Yamaha Throws Laguna Seca MotoGP Warm-up Party in Jay Leno's Garage

Pete Brissette
by Pete Brissette

Enjoy the pics here of the Yamaha party at Jay’s garage, but be sure to visit the photo gallery for lots more images!

Sometimes when the stars come out in L.A. it’s not always the type of characters gracing tabloid magazine covers.

Celebrities of the motorcycle racing variety mixed it up with a true Hollywood regular, Jay Leno, at Leno’s sprawling garage this past Tuesday evening for what could be described as a Laguna Seca MotoGP warm-up party and gift-giving event put on by Yamaha Motor U.S.

Generations of Yamaha roadracing heros, from current GP points leader Jorge Lorezo, to the King himself, Kenny Roberts, mixed it up with media and select racing fans, and moto industry types, while ooo-ing and ahh-ing Leno’s incredible collection of rare, exotic, vintage and sometimes ordinary, cars, trucks, things powered by steam, and of course, an exceptional fleet of motorcycles.

Leno’s collection of vehicles is mindboggling. Here’s not one, not two, but a row Vincent Black Shadows!
The “elder statesmen,” as Jay called them. Leno surrounded by racing greats, Wayne Rainey, Kenny “The King” Roberts and Eddie Lawson. That’s a total of 10 Grand Prix titles.

Serving as more than just a primer for this weekend’s upcoming MotoGP at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif, the gathering was held so that Yamaha could present Jay Leno with a special gift.

Yamaha’s Bob Starr, along with Chuck Graves, unveil the R1 factory superbike: a gift from Yamaha to Jay Leno.
Current GP Yamaha riders Colin Edwards, Ben Spies and current GP points-leader, Jorge Lorenzo, mug for the camera with Leno.
Other super notables in attendance were 2010 Daytona 200 winner, Josh Herrin, the Bostrom brothers, Tommy Aquino, as well as Josh Hayes joined by his racer wife Melissa Paris.
Bob Starr, Yamaha’s General Manager of National Communications, with the help of Chuck Graves – a racing legend in his own right and current manager of Yamaha U.S. racing efforts – presented Leno with a genuine 2008 Yamaha R1 Factory Superbike formerly raced by Ben Bostrom.

Yamaha gave the bike to Leno as a thank you for Leno’s donation of his customized Star V-Max in a charity auction last year benefiting Bailey’s Café, a community arts program that operates in Brooklyn, New York.

The auction run by famed auction house Barrett-Jackson, held at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., in October of last year saw the V-Max reach a final bid of well over $120,000.

“Last Fall, Jay auctioned off a custom Star V-Max to benefit Bailey's Cafe, a charity that we both support,” said Bob Starr. “We were thrilled with the results of that auction; it benefitted a very worthy cause. But we realized that when he sold his V-Max, it left him without a Yamaha in the garage.”

“We wanted to make sure that Jay had a unique bike, that reflects his uniquely effective role as an ambassador for our sport,” said Starr.

Graves prepped the R1 to be as street-able as possible without eliminating the many high-end, unobtanium racing bits.

“This bike was built before we homologated parts,” said Graves, “so really, a lot of these components just aren't for sale, at any price.”

In addition to the superbike – something Leno appeared very pleased to receive – Tim Collins of Alpinestars presented Leno with a set of Alpinestars leather jacket and pants.

Troy Lee (Leno’s left) hand-delivered a custom-painted helmet to Leno.
And none other than Troy Lee himself gave the NBC Tonight Show host a Troy Lee custom painted helmet, complete with racers’ signatures.

Leno is a down-to-earth, affable fellow, and a true gearhead.

He eagerly led people around to various machines, cars and bikes in his facility, starting them up, opening their hoods and explaining some of the history behind the vehicles. And in an impromptu moment, Leno gave regular Motorcycle.com contributor Mark Gardiner and myself a sneak-peak at a recently renovated additional section of garage.

Leno explained the new space is around 30,000 sq-ft, The add-on makes his total display/garage facility on the order of 100,000 sq-ft, or “something ridiculous like that,” said Leno.

The evening was a special treat for all in attendance since Leno’s sprawling garage isn’t open to the public, and for the chance to rub elbows with the horde of Yamaha racing greats. It was also nice to see a generous man, one of the good guys in Hollywood, and fellow bike lover, receive an unsolicited reward for his philanthropic efforts.

Leno has an extensive collection of vehicles. Here’s a row of Italians.
Bikes galore!
Suzuki’s rotary engine-powered RE5. A rare bird, indeed.
And here’s a bike with a rotary engine by Wankel, the original rotary builder.
Tommy Aquino lifts a cover off the exhaust port of the Ecojet car.
Leno is a hands-on type of guy; he knows a lot about the vehicles and machines he owns. Here he’s inspecting a large and functioning steam engine once owned by Thomas Edison.
Leno entertains some Italians attending the party.
A small team of men keep Leno’s garage and vehicles up and running.
Row of Bugattis

Related Reading
Jay Leno’s Garage
Leno donates V-Max to charity auction
Leno V-Max auction raises $120,000

Pete Brissette
Pete Brissette

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