Middy Boggio and Ron Holst riding across the barren California desert landscape.
Les Lovett/courtesy Midsonian Motorcycle Museum
No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, and this snapshot from the past (March 1974, to be precise) hasn’t been put through the Photoshop process, either. Both riders are definitely naked as jaybirds on dirt bikes, plying California’s vast, and somewhat barren, Mojave Desert landscape. Look closely at the picture’s background and if you’re a student of desert racing history the story becomes clearer to the naked eye: These two fellows are streaking the start line of a classic desert hare and hound race. Moto streaking might be a better term to describe their unbridled behavior.
Streaking — that is, running or jogging naked in public for kicks and grins — was a nonsensical fad in America during the mid-1970s. It was especially popular among college students, although perhaps the most famous streaking episode was witnessed by millions of television viewers during the 1974 Academy Awards ceremony when a streaker dashed behind actor David Niven as he introduced Elizabeth Taylor to the audience. The show must go on, and mercifully, too, the same might be said about the nameless streaker’s missing garments.
Our two moto-streaking friends happen to be District 37 desert racers Middy Boggio and Ron Holst, and the show-all stunt took root the night before when Middy and Ron and friends gathered around the campfire. As frequently happened during those nocturnal gatherings before hare and hounds — this event took place near Red Mountain and was promoted by The Invaders MC, of which Boggio and Holst were members — libations flowed freely, prompting racers and their friends and family members to imbibe in some foolhardy talk before the moon finally set.
Eventually talk turned to the streaking phenomenon that was sweeping the nation, and that’s when their friends laid out the challenge to Middy and Ron. As Middy recalls today, “We were told by many around the campfire — and I quote — ‘You haven’t got a hair on your butt if you don’t streak [tomorrow morning]!’” The next morning shortly after the crack of dawn, as the last of the 1,100 or so riders nudged their way to the start line, Boggio and Holst answered the call and hopped on their bikes (a 1973 Bultaco 175 and a 1972 CZ 400). Moments before the race got underway our two dauntless riders proceeded to streak the entire line before dutifully heading to their assigned check points elsewhere on the desert course. One can only assume that some of their friends brought up the rear, so to speak, toting their riding apparel — or at least an ample supply of sunscreen.
No surprise, the common question that most people ask when they see this photograph is: “What would have happened if you’d crashed?” Boggio and Holst don’t have an answer for such trivial banter, but had either of them fallen victim to gravity in that hostile environment, the occasion most certainly would have given a whole new meaning to the term “Mojave Desert puckerbrush.” — Dain Gingerelli