A new bike and much more

April 29, 2012

A lot has happened again in the past two weeks since my book reading at the Moto Shop in South San Francisco. Also, the first introduction of the To Drink the Wild Air music video let the world go  (somewhat) “wild” and our You Tube links went truly hot for a little while there in cyberspace.

For anyone who missed it  the first time around  Sassy Kool and Birgit Soyka

We all know how the world works nowadays and what networking and spreading the word can do and so the video also found enthusiastic attention in Germany. As a result I have received an E-mail from a friend establishing contact to a famous racing team.  This is not just any race team  but a team dedicated to  win  the “e-power championship” series  (organized by  the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme)  of electrical motorbikes, a world series championship only existing  since 2010. Hence the  revolution of electric bikes and its ability to compete for our attention in the future.  What is being tested on the race track today will be stock production tomorrow, therefore all the racing activities out there have some research and development aspects to consider. It seems that the e-bike series is also the series where most female riders can be found. One of the most famous female road racers was Katja Poensgen who competed fairly successful in the GP 250 scene in the year 2001. Now she was spotted as a new team member of the Münch racing team competing again on an electric bike.

The Moto GP in Laguna Seca, California is around the corner, an event featuring the best of the best in motorcycle racing. The event is scheduled from July 27 to July 29 2012. It also will feature the e-bike series. I was invited to meet the  German Münch racing team and its members.  I am looking very much forward to it in order to get one step closer to see the racing action of the e-bike scene from the first row seat.

You can find more information here :  http://www.muenchmotorbikes.com/en/intro/

But this was only half of the news. The other earthshattering event of last week was that I went out and got a brand new motorcycle to experience the sharp technology of 2012. I skipped 18 years of  technical motorcycle development but now I’ve got one of those beasts and even though it “only” is a 600 cc engine this Suzuki GSX-R 600 is a rocket ship. I am quiet happy with the purchase and will enjoy every single mile on in.  Here are some pics when I picked it up from the dealership this weekend.


My tribute to British racer Barry Sheene

August 12, 2010

One story I want to share was my encounter with the former world champion and Grand Prix racer  Barry Sheene . He was a celebrity, he was an icon, and he was a household name in his native Britain. There is so much to say about him and his accomplishments as the reigning world champion in his era of racing and of his life, it would fill books. These books all were written and a ton of information can be found on the web. Unfortunately, he lost the battle with cancer after refusing chemotherapy in 2003 and left nothing short of a legacy.

Some of the action on this link:   Barry Sheene

I was lucky to have landed a five-minute supporting role within such a glamorous and heroic life and lucky to have had the honor to meet him at the most special race of my own career in 1984 on the Circuit of Hockenheim in Germany. Here is the story and the only pictures existing to this event of the century. I am proud to say that I have cherished my race leathers ever since and the autograph is hardly recognizable anymore but whenever I pull out the leathers to stroll down memory lane, I can feel the sensations of that day. Another short excerpt of:

          Chapter 7    “Passionate Intuition:”                                                         

I was really looking forward to the second race of that season scheduled in Hockenheim. Again, it was the German Grand Prix event, with all the big racing stars in attendance. Barry Sheene was there, of course. I had imagined I would make it a point to finally meet him, but when it came down to it I was too chicken to walk up to him, shake his hand, and babble something incomprehensible in my (at that time) very rudimentary English, so it was probably for the best that I didn’t embarrass myself either way.

The real prize was a surprise Fred arranged for me. He had no boundaries or fear, and knowing my obsession with a certain someone, he arranged for none other than Barry Sheene to visit my trailer after the race! When Barry pulled up on a little scooter he used to get around the paddock, I nearly fell over. It was a stunning moment. I couldn’t find the right words in English, and we all kind of stumbled around with this language barrier. Barry didn’t seem to care; he just parked his scooter and walked over to me. He shook my hand, congratulated me on my finish, kissed my cheek, and then signed his autograph on my leathers.

Fred took some pictures of the whole event, and when Sheene left, I practically passed out; for a week afterward, I was virtually useless, unable to concentrate on much of anything except on my racing fever and finally having met my racing idol in person. I never cleaned those leathers again for fear of wiping off that autograph. I decided I could now die happy. In my world, I was on Cloud “7” with racing and with everything around me. That date of May 13, 1984, in Hockenheim has been firmly lodged in my long term memory ever since, complete with every single detail of events and emotions, even down to the blue sky that day and the electrifying atmosphere, with the screeching engines and the smell of burning rubber and gasoline. It is heavenly to think back on it.


Gravity sucks! Crashing in the purest form

July 29, 2010

While working on the interior book design yesterday I stumbled upon some pictures I thought are worthwhile to post. It is nothing in comparison to the crash DVD’s out there with the horrendous crash scenes of motorcycle or car races, but those two are the only pictures I have from any of my crashes. Just to show how skin abrasions are produced.

The pictures show a harmless slider in turn 6 on the Circuit of Hockenheim (I still remember vividly) in 1983 and does not relate to the crash described in the text which is an excerpt again from Chapter 7 “Passionate Intuition.” If someone would have taken a picture of all race crashes I‘ve ever had I’d need a database… Enough said.

                                                                                                                          ***

 The Nürburgring, a fifteen-mile-long road racecourse, was a technically demanding track, and the importance of track memorization is one of the basic requirements to achieve excellence in racing performance. Fully engaged in our practice session out on the track, riding with focus and concentration, I was just about to pass Carl on the inside of a long, very fast left bend. We were both flying along the track at around 100 mph (160 km/h). I prepared my move carefully, aligning myself to slide by him on his left to catch him smoothly diving into the turn, but I realized quickly that the bend was closing on me. This turn had a steeper left angle than I had assumed; I was going far too fast at this point and was running out of road, gravity pulling intensely on me. Only God’s intervention could prevent the worst from happening.

Instinctively I slammed the bike into a leaning angle, beyond any forgiving laws of modern physics. Heading into that turn at top speed, first the bike’s exhaust pipe and then the engine housing rebounded off the pavement and both wheels lifted off the track when the whole bike was catapulted into the air—and so did I. My only thought that moment was: Gravity sucks! I landed and then skidded along the pavement for a couple of  hundred yards, intense friction burning the palms of my hands as my gloves were shredded by the asphalt before I started to roll over and over. In steady sequence I saw the black of the road, the green of the grass, the blue of the sky, the red and white of my battered bike,  bouncing between  air and earth  above me…and then it was back to black as I finally passed out, coming to an abrupt stop when my body slammed with a dull sound into the metal guardrails.

There are moments in life where the human brain takes an event lasting only seconds and makes it feel like minutes or even hours dragging by. My personal little black-green-blue-red-white-black film was in reality instantaneous, yet in my memory, it seems like forever. I came around and lay there motionless and stunned in the grass on my back, my arms and legs stretched out, staring into the sky. All I saw was the color blue. I couldn’t breathe and my brain was numb after the shock and impact of the crash. My thoughts were confused, my body was incapacitated, and I had no idea how badly I might be injured.