Friday, July 14, 2017

STEVE MCQUEEN: TWO WHEELED GOD


In 1963, American cinematic actor Steve McQueen was cast in the film The Great Escape, directed by John Sturgess. McQueen did most of the motorcycle riding featured prominently in the film, although the movie is best remembered for the border fence job which was executed by American stuntman Bud Ekins (a good friend of McQueen’s). With a break in the shooting of the film that summer, Ekins trekked over to Czechoslovakia to participate in the ISDT (International Six Days Trial), clinching a gold medal upon doing so. Word got back to McQueen who was enraptured with the idea of creating a U.S. team to compete in the ISDT the following year.

With McQueen’s help, and from September 7 through September 12, 1964 in Efrut, East Germany, the American team, consisting of McQueen (Triumph TR6 750), Cliff Coleman (Triumph TR6 750), Bud Ekins and Dave Ekins (Triumph TR5 500s), formed the America Vase effort.

More at home in the desert of the American southwest, the Yankees struggled in the deep and gnarly East German mud, but soldiered on to earn respectable results. McQueen also impressed with his riding skill and speed, but was thwarted by crashes and mechanical issues. Even today, what McQueen did in 1964 to compete with the world’s best off-road riders is considered to be the stuff of motorcycle racing legend and folklore.





Friday, July 7, 2017

JOHN DESOTO: THE FLYIN' HAWAIIAN




Straight outta Honolulu, Hawaii where he learned to ride motocross in the pineapple fields and on the mountain trails of the 50th State, John DeSoto was drawn to the mainland in the late 1960s. Initially living in a car in North Hollywood, California for nearly a year, the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” ultimately caught the eye of the West Coast distributor of the Montesa brand and his career duly took off. DeSoto would compete in the first half of the 1969 250cc World Championship series before suffering a grave arm injury and heading back to California. Undaunted, he kept at it and in 1973 picked up a ride with CZ to compete in the Trans-AMA and Inter-AMA series. The highlight of DeSoto’s career came on Sunday, July 22, 1973 where at the Inter-AMA/AMA 250 Motocross National at Delta Motorsports Park outside of Toledo, Ohio, DeSoto placed fourth overall behind winner Jaroslav Falta of Czechoslovakia, Heikki Mikkola of Finland and Antonin Baborovsky of Russia. Scored as the top American rider - as was customary during that early period of American motocross - DeSoto took the victory over fellow Yankees Jim Pomeroy (who became the first American to win a World Championship round when he rode his Bultaco to victory at the Spanish Grand Prix at Sabadell Terrassa that April), Brad Lackey and Gary Jones. The one and only major victory of his career, DeSoto retired from the sport in 1975 and was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.


Monday, June 26, 2017

OSCAR STORIES: STACIE B. LONDON


I grew up in Culver City, California and I’m a third generation Angelino. My family didn’t ride motorcycles; my dad actually grew up with boats and building race cars as a teenager. He ended up designing engines and made a couple of land speed records in 1965-66 in Bonneville. I grew up being a gear head, surrounded by gearheads, so when I went away to UC Santa Cruz and started working, I knew the first thing I wanted to buy was a motorcycle.

I didn’t know anything about bikes. I just knew that it was time for me to start riding. I signed up for a motorcycle safetly class and on my lunch break I opened up craigslist to start looking, and there it was. A 1969 BMW R 60US. My first bike.

When I started riding in 2009 I immediately started riding with clubs. I saw and appreciated the comradery these male motorcycle clubs had, but they didn’t allow female members and there weren’t any female clubs out there. I was like “ok, I guess I’ll have to start my own.”

I started a Facebook page and tagged women that knew how to ride. Right away I started having meetings and organizing events. Everything started to pick up around 2010 and little by little there were more and more female riders. I never thought of this as a job, my day job is in art and design, so for me it was a way to make events that were charity driven, awareness driven or just to bring women together. We are a small group still. It’s hard to be a strong feminist woman and have confidence in all of our ideas or our femininity. We’re still breaking barriers and breaking stereotypes. I think it’s really interesting that even though it’s 2017, there’s still women that are looking to find the courage to get on a bike.

