Looking back on all we accomplished over my six years as Head Cheese of ASRA, I can't help but be amazed, amused, and frankly a bit impressed. Even now, the spirit of competition mixed with an equal helping of comeraderie is still fresh in my mind. That same stoke lives on for me now at Coalition of Surfing Clubs events, but I digress.
Fabio Ballarin had put on two races per year in 1987 and '88, and I recall the intense anticipation that everyone felt about having to wait a whole six months between races. When he announced at the end of 1988 that he would no longer be organizing races, the possibility of having a six race season became a mission that would grow into something truly special...
It's an ASRA Crashfest!
A short video of crash highlights from the American Scooter Racing Association (ASRA), with Lambrettas and Vespas competing on the racetrack.
The glue that held all of this together was the ongoing quest to crown new champions in each class, plus overall individual and team champions for the season. This new expanded structure ratcheted up both the competition and the comeraderie, as individual riders and teams became embroiled in an ongoing year long saga that would be played out on the track and immortalized in the ASRA newsletter.
What made this even more special was the fact that there was no internet to provide the instant gratification that we are so used to nowadays. Everything was done by snail mail and phone calls, and the anticipation between races grew with every passing day. "Race week" became a blur of last minute activity that was so draining that looking back on it I'm surprised that we had enough energy left to make it through the upcoming weekend.
By the early '90s the internet was still Al Gore's wet dream, but each shop had a fax machine. It would be 1:00am during race week and we'd all be at the shop wrenching on our bikes, welding, drilling and whatnot, and suddenly the fax line would ring. I still laugh out loud at some of the stuff that went back and forth between us and our competitors. I recall one from Erik, Bruce and the boys at GoFast Racing in Orange County that read something like:
W.C.L.W.: (meaning us at West Coast Lambretta Works)
We Can Lick you Whiners
Weak Chaps with Limp Weenies
and so on...
I know we had some great retorts to these messages, particularly from Chris Rogers, Matt Dawson, and Mick Dailey, who loved to give GoFast the business. I saved a bunch of these old faxes for posterity and I'll have to try to locate them - hopefully they're still legible! It's these kinds of memories that motivate me to do a full length film about those glorious days.
The quality of footage in this little crash video is admittedly pretty awful, but I will do my best to drum up as much original footage as possible. I do have some better quality footage available, and I'm sure any other footage that is floating around out there will find its way into my hands once word of this project gets out.
I will also do new interviews with as many people from back in the day as I can track down, such as Fabio, Vince Chu, Nyle Schafhauser, etc., and I will mix in this new footage with the old stuff. This project is going to be a blast to work on, and I know there are quite a lot of people who will be just as excited as I am to see the finished result.
Anyone interested in helping out can reach me at (858) 276-1396, or by using the contact form here. As this project progresses I will also release periodic updates, so please sign up for the newsletter here. You can also follow me on InstaGram here.