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                                A tribute to Don Jones

About 6 or 7 years ago Don Jones sent me all of his own personal photographs to scan. He was a without a doubt the biggest inspiration for me to start this collection of bikes and motocross history. I was saving these for my museum but as a tribute to Don, enjoy these never seen before photos of a true legend. For other rare Jones photos featuring Don, Gary and DeWayne, visit the photo vault.

If you have a story or a letter you want to share about Don Jones send it to wanted@mxworksbike.com and it will be posted at the bottom of this page.

Cards and letters to the Jones family can be sent to the address below.

Noleen J6                                                                                                                                                                                    C/O Jones Family                                                                                                                                                                           17525 Alder Street   unit 1                                                                                                                                                   Hesperia, Ca    92345

                          

                                                         Don Jones

                              

      Don in front of his first motorcycle shop 1958. He was a Matchless/BSA dealer and eventually became the first US Yamaha dealer.                          

                             

                                                               Don in the front yard Hacienda Heights, California 1958

                               

             Don won a couple of flat track championships way before Gary and DeWayne were in the picture. Here he displays his gold.

                                               

                                                                                        Don and Gary 1962

                                

This photo was taken October 17, 1966 Look closely and you can see a cable going down to the exhaust port on Gary's Bultaco. This was the first exhaust power-valve. Don Jones was far ahead of his time.

                                     

                                                                       Gary and Don at Osteen's Cycle Park 1968

                    

                                                                          Don and Gary with a Yamaha AT1-MX

                 

   Don also invented the practice starting gate. Here he pulls the wire for Gary and DeWayne. Standing to Don's right is a young Marty Tripes.

                                    

                                Here Don is working on DeWayne's 1971 YZ Yamaha. I believe this photo was taken in Kentucky.

                                      

                                                                  Don and Gary trackside in Jacksonville Florida 1972

                

                                             Jones Motocross in Walnut California. To me this was sacred ground in 1972.

                    

The sub 200 lb. DT1 AZ that Don and Barry Watkins built for Cycle Guide. This was the bike that got me hooked back in 1971. They called it the AZ because everything from A to Z was either changed or modified.

                                

                          Jones Motocross accessory frames for the Yamaha MX bikes 1972. They even made six out of Titanium.

                                  

                                       Jones wheel foam, fiberglass YZ tank, YZ style clutch cover and a fiberglass turtle tank.

                                  

                                                                            Fiberglass YZ tank and Jones frame.

                     

                                      Early Team Honda photo with a Kawasaki spy on the floor. Can you name these people?

                 

                                   Don applied a Yamaha reed valve to the CR250 and Gary won the 1973 National Championship.

                             

                                There wasn't enough damping on Gary's Can-am rear shock so Don added another shock damper.

                     

        Don's pride and joy, Gary and DeWayne going at it on a couple of modified CR Honda's. Their mom Melinda designed those jerseys.

 

 

Hello Terry,

I was saddened to hear of Dons' passing. I didn't know him personally but I was fortunate to have met him and and the boys at Saddleback in the late 60s' when they were developing the Yamahas. It was clear that he was an impressive innovator/motorcycle genius. My fondest memory of Don is a picture that was printed in Motocross Action showing Don holding up a hardcover book titled "Everything I Know About Motorcycles". I'm sure it was tongue-in-cheek (my memory tells me it was done by the then AMA Motocross referee John Lancione-but  my memory is suspect after all these years) but the fact is if that book contained all of Dons' knowledge of motorcycles then that would be one hell of a book. I wish I still had a copy of that magazine.

Dave Martinez

 

Hi Terry,

  What a great tribute you wrote about Don Jones. I only met him briefly at the San Diego Museum for the Motocross America exhibit but will always treasure my photo of me sitting on a hay bale sandwiched between Don and Marty Tripes. How we all fit on one hay bale is still a mystery to me LOL. It was fun to talk to Don about early development of the YZ's and how he modified Gary's 74 Honda Elsinore 250 with a special reed valve. What a trick bike that was for its time. He was a smart, witty, and funny man and I'm so glad I got to meet him. I'm sure he's telling God how to make his dirt bike go faster right now.

