"Jammin’ Jimmy" Weinert was a pioneering motocross and Supercross champion during the early years of the sport in America. In the 1970s, Weinert won a total of 22 AMA nationals races and three AMA championships during his 11-year professional racing career. In November of 1973, Weinert became the first American to beat the international riders in the Trans-AMA Motocross Series. That victory marked one of the turning points that brought American motocross up to par with the then-dominant Europeans.
Weinert was born on August 14, 1951 in Middletown, New York. His father, Albert, was a motorcycle dealer, and Jimmy started riding motorcycles when he was 6, along with his two brothers.
Weinert was more than ready when he started racing. His dad said he could race only after he was strong enough to do 100 push-ups. The youngster soon managed 75, and dad conceded. As an amateur, he won the first 23 races he entered! Needless to say, it didn’t take long for Weinert to turn expert.
In addition to his obvious skills in scrambles and motocross, Weinert showed equal talent in dirt-track racing. Weinert was a leading dirt tracker as an amateur and traveled the circuit for a time with legendary AMA Grand National racer Gary Nixon. Weinert looked to be on a sure path to fame in dirt-track racing before he suffered a couple of bad injuries flat-tracking and decided to concentrate on the burgeoning sort of motocross.
Weinert recorded some impressive results at the very beginning of AMA-sanctioned motocross racing. He turned pro in 1970. In November of that year, he finished the top American (seventh overall) at the Trans-AMA race in Franklin, Georgia, riding a CZ. In the Inter-AMA Series, Weinert notched top-10 rankings in 1971 and 1972. Also in 1972, Weinert finished runner-up in the AMA 250cc National Motocross Championships to Yamaha teammate Gary Jones.
Weinert gained a reputation on the circuit as "the life of the party." He played guitar and loved to stay up late into the night at the track, sitting around a campfire and entertaining his fans with impromptu performances complete with wacky songs he would make up as he sang them. His fans loved it. He also loved to try to psych-out his competition. Some say Weinert was the original trash taker, but Weinert claims that his psych-jobs were an art form.
"Tony D (DiStefano) and I were big rivals and we seemed to have more than our share of on-track confrontations," Weinert recalls with a smile. "Once he came up and told me I’d better move over the next time he’s behind me. Now Tony D was a big boy and he intimidated a lot of people, me included. But of course I didn’t let him know that. I proceeded to tear into him and tell him that if he ever tried to use me as a berm that I would make sure he would never do it again. In my rant I threatened a lot of other stuff too, and when we lined up for the next moto he was so mad he couldn’t even concentrate. He was so worked up. He fell off a couple of times chasing me."
His nickname, "Jammin’ Jimmy," or "The Jammer," came from then-editor of Cycle News Gary Van Voorhis. During a Florida winter national race, Weinert got a bad start and quickly moved up the field, or, as Van Voorhis described it, "He jammed his way to the front." The next week’s headline read "Jammin’ Jimmy" and the nickname stuck.
The breakthrough win for Weinert came on November 4, 1973, at a muddy motocross track in Houston. There, amid many of the finest motocross racers in the world, Weinert made motocross history when he rode his factory Kawasaki to victory to become the first American to win a Trans-AMA.
Weinert had just celebrated his finest hour, but in a cruel twist of fate he quickly suffered one of the low points of his career. At Phoenix, Arizona, just a week after his Houston win, the throttle on Weinert’s bike stuck open. It threw him off, then flipped up into the crowd, critically injuring two spectators. He then crashed and broke his collarbone in the race, which ended his season.
Weinert regained momentum in 1974 and had a brilliant season, at one point winning four AMA 500cc motocross nationals in a row en route to winning the championship. He came back again and defended his title in 1975. A fractured knee kept Weinert from winning his third straight 500cc title in 1976.
Weinert had just gotten out of the cast from the broken knee two weeks before the AMA Supercross finale in Los Angeles in July of 1976. Riding in pain, Weinert still managed to finish well enough (eighth) to wrap up the 1976 AMA Supercross Championship. In three seasons Weinert had won three national championships, making him one of the elite motocross/Supercross racers of his era.
Weinert’s results dropped off after winning the Supercross title in 1976. Weinert said injuries and his off-track lifestyle began taking a toll on his performance. However, when he decided to fully concentrate on racing, Weinert could come up with great performances. An example of this was in 1977 when he won the Los Angeles Supercross.
In 1979, Weinert’s last full year on the circuit, he managed to rally and turn in a solid season. He won the Supercross season opener that year in Oakland in one of the most memorable races in the history of the series. What made it especially memorable was the fact that Weinert won that race wearing a heavy neck brace and his bike was shod with a rear paddle tire. Naturally, with his reputation as a rider who like to psych-out his competition, before the race his fellow riders thought that the paddle tire and the neck brace were nothing more than Weinert going to extreme measures to break their concentration. But Weinert says the whole thing was legitimate.
"I had crashed practicing that week and my neck was in serious pain," Weinert says. "Trainer Dean Miller made a neck brace for me out of towels and shoe strings. The paddle tire was Roy Turner’s idea. He looked at the track and saw that it had a ton of sand. I remember riding down the concrete ramp before the start and the vibrations from that paddle tire was rattling my neck. I thought, 'What have I gotten myself into?' And then I went out and won the race and it was crazy. The AMA was trying to ban the tire and Dunlop was trying to put stickers all over my bike."
He then went on to win the Daytona Supercross final, which proved to be his final win. In that race he fell in the first turn and charged back through the field and passed Bob Hannah on the last lap to take a dramatic victory. He finished second to Hannah in the AMA Supercross championships that year.
Weinert finished his pro career in 1980 riding for an underfunded Can-Am team.
Weinert never left racing. After leaving the pros he raced vintage and age-category events and continued winning.