All-round fast

Steve Wise was the greatest all-round rider in US motorcycle racing. Across 11 seasons (73-83), Steve won AMA Motocross and Supercross races, stood on the podium of the Daytona 200 with Roberts and Lawson, won an AMA Superbike National, and was the dominant force in the Carlsbad made-for-television race The Superbikers.

Words: Norm DeWitt – Photographs: Steve Wise, Honda promotions and Don Morley collection

It all started in a small border town in McAllen, Texas. “My dad, Gary Wise, was a very successful real estate broker, and he loved motorcycles, taking me riding all the time. He was ahead of his time and loved the light two-strokes. All his friends rode the trails on their Harleys and Triumphs, but my dad always had Bultacos, Montesas, or his Kawasaki 238.

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“My first bike was a stamped frame CL-90 but my second was an SL-100. That SL-100 was the first bike I raced on, but I got smoked by some guys on these bikes called ‘Pentons’. I got third, behind those Six Day Penton 125s (KTM) that got first and second.

“A few years later my dad opened a Honda dealership in McAllen, Texas. So, at 15 years old, all I did was work at my dad’s Honda shop and rode motorcycles.

By now, racing the Honda SL-125 (1972) against the faster and lighter two-strokes was hard, so my dad added the Penton dealership to Honda of McAllen.

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With the Penton I was able to win most of the races around Texas. In 1974 the AMA had a Texas State Championship Series, and I rode the 250 class on a CR250 Elsinore.

Gary Jones, the national champion, was there riding the Can-AM, along with factory Kawasaki rider Jimmy Weinert. Jones and Weinert left after the first three races of the five-race series, but I won two of those first three races at Lockhart and Lake Whitney, and won the championship.”

Read more and view more images in the March/April 2019 issue of CR – on sale now!

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