Strykmaster Out

 

Hey Terry,

I remember Don Jones way before I started to work at the Honda MX race shop in 74

At that time Motocross racing in So Cal was mainly a local scene and the national circuit was just being organized within the AMA

Don was the first real race team manager / coordinator of his 2 sons Gary & DeWayne who were the first real Motocross stars within the US that I knew of

I had heard that Don had his wife sew up team uniforms when Gary and DeWayne started to ride for Yamaha International (the first real MX race team coordinated look)

There were a couple magazine articles that came out featuring Don giving advise and "hot tips" on how to set up early Yamaha MX's for racing which were relatively popular as Motocross was such a new sport in the states and Don having kids that were both factory stars of that period made him an automatic authority

Don and sons later raced for Honda on the first 250 works Elsinore's / I will always remember that first LA SX where the Jones Bros and Tripe's went head to head against the 2 Eastern Block CZ riders / the real cold war and everlasting memory

Don will always have a special spot in the halls of American Motocross History for his unparalleled influence on the sport during that period

God Bless Don and his remaining family

Dave Arnold / Honda Research N America

 

I was racing my first national and riding for the factory Honda MX team. It was Rio Bravo, Texas. Hot and dusty. I over heard Don Jones tell Gary that if he got the hole shot he should drag his feet on the long silty back straight to ''dust'' everybody out behind him. Well you guessed it, I won the start and when I got to that long dry silty section my feet were' a draggin and everybody behind me was hatin' life!! Thanks to a great man.

 
    Richard Eierstedt

 

I never really knew Don personally; other than to say hi but I do remember him well because he left a positive impression on me from when I got to know of him my first year on the National Circuit back in 1972.  Donís presence was huge, he had the motocross thing dialed in and they were winning races.  Don is a true icon of the sport.

Gary Semics / Gary Semics MX School Inc.

 

Hi Terry,

Steve Wise forwarded me the notice of the passing of Don Jones.  He was a great man blessed with two great riders and will be remembered forever as one of the original participants in the beginning of MotoCross in the USA. I was fortunate to know Don as I was the AMA National MotoCross Referee from the beginning (during the time Gary and DeWayne rode) up until Evelís Snake River MotoCross. To say that Don was a colorful character is a gross understatement. I could go on and on with Don Jones stories and his buddy, Costigen (spelling may be off) and numerous other incidents.  As I remember he had family down the road in Hico Texas.

I recall at one of the National or TransAM raced we (Weinert & others) presented Don a book entitled ďEverything I know About MotoCrossĒ by Don Jones. It was a beautifully bound, thick book of several hundred pages that was completely blank.  We all, including Don, got a great laugh of it.

John "LightBrown" Lancione

 

Saddened to hear about Don Jones. As I wrote in that Husky story on McCook Racing.com, we were involved with the Jones in the short lived company Pacer who made all kinds of stuff for the Yamahas including the fiberglass seat tank combos as seen in the photos you put on your site of Gary on the AT1, and also Don and Gary at Osteens on the old 4 strokes. As a kid/squid, we rode with them a couple of times, watching really, at Osteen's and also when lots of guys used to practice right off the 405 and the Harbor Fwy/110. That was at the same time as the "practice gate" photo you have up. I think my brother has some photos of our Pacer AT1 I can send if you're interested. We also built a beautiful Cheney DT1 that we have photos of.  God I wish we'd kept that one!  When Michael got on that he went from a mid pack CMC intermediate to winning regularly. He soon blew out his knees though, and later became a Husky mechanic for Semics and Hartwig, but only for about a year.

Anyway, I remember Don just as you describe him, and we can all celebrate a life well lived.  

 
    Robert Haag

 

Don  Jones,        Aug 1, 2008

ak:  Pappy, DJ, You know what I mean, you know what Iím telling you.

