EVENT: TIGER RALLY

The collector goes full circle By the staff of Dirt Wheels Photos by DirtNDunez.com

We’ve seen many three-wheeler collections in the past, but they rarely have Tigers in them. Rumor is, there were only about 100 Tigers ever made, and this collection has 10 percent of them. So, if you see one, buy it.

Back in the early 1980s, Honda and Kawasaki were in a fierce battle in the three-wheel racing world. The top American riders were making these machines look good and creating sales for the huge Japanese companies. Meanwhile in Minnesota, a guy named Peter Wood designed and built his own race-ready three-wheeler chassis using Rotax two-stroke power in hopes of taking on the heavyweights. He was so confident in his product that he hired former Honda and Kawasaki racer Mickey Dunlap to race it.

LaPoint’s motivation for the rally was to bring together anyone involved with the Tiger name in the past. The original owner of Tiger, Peter Wood, was on hand, as well as office personnel and dealers.

Unfortunately, the ban on three-wheelers hit just about the time Mickey was getting used to the machine, and the company couldn’t make the switch to building four-wheelers before the money ran out, and they went out of business.

The Yamaha Tri-Z and Kawasaki Tecate 3 are also on display in his shop that belong to Garry’s sons. They mostly get ridden in the Oregon dunes.

No one knows exactly how many Tigers were produced, not even Peter himself. Recently the Tiger name surfaced again when we found out a guy in New York had been buying them up and getting them restored. He created a collection of vintage machines called the Lost Boys Collection. In addition to the Tigers, it also included a few rare, handmade Kelvin Franks machines and a Cagiva 200 engineered from a motocross motorcycle.

Garry’s local Honda dealer was on hand for the event. The two shared memories of the 250R Gary bought brand new from him and recently reacquired it.
Mickey Dunlap was hired to race the Tiger 250, develop new machines and help put the brand on the map. The works-looking bike was fast but had some handling issues, so he wasn’t too successful on the national circuit.
The 200 was built to take on the liquid-cooled Honda 200. As you can see, the kick-starter was on the left side and the chain was on the right. This was opposite from the popular Japanese machines of the day. The idea was hard for the U.S. market to get used to, especially in the motorcycle game.
Garry thinks only two 80cc Tiger three-wheelers exist today—and he owns them both.

Around this time out west, in Oregon, former kart racer Garry LaPoint learned of the Tiger brand. He was intrigued, as the karts he competed in so successfully for years were all Rotax-powered, so he set out to buy one. Gary and his sons all ride three-wheelers. In their collection they already had a Honda 250R, a Kawasaki Tecate 250 and a Yamaha Tri-Z 250, so they have an affinity for the unique. After a surprisingly quick search, Gary found a Tiger 500, purchased it and shipped it to Vintage Motorsports Restorations in Massachusetts for a complete restoration. While waiting for his first Tiger to get restored, Gary learned the Lost Boys Collection was for sale. The collecting bug had bit him hard, so he bought all of the Tigers in that collection. Since then, he has purchased a few more Tigers. That includes the only two 80cc Tigers believed to be in existence. The Tiger 80 was powered by a KTM engine. In all, he now owns 12 Tigers and about a dozen other machines, including the three-wheelers he and his sons still ride and nearly a dozen Honda ATC 70s.

Garry has about a dozen ATC 70s in his collection as well. Many are completely restored, some are highly modified and a few are exactly how they were found when purchased.
A four-wheeler was developed just as the company was having financial troubles and had to shut their doors. The 250cc quad looked light and was competitive, but just produced a little too late.
Rotax engines were found in ATK motorcycles for years. Now you can find them powering Can-Am ATVs and UTVs. It’s a strong brand with a great reputation. They still sell go-kart engines as well.
If it wasn’t for Garry’s history with the Rotax motor from his kart racing career, Garry may have had no interest in the Rotax-powered Tigers.
Over the last few years Garry has collected everything he can find related to the brand. The binder has examples of old advertisements, magazine articles and blueprints of the various models.

On the trip back east to pick up the Tigers from the Lost Boy Collection, Gary paid a visit to former Tiger racer Mickey Dunlap. During their visit, Gary decided to someday have the first and only Tiger Rally at his shop in Oregon. Well, last summer the Tiger Rally finally happened, and we sent our local photographer Juli Moore of Dirt-N-Dunez Photography to capture the once-in-a-lifetime event. For now, the collection will stay at Gary’s place in Oregon for him to enjoy. In the future, he hopes that someone will take it over and possibly display it for the whole world to see, and so do we.

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