MO Interview: Catching Up With Racer Doug Chandler
Forty sweaty high school kids are on a group mountain bike ride in the Fort Ord National Monument, outside Salinas, California. They don’t seem to know, or care, about the identity of the tall guy in their midst. To them, he’s just another well-meaning adult along for the ride – probably somebody’s dad.
But anyone in the sport of motorcycling would know who it is, in a heartbeat: three-time AMA Superbike champ and Hall-of-Famer Doug Chandler. The soft-spoken Chandler, 51, is one of only four riders to achieve the AMA Grand Slam, with national wins at a mile, half-mile, short track, TT and road race. He won World Superbike races in the ’90s, and competed in the 500cc Grand Prix World Championships (now MotoGP), placing as high as fifth overall.
But life is different now. These days Chandler runs a bicycle and motorcycle shop in Salinas called DC-10 (his initials and race number). He also serves as race director for the burgeoning MotoAmerica series alongside his friend and neighbor, three-time 500cc Grand Prix world champ Wayne Rainey. He rides motorcycles, but never on the street, but he was able to ride streetbikes with the MO team during our 2015 Superbike Shootout at Laguna Seca.
MO Interview: Reid Wilson, Director of Marketing for Indian Motorcycle
Indian summoned the moto-press to San Diego a couple of weeks ago to introduce another new model that’s embargoed until about April. One of the most interesting parts of this particular junket were the remarks by Reid Wilson, Indian’s 37-year old Marketing Director. Before coming to Indian three years ago, Wilson worked as a brand manager for Miller/Coors, and before that he was riding Briggs & Stratton-powered minibikes from the time he was a toddler. I corralled him at the bar for further explication.
MO: So, not in the next five years but in the next two or three years, you guys have some cool things coming down the pipeline, you said. Can you tell us more?
Reid: Yeah, so the first thing is reiterating our commitment to the brand Indian, investing in Indian, living up to the Indian name – so that means new riders, new segments, new bikes – outside of cruiser/bagger/touring, all within the next two to three years.
MO: I heard you say you want to attack market segments where American manufacturers haven’t been in a long time?
Reid: Yes. If you look back to the days of the original Indian, they were one of the most innovative, boundary-breaking companies, winning the Isle of Man and all that. That’s a helluva legacy to live up to and we’re focused on that, so that means doing new things that American motorcycle manufacturers aren’t doing right now. We’re really excited about doing that and, honestly, it’s coming a lot sooner than people think. I don’t want to say it’s coming tomorrow, but it is coming in the next few years. It’s an exciting time to be part of the brand, and an exciting time to be a motorcyclist in America.
MO Interview: Polaris' Steve Menneto
The motorcycle world got knocked for a bit of a loop last week when Polaris Industries announced it would be shutting down its Victory Motorcycles division after two decades of trying to cut into Harley-Davidson’s stranglehold on the American cruiser market.
Polaris is Closing Victory Motorcycles
Fans of Victory Motorcycles were saddened, as were proponents of U.S. manufacturing, but let’s not forget Polaris continues to pump out Indian Motorcycles and is doing it at a pace the Victory crew could only dream of.
“(Indian has) been growing rapidly over the last three or four years, and we’ll be putting more investment into the brand in the future,” explained Steve Menneto, Polaris VP of Motorcycles, in a phone call with MO. He added there will be limited cuts at the company’s Spirit Lake, Iowa, factory, but most workers will be absorbed into different areas of Polaris’ businesses or will be offered early retirement.
Menneto told us 2012 was biggest year of sales for Victory, somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 units, with a market share that reached into the high single-digits. But then, he said, Indian debuted, H-D got aggressive, and the whole marketplace became highly competitive.
Top 10 Best Victory Motorcycles Of All Time
Menneto was a key figure in the relaunching of the Indian marque almost four years ago with the debut of the all-new Chief, and he told me then he was intending Indian and Victory to both survive by diverting paths, allowing Vic to angle into more of a performance realm. More from that interview can be seen in the link below.
