Tuesday, June 19, 2018

OSCAR BY ALPINESTARS: WHEELS AND WAVES 2018


OSCAR by Alpinestars' rich heritage took center stage at the 7th edition of Wheels and Waves in Biarritz, France.  




Naturally, OSCAR by Alpinestars was right at home at the four-day celebration of classic and vintage motorcycles, music, surf and art.  





The OSCAR booth pulled in the crowds with live demonstrations of Alpinestars’ jacket-making craftsmanship and an exhibition of original period posters, photos and vintage boots.




Monday, June 11, 2018

Bob Hannah discusses winning the 1987 Motocross des Nations at Unadilla

In the twilight of his career,  Bob Hannah goes to the starting line on Sunday September 13, 1987 for the Motocross des Nations at Unadilla. He’s never won the race and he’s never been a part of a victorious American team. With a hard rain falling and the track quickly deteriorating, Hannah and his Suzuki RM125 will play a huge role in what would be an epic race.



The odds were stacked against me from day one on that deal. I was all set to be the scapegoat. Everyone was on my back. Rick Johnson and Jeff Ward were total pricks. They said they were all about the team and wanted to hold hands and ride together, yet they stuck me on the 125. They tried to get Jeff Ward to ride the 125, but he refused. he wanted to ride the 500 and Johnson wanted to ride the 250. So they tell me I have to ride the 125 and I say "screw it! But then Suzuki comes back to me and says, "Bob, you have to do it! It can be prestigious for us!" So I tell Suzuki to get me two works bikes. I get Suzuki to put two mechanics on my test bike, and then they had them put Randy Bruninga on my race bike. I didn't want anyone messing with Randy. Myself, I ran six miles a day for 21 days straight for that race. I never missed a day. I also rode every single day. Rick Johnson and Jeff Ward were all over me because I wouldn't practice with them. I was more like, "Leave me alone. Don't baby sit me. I know what to do." DeCoster - the team manager - was smart enough to leave me alone. Johnson, Ward and I were teammates on race day, but I wanted to tell them to kiss my ass. I haven't liked either one of them since that race. And, oh shit, it was one of the worst days ever.

It rained like hell and the track was all mud. In the first moto - when the 125s ran with the 500s - I got knocked down on the opening lap and it took me three times to finally get over the Elevator Shaft hill. I was dead last. I rode my ass off in that moto to get back to ninth overall. In the second moto (the 250cc/125cc moto) only Rick Johnson and Eric Geboers - both on 250s - beat me. I beat everyone else and won the overall in the class. It was a no-win situation, yet I had won. Thank God. I was never so happy to have a race over in my life.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Mick Doohan on winning five straight 500cc World Championships


“To win the championship was a relief because I had been close in ’91 and close in ’92, so ’93 was just a recovery year and to finally win it in ’94, well that’s what I jumped in the World Championship for – to win the thing. It was a dream come true, but I also had told myself that I didn’t want to win just win one World Championship, I wanted two, I wanted to win two back-to-back. Then it was a different game. The pressure of trying to retain the championship wasn’t as easy as I thought.” Mick Doohan

Mick Doohan on winning five straight 500cc World Championships

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Dream Team: ’85 Team Honda

The Yankees: Be it the sport’s introduction to the United States in the late 1960s or 2018, to many race fans and motocross industry members, the 1985 Team Honda motocross and supercross squad one of the greatest, most charismatic and stylish motocross teams in history. From left, Johnny O’Mara, David Bailey, Ron Lechien and Bob ‘Hurricane” Hannah were not only champions, but incredibly talented, driven and determined racers who thrilled crowds, whether they be 25,000 fans at a USGP or 71,000 fans at Anaheim Stadium. O’Mara, Bailey and Hannah all won supercross titles and National Championships, while Lechien won the 1985 125cc National Championship.

Johnny O’Mara, David Bailey, Ron Lechien and Bob ‘Hurricane” Hannah

Monday, April 30, 2018

TODAY DAYTONA, TOMORROW THE WORLD.

