GLORY DAYS: Marty Tripes

by Carl Ribaudo and Mike Webb
John Desoto and the 16-year-old Tripes at the L.A.Coliseum in 1972.

Marty Tripes
“Boy Wonder”

Most sixteen-year-old kids are playing video games or involved with their team sports of some kind. The exception would be Marty Tripes who as a young MXer was already racing as a factory CZ rider. Marty burst on Southern California Moto scene as perhaps one of the smoothest and fastest riders of generation. In 1971 at the age of 14 Tripes finished 4th at the Denver Inter-Am (and was banned until he turned 16 by the AMA when they found out his age).  He was signed by Yamaha in 1972 and after turning 16 he won the first Supercross ever at the L.A. Coliseum. He left Yamaha later in ’72 to race for CZ and took home Top American status at the Euro dominated Trans-AMA series. Marty also went on to have factory rides on a long list of manufacturers including Yamaha, Honda, Husqvarna, Can-Am, Bultaco, Harley Davidson, back to Honda and finished his career racing for Yamaha in 1980. Tripes was never known as a trainer but relied solely on his natural gift as a fluid and talented racer.  Despite his grace and speed on the toughest of courses and a threat to win anytime he was on the starting line, Tripes never won a National Championship. His biggest wins were the first two Supercross races, the USGP at Unadilla in 1978 (when Bob Hannah was virtually unbeatable) racing for Honda once again. It would be his best season ever. One wonders if Marty would have reached that champion level if he had stayed with one ride. What we do know is that on any given Sunday he could beat anyone in the world.  Marty has long continued to be involved in MX with his annual 100cc championship and his presence at many events. Marty also owns a successful catering business.

Marty leading his Factory Yamaha teammate Jimmy Weinert
Tripes- 1978 with Team Honda.
Marty at the Olympiad of Motorcycling racing for factory Harley Davidson in 1977.
Factory Bultaco 1975
Mammoth Mountain 1976 on a DG Yamaha.















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I found this shot of my little brother Tipper on one of my hard drives. I took it up in Gorman, we were testing the Yamaha IT200 in the mid 80s. Check out the gear, Gold Belt was entering into arena after dominating the kidney belt world for years.


Dirt Bike’s 250 Motocross shootout- 1981. I see the General Jon Miller, Steve Schmitz, Ken Zahrt, brother Mike and Rick Salmon among the testers!


What a classic…cluster this was. The Nevada Rally, ’94- I was racing a factory Honda and the machine was incredible. I flatted about forty miles from the finish of day 2. You were not allowed outside assistance and I fixed it once, it flatted again and out of tubes, I rode it into the finish. For a good amount of time I could hold some good speed, standing and well forward to keep the weight off the back of the machine. About ten miles from the finish the tire let loose, wrapped around the rear fender loop and she went from 50 mph to zero in short order. Naturally I shot off like an ugly arrow and ate it hard. It took my ten minutes to cut the tire loose, and I rode in on the rim. The event was spectacular, the days and special tests long (hundreds of miles) and the good guys really show their grit with incredible concentration, vision and reflexes. To be honest, and after 25 years I can tell you it spooked me.

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