John “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” Desoto was an early pioneer of American motocross and was adored by his fans. He came to Southern California from Hawaii and worked his way from shop rides to full factory support. John wanted to race in Europe and got funding from Tommy Smothers (of the Smothers Brothers) and Dan Gurney who had befriended him. Europe was a tough sell, John saying that ‘we’ had much to learn about what ‘fast’ really was. After leaving Europe John signed with CZ. CZ mounted, Desoto finally got the results and recognition of a top racer. He raced for CZ through the early ’70s and was always battling for Top American in the Trans-AMA and Inter-AM motocross series. He represented the United States in the Motocross des Nations along with Mike Hartwig and Jim Pomeroy in 1973. John raced early Kawasaki prototypes, helping to develop the KX line and was a factory Suzuki racer for a brief period. DeSoto retired from professional motocross racing in 1975. This photo comes from Mark Kiel’s awesome collection and shows John racing an Ossa Phantom at the 1975 Saddleback Trans-Am.

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