Flying Kiwi with a yellow streakThere’s a yellow streak running down the spine of Yamaha’s Don Jamison.
But that doesn’t mean the Kiwi is a coward, far from it.
Yellow and Yamaha are one and the same to the 41-year-old self-employed Wanganui painter and that, he explains, is why his garage is overflowing with bright yellow Yamaha motocross bikes, all of the vintage variety.
He has just two words to explain his fascination with yellow and with Yamaha … “Bob Hannah”.
“I always had Bob Hannah as my hero. He was a legend,” said Jamison of his boyhood idol, the former AMA motocross champion and factory Yamaha star. ..“Me and my mates all used to read the American motocross magazines and we each had our favourite. Mine was always Bob Hannah.
“I never met the man, but I did ring him up once. I got his answer machine and left a message. I guess he gets lots of messages like that from fans all over the world. I didn’t expect him to call back, so I didn’t leave my number.”
As a youngster, Jamison grew up with horses and BMX bikes.
“That was in the days before the bicycles had knobbly tyres and my only motorcycling experience was following cows to the milking shed. I never raced motocross as a kid.”
That changed about a year ago and now Jamison owns five motocross bikes, all of them Yamahas and all of them yellow. He has a 1978 YZ125E, a 1980 YZ125G, a 1981 YZ250H, a 1982 YZ125J and a 1984 YZ125L. Even though he raced his first motocross at age 40, Jamison now shows an incredible turn of speed. He puts a lot of that down to the Yamaha bikes he owns, the ease at which he can ride them and the longevity of the bikes.
“It’s a lot of fun and not too expensive to race,” said Jamison. “I bought this bike (the 1982 YZ125 J, pictured) for about $850 and, after new tyres and an engine rebuild, it probably only owes me $2500. And that’s for a very competitive and reliable bike.”
One of the spare bedrooms at Jamison’s home is now converted into a home for his five bikes, including storage for spare parts he picks up about the pace. He buys the white plastic Yamahas and, over time, gradually turns them to the yellow variety, more popular and familiar in the United States during the Bob Hannah era.
He even sought out the matching retro yellow Yamaha riding apparel and certainly looks the part at the vintage motocross meetings.