After his illustrious racing and movie stunt career was over, Eddie Mulder was approached at Pikes Peak by a man with his son, who was holding out a program. As Mulder took the pen, the man said, “Son, this man is the best TT rider in the world.” Without missing a beat, Mulder is reported to have said, “Dorresteyn is dead” and proceeded to sign the boy’s program.
Behind that remark was a history of some of the most spectacular dirt-track racing ever seen.
Dick “Richie” Dorresteyn and Dick Hammer battled at the TT tracks of Southern California’s District 37 from 1960 to ’62 with Dorresteyn sporting his seemingly effortless style while fending off one “do-or-die” challenge after another from Hammer, who rode in his usual “controlled-crash” mode. The battles were legendary, with one or the other winning by inches while Dallas Baker or some other excellent rider took a distant third.
Dorresteyn won about two-thirds of the time, but that’s almost immaterial as the finishes were so close. He also rode his own equipment, which consisted of a pre-unit-construction 650 Triumph with Jomo #15 cams, S&W valve springs and hand-finished pistons with the sharp edges around the valve pockets removed. Nothing else.
Hammer raced a LeBard-and-Underwood-prepared BSA A10, which weighed 360 pounds to the Triumph’s 330. How much overbore either machine had no one knows.
The most impressive thing about their riding was how much they over-revved their motors and how long they left it on, both laying their bikes down on the engine cases in the sweepers. This was with DOT Pirellis, mind you!
Modern tires and the scarcity of venues ensure that the likes of Dorresteyn and Hammer will never be seen again.