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