“When I first showed up to race for the World Championship everybody from Europe – including Barry Sheene - said about me, ‘Oh, he’s going to struggle. He’s no threat.’ I was pretty much unknown when the season first started. Sheen was famous. He was the number one athlete in Great Britain two years in-a-row. I came from America, and if you weren’t into motorcycle racing, you’re never know who the hell I was. I knew on the race track what was going to happen, though. Off the race track, I didn’t care. Once you’re on the race track and you’ve got your helmet on, racing is racing.” - Kenny Roberts


World Championship Barry Sheene athlete Great Britain America motorcycle racing race track helmet racing Kenny Roberts

Thursday, April 26, 2018

ALPINESTARS 55TH ANNIVERSARY

Founded on the philosophy of “race on Sunday, innovate on Monday”, Alpinestars host a party in Austin over the MotoGP weekend celebrating 55 years of innovation, focus, commitment, design and a winning tradition that is very much part of motorsports.

“It is phenomenal to watch athletes at the top of MotoGP ride at the level that the sport is today. Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso and all other current top riders really raise the performance level of such a demanding sport” states Alpinestars President Gabriel Mazzarolo, “It is these type of athletes that we live and share goals with, who truly represent our personality as a brand and as a company pushing the limits of performance and safety in motorcycling.”


MotoGP, Circuit of the Americas  Grand Prix, Americas GP, Alpinestars, Gabriel Mazzarolo, Michael Woolaway, Woolies Workshop in Venice, California, OSCAR by Alpinestars, Tech-Air suit, Italian, Ducati, Akrapovic, Michelin, Alpinestars 55th Anniversary Party in Austin Texas


As a tribute to the company’s passion for motorcycling and to celebrate 55 years of innovation, manufacturing and product design, Alpinestars worked with Michael Woolaway, the friendly high profile custom builder and designer who heads up Woolies Workshop in Venice, California.

Woolie’s challenge was to communicate the heritage of the brand, its rightful place in history, connecting the beginning of the OSCAR by Alpinestars legendary charisma to today’s forefront of technology and style.

“Alpinestars has covered my body and protected me for all the years I have raced. I have watched it go from its start in boot manufacturing in motocross, to leather race suits, to the mind-boggling innovation baked into the Tech-Air suit they recently brought to the US market. So, after talking with Gabriele at Laguna Seca two years ago, I found a new 1974 Ducati 750 Sport build race engine still in a crate. This motor was built to period race spec and would be the perfect Italian heart of the bike, but the bike also had to have current race spec components to tell the whole “new and old” story of this brand with styling from 1960’s Italian GP and a bit of more modern Ducati GP. Legendary frame builder Jeff Cole and I collaborated on the frame, and Jeff agreed to build the central section for this project”.


MotoGP, Circuit of the Americas  Grand Prix, Americas GP, Alpinestars, Gabriel Mazzarolo, Michael Woolaway, Woolies Workshop in Venice, California, OSCAR by Alpinestars, Tech-Air suit, Italian, Ducati, Akrapovic, Michelin, Alpinestars 55th Anniversary Party in Austin Texas


There are references to Alpinestars’ history throughout the bike, like the thumb rear brake as a special nod to Mick Doohan and the style of the seat that recalls Nicky Hayden’s Ducati, both riders very significant to Alpinestars history and close to Gabriele.

“Very importantly, I wanted the bike to remind people of Alpinestars Italian roots and heritage in racing, so it needed to look and sound like a real race bike, which it does!


MotoGP, Circuit of the Americas  Grand Prix, Americas GP, Alpinestars, Gabriel Mazzarolo, Michael Woolaway, Woolies Workshop in Venice, California, OSCAR by Alpinestars, Tech-Air suit, Italian, Ducati, Akrapovic, Michelin, Alpinestars 55th Anniversary Party in Austin Texas


True to the collaborative team spirit of motorsports, contributing manufacturers helped fuel the design and specifications of the build. Akrapovic made the MotoGP-level exhaust system. Another MotoGP linked partner was Michelin who came on board to supply their tire technology and a number of other special and highly skilled collaborators participated to the project.