We have lost the Granddad of American Moto Cross. To say that his presence was large is an understatement. I was Tripes in name, but was in fact a Jones family member; we traveled, ate, slept and raced all over the states. If you could have had the time that I had in his motor home with Don, Dewayne and Gary as we traveled, I was all ears in disbelief and belief to what I was hearing as a young kid being schooled by what turned out to be one of the best managers, mechanic and close friend as could be.

Don loved bikes and his boys like no other, this family was all about racing together as one and that was it. I could write and tell you about all the things he has invented over the years, but there is not enough space here. You didnít want to get on his bad side, thatís like gabbing the Bull by the horns and taking a wild ride in a blender or mixer. One time the bike was running really slow, so I came into the pits and while I was still sitting on the bike, I told Don that this bike of his is slower than a CZ 125. I saw his eyes open up wide and knew that I was in trouble and that I better get off the bike and start running as fast as I can. Don chased me out of the pits but later he did say that the bike was a lot slower than he thought and I did get to sleep in the motor home that night.

As hard as Don was on the boys and me, he also had a very human side that was very comforting to be with, he would help anyone if they would ask.

I spent a lot of time with him just before he left us, I will favor that time with him always.

From your other son, Don I will always love you, you will be missed by all and I will see you at your ride in the high desert with your boys, Clark and family soon.

Thanks to Clark and Lois, you the best, and to Terry Good and Steve Wise for all the help, prayers and the calls.

Marty Tripes

P.S.  Note.  Our first trip was to Ohio for a Trans Am at the Honda Hills MX track. As I woke up and looked out the window of the coach, I saw Jimís dad for the first time. Old man Weinert and Don were talking. One could see that they were all business with Weinert smoking a Cigar and Don listening. It was not a time for outsiders to be shaking hands or for first meetings. From that second on I knew that it was going to be a long year.

I wish I could do it again.

 

Hi Terry:

This is Eddie Cole. I just read Cycle News this afternoon and was shocked and sadden to read about Don Jones passing. I feel like I grew up with Don, Gary and DeWayne on the motocross circuits in the 70ís. I havenít seen Don in probably 20+ years and I recently ran into him at the Primm museum, I introduced myself and he was as friendly as ever and excited to talk about the early years. I always enjoyed seeing Don, Gary and DeWayne we were not real close but always considered them all great friends, Don was always respectful, friendly and easy to approach. The Jones represented the best in the early years of motocross. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Jones family and the motocross community. Don was a true motocross pioneer!

Sincerely,

 

Eddie Cole/Valencia Sport Group

 

 

 

I have been friends with Don since the Fifties when I raced and he raced flat track and road race.  Then in the 60's, Don started making products such as rim straightening tools, belt driven magnetos for Triumphs.  Also, liquid for sealing fork seals from leaking.  I was in the parts distributing business and sold some of Don's products at the time.  He will be deeply missed.

Jerry Bases                                                                                                                                                                      (Formerly Jerry Bases Distributing)

 

 

A different perspective:

 

I am writing to share a couple of memories about Don Jones, who was my uncle.  My dad is one of the Jones twins of Big Lake, Texas and being far away from Don in distance never meant being far away in our hearts.  My family has some great home movies of the races that Don use to participate in (I believe in the 50's).  They were in the California sand where the sounds were loud and the dust was flying.  Don's siblings (especially the boys - of whom there were four) have a love of motorcycles that came from my grandpa, James Druid Jones (deceased) of Hico, Texas.  I believe that Don also got his great innovative and ingenious mind from grandpa, as did my dad and his twin brother. 