Interview: 2016 MotoAmerica Supersport Champion Garrett Gerloff
Last week we published our interview with two-time MotoAmerica Superbike champ Cameron Beaubier. While at Blu Cru’s headquarters in Cypress, California, we also sat down with 2016 MotoAmerica Supersport champion Garrett Gerloff. Both were being inducted into Yamaha’s Wall of Champions. You can honestly say that last year was a good year for the Yamaha roadracing team!
Twenty-sixteen was Gerloff’s first professional championship title, but of course the young gun has no intention of stopping there. Like most up-and-coming racers, Gerloff has his sights set on the world stage and is smartly preparing for the future by not only sharpening his racing skills, but also learning to speak Spanish in preparation for attracting foreign sponsorship. We here at MO hope he’s successful in his endeavors and helps return American competitiveness to the world stage of motorcycle roadracing.
Interview: Two-Time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier
We recently sat down with two-time MotoAmerica Superbike champ Cameron Beaubier at the bLU cRU’s headquarters in Cypress, California. Besides a little disappointment at not having his 2016 championship-winning bike parked underneath the Christmas tree, Beaubier has been busy sliding a YZ450F around his new flat track and is anxiously awaiting the chance to defend his title in 2017.
Beaubier spoke candidly to us about his time racing in Europe while only a teenager, what it was like have Marc Marquez as a teammate, and how that three-year experience abroad helped shape his current perspective. Good stuff from a nice guy. We wish him the best in 2017 and beyond.
Five Minutes With Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden is a busy guy. As if the rigors of competing full-time in World Superbike on board a Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR wasn’t enough, the less glamorous portion of his job includes all his sponsor obligations and chatting with media hacks like Yours Truly. But there’s a reason why The Kentucky Kid is such a well-loved figure in racing paddocks worldwide – he always gives whatever time he has to those secondary obligations, and he does it with a smile. Motojournalists like the guy because he’ll always give you honest answers to the best of his ability and not canned one-liners other racers sometimes snort out reluctantly, as if talking to the media is beneath them.
During the World Superbike round at Laguna Seca in early July, Nicky Hayden granted journalists a brief interview right after Race 1 on Saturday, which saw the 2006 MotoGP champion earn a well-deserved podium spot in third place. And though the interview was brief, some good questions were thrown the champ’s way. True to form, he answered them the best he could.
Interview With Pull And Bear Aspar Team MotoGP Rider Eugene Laverty
Eugene Laverty arrived on the world motorcycle racing scene in 2007 racing for the LCR Honda team in the 250cc class. He remained in Grand Prix the next year aboard an Aprilia machine, while also racing for the factory Yamaha team in World Supersport. For 2009 Laverty joined the Parkalgar Honda World Supersport team full-time, ending the season in second place behind series champion Cal Crutchlow. In 2010 he would again claim the runner-up position in World Supersport. For 2011 Laverty again joined the factory Yamaha team, although this time in the World Superbike series. He continued competing in WSBK for three more years aboard Aprilia bikes, finishing 2013 in 2nd place, his best WSBK championship finish.
In 2015 Laverty joined the MotoGP ranks racing a Honda RC213V-RS for the Aspar Racing Team. This year he remains in MotoGP with the Aspar team, but the bikes have changed. For 2016 the team is using Ducati GP14 prototypes. Here’s what he has to say about the variety of racing experiences he’s had during the last decade.
How is it like to come from Toomebridge, a little Northern Irish village, to the premier class of motorcycle Grand Prix. What is bike culture like in your country?
“I do have to pinch myself sometimes because I remember many years ago when the thought of racing in MotoGP was but a distant dream. One of my main focuses in life has always been to keep improving so in truth I climbed the racing ladder without stopping to take it all in. I think that’s the case for many riders though. We’re so focused that if often takes someone else to point out what we have achieved before it really sinks in. Bike culture is actually very popular in my country thanks to historic road races like the North West 200 and the Ulster Grand Prix. As a kid I grew up watching those races trackside amongst 100,000 other passionate fans.”