Wednesday, March 7, 2018

EUROPE'S FIRST AMERICAN KING

Looking for a new challenge after dominating the AMA Grand National Championship during the mid-1970s, Kenny Roberts headed across the Atlantic Ocean to race the 1978 500cc World Championship. “I did not want to go to Europe – I wanted to win the 500cc World Championship,” said Roberts of the decision. “Most people said I couldn’t. The 500 was the class. It was the ultimate thing to win if you were a roadracer. I basically went to Europe to win it.” And with his dirt tracked influenced rear wheel-sliding style, Kenny Roberts gracefully maneuvered the 500cc beasts he mastered through the well-worn corners of the World’s great racetracks and in the span of three years, won three consecutive 500c World Championships.

Friday, March 2, 2018

MCGRATH JUMPS TO VICTORY IN 1993


On Saturday night, January 23 at Anaheim Stadium, Jeremy McGrath, aged 21, started the 20-lap main event right behind teammate and reigning Camel Supercross Champion Jeff Stanton. Three laps in he went flying by the three-time champion, never to be touched. He had won his first premier class supercross in a waltz. “It was amazing to win the race, but it was also a really strange feeling because I had to pass one of my heroes, which was Jeff Stanton,” pointed out McGrath. “I knew from all the pre-season testing that I was riding well and I was as fast as those guys. There were no problems with any of that. Mentally, though, when you have to go pass one of your heroes, it was kind of a weird deal. I remember sitting behind him for a while and saying to myself, ‘Oh man, how do I handle this?’” furthered McGrath. ‘Well, shit, I guess somebody has to win and it might as well be me.’ I remember the pass being fairly easy and then I just pulled away. It was weird because it was one of those things that just felt so easy. It really wasn’t supposed to be that easy. You dream about that all your life and then you get out there and you think it’s going to be really difficult and it really wasn’t that difficult. When I pulled away so easily it kind of got the momentum going that I could do that every week.”

Monday, February 12, 2018

HOPETOWN AND THE FOUR HORSEMEN




While it is often claimed that history has the benefit of 20/20 hindsight vision, that's simply not always the case. Take the introduction of motocross to America, for example. While opinions vary on how the sport first came to the USA, in the eyes of many of the sport's insiders, it was a race dubbed Hopetown that truly put the sport on the map here. An event held in Southern California just short of Thanksgiving in the year 1967, Europe's premiere motocross racers came to Hopetown to show the American race fans what the sport was all about. Not really prepared for what they were to see that sunny afternoon, the style, technique and brilliance displayed by the Grand Prix racers not only spellbound the American fans, it left many of them slack jawed in astonishment. Roger DeCoster, Ake Johnsson, Torsten Hallman, and especially Joel Robert, simply blew the minds of the 25,000 fans present on Bob Hope's movie that epic day. Check out the lead of the story featured in the November 23, 1967 issue of Cycle News: “Would you believe that we could have a real moto-cross here in this country with huge crowds like Europe? We did Sunday at Hopetown where come 2 p.m. we were told 25,000 paid admissions had come through the gate.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

BRAD LACKEY CELEBRATES 4TH OF JULY ON BRITISH SOIL


“You just don’t go over to Europe and win a World Championship, you’ve got to pay your dues,” said Brad Lackey a few days after becoming the first American to ever win a 500cc World Championship Grand Prix. It was a long time in coming for the then 24 year-old. After winning the 1972 AMA 500cc National Championship, Lackey packed up his belongings and took off for Europe. Determined to fulfill a dream of making a run at a Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme World Championship, half a decade later it all came right when on July 3, 1977 at Farleigh Castle, Wilts, England, Lackey rode his full-on factory Honda RC-400 Elsinore to an impressive triumph over GP stalwarts Gerrit Wolsink and Bengt Aberg.

