Lowest D37 Number Held
If yes, elaborate
Desert Racing Highlights
Harley-Davidson 61 C.I.'s- hard tail!, 200cc Dot, Honda 250 twin scrambler, Bultaco Metisse, Pursang, El Bandito.
200, 250, Open
#1 250 1964
Landscaping, gardening, old west history, traveling, camping.
Still love to tinker with all my bikes...
Ride every day on the street and occasionally go on dual sport rides.
As far as I know, I was the first person ever- world wide- to earn a #1 plate in an off-road event on a Honda. First ever lightweight rider to be high point man of the year. (1964)
Currently have a '76 TT 500 Yamaha converted to a street only machine, a mid 80's Matchless 500, a 1965 Panther 500, and a 1986 Cagiva Elefant 650cc dual sport bike
Neil was recently nominated for the AMA's Hall of Fame.
This timeline offers some compelling reasons why...
- 1946- Buys his first motorcycle, a Harley-Davidson 61cubic inch v-twin and rides it in any off road area he can find: trail, flat track, scrambles and desert.
Early 1950’s- Is a motorcycle policeman in the Army stationed at Ford Ord and Fort Baker, Cal.
- Mid 1950’s to 1960 - employed as a City of Pasadena, CA. motorcycle policeman. Spends nearly every weekend racing his 200cc Dot in AMA district 37 scrambles, flat track and desert races.
- 1960 - Opens one of Southern California’s first Honda dealerships: Honda of Pasadena. Begins campaigning a Honda 250 scrambler in weekly AMA district 37 desert races. Teaches himself frame geometry and shock absorber theory. Modifies his Honda frame and engine to make the bike competitive with other "dirt" bikes of the day.
- 1962 - Earns the #12 250cc plate in AMA district 37 desert racing.
- 1963 - Earns the #2 250cc plate in AMA district 37 desert racing
- 1964 - Earns the #1 250cc plate in AMA district 37 desert racing. Is first person ever- to win the "Overall High Point Man of the Year" on a 250cc bike. First person in America- possibly in the world- to earn a #1 plate in organized off road competition on a Honda. ONLY PERSON EVER TO DATE to earn an AMA #1 plate in off road competition on a Honda twin cylinder bike.
- 1965- Receives full sponsorship from Southern Cal Dot distributor to race the AMA district 37 desert races on a 250 Dot. Bike breaks down in nearly every race for well over half of the season. Late in 1965 Neil & Gary Griffin open a Bultaco/Hodaka shop in Monrovia, Cal. Neil bolts his #1 plate on his new bike and becomes the first person to carry a #1 AMA off road plate on a Bultaco.
- 1967 Neil, along with Yamaha employees Dave Holeman & Jack Hoel are the 3 Americans responsible for developing the Yamaha DT-1. The worlds first "Enduro Bike"! Neil is the primary test rider.
- 1968- Yamaha approaches Neil and offers him a full sponsorship to race develop the newly released DT-1. Neil declines due to his age (38) and the fact that he owns a Bultaco shop, but recommends a Norton rider - Mike Patrick for the job.
- Neil offers a full Bultaco sponsorship to Larry Bergquist. Bergquist promptly earns the 1968 AMA district 37 250cc #1 desert plate. Beginning of a 4 year partnership with Neil as designer/builder/tuner and Bergquist as rider. Countless class wins and dozens of first overalls in district 37 desert racing and several top 5 placings in all the major long distance off road races are the result.
- 1969- Kawasaki approaches Neil about race development with their new 350 BigHorn Enduro. Bergquist and Gary Preston enter the Baja 500. Engine seizes after only 6 miles. Kawasaki goes back to the drawing board.
- -Neil convinces Bultaco factory- via west coast distributor Doug Yerkes, to adopt some of his frame modifications to their El Bandido model.
- -Neil spends two weeks in Italy at the Ducati factory helping to design what would become the RT 450 dirt bike.
- 1970- Neil is the first American to ride and rave about the newly released Ducati 750 twin road bike, which would become (arguably) the most popular "sport bike" of all time.
- 1972-1980 Neil is hired by Victor Products as head of research & development. Neil develops many of Yamaha’s Genuine Accessories throughout the 1970’s: fender conversion kits, fork braces, big bore kits, Yamaha GYT kits, skid plates, exhaust pipes, etc. He develops the first two stroke compression release with a check valve to prevent foreign matter from entering the cylinder on the down stroke.