Right now, the Eastside Moto Babes has a monthly meeting where we talk about our frustrations, about being marginalized and being disrespected. It is a sisterhood that gives unconditional support and inspiration, and helps us go on. I call it the “Sorority For Rebellious Girls.”

I still have my first bike and I’m never getting rid of it. I gave the bike a new life and the bike gave me a new life. It taught me survival, patience, and discipline of perseverance. It’s taught me how to respect and be respected. It has taught me to be grateful and as long as you have those things, you have everything.

Friday, June 23, 2017

THE 1993 USGP AT LAGUNA SECA



With John Konciski and Mick Doohan giving chase on their potent 500cc machines, Kevin Schwantz (No. 34) leads the start of the 1993 USGP at Laguna Seca. A sinuous circuit situated in the foothills of both Salinas and Montery, California, the Laguna race was a bittersweet affair as at the round before, American, Wayne Rainey crashed out and suffered injuries that would both cost him the world title and end his career. Nonetheless, Schwantz and his Suzuki carried on and would clinch the ’93 World Championship. The Laguna Seca round was epic in that John Kocinski, yet another American, would ride the underdog Cagiva for all it was worth to win the USGP that bright and sunny afternoon in Northern California.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

OSCAR STORIES: MICHAEL JOHNSON



My name is Michael Johnson and this is my 2007 Benelli CafĂ© Racer, 1130CC, triple. It’s more of a work of art than anything else but it’s lovely to ride as well.
I race motorcycles and I own 7 of them. The majority of the bikes I own are race bikes so obviously they can’t go on the street. The Benelli is just great on the road and on the freeway. It’s a nice, smooth and fast ride. You can get away from anybody. 
If there were a fire in my garage and I had to choose, it would definitely be this Benelli, because I can’t replace it. This one is a rarity. You know, you can get an insurance check, but it just wouldn’t cover it. I have a Ducati, which I can go out and get another one tomorrow. I have a track bike, I can probably get a better one tomorrow, but this one is definitely the one I’d go for. 
If I’m standing in the garage, I’m the type of guy that will start wiping her down. 

Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted a motorcycle. So much so, my father would always say, “You’ll have a motorcycle over my dead body.”
About a week after he died, I bought my first motorcycle. 
Now I’m a racer and it’s a part of my life. I defied my father because once I got on a bike, you instantly feel the addiction. If I’m off of my motorcycle for more than a week, I feel a sense of urgency to get back on. The bike, the lifestyle, it is a part of me now.

Friday, June 16, 2017

THE STEEL SHOE SYNDICATE





American Flat Track racing was born out of the blisteringly fast board tracks and dusty horse racing circuits of the early 1900s, where towns such as Dodge City, Kansas, Laurel, Maryland, and Fresno, California played host to “Class A” 1000cc national events. In 1954 the American Motorcyclist Association Grand National Championship was launched with San Jose, California’s Joe Leonard winning the number one plate for the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson Motor Company. By the early to mid-1970s, Flat Track was a wildly popular form of motorcycle racing in the United States. Captured so vividly by Bruce Brown’s camera in the seminal film On Any Sunday, riders such as ’69 champion Mert Lawill, Gene Romero, Gary Nixon, Dave Aldana and a young Kenny Roberts (who would later trade in his trade in his steel show Flat Track accolades for three 500cc World Roadracing Championships).


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

UNION GARAGE ITALIAN BIKE SHOW AND ALPINESTARS POP-UP

More info here: Union Garage + Alpinestars Pop-Up

Great times with our friends at Union Garage in New York, putting on a show for the "Italian Sporting bikes of the 70's" -- Our Alpinestars pop up shop is now open until June18th at: 103 Union Street in Brooklyn -- So stop by!

Get an up close at our Tech-Air airbag system being sold exclusively at this location.








 








Monday, June 12, 2017

OSCAR STORIES: ALEX CHACON


My father always had a motorcycle in the garage. I think I was around 2 years old when he first put me on his Honda Shadow and I remember that he never put any more than 500 miles on a motorcycle…so I took that as a challenge. I said “You know what? I’m going to ride more miles in one day then my dad did in his entire life!”

I grew up with motorcycles and I’m usually a GS guy but on my last trip, riding through South America, I took a KLR 2016 because I sold everything I owned; my clothing, my car, everything. It was either buying the GS and not be able to go anywhere or getting a KLR and be able to finish my adventure.

