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Jammin’ Jimmy – Psyche-Out 101 Part III

Submitted by on September 24, 2009

In Parts I and II of our story on ‘70s motocross icon Jammin’ Jimmy Weinert, we learned how the tall New Yorker successfully employed calculated psyche-out tactics to blunt the arrogance of the all-dominant European riders. He was possibly one of the first riders to have his call sign stitched onto his leathers – ‘Jammin’ Jimmy’.

In Part III, we reveal the Jammer’s psyche out coup de grace, and his talent for song-writing…

After a disappointing 1975 season with Yamaha, which probably wasn’t helped by the Jammer falling victim to a funky mid-70s afro perm, he returned to Kawasaki in 1976 and won the AMA Supercross Championship.

“I was so pissed off at Yamaha that I came out for ’76 in the best shape of my career,” the Jammer told MX Illustrated in 2006. “I was in Ricky Carmichael shape, I was winning races by a lot. Then I broke my kneecap in Mexico, New York about five or six weeks before the last supercross, and that put a damper on things.” Before the injury, Weinert was looking good to clean sweep the AMA SX and AMX 250/500cc MX titles, but the injury forced him to focus on the supercross championship, which he won from neighbour and nemesis Pierre Karsmakers.

Fast forward three years to January 1979, and the Jammer’s last AMA supercross win at the Los Angeles Coliseum. It is fitting that his final SX victory was controversial and featured one of his best psych-out jobs.

The track was one of the sandiest in Coliseum history, so in the lead up to the race long-time crew chief Roy Turner opted to run a hill-climb type rear paddle tyre.

“I said, ‘Roy, whatever you think we need to use, we’ll use it. Then I got there and got a look at the tyre, and I said to Roy, ‘What the hell have you been smokin’, boy?’”

With the paddle tyre roosting the entire track during practice, Jimmy face-planted after crash landing from a jump and sustained a badly wrenched neck. Brad Lackey’s trainer, Dean Miller, who would go onto work with Ricky Johnson, Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts and Chris Vermeulen, made a neck brace out of a Holiday Inn towel and shoelaces. “It was a kind of a psyche out job,” Jimmy said. “I don’t know whether it worked or not.” So the Jammer’s ultimate psyche number wasn’t even his own!

As for the tyre, Jimmy did a few practice starts and noticed he could get the holeshot and then some, hitting the first turn while the rest of the field was only half-way there. He went back to the conventional knobby tyre to make sure, and when he was even with the others off the start, he told Turner to re-fit the paddle.

The only downside was that in the absence of sidewall knobbies, the Jammer had very dodgy traction out of the berms. He made good use of the paddle off the start, but was soon hunted down by Darrell Schultz who was repelled by the enormous roost spat out by the paddle. Bob Hannah suffered the same fate, allowing Jimmy to dig his way to an historic and popular win.

After the race, AMA officials tried to disqualify Weinert. “Show me in the rulebook where it says I can’t run that tyre,” he told them. “They couldn’t. I told them to leave me alone to enjoy my win, but the following week the [paddle tyre] got banned immediately.”

The Jammer retired a few years later, became a supercross TV commentator and took over the family recycling business in New York.

He later revealed that the decision to move next door to Karsmakers in the early ‘70s was not all about psyching out the tough Dutchman – it was too learn from him.

“I said to myself, ‘How am I going to learn from what these sons of bitches do to get ready for a race?’. So I bought a house right next door to Pierre. I’d see him getting ready to come out of his house at 8am, and I’d put a can of beer in my hand and step outside. He’d come outside and say, “Weinert, what are you doing?’

“‘Pierre, look at you, all tense and trying to get into shape. You gotta stay loose man, you gotta stay loose’. He’d run off, shaking his head, and then I’d go to the gym and hit the Nautilus equipment.”

In Part II, we retold the story of Karsmakes and rising US motocrosser Mark Blackwell arriving at Weinert Manor to shoot some pool. Weinert mixed some Kahluas and milk, including one for Karsmakers.

Later in the evening, Jimmy’s wife arrived home and he fixed himself another Kahlua. He sat down on the couch and picked up his acoustic guitar and cranked out his own ditty, sung to the tune of “Rocky Racoon”.

Rocky Racoon/Raced though the turn/Only to be passed by his rival

His Rival it seems/Had broken his dreams/by winning the Number One title

His first name was Jim/And he called himself Slim

But everyone knew him as Weinert..

Da da da da dum, da da da da dum…

So there you have it. The Jammer spent a lot of time trying to psyche his opponents, some of which weren’t even his own ideas, and his best ever year in ’76 was the result of working as hard, or even harder than Karsmakers, whom he would roundly razz for taking it all too seriously! A true legend of American motocross who should never be forgotten.

Darryl Flack

Read part I here

Read part II here

Read more feature stories here

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