ME & MY BIKE
The bike is a runner after all this time. It sounds great and feels like a racer should.
BIKE 1968 Bultaco Metralla RIDER Bill Johnson AGE 71 HOME Mcminnville, OR OCCUPATION Retired Steamfitter
IN THE SUMMER OF 1974, Bill Mcgrill invited me to watch a motorcycle race at Sears Point. Summers before, Bill and I had spent quality time chasing each other in the hills above Berkeley and Oakland, but neither one of us had ridden on a track. I could sometimes stick the nose of my X-6 on the tail of his Metralla and try to get around him, but not often. He was a natural.
Bill rode his Bultaco to the event, took the dirt road up the hill from the pits, and leaned the Bul against the fence outside turn two. I spent a little time soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells in the pits before hiking up to join him. Just as I got to the corner, a flock of two-stroke screamers flew up the hill, turned right, pointed their expansion chambers at me, and gassed up. The aural overload from the 250 GP race was a thrill. I was hooked. Later in the day, an older fellow came by. He turned to Bill. “Why isn’t this bike out on the track?” A few weeks later, we joined the fray.
The Japanese two-strokes were tough competition in 250 Production, but we found a perfect fit in the 200 GP, a constructor’s class. We stripped off the street gear and mounted an RS tank. Then we modified a recycled fairing to fit, with Bill handling the glasswork and the paint. I built an expansion chamber and an alloy seat and finger-ported a barrel from a 200cc Astro. Bill rode the Hungry Motors Special to AFM class championships in ’77 and ’78 with wins at Sears Point, Riverside, Ontario, and Willow Springs.
In 2006, Bill passed away. He knew it was coming, and the last time I saw him, he told me he wanted me to have the Bul. I am honored to have it in my shop, and it is a real pleasure to work on the little details we never had time to clean up between races. The bike is a runner after all this time. It sounds great and feels like a racer should.
This bike changed both our lives. Bill got deep into riding, earning the No. 2 AFM plate at one point in his career. I got deep into the mechanical side, reworking and tuning the Bul, a couple of TZS, and an RD200 for good measure. This is the bike that started it all.