You don’t normally see three brothers competing at high level. What did your parents feed you?
“Considering it’s such a small place we really have an incredible number of world level athletes from Northern Ireland. It is even more incredible that we are three brothers from the same family! I believe our attitude has been key in bringing us to the top level as we are humble and hard-working. At the end of the day we are just people that work hard to do our job the best that we can, nothing more.”
Church Of MO – Nicky Hayden Interview
We’ve dedicated a couple stories this week to Nicky Hayden, The Kentucky Kid and his World Superbike-spec Honda CBR1000RR competing this weekend at Laguna Seca. From Tom’s Top 10 reasons to visit Laguna Seca this weekend to this poll on Nicky’s chances this weekend, you’ll forgive us if we’re pouring out some love for the 2006 MotoGP champion. So for this weekend’s Church feature we’re keeping the love pouring, with this interview with Hayden shortly after he announced he was moving to the Ducati MotoGP squad. History will tell us that the move ultimately didn’t bear the fruit Hayden was hoping for, but ever the professional, he’s always been optimistic about his chances.
MO Interview: Brad Richards, Design Director, Harley-Davidson
You really can’t keep it any more real than Harley’s new Design Director, Brad Richards, who honed his American iron (and aluminum) chops at Ford Trucks before making the move from Detroit to Milwaukee a year ago. We got the chance to sit down with him and ask a few questions last week when he was in town to show off Harley’s new Low Rider S.
2016 Harley-Davidson Low Rider S First Ride Review
MO: I have to think that if you’re a motorcycle designer, one of the hardest places to be one would be Harley-Davidson.
Brad Richards: Why would you think that?
JB: I’d think there’s a long list of things you’re not allowed to mess with – the shape of the gas tank, the way the gas tank settles over the engine, the angle of the Dyna’s shocks. The rear fender on your new Low Rider S looks like the rear fender of the Harley I borrowed to ride to Sturgis when Harley was celebrating its 90th anniversary, which I think was 1993.
BR: Yep. That fender is probably from the same tooling. You bring up a really good point, but the trick is if we evolve it in the right way, all those parts you talk about, you don’t notice the evolution. A lot of those parts are significantly different from the parts they appear to look just like.
The real challenge with my job is that I have to keep one foot in the past, and one foot looking out into the future – and it’s finding the right balance of heritage and pushing the line enough that our customers love it while the product remains relevant. It’s a huge challenge. But it’ a very exciting place to work, especially if you have a passion for the brand like I do.
Dream With a Deadline
It isn’t so far-fetched to suggest that reigning MotoAmerica AMA/FIM Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier shares a few things in common with road racing legend multi-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey, the founder of the series in which the 23-year-old Beaubier is the new king.
Both men hail from California, both found their way into the discipline after amateur racing careers in the dirt, both are AMA Superbike Champions, and both suffered an aborted attempt after making the jump from America to the World Championship scene on the first try. With all that he accomplished at the pinnacle of the sport, it might be easy to forget that after winning the 1983 AMA Superbike Championship, Rainey struggled mightily in the 1984 250cc World Championship aboard the fledgling Kenny Roberts Yamaha team, and he returned home after a lackluster season, only to eventually earn another shot on the World Championship stage.
MO Interview: Wayne Rainey
No mention of Wayne Rainey is complete without the “three-time World Champion” prefix, but he was probably on his way to making it “four-time” when he crashed out of the lead that fateful day at Misano, ending his racing career at age 32 and along with it that whole illustrious era of U.S. Grand Prix domination. Many of us remember where we were when we heard the news, like 9/11 or even JFK. Ten years earlier, though, Rainey had won his first AMA Superbike championship on a Muzzy-tuned Kawasaki, and six years before that, the blue-eyed kid from Downey, California, had been racing the Kansas county fair circuit for $20 a win. Not a bad run, all in all. We had the privilege of asking WR a few inane questions at Yamaha’s recent 60th Anniversary celebration.
JB for MO: Do you have any memories of the specific best day you ever had on a motorcycle?