To tell you about my grandpa; he was considered a fairly wealthy man and during the depression raised 10 kids well, with the help of my grandmother.  It was pure "smarts", honesty and hard work that did it.  Grandpa retired at or around age 40 and never worked a day again.  He had managed to save enough money to do so and he refused to take any Social Security income since he considered that a hand-out.  He taught his kids to be honest, to work hard, to fear God and to enjoy life.  I can still remember grandpa riding a motorcycle to "the end of the dirt road" at the farm so he could check the mail.  He was 80-something.  He had a helmet that sort of sat "on top" of his head since it was slightly too small ~ and at that time he couldn't see worth a darn.  But... he'd say "if he couldn't see a car coming, he could still hear it".  I believe nothing would stop him from riding a motorcycle, since even my grandma couldn't ever manage to do that.  Gary designed and built a practice track in the field at the family farm (in the 70's) and we'd all take our dirt bikes and ride that track like we were "one of the big guys".  (I'm a girl, but I can't help it... I loved bikes too.)  Gary was the only one who could actually get away with riding that track "on Sundays".  My grandfather adored him. 

I remember in about '75 (after Gary had broken his leg) an occasion when I was spending some days with my Aunt Leona (Don's sister in Hico).  Gary, Don and maybe a couple of other guys (like Marty Tripes who was also always around) had flown into Dallas.  My aunt and I (she drove) took the Can-Am truck/van from Hico to Dallas to pick up the guys at the airport.  We spent the night in Dallas and it was the first "all day and evening" event that I spent in Don's presence, since I was old enough to remember, and we were not at the tracks. 

In the evening, we went to a Mexican Food restaurant in Dallas to have dinner (I can't remember the name of it) but what I do remember is Don ~ and how he really impressed me.  He was so kind and so much fun.  Until then, I had only been around him when he was with the Jones Boys (my dad, other brothers and his dad) and they always talked bikes and work and guy stuff so we girls didn't hang around them much.

But that weekend in Dallas was different.  Two of his sisters (or three) were there, a couple of my cousins including Gary, and then me.   We had such a great time eating, drinking, dancing a little and laughing a whole lot.  Gary (in his leg-cast) even danced a time or two.  But as the evening went on, I remember that Don kept paying the little Mariachi Band to play the same song over and over and over again:  "El Paso City" by Marty Robbins.  They'd play while Don sang along and then he'd give them another twenty and yell "play that again".  Of course they did.  I always wondered what the other patrons thought of that, but no one complained.  We all had a blast and the next day it was "back to business".  Back to the motorcycle life that brought them from California that week. 

That one weekend marked one of the best memories of my life growing up.  I had never seen that side of Don, maybe because my dad and uncles weren't there to distract him away and my parents weren't there to "contain me".  I was 15 years old and highly impressionable but Don never treated me like a kid.  I felt like I was as grown up as they were (or maybe they were as young as I was) and it was a total blast.  To this day, every time I hear "El Paso City" I smile and think of Don.  He even gave me my first taste of a margarita that night and when I said "don't tell dad" he said "I won't tell yours if you won't tell mine!"  It was all in fun and I was with adults who made me feel like one of them... 

...Don was full of stories and I never again saw my aunts have so much fun.  In the end, I took a great new-found fondness (for all of them) away from that weekend.  It was a great time; growing up in the Jones family and sharing some of that good clean fun through the motorcycle riding and going to races.  Whitney was the best!

The twins (my dad and uncle) still ride long and short-distance rides every chance they get and they will be 77 in September.  They went to visit Don, (though not on their bikes) while he was ill and 5 days after their return, he passed away.

Don was the first of ten Jones kids to go... we all miss him, and will keep his California family in our prayers.  Thank you so much for the tribute and the web-page with photos.  It means a great deal to all of his family.

Deona (Jones) Thompson

 

My dad Lee Young and Don were born the same year and left this earth the same day. Though they looked nothing a like they were cut from the same mold. Both great great men hard headed but still had a heart of gold filled with good will for anyone who had the guts to stand up and try. They loved the underdog, the little guy. They were both David's, no they didn't kill Goliath, but they sure gave him a shiner to remember them by. My thoughts and prayers goes out to all the Jones family. This is for Gary and DeWayne to tell about our dads, you'll get a real kick out of it. ask them about the EMERGENCY DOOR! on Lee Young's bus. GOD BLESS

RICK YOUNG AND FAMILY