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Legends / John Hateley

Actually John started working in films as an actor at the age of three, but by the age of ten his energy and passion had turned to motorcycles. In 1966 at fourteen he won the AMA District 37 100cc TT Championship. At fifteen he was holding his own with the fastest racers in So Cal. Racing was born and bred into him.

Back in the 70’s it was hard to make a living as a racer despite being one of the fastest pros in the country. So he came full circle, going back into film work, this time as one badass stuntman. But that competitive fire never goes out, as good friend and fellow stuntman Gene Hartline says about John, “He’s a racer. If you want a definition of what that is, he’s it, he’ll race you to the bathroom.”

Q&A

Name
John Hateley
Nickname
Little John
Age
62
Why do you ride?

When I ride or race I am in control of my life, no thoughts of bills that need to be paid or what is needed to be done at home or what my two sons are up to or any other so called responsibility of life.

When I am on a motor bike I can choose my own destiny at that time, where I ride if I am on my duel sport bike or how fast or how much I want to scare my self when racing a local short track. Or just riding my 1977 XR 75 mini around on the property, big easy laps keeping my feet on the pegs because I don't have a helmet on and it keeps me honest. The best times up until recently was at the Pomona 1/2 mile vintage national going 100mph into turn one on my 750 Triumph DT racer, backing it in up top in the cushion and getting back hard on the gas picking my foot up tucking in down the back shoot headed for the next corner…. Free, natural adrenaline rush that only comes at that time. That is the best time of life for me.

If I could only have it happen on demand that would be great, but I can't, I need to have a throttle in my hand and the wind in my face, that is why I ride or race…

Where do you ride?
I ride all different places…on my little home GP track or one of two mini short tracks or up in the local hills on a 60 mile loop, sometimes even in the rain. I try to make it to the local Short Track at Perris with my youngest son Ajay and ride the "Bomber"class on my 1976 TT 500 Yamaha. When things go right I race at the "Day in the Dirt" GP, lately things have not been right, but I will not give up the sport….
When you're not riding, you are...
When I am not riding or racing I am fixing something or someones else's bike. And I have been known to build chosen friends vintage race bikes so they too can experience what I grew up on racing.
What do you do for a living?
I use to work full time as a stuntman can honestly work but that like racing slowly goes away with age. There comes a time in life when you can't seem to get on one of the three podium boxes any more. And I am sure if life could be rerun it would happen all the same again. It was a great time in motorcycle history that I grew up in, a lot happened in those years of the 60's 70's and 80's. From no shocks to twin shocks to single shock, I feel blessed to have been there.
Who are your heroes?
I hope it doesn't sound to odd, but I did not have any heroes. I was trying be a racer and to be my own hero. If there was a hero it was my father, he taught me the other side motorcycles, building, machining, welding, always looking for a way to make the machine better.
Moto Memory
Winning the opening AMA TT National at the Houston Astro Dome in 1972 as a first year national number and then again in 1977 both times Triumph mounted
Motorcycle
Triumph 750-650-500-250 in that order, or a 1974 1/2 Maico 440GP
Track
Ascot Park 1/2 mile, Corrignville/Hopetown GP
Races
All races are good
Stunt
One that I could walk away from that others said ,"I wouldn't do that are you nuts"