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  • Mike Coe's 1985 season with factory Honda in review

    Hey everybody,

    Marty DNF'd at least 2 races and SHOULD have been DQ'd at the woods race.

    But understand me on this!

    I have no ill feelings toward Marty Hart!!. He was/is a talented rider. Put yourself in his position. Everyone at Honda was bending over backward for him. It must have felt quite good at the time.

    It all started in 1984 when Wes McCoy (team ATC manager) hired Paul Turner to develop the engines for the team, and also FORMER motocross team mechanic Steve Carter to be the mechanic for Marty and myself. No team riders had ever had a mechanic before. We all had to wrench on our trikes ourselves. I did, Dean did, everybody did.

    Marty hadn't yet earned the sponsors and engine tuner deals that the rest of the team members had. Since Marty had little support, he instantly fell into favor with Paul and Steve, the stage was set! They became their own team!!

    At the start of the 85 season, Honda Management laid down this law.

    You must abandon ALL sponsors to be eligible to sign a contract allowing you to ride for Honda!!

    THIS WAS CRAZY! I and most other racers then and now have a working relationship that benefits the sport. I had many long term sponsors that I had to go to and say, " I'm sorry, but I can't endorse your product anymore" Think about that! NO OUTSIDE SPONSORS! HONDALINE PRODUCTS ONLY. From apparel to oils to tires to engines, everything. This never sat well with me. Many folks compared me to Bob Hannah for always speaking my mind no matter the circumstances. This outspoken way of mine likely put me in poor favor with management because I called it as I saw it! There was NO team at Team Honda during the 1985 season. I was doomed from the start. Even though I was winning races, Marty HAD to win the championship at all costs, simple as that.

    For this reason alone I fell out of favor, and Marty was put up on the proverbial "pedestal"

    I did not want to lose any of my sponsors and felt that without their support in the previous years, my success at the races would have been less. I felt that I OWED THEM! It has been one of the hardest things I have ever done to this day.

    But for MARTY it worked out perfectly. He didn't have as much support until the 1985 season. Now he had ALL of the support and then some. So, can you blame HIM? No.

    I think Honda would have found an excuse to fire me except that some how against all their internal, mechanical, AND psychological efforts, I was somehow still winning!!

    I was frustrating them as much as they were frustrating me!! And with Marty's sometimes poor results, they needed me as a safety net just in case.

    My resistance and "outspokenness" towards this arrangement is what led to much of the focus toward Marty. I never felt that what they were doing was right, and it was by no means a TEAM EFFORT. Curtis Sparks also felt as I did. Honda screwed Curtis every chance they got too.

    I actually did an interview with Tom "Wolfman" Webb who was writing for Dirtwheels magazine at the time. Honda Management got a hold of the draft prior to it going to print, and informed Tom that if the interview went to print, I would be FIRED INSTANTLY! Well, I wanted to race and Tom pulled the plug on the interview. I would love to have him print it now!! It was basically what I have been telling you all now.

    The whole attempt at molding a "team" was to make it more like a baseball or football team. Honda management then and now still can't fathom that IT IS THE RIDER that makes the difference! They wanted to make us all be seen and not heard. If some one got out of line (like me) they could be replaced like on a baseball team. Everyone looks the same, runs the same stuff, and its all about Honda, nothing else. This would also mean NO GIANT SALARIES FOR THE RIDERS!

    Secondly, the Paul Turner stuff I was getting was slow and Steve Carter didn't know much about 3 wheelers or tuning.. My bikes ran like crap and it soon became evident to me that I was a better mechanic than Steve, and I told him so. Our relationship was strained from the beginning and he went to management and proclaimed he was only going to wrench for Marty. This all went down ugly as Marty lost his fuel tank at a Micky Thompson race. Steve proclaimed wrenching for 2 riders was too much and tha the ONLY wanted to work with Marty. Hey, this was fine by me! Honda "borrowed" Chuck Miller to be my mechanic and Chuck was/is awesome. He also knew we were getting the shaft as far as performance parts went. He was also in the prime of his racing career and it was difficult for him to split time and still be competitive in his own racing. He still did an amazing job.

    At the races Marty was suffering from too many poor finishes to win the title.
    His tank flew off at one race (DNF), and I think his radiator hose came lose at another race(DNF) and then the woods race. He was still winning too though. He was best on the flat one liner tracks.

    Again, Marty was/is an excellent rider. But a lot of luck is necessary sometimes as well, and he was having some bad luck in 85. Honda was determined that Marty was going to be champion no matter what because he was their "yes man" and I was still bucking the so called " Honda only system".

    So they changed the points system at least twice so that he would ultimately become the points champion. Like I said, The AMA will inform you that they have NO record of the 1985 race points system, and the employees seem to really not want to be helpful when asking for data on that series.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Atc 4 Me started by CoeShow View original post
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