1967 Suzuki T200 X-5 Invader

The Bike That Changed My Life

Rider: Dain Gingerelli
Now: Freelance writer
Then: College student/boy racer

"Truth be told, I wanted to be a professional car racer when I grew up. I even wrote a college English essay about Formula 1 drivers. I got an A on the paper, and in my research I read that Dan Gurney told up-and-coming racers to learn on two wheels first. So in 1968 I bought a used Suzuki T200 and had my first AFM race at the now-defunct Orange County International Raceway, where I placed second. The following season I crashed and banged (see photos) my way to the class championship.

"In '71, my college degree in hand, I landed a job at Hot Bike magazine. I later bounced from mag to mag to subsidize my Formula Vee venture that ultimately broke my bank. I returned to bikes, and through my exploits on Yamaha RDs (250, 350 and 400s) I was hired as Cycle Guide's Sport Editor in '79.

"Being a moto-journalist has been fun, and I often joke that it enabled me to never take on a real job. As for my old Suzuki X-5, battered and beaten (finally), it ended up in the junkyard. But it taught me a lot about racing and myself, the biggest lesson being never give up. The crash here was at OCIR's chicane. I was leading, crashed, remounted with a broken rear brake and went on to win. Racing is one of life's purest dramas, and I've been in the position to act and report on this ongoing play for nearly 40 years."

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