Rider: Ron Mousouris
Age/years riding: 64/50
Occupation: Plastics manufacturing and product development
Race bikes: Honda CL175 on steroids, 1967 factory Honda CB450 Daytona racer
Daily riders: KTM 690 Duke, Ducati 848, 1971 Honda SL125, 1954 Honda Benly J
Comedian Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of success is just showing up. Success is one thing, but to become a successful motorcycle racing champion requires applying the additional 20 percent that some people (that is, non-racers) might otherwise leave on the table. As a competitor in AHRMA’s highly contested GP200 class, Ron Mousouris left nothing on the table to become the series champion for 2015.
But prior to that and for about 40 years — the equivalent of 80 percent of his time in this sport called motorcycling — Ron was a non-racer. And in racers’ eyes, non-racers leave something on the table. In Ron’s case, it was more than a few wonderfully restored classic Honda motorcycles of 1960s and 1970s vintage before locating a 1957 Honda Benly JC that he restored in 2005. That Benly took top honors at the 2005 AMA Hall of Fame Concours, and in 2006 earned first at the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance. More Benlys followed, and soon enough Ron was recognized as a successful classic bike restorer.
Then one day a friend (and AHRMA racer) asked if he could test his race bike in the drive of the industrial park where Ron worked. “Around the third pass that this outspoken little AHRMA race bike made, something in my mind opened up,” recalls Ron. That little “something” led to vintage bike racing.
Ron already had logged some track time, first attending the DP Safety School conducted by his former college friend Dennis Pegelow at Buttonwillow Raceway near Bakersfield, California. A low rider turnout had allowed Ron to enjoy one-on-one instruction that day, and it turned out his instructor was none other than Steve Rapp, at the time among the AMA’s top pro racers.
Ron became a frequent track day participant for the next 10 years, expanding his capacity along the way. “I also attended all four levels of Keith Code’s California Superbike School,” Ron says. Mix in a series of fortuitous events that led to attending AHRMA’s new rider school at Willow Springs Raceway, and Ron got the itch for vintage racing.
And so Ron scratched. He eventually acquired a 1967 Honda CL175 that transformed nicely into a racer for AHRMA’s fabled CB160 and GP200 classes, and by late February 2014, Ron found himself on the grid at Roebling Road Raceway in Georgia for his first AHRMA meet.
Ron recalls his thoughts about that first pre-race practice session: “I pulled into the pit area to reconsider my possibilities: death or near death. These guys are that fast.” He chose to stay the course, and the remainder of 2014 was a learning experience peppered with three blown engines, two cracked frames, and four fractured exhausts. The mechanical failures hardly dissuaded him, if only because he was getting too much back from the experience. “I learned that at 62 years old you can still develop new skills and set new goals,” Ron says.
For 2015 he did a bit more than just show up and go racing, he won in a big way. With help from people like Denny Poneleit (2014 GP200 National Champ) and Mike Riddle (ace engine builder), Ron won the GP200 national title and was also the top points man in the CB160 class.
One hundred percent is all that anybody can give, but as Ron points out, “Other details [about 2015] were beyond my control. I guess, as they say, ‘that’s racing.’”
— Dain Gingerelli