A bike allows me to connect with people directly, in a more profound and deep way with anyone around the world. So any biker on the road is a friend. I really don’t know if I am in the right place or the wrong place in my life right now but I do know that where I am has provided the most opportunities in benefiting people around me, which is very important. It has been the pinnacle of my life to this day.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

AKIRA WATANABE: 1978 WORLD MX CHAMPION




In the history of the World Motocross Championship, riders representing upwards of 15 individual nations have claimed world titles. However, interestingly, amazingly and almost unbelievably, only one Japanese rider has won only one World Championship. His name is Akira Watanabe and in 1978 he won the 125cc World Motocross Championship. During the 39 years which have followed, no rider representing the nation of 127 million inhabitants has been able to win a World Championship.

Akira Watanabe was born in 1954 in Utsunomiya, Japan and first became intrigued by motocross by seeing 50cc race bike inside the store front window of a motorcycle dealership. He took to the bike quickly, and within two years was racing. Excelling in local and regional races around the nation, by the age of 17, Akira had caught the eye of the Suzuki Motor Corporation and was hired to test, research and develop the brand’s motocross bikes. In 1974, at age 19 and already a professional, he won the Japanese Championship in both the 125cc and 250cc classes. One year later, he fulfilled his boyhood dream of being sent to Europe to contest the 125cc World Championship Series. “Of course I remember Akira,” exclaims Roger DeCoster. “He was based in Belgium, actually, when he raced in Europe. That was during the Gaston Rahier days. He actually spent some time living with Gaston on the East Side of Belgium. He also rode with me. Akira raced the Trans-AMA Series, as well. He was a good rider – a very good rider. I mean you don’t win a World Championship without being a decent rider. Akira was very focused and he really wanted it bad. He came to Europe, which was not so easy for a Japanese rider.

Monday, June 5, 2017

OSCAR STORIES: JON BEKEFY



My name is Jon Bekefy and this is my 2015 KTM 690.

My old man got me hooked onto motorcycles. I grew up listening to stories from my mom about my dad being a wild man. He was a motorcyclist, lumberjack and a bit of an outlaw.

The man was legit. The first thing I learned about my dad was the scar down the middle of his face was there because of getting bashed on the head with a beer bottle in a bar brawl.

That was my male role model growing up. He was a badass.

My mom’s brother was also a rider but quit right after getting into an accident. In my brain, at that age, I was like “well, that’s unacceptable, clearly my dad is fucking awesome.”

I’m first generation North American and my mom and dad lived in Vancouver before then. My dad was an immigrant and his favorite person when I was a kid was Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was a Gold’s Gym t-shirt wearing type of a guy. By type, I mean that was legitimately my dad. While my Mom was in the hospital giving birth to me he was pumping iron.

In high school I was doing a lot of BMX and mountain bike racing and finally dragged home my first Honda as a garage project. I decided I was going to be a motorcyclist. I remember Top Gun also inspired me along with my dad and all of that kind of pop culture explosion of motorcycling. It was a done deal. Tom Cruise was the man. He is a legit and talented rider and talented car driver. I know he is a little kooky but as a role model, when I was a child, Top Gun and Maverick were just so rad. Maverick was a total fuck-up and successful at the same time and when I was a kid, I thought “hey I can be goofy or stupid and be totally awesome,” and that’s powerful...unintentionally powerful.

I’ve lived in San Francisco since 2000, so riding in San Francisco and going on the track, will always be for me. But being into motorcycles and being on a bike is the sharp end of the stick. It is something that will totally fuck you up more often than not. And more often than not, it has NOT shown me what I’m good at, but it reminds me of what I’m really fucking terrible at...like riding.

Even working on bikes is always a lesson in humility. It’s really cool to stay alive and stay somewhat fast and to be smart in what you’re doing. It’s more about focusing on what you don’t know.

Friday, June 2, 2017

MARTY MOATES AT THE CARLSBAD RACEWAY


In the month of June, during the summer of 1980, Carlsbad Raceway and Marty Moates would become synonymous with one another. On that sunny afternoon Moates, the consummate underdog as an empty-pocketed privateer, rode his LOP Yamaha to victory at the 500cc USGP, a race that until then was dominated by visiting European stars. It was the one race every American rider dreamed of winning, though no one had pulled it off up to that point. But in Cinderella fashion, Moates, born and raised in nearby San Diego, pulled off what remains arguably the single biggest upset in motocross history.