WR: Fwaaaaahh … y’know I don’t know if there’s been one more than the other. Obviously there’s days when you achieve, when you win the world championship, but that’s a part of many days that were just as important as that day. I remember my first world championship, that day, crossing the finish line at the Czech Republic. Winning the world championship and feeling the relief of … it’s been a grind your whole racing career and then when you get to where you’re actually in a position to win it, it’s ahhhh, I can feel it now, crossing the finish line, I not only remember those emotions I can still feel them. But when you think about it, that race was no more important than all the races that came before it.
MO Interview: Bob "Buckwheat Hurricane" Hannah
Of all the champions who needed no introduction at Yamaha’s recent 60th anniversary fest, maybe the guy who needs one least is Bob Hannah. I remember reading about Hannah at the drugstore newsrack before I could drive, so it’s an interesting thrill to talk to the guy and understand he’s not many years older than I am; he’ll be 60 next year. Here’s a short intro anyway.
Hannah’s a seven-time AMA champ who won 125, 250cc and Supercross, and who would sometimes race all three 125, 250 and 500cc events at the same round. At a time in the laissez faire 1970s when nobody knew from training, Hannah was already doing plenty, much of it in the desert around Lancaster, California, where he was born. His legendary work ethic and drive allowed him to enjoy a 15-year career. His first big win came at Hangtown, in 1977. His last win was the 250 National at Millville, MN, in 1985, but the Hurricane kept battling part-time for Suzuki until 1989.
MO Interview: Yamaha Roadracing Champion Rich Oliver
It’s probably an unfair thing to think, but a lot of people blamed Rich Oliver for the AMA dropping the 250 class from the program after the 2003 season. Watching the five-time 250 champ win on his TZ250 screamer was about as dependable as the sunrise, both things similarly glorious. In that final year, RO not only won every race, he led every lap. He’d won every 250 race in 1996 and ’97, too, before taking two years off to ride Yamaha factory Superbikes and 600 Supersports in ’97 and ’98, at a time when the AMA was packed like a sardine can with world-class riders capable of winning the odd World Superbike race (one Anthony Gobert, at Laguna Seca).
“Consummate professional” is the cliche, and Rich defined it with meticulous preparation – actual engineering, even – and a rock solid work ethic. He also had no trouble being slightly unprofessional when that was called for, on at least a couple of memorable Yamaha junkets. Good times…
Five Minutes With Harley-Davidson Senior VP Mark-Hans Richer
As Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Harley-Davidson, Mark-Hans Richer, has, as they say, a lot on his plate. A new platform in the shape of the two Street models, 750 and 500, the Project LiveWire Experience Tour currently underway, an updated model lineup for 2016 in the pipeline, and certainly goings-on that only the need-to-know know, is enough to keep ten people busy. Nonetheless, Mr. Richer kindly set a little time aside to speak with MO and confirm that everything for the Motor Company is going swimmingly.
If you’re curious about Harley’s polished, electric-bike skunkworks prototype, Project LiveWire you’re in luck. There remain three dates on the Project LiveWire Experience Tour where you can ride one yourself. According to Richer, these events have been well-attended by a diverse crowd of enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts.
MO Interview: Eddie Lawson
Eddie Lawson is a four-time 500cc Grand Prix World Champion. In 1983, Eddie became Kenny Roberts’ teammate on Yamaha’s GP team and won his first 500cc title in 1984. Steady Eddie went on to win two more 500cc GP world titles for Yamaha, in 1986 and 1988, and since this interview took place at a Yamaha event, we’ll downplay his ’89 Championship on the Honda. In 1990, he teamed up with Tadahiko Taira to win the Suzuka 8 Hours on a Yamaha FZR750RR OW01. Lawson also won the Daytona 200 in 1986, and came out of retirement to win it again in 1993. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
EL’s notorious for not suffering journalistic fools gladly, but Yamaha got him to spend 10 minutes with us anyway. He seems like a super nice guy, really, but there’s also more than a little Dirty Harry behind those high-res blue eyes.