Perhaps he is not so obscure since the movie "Motorcycle Diaries" but Guevara's love for two wheeled transport is less appreciated. His journey across South America is truly epic from both a physical and intellectual standpoint. This journey took place in 1951 lasting 9 months, covering 8000 kilometers, and culminated with a stay at the San Pablo Leper Colony in Peru. However, this trip was not his first. Exhibiting a certain amount of mechanical skill, Guevara in 1950 completed a trek through Northern Argentina of 4500 kilometers on a motorized bicycle he had built himself.
I believe that his penchant for two-wheeled transport was rooted in large measure to practicality and affordability. But I don't think I am wrong in saying that his choice involved the same romantic notions that many of us in the hobby are afflicted with. We all find enjoyment in the connection with the world around us as the wind blows through our hair. No doubt that this connection took on greater significance for Guevara. With his senses heightened, he became acutely aware of his environment eventually crystalizing into his personal philosophy. While I don't agree with the political endpoint, I do admire the foundation of Guevara's philosophy. He was a man of conviction and true adventurer both of which are marks of a true man. He also had good taste in motorcycles. Norton's are truly unapproachable.
Caught reference of this piece rifling through all the blogs I follow and I am completely amazed at the beauty of this piece. Turns out this small animated film titled Parigot is a graduation project from the Georges Melies Film School depicting a motorcycle chase in a fanciful Paris at the turn of the last century. As an aside, Georges Melies is credited with many special effect innovations of early cinema. Parigot as the short film is titled refers to slang term used to refer to a parisian by those of "province". Anyway, here it is and as an interesting juxtaposition I included the most noted Melies film Journey to the Moon filmed in 1902.
On the heels of a spectacular 2nd place finish at the Australian GP, my favorite rider and future star Marco Simoncelli passed away from injuries sustained in a crash on the second lap of the Malaysian GP. Simoncelli was a colorful character and seemed to be hitting his stride after a difficult if not controversial start to this season. Ironically, he passed away on the same course on which he clinched the 2008 250cc World Championship. His death is a tragedy and he will sorely be missed. R.I.P. Super SIC!!!!!
MARCO SIMONCELLI: 1987 - 2011
1987: Born in Cattolica, Italy on January 20. 1996: Runner-up in the Italian Minimoto Championship. 1999: Champion of the Italian Minimoto Championship. 2000: Claims a back-to-back title in the Italian Minimoto Championship and is runner-up in the European Minimoto Championship. 2001: Moves up to the the Italian 125cc Championship and wins the title in his rookie year. 2002: Wins the European 125cc title. 2003: Takes part in his first full season in the 125cc World Championship with the Matteoni Racing team. 2004: Joins the Rauch Bravo team and wins his first Grand Prix at a rain-soaked Jerez. 2005: Completes another 125cc campaign with the Nocable.it Race team and finishes fifth in the final standings. 2006: Moves up to the 250cc class riding for Gilera. Finishes the season in 10th overall with a sixth place finish at the Chinese Grand Prix his best result.
2008: June - Wins his first 250cc race at the Italian GP in Mugello in controversial circumstances when Hector Barbera crashed into him after Simoncelli appeared to try to block him off. October - Wins the 250cc World Championship after a successful season with Gilera with a third place finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. 2009: Finishes third overall in the 250cc World Championship behind Japan's Hiroshi Aoyama and Spain's Barbera. 2010: Moves up to ride in his debut MotoGP season for Honda. Finishes 16 of the 18 races en route to eighth place in the championship. 2011: May - Collides with Dani Pedrosa while battling for second in the French GP. The resulting crash saw Pedrosa break his collarbone and Simoncelli receive a ride-through penalty, eventually finishing fifth. Simoncelli accepted he needed to re-evaluate his