Friday, May 26, 2017

TRAMPAS PARKER: THE FIRST YANKEE WORLD CHAMPION



American-born, Trampas Parker created motocross history as the very first Yankee to win two World Motocross Championships. What made Parker’s rise to world-class racer so astonishing was that he was virtually unknown back in the United States (Remember, there was no Instagram or Facebook back then!). Based in Italy when his career took off, Parker lit up the global motocross scene by clinching the 1989 125cc championship for KTM. Two years later, the Texas-raised rider proved his skill and speed was no fluke as he won the 250cc championship on a Honda

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

OSCAR STORIES: MAX HAZAN




I think genetics played a major role in my talent, drive and the ability to work with my hands. My dad was always an inspiration even though I grew up dirt biking with my friends. He rode motorcycles but stopped long before I came into the picture. He had them all; old Ducati’s, BSA’s… he was a total gear head. I remember, every now and then I would come across some sort of problem and he would always say, “Oh yeah, that happened to me back in 19 so and so…”

I was an artist before I became a builder and it has helped in the process of custom motorcycle building. I started working with a foam model never really seeing that type of work done anywhere else. It allows me to see what I am working with without introducing any permanent mediums. It is such an easy step. I literally find this material at Michael’s Craft Store. As I said before, everything is fair game in my world. The first few bikes that I built I would rely on found material. I used anything from a kitchen sink screen to a bar mitzvah chalice.

This Ducati 998 will always be my favorite though. This was the cleanest most refined bike and it had a different engine than the rest. When it came out I literally had no money and would always tell myself, “someday.”

What attracted me to this bike was it’s elegant shape; it didn’t have any crazy graphics and it didn’t have air ducts that the 916 had, the exhaust and the features were all kind of cutting edge back then. It always just rubbed me the right way.

This bike is such an effortless ride. A lot of the artists, including artistic people that ride, space out, you know? I’ve left my keys in the fridge while thinking about how I could create a design and it is something that is definitely hard to switch off. But if you go out on a Sunday morning on an empty road and you just let it rip, that is pretty much the only way for me to switch it off. You completely forget everything and that is my favorite thing about this bike.

If someone were to ask me “if you could have anything else in life, what would it be,” I would say…keep it continuing as it is, there is no monetary amount or any material objects that I feel I need or that I want right now. This bike is definitely a testament to that. I have dreamt of it for years and now it’s mine.
I walked out on my back porch the other day and I thought there would be a bit more of a longing for more financial success or something like that…but I am more than comfortable with where I am in my life.

THE HALCYON ERA OF RUSSIAN MOTOCROSS



In 1974, 1977 and 1978, Gennady Moiseev won three 250cc World Championships with his teammate Vladimir Kavinov also placing in the top three, on three occasions. In 1978, over 200,000 Russian fans came out to watch Moiseev clinch the World Championship at a track called Jukki, near Leningrad. Capping an amazing year off, on Sunday, September, 3, 1978 at Gaildorf, West Germany, the Russian team of Moiseev, Kavinov, Valery Korneev and Vladimir Khudiakov stunned the world by winning the Motocross des Nations.

Monday, May 15, 2017

AUTODROMO NAZIONALE MONZA



The Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Some say ghosts haunt this ancient race track based in the parklands outside of Milan, Italy. In its 94-year existence, 52 racers and 35 spectators have been killed here. Created during the summer of 1922, Monza was Italy’s answer to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And even at the very beginning, Monza, with its brilliantly fast straights and turns, was equal parts exhilarating and perilous. In fact, so treacherous was the place that it’s been revised and reconfigured eight different times in an effort to make it both slower and safer. And the men who raced and risked it all here became legends. Industrialists Enzo Ferrari, Nicola Romeo and the Maserati brothers tested and developed their cars in the crucible of battle that is Monza. Iconic motorcycle and car racers such as Tazio Nuvolari, Mario Andretti, Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini and Michael Schumacher all won here. Today, Monza still thrives as a cathedral to all things speed, but the darkness of the place still remains.