My first motorcycle!
This photo, sitting on my first bike, a YAMAHA YDS3 250cc, reminds me of the unconventional path I took to reach my racing goal. It was the first and only road bike I owned (although I previously owned a 50cc), it was a magnificent machine that helped me develop the riding skills I needed before progressing to the track. I bought it when I was 21 years old and I used it as a daily transport and, a year after I bought it, I used it to get started in competition. Initially I participated in local ramps and later moved on to production racing at the Roy Hesketh Circuit. For 3 years I saved enough money to buy a YAMAHA TD2, so my much-desired entry into nationals only happened when I was 24 years old.
Jon's first race bike, the YAMAHA TD2
I lost practically all of my first season when my trailer and bike were completely destroyed in a car accident while traveling to a race in Rhodesia. I later missed another 14 months due to a serious injury while competing in the 1973 SATT. Finally, in 1975, when I decided to go to Europe to compete in the World Championship I was a 28 year old “veteran” with very limited experience, you will have to agree that it was not an ideal situation!!!
Realistically, my age coupled with my South African nationality, at a time when anti-apartheid sentiment was at its height, virtually guaranteed that it was virtually impossible to get the interest of the factory teams. I had to conform to what was destined for me, it was going to be “one man band”! From a viewer's perspective it might have seemed like a very risky gamble, but even then I believed that I would somehow achieve my goal. Optimism, what a wonderful characteristic of youth. If you're young, don't waste a second, enjoy your optimism, it's the most valuable asset you'll ever have! This text was published by Jon Ekerold (World Speed Champion, 350cc class in 1980) on his Facebook page, it is here published with his kind and honorable permission.