Family ties and Vintage Racing
Last weekend was the annual AHRMA Moto Corsa Classica at Willow Springs Raceway here in Southern California. Motorcycle racing, a classic motorcycle show and a swap meet…what else could a proper motorcycle nut want? Great weather (even with the required Willow Springs ‘breeze’..read 35mph wind!!), catching up with old racing friends and making new ones.
When I first started down the dark path of ‘Vintage’ motorcycle racing back in the early nineties, I thought racing a Honda 350 would be an easy and not too expensive way to dip my toes in the water. In my early research I came across the guru of building racing Honda’s, Todd Henning. I spent a good amount of time with Todd on the phone and learned that building a really competitive 350 was not the cheap entry into vintage racing I thought it would be. I learned a lot from Todd and ended up using some of that knowledge on my street-going 350’s. Thank you Todd.
Ten years ago, Todd had a serious crash while racing the AHRMA race at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma California resulting in head injury and a long time in a coma. It took a while, but thankfully Todd did recover. His racing career was over, however. But…the Henning dynasty lives on.
While cruising the pits at the Willow Springs AHRMA races I saw a young man getting into his leathers, the name on his chest, Ari. Next to his truck was a motorcycle I thought I recognized, a very well set up Honda 350. It turns out that Ari is Ari Henning, Todd Henning’s son and it was his dad’s old racebike next to the truck. A quick introduction and asking how his dad was doing, we arranged for a better meeting later in the day.
Ari went on to win both races he was entered in that day. Afterwards we had a good chat about his new career as a moto-journalist with Motorcyclist Magazine and finished up with a call to his proud dad. There is an old racing saying, “age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill”; in young Ari Henning riding his fathers racer it’s the best of both worlds.