Just as I’m beginning my chat with Eddie Mulder we were politely interrupted by a thin, thirty-something man on a motorcycle who said, though he was very busy, that he wanted to come by and say hello and pay his respects to Dirt Track Racings elder statesman. They chat for several minutes and briefly catch up on, what I can tell, is a close relationship that goes back to when this man was just a kid.
My conversation with Eddie Mulder was like jumping head first into the deep end of the history of Motorcycle Dirt Track Racing. It was scattershoot with runs and riffs on everything from why he won’t run Pikes Peak anymore to what kind of trouble the old guys in his series might be getting into if they weren’t here, where folks could keep an eye on them. The conversation was laced with sarcasm and profanity and I was as happy as I had ever been. I’ve had conversations with people in dozens of industries with every color of collar, and most of them dance around the occasional cuss word. Not Eddie. He says exactly what he wants to say and doesn’t shy away from a single word. This man was already one of my racing heroes, and now he has solidified his position at the top. He knows everyone and is known by everyone and has a love for the sport of Dirt Track Racing that is evident in every smile and every action you witness. And you can’t help but watch him as he walks through the pit area, shaking hands and making small talk with everyone that comes up to greet him. This is what it looks like when a true racing legend walks though his domain.
Eddie calls his relationship with Dirt Track Racing a disease. A good one, but nonetheless, a disease. The 67 year old AMA Hall of Fame Motorcycle Champion still has his finger squarely on the pulse of West Cost Dirt Track racing. His own series, now in it’s 16th year, (Eddie Mulders Vintage Dirt Track Series) runs several events throughout the state, which will also include the Cal Expo Vintage Mile in Sacramento in late July. If you’ve never seen a motorcycle Dirt Track race, I suggest you get yourself out to this event. Trust me, you’ve never seen anything more amazing, or terrifying, than a 300lb motorcycle with no front brake being pitched sideways at 130+mph into a long left hand sweeper just inches away from a dozen other bikes. These guys are definitely a different breed. Just imagine NASCAR on dirt with no cage, no brakes to speak of, and a crazy man twisting the throttle as if his life depended on it and you still won’t truly get a sense for how insane the action is until you see it in person.
Relaxing for a moment in the pit area, Eddie points to two vintage racers sitting behind us and says with a big grin that a Cheshire cat would be jealous of, “Look at these old #$@*&’s sitting here, huh…what would these old guys be doing if they weren’t out here? Sitting at home watching the TV…getting in some sort of trouble? Look at em sittin’ over here smokin’ cigars. That’s good stuff, aint it!? It’s this whole deal…I mean, we’re like family. Without this, what would we have? What are we gonna do? Go play #$@*&ing GOLF or something? Come on, who would want to do that! This is way more fun!” I asked Eddie if he is as happy producing the race series as he was when he was racing. He tells me gets a great amount of satisfaction seeing the younger kids come up through the ranks. And that from time to time he still gets a chance to get out and skid around a bit. But, for him it’s more about keeping the sport alive as well as keeping his name in it. I told Eddie that it would be hard to think about dirt track racing and not think about Eddie Mulder. “Yeah but if I hadn’t done this for the past sixteen years I’d probably be out of it, you know”. I find that hard to believe. The realities of the dismal economy hasn’t been easy on the series, with paid entries being down more than 30% and the likleyhood of making a profit each week becoming more of an iffy proposition. Regardless, Eddie still puts it all together and makes sure that the sport keeps going.
Besides running his own flat track series, Eddie is also still very much involved in producing after-market vintage bike frames. Bikes that he has built can be found at dirt tracks every weekend and at Pikes Peak every year. After fifty years in the industry he is more active than you can imagine. To say that he has racing in his blood would be a gross understatement for a man that probably bleeds two-stroke oil.
And, if all of that weren’t enough, Eddie is also still working in Hollywood as a stunt driver, doing several jobs a year with our very own Greg Tracy. As Eddie puts it, “They still throw me a bone once in a while…and the money is just stupid, which is great!”
I asked him about being part of the West Coast Moto Jam at Infineon Raceway. The location of the Dirt track is used as a parking lot for most of the year. Only carved out for the Moto Jam each year. Eddie tells me, “This place used to be a dump…The first year out here we were digging up old wheel hubs and junk, I mean it was a mess. But we got out here and cleaned it up and were able to make it into a real good little racetrack. And the crowds we get are great. We get folks who’ve never seen this kind of thing before that come over from the big track and stay all day.”
Eddie has had a long history at Pikes Peak, but he’s not coming back this year. I asked him about his decision to retire from competition at the Peak and he told me, “I’m not a pavement guy. It’s getting so fast and with the guardrails they’re gonna start hurting people. They caught Greg [Tracy] at 137mph! #$@*&! And those guardrails don’t move. I was there years ago when they brought in dirt and groomed it like a race track and watered it and they put the calcium chloride on the ground and it made it really really good, you know. And besides, you see what I do, I’m a dirt track guy, you know. And they keep paving it…hell, we started dragging the foot pegs a few years ago and chatterin’ the wheels, and #$@*&, on a Vintage motorcycle…no….it’s no good, you know. And I’m 67 years old and, I mean, it’s just not my deal. I’m just going to have to bow out of it. To me it’s just no fun on the pavement. Anybody can go fast on the pavement but it takes a different kind of guy to be able to pull the trigger in the dirt…to read it, and understand it, and stay on it. They want me to come back and be the grand marshal, so I might do that. I might be there as the grand marshal.”
With Pikes Peak what it is, Eddie still has some plans in the works that might make an all dirt Hill Climb a reality once again. He has plans to create a race in Mexico at Mikes Sky Ranch. Eddie describes it as 18 miles of really good dirt.
[quote]”And at the top theres a bitchin’ Hotel and a Pool, and San Felipe is only 45 minutes away. We’re looking to do a real dirt race to the top of Mikes. Like Pikes Peak used to be.” [/quote]
The plan will be to run all the bikes on Sat and all the cars and trophy trucks on Sunday. Eddie believes it’s something the sport could really use. Eddie Tells me, “I’m kind of a promoter guy now and I think Pikes Peak, in my opinion, should be dirt if you’re gonna race on it. Maybe I’m old School, but there’s nothing we can do about that.”
If this race in Mexico gets some legs and becomes a reality, I might be the first guy in line to sign up…not because I’m great in the dirt, but that pool sounds awesome.
If you love racing, any kind of racing, Eddie Mulder is a man you should know about.
By the way, that racer that came over to pay his respects to Eddie was none other than AMA Supersport Champion Eric Bostrom. Pretty cool, huh!?