In 1979, the fastest man in motocross was Bob Hannah. Everyone knew it. It had only been four years since he came to the world/s attention, and he had already won six national championships. In that short period, he became the winningest motocross rider in AMA history and it looked like he was only getting started. But, as it turned out, the 1979 250 outdoor and Supercross championships would be the last titles he would win. And this was the bike he used; the 1979 OW40, which is now owned by collector Terry Good.
A broken leg with 12 separate fractures at the end of the ’79 season put a hold on Hannah’s career. When he came back, the entire sport had escalated in intensity, and, according to close friends, Hannah lacked the singular focus that he had before the injury. Whatever the reason, 1979 was the peak for Hannah. The bike itself deserved some of credit. The OW40 was probably the best works Yamaha works bike relative to the competition since Hakan Andersson’s original Monoshock. It weighed 200 pounds and used exotic materials like cast magnesium and even carbon fiber. But what really made the bike work so well was the attention that Keith McCarty lavished on it. While everyone else was looking to longer suspension travel, Keith and Bob were actually trying to lower the bike and make it turn better. It still had decent travel, but the tires would hit the fenders and the frame would drag on the ground.
After his return, Hannah was bitterly disappointed in the development work that Yamaha had accomplished in his absence. His 1981 250 was heavy and ill-handling. In 1982, he returned to the 125 class, and was similarly disappointed in the equipment, which led to his move to Honda. He came very close to winning both the 250 and Supercross titles for Honda in ?.?ª83, but broke his wrist near the end of the year and it was all over. For a good look at the 1979 OW40, go to Terry Good’s website: www.mxworksbike.com.