Friday, January 26, 2018

THE MOTORCYCLE GRAVEYARD

Here’s a tragic story that caught our eye: it’s the tale of 71 Gooding Street in the City of Lockport, Niagara County in New York, where motorcycle enthusiast David Cuff managed to discover the holy grail of motorcycle barn finds. We’re not talking about a nice vintage motorcycle tucked away in an old garage…we’re talking about three floors of vintage motorcycles left to rot and decay. But don’t worry, this story has a (kind of) happy ending…


 


Thursday, January 18, 2018

1972 SUPERBOWL OF MOTORCROSS



The AMA National Motocross Championship Series came to life in the infield of Daytona International Speedway on March 11, 1972. While a Team Yamaha racer named Jimmy Weinert, back in California, a rock 'n' roll promoter named Mike Goodwin was dreaming and scheming up a new idea: stadium motocross.
“There was a motorcycle magazine that wrote up a guy name Dom Briber’s success in selling out Madison Square Garden for short track racing, which I think is about exciting as watching paint dry,” Mike Goodwin said of the light bulb that went off in his head. “I saw that he sold it out! I thought to myself, This new sport motocross would be really exciting in a stadium. So I talked to my wife about it and said, 'Let’s see if I can package this.' I put together a proposal, sent it to Olympia Beer, and they amazingly said yes! But then I had to figure out how to do it. So I met with Mr. Nicholson, manager of the Los Angeles Coliseum at that time. I was scared to death because I knew he was going to say no. Luckily, his kid rode motocross. We went across the street to a restaurant-bar called Julie’s, and we drew a sketch of the track on a cocktail napkin.”

Thus, what was to be called the Superbowl of Motocross was brought to life on a cocktail napkin in a restaurant in south central Los Angeles. Vic Wilson and his crack crew from Saddleback Park—down Orange County way—were brought up to the Los Angeles Coliseum and presented with the unique task of creating a motocross track inside the same 101,574-seat edifice that hosted the 1932 Summer Olympic Games. The end result was a tight circuit that consisted of a four-foot jump on the start straight, followed by a sharp left and right switchback that sent the racers on a 17-turn circuit graced with ruts, sand and mud, jumps, and whoop-de-doos.

Come race day, Saturday, July 8, 1972, Jimmy Weinert was not especially fond of the racetrack: “The jumps were atrocious because there was no landing or landing ramps on the back side and the track was all confined, so there was no room for error.”

However, Marty Tripes, a rider from San Diego who had turned 16 years old just 10 days prior to the race, saw it all much differently: “Walking around and seeing the narrow turns and jumps and all was just incredible. I couldn’t wait to get out there. I always rode in the hills around where I grew up in Santee, right next to El Cajon, and did the trick stuff. The track at the Coliseum was perfect for me.”

And what of the Europeans who were flown into L.A. to compete? What did Grand Prix stars such as four-time 250cc World Champion Torsten Hallman and future World Champion Hakan Andersson think of the race that Mike built? “The Europeans thought, Oh, this is stupid,” Weinert said. “This is not motocross. Motocross, you go outside, up the hill, through the mud. This is not motocross! They weren’t real happy with Goodwin.”

When the lights went up and the fans sat down, all 35,000 of them waited for the gate to drop on not only the Superbowl of Motocross, but on round two of the then-named Inter-Am Motocross Series. After the 40-rider, two-row field raced down the start straight and over the “4-foot bozo” jump, it was Swedish rider Torlief Hansen finding his way to the front on a #19 Husqvarna. Hansen would win the first of three motos, followed across the finish line by Tripes. Arne Kring, yet another Husqvarna-mounted Swede, won the second moto, Tripes working his way up to second after a lackluster start.

