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Mammoth Motorcycle Club in the News!

posted May 10, 2013, 3:55 PM by Smokey Bear

this article was printed in The Sheet on 5/10/13, and can be seen online:

picture taken by and was borrowed from:

Mammoth Motorcycle Club goes two-for-two in Mexico

The Connolly team won its class at the NORRA Mexican 1000.

Last weekend, vintage off-road race teams led by Mammoth’s Ron Landaker and James Connolly scored victories in their respective classes in the NORRA Mexican 1000.

The NORRA Mexican 1000 is a four-day off-road race featuring vintage vehicles. It starts outside the border town of Mexicali and weaves its way 1,200 miles south to the coastal town of San Jose Del Cabo.

A vintage vehicle is defined as one that is more than 30 years old.

Landaker, who co-drove a ‘68 VW MANX with Steve O’Leary, competed in the Vintage Buggy Open category while Connolly, 37, co-drove a 1983 XR500R with former Mammoth resident (now Minnesotan) Adam Klimek in the Vintage Moto Open.

According to June Lake-based Paramedic EMS Station Captain Kevin McBride, who served as Landaker’s “Head Mechanic and Horn Maestro” for the event, his job was to “anticipate needs and drive the chase truck.” This is the third year he’s assisted Landaker, 72, owner of Mammoth Welding.

McBride said the team bested several well-known rivals, including Robby Gordon’s [famed Indy, NASCAR and now Stadium Super Trucks driver] father Bob, and the McMillins, an off-road racing dynasty.

Meanwhile, Connolly, who works at Mammoth Hospital as a Biomedical Equipment Technician, and his team finished five hours ahead of its nearest rival.

Connolly, whose wife Kim also works at Mammoth Hospital in the I.T. department, says he lived in Mammoth and snowboarded after high school from 1998-2001. Post-college, he returned to Mammoth about six years ago.

As the entry fee is $2,500 and the prize does not include money – just bragging rights and a trophy – Connolly says this is his one race a year.

The race is set up as a four-day event with checkpoints, and NORRA is one of the longest events on the circuit.

Connolly’s team included his wife (chase, support, lead mechanic), Johnston Julao of Mammoth Lakes (trainer, dietitian, surfer, mechanic) Angel Sierra of Pacoima, Calif. (beer support, translator) and Rafael Guerrero of Pacoima (boss man, life saver).

The toughest day of the race was the second, said Connolly, for physical, logistical and emotional reasons.

There is a particularly long section on the second day where racers are separated from their support crews, and as Connolly said, you spend a lot of time obsessing over every strange noise the bike makes, wondering if this is where the dream dies.

It didn’t.

But tragically, a real death did occur that day, highlighting the risks inherent in the sport.

In the finish area at Loreto after the day’s racing, Connolly and his mates learned that fellow motorcycle racer Jimmy Stocker had died in a collision involving a race buggy.

As it happened, just days earlier Connolly’s team and Stocker’s team had been camped next to each other during pre-race preparations and had become fast friends