike racing developed and the American riders improved dramatically a few years later.

Even bad bikes were on display, like this 441 BSA Victor.

This second Hopetown Reunion was crowded and more than a bit out of control. The Zimmerman brothers tried to get things organized by putting up all sorts of schedule posters on the tents outside, but people took those posters down, probably for souvenirs. Consequently, it was hard to tell what was happening and when it was happening.

The bike that killed CZ sales, the ultra ugly yellow tanker.

Blast from the past: Kenny Zhart.

Still, this amazing event left many people wanting yet another one. This was a celebration of the past. And when you think about it, this was a celebration like no other.

Everyone's favorite racer: John DeSoto. Newsletter
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