Ever the showman, Mike Goodwin had exactly what he wanted going into the third and final moto: a tie between European rider Hansen and teenage American Tripes. Hakan Andersson grabbed the holeshot and led while Hansen settled into second after trading moves with Kring. With Tripes was back in 10th, it didn’t look good for the home team. Standing atop the pegs of his Yamaha and motoring along, he kept his cool and methodically picked off riders, finding third at the halfway mark. With less than five minutes left in the moto, Marty slipped beneath Hansen, the Coliseum erupting in a roar. Tripes held station, and in doing so, won the first true American supercross.

“The ‘Wonder Kid’ Marty Tripes just stole the whole show,” said Weinert, who would win the 1976 Supercross Championship, two years after supercross became an official AMA championship series. “He was very talented, and he had that patented style of standing on the pegs almost the whole time. He was talented and this kind of racing was something that he really liked.”

Today, Marty Tripes, still lives in his native San Diego, where he owns and operates a private motorcycle shop and is an accomplished chef. “We never knew what we had just started would turn into such an awesome sport,” he said. “Now I see how big supercross is, and I just can’t believe it. What stands out was that I set a record for myself that nobody in the world will ever break. I won the first supercross, which was very special.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

1997: CARMICHAEL AND ROSSI



On Sunday, August 17, 1997, two very cool things happened in global motorcycle racing. In the United States of America, Team Kawasaki rookie Ricky Carmichael clinched his first AMA 125cc National Championship at the Washougal Motocross Park in Washington State. Meanwhile, over in Europe, Italian-born 125cc Grand Prix contender Valentino Rossi won the British Grand Prix at Donington. A few weeks later, he'd clinch his first FIM World Championship.



Friday, December 8, 2017

STEVE MCQUEEN AND THE DESERT SLED



Cycle World Magazine: June 1964
Steve McQueen’s 1963 Triumph Bonneville Desert Sled race bike.
Winning desert races is what this machine was set up for. It is the mount of actor Steve McQueen, who recently won the novice class in a one-hour desert scrambles. The victory only proved what a close look at his Triumph Bonneville suggests: McQueen takes his motorcycling seriously. It takes some modifications to wing the rough, dusty hare ‘n hounds, scrambles and enduros that are popular in the southwestern desert. McQueen’s machine was prepared in Bud Ekins’ Sherman Oaks, California shop. They started by replacing the stock wheel with a 1956 Triumph hub and 19″ wheel to reduce unsprung weight. The forks were fitted with sidecar springs and the rake increased slightly by altering the frame at the steering crown. The rear frame hoop was bent upward to accommodate a 4.00 x 18 Dunlop sports knobby, and to it were welded brackets for the Bates cross-country seat. The bars are by Flanders, with leather hand guards, and the throttle cables run over the tank, through alloy brackets to the twin 1 1/8″ Amal carburetors.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

THE DAY JEAN-MICHEL BAYLE STUNNED AMERICA


Although only 6,000 fans were there that day to witness the feat, what Jean Michel Bayle accomplished on March 5, 1989 at the Gatorback Cycle Park in Gainesville, Florida was, undisputedly, one of the greatest single victories in motocross history. And while that may sound like some very heavy praise, what the Frenchman pulled off in the Sunshine State was not only a tale about where Bayle was going at that point in his young career, but where he had been.

Despite winning the 1988 125cc World Championship and later that summer battling fiercely with American Jeff Ward at the Motocross des Nations in Versenne, France (“I knocked Jean-Michele Bayle down in the last moto to win the overall. It was in France and he was there World Champion or whatever it was,” said Ward of that day) most everyone in the United States of America knew something close to nothing about JMB. Remember, this was the late 1980s, and the American onslaught on global motocross was in full-gear and, for all intents and purposes, be it a United States Grand Prix, an international supercross or a Motocross des Nations, the Yankees won every race they lined up for. Undaunted, Jean-Michele Bayle, even at that point, made it clear to anyone who cared to listen that he had a dream and a dream he refused to let go of.

“In 1989 my goal was to show what I could do in the USA,” said Jean Michele Bayle recently. “The 1989 Grand Prix season for the 250 world championship was not starting up until April so it was okay for me good to start the SX season that January.”

