I'm Doug Johnson, the owner of Moto Carrera. I was brought up on an apple orchard in Yakima, WA., at the base of the rugged Cascade mountains. I was just a poor farm kid who had a love for dirt bikes and snowmobiles thanks to my dad who got me started at 10. I learned basic mechanics at a young age working on the farm vehicles and I soon experimented by applying tuning and hop-up tricks learned from magazines to my brother & my Yamaha mx bikes. Bored with racing each other on the gravel roads and tracks layed out in the orchard, I talked my parents into letting us go to the track and do it right. I started racing motocross in 1974 on a 2 yr old LT2 100MX, that with a year of intense porting and carb changes, was as fast as the venerable CR125 Hondas. I was inspired by the fame of local heroes & good friends, Jim & Ron Pomeroy, as well as some of the best tuners in the area. ! I continued honing my tuning skills on 250's as well as snowmobiles and my '65 GTO hotrod. Making a living selling motorcycles for 2 years, I was inspired to 'get out of Dodge' by the Mount St. Helens eruption. After shoveling volcanic ash for 2 weeks (over 4" had fallen on Yakima), I packed up and moved to where I'd always dreamed of living, southern California. I instantly got hooked on canyon riding and between bike-selling gigs, I got a job at the ever-popular motorcycle accessory store, Racers Supply. It was road racing heaven. I began building a highly modified RD400 for the track with my discount on all those exotic parts. Before the project was finished, a friend loaned me a TZ250 chassis and I was stoked! I got my racing license and spent the next three years as well as every paycheck racing ARRA races at both Willow Springs and Riverside. While roadracing I had amassed a huge inventory of parts and would often have people lined up at my garage on friday & saturday nights waiting for me to get home & sell them RD goodies.
It seemed like at the time it was just me & SpecII taking care of these guys' needs & most of them would only deal with me. I had a growing clientele but didn't think of it as that big of a deal. I got tired of living in the valley, as well as the financial grind of racing and decided to move to the beach and chase girls. Unfortunately garage space was non-existent & I had to sell all of my motorcycle parts & most of my bikes. I remember getting $1900. for three bikes and 5 or 6 pickup loads of mostly wheels, motors & frames, a fraction of what it was worth, but I couldn't take it with me. Shortly thereafter I was head-hunted out of the bike biz and was offered a job as promotional director for a large collector car auction company. I helped sell some of the most valuable cars in the world & dealt with some of the wealthiest of the wealthy. I did this for a couple of years followed by, believe it or not, a year & a half as a fine art consultant at a gallery in Beverly Hills. Tiring quickly of the finicky, plastic, hoity-toity crowd, I went back to selling bikes at one of my favorite shops, Honda N Hollywood, and I really felt back at home with familiar motorcycle people. I had just turned 31, was making great money again selling bikes and decided to buy a house that just went up for sale down the street from the shop. I secured it with a deposit on Friday and planned to meet with his attorney the following Tuesday. It was a happy weekend that included the purchase of some new Goodyear GT's for my Chevy smallblock powered Jaguar XJS, a landmark round of golf, as well as a cocktail party with friends at the famous Sagebrush Cantina. The celebrating didn't last long. I didn't even get those tires scuffed in before my playboy lifestyle was abruptly ended. The next day at Monday night judo class I broke my neck in a sparring accident. I was left paralyzed from the chest down, a C-5 quadriplegic. After 6 months of rehab I finally came home. Life was coming at me fast and the adjustment had to be made quickly or I'd be in a nursing home.
The pile of bills was huge and not being able to go back to selling bikes, I had to come up with a plan that would enable me to not only pay the bills that this 50yr-old house was generating, but I now had to pay for a nurse to help me daily for the rest of my life. On top of an obscene mortgage, the utilities, plumbing problems, pool maintenance, painting, yard work, vacant bedrooms, etc. were eating me alive. My expenses were now about triple what they had ever been before. It was daily financial desperation as well as a great deal of stress from nurses who would leave me in bed, or in my chair for days, sometimes stealing whatever they could before flaking out. One of them fell in love with my physical therapist one afternoon, and never returned. As I was told, they went to the desert, took a few hits of acid and never looked back. I was left in my bed for two days before I found another nurse. Or, when a couple of roomates were falling months behind on rent, both of them went on a wall-to-wall stealing spree, taking all my good stuff before moving out the next morning owing lots of cash, honking their horn as they left. Aahh...the life of a quadriplegic landlord! In one respect I was lucky, life was way too chaotic for depression to set in! I started buying & selling bikes that were popular for exporters, as well as anything I could get my hands on.
One afternoon, while taking inventory on what I could list in the classified paper, I decided to list a bunch of old TZ and RD parts from my racing days. Those ads generated lots of calls, & before long, I had people coming by for parts every weekend. I had no idea that the RD parts market was still as strong as it was, but before long, it was like I had created a monster. It was amazingly busy. Soon, I had a mailing list of several dozen RD fanatics and people coming to my RD garage throughout the week. Faced with a great offer, and with the need to move the business out of a residential neighborhood, I got rid of the house and moved back to Washington with about 3 tons of RD parts packed into 2 vans. They both left L.A. totally bottomed out! Thanks to my dad, I was able to live rent-free as well as utilize an 80x120' warehouse for my parts business. I incorporated the business and with profits from parts sales, I bought every used R5 & RD I could find in central Washington. My inventory grew quickly, as well as my renewed hatred for the long, cold Yakima winters. I built a snowmobile that I controlled with a mouthpiece throttle but I couldn't handle the cold like I used to. I owned a Nascar late model car with a buddy of mine who drove. We spent a lot of money to have a winning car, in fact it ended up costing a little over a dollar a second! After only four times out we won the last race of the season and ninth place for the 22 race season. It was a great experience but once winter began to set in, my aching bones made me restless. I yearned for the weather and the year-round marketplace that southern California naturally offered. Yakima is where I was born, but after 21 years in L.A. I feel like it's my home. After 2 1/2 years, and the second "100 year winter" in a row, I bought an L.A. Times & began looking for a building. I scoured the San Fernando valley & came across a building on December 28th. A friend of mine had a shop next to it & I was familiar with the property. After talking to the owner on the phone that evening, I had him Fedex some photos. 2 days later I viewed the photos, called the owner & sent a deposit. The next call was to U-Haul to rent a truck. The next call was to laborers for moving help & we began packing within a couple of hours. We were fully loaded & ready to pull out on January 3.
Four days later we arrived at our new location on Burbank Blvd. just a few blocks away from where I used to test my race bike nearly 20 years earlier. It was a very familiar neighborhood right in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. We had quite an operation there with a retail store and a service department/speed shop.
In the 10 years at North Hollywood we achieved a lot to be proud of including founding and hosting the Two-Stroke Extravaganza, the largest two-stroke motorcycle show in the country, where we hosted a free barbecue and show at major parks in the Los Angeles area. I'm also very proud of designing the Del Mar Special street tracker (named after the show) , which we entered in the most prestigious motorcycle show in California, the Del Mar Concours D’Elegance . Even though we started the project only 11 days before the show, which was our first time at a motorcycle show (even as spectators!), we still managed to win the judges special award. We then set out to build the bike for the public and over the years we were able to sell 11 of them. The bike was so popular that Cycle World Magazine published a feature article in September 2004. This was the first time a custom RD had ever been featured in the 50 year history of the magazine. It was truly a landmark achievement for a bike that I've dedicated most of my life to. During our years in North Hollywood I developed many innovative products including our popular rear sets, aluminum swing arms, clip on bars, and our famous Millennium GP pipes. While I wasn't getting rich and had to live in the back of the shop I really loved North Hollywood and would still be there if not for another life altering accident. As I was exiting my van for a doctor appointment at UCLA Medical Center my driver lowered my lift before I was on it and my 400 pound wheelchair and I fell out of my van onto my head. I was lucky to be in the parking lot of the best trauma center west of the Mississippi River as I was pretty messed out. I had a badly broken skull but somehow I was still conscious and was able to make it not 50 yards to the entrance of the emergency room. After a quick examination I was rushed into surgery where the best brain surgeons in the world did their magic. I was good in a drug-induced coma to control the swelling of my brain, which was out of control for the first three weeks to the extent that the doctors wanted to take me off life-support on day 26. Because there were so many loose ends at the shop my brother and sister were reluctant to pull the plug, and hoped I would wake up, eventually. Thankfully doctors allowed me to stay on life support because on day 38 I woke up. It was nothing short of a miracle! While in a coma and everything in the shop was either moved into storage by my brother or stolen by employees who probably thought I would never make it. They even stole my dress clothes! My family closed the store and helped me stabilize and rehabilitate in for different hospitals over the next five months. After I was strong enough to travel my brother moved me back to my hometown of Yakima in his motor home. After another month in a Yakima hospital I was able to move into my father's house. Traumatic brain injury has left me with many deficits. I still don't speak very well and my memory is shot but I'm pretty lucky to be alive. I have a great machinist building my rear sets, and a great welder building my pipes keeping the Moto Carrera brand alive. With this website , eBay, and industry leader Economy Cycle I hope to keep my components available to enthusiasts worldwide. Thank you for visiting.