There were a handful of American riders in the 70s that came to define the burgeoning sport of motocross as much with their exploits as their riding ability.
Jimmy Weinert, known as "The Jammer," tallied up 22 national wins and three AMA Championships over a colorful career that spanned more than a decade. In 1973 Weinert became the first American to beat the Europeans in the Trans-AMA Series.
Weinert relished the fine art of playing head games with his competitors, often saying something on the starting line moments before the gate fell.
His calm demeanor and seeming ambivalence to the pressures of racing only served to psyche his rivals out all the more. On the starting line, while other riders were fighting butterflies, Jimmy could often be found telling jokes as he waited for the start of the moto.
The Jammer was famous-perhaps infamous-for playing guitar and making up songs about racing and the other racers (some funny, some pretty defamatory). It was all in good fun. Weinert was a motocross star in a time when training wasn’t taken as seriously as it is today.
As a result he could often be found hanging out late on the eve of a race, singing songs and sharing jokes with his legions of fans. He was one of those guys who loved the party atmosphere so much it didn’t seem to hinder his performance.
Although Weinert rode for several manufacturers during his professional career, he is remembered as a stalwart Kawasaki pilot. Like most professional racers, Weinert suffered his share of injuries. A broken collarbone ended his season in 1973.
He came back to dominate the 500cc class in 1974 and 1975. A broken knee curtailed a third successive 500cc title in 1976. However he did manage to win the Supercross title that year despite only being out of a cast a matter of weeks before the finale, scoring enough points to secure his third championship.
One of Weinert’s most famous races was the 1979 Supercross opener in Oakland. Weinert lined up wearing a massive neck brace under his helmet and a paddle tire mounted on his factory Kawasaki. Most of the other racers thought the two items to be visual gimmicks; Weinert doing his usual mental rattling.
In actuality he’d crashed practicing earlier in the week and was enduring immense pain in his neck. And the rear tire? The paddle tire was a gambit that Weinert’s mechanic (Roy Turner) had suggested, given the deep sand that had been trucked in for the stadium event. The Jammer went out and won the race.
Other competitors complained, saying that Weinert’s factory Kawasaki was throwing up such a stinging roost that there was no way anyone could even get close enough to try and race with him (For trivia fans, this single event is the reason why the AMA banned paddle tires-it’s still in the rule book today).
Weinert’s final win was the Daytona Supercross in 1979. After picking himself up from a first turn crash the Jammer charged through the field, eventually catching the leader, rookie sensation (and future of motocross) Bob Hannah.
Weinert, the closest thing MX had to an "old man," passed the young Hannah on the last lap to take the win. Weinert raced for Can Am in 1980 before retiring.
Today "The Jammer" operates an auto salvage business and races in select vintage MX events. And yes, he’s still playing guitar.