From there, Bayle, be it buy, beg borrow or steal, and sought out any help he could conjure up. “When I arrived in the U.S., I did not have very much help from American Honda. Instead Mitch Payton and Roger DeCoster (who was then overseeing American Honda’s race effort) helped me a lot. Mitch take care of the engines and Roger and Showa took care of my suspension. The bike was a standard base model with a Pro Circuit engine and Factory Showa suspension we took from my practice bike.”

Mitch Payton, who had only started upon creating his Pro Circuit empire at this point, knew Bayle had the right stuff and was highly impressed by Bayle’s attitude and pioneering approach. “Nobody had been at that level in Europe,” reflected Payton. “He had been a 125 champion but his dream was to come to the United States. He was a very independent, strong minded person and was like, ‘I don’t care what, I’m going to the United States.’”

For a rookie Grand Prix refugee, Bayle performed remarkably well during his foray into the supercross stadiums of America. After crashing out heavily in the season opening race at Anaheim, Bayle bounced back – litteraly and figuratively -  to record five straight top 10 finishes (highlighted by a dazzling second at Miami). “The adaptation for supercross was hard due to the close and hard racing,” said Bayle. “However, I was really motivated to show my full potential at the opening round of the 250cc National at Gainesville.”

Back in the 1980s, the American Motorcyclist Association tossed the orphan Gainesville National smack in the middle of the supercross series and so it was eight days after the Atlanta Supercross that Bayle, working out of the back of a large white cargo van that Roger DeCoster had loaned him, that Bayle was about to go head-to-head with the Americans on what he felt was “neutral turf” (read: natural terrain motocross).

That morning during practice, the paddock was rocked heavily with the news that then-dominate rider Rick Johnson had severely dislocated his right wrist. The “Bad Boy” (as he was known at the time) was out of the race. His understudy and American Honda teammate Jeff Stanton was immediately thrust into the Big Red Machine team leader role. Meanwhile, Jean-Michel Bayle began preparing for the opening moto.

When the gate dropped to launch the ’89 National Championship Series, Honda man Stanton aced the holeshot, leading Jeff Ward (there’s that name again) and Bayle out onto the typically sandy Florida track. Stanton would hold sway during the opening phase of the race, while JMB motored up on Ward. Soon, Bayle was through and after Stanton he went. As he began to file away at the American’s lead, Stanton handed the lead over when he slid out over a small jump. Bayle raced away to win the moto by 25 seconds. The pits went quiet.

Bayle found himself in the lead at the start of the second and all conclusive moto, chased by Stanton and Ward. Stanton would find his way past the “Star Buster” (as the back of JMB’s JT Racing pants read) as would Ward (who would win the moto), but Bayle would hold on to a comfortable third place finish, and with it, the overall victory. It was a stunning result and a result heard around the world.

“Of course I realized then i did something very important,” said Bayle, some 25 years later, “because i proved that i was able to race with the best Americans fighting for the USA title. I was also happy for Roger and Micth because they were the two peoples from America to believe in my challenge. I think, to this day, that when I won they were more happy then me! On this day I think the American motocross people understood why I was there. I was there because my goal was just to race with the best riders in the World.”

That spring, Jean Michele Bayle would go back and make a run at the 1989 250cc World Championship. He won it. For the 1990 season, JMB was hired on by American Honda to race in the U.S. on a full-time basis. By 1991, he was the AMA supercross and 250cc and 500cc National Champion. He was also a revolutionary, the first Grand Prix rider of the modern era to fight a war that would allow future champions (and we all know who they are) to come to America in an effort to prove they were, in fact, the world’s best.

“Yes I was the very first to come to USA from the GP circuit,” explained Bayle of his amazing journey. “Of course I had to open many doors and the road to my titles was not easy. However, it was great to realize my goal and my dream, I RACED AGAINS THE BEST! When you are racing you want to win, but you want to win again the best the world has to offer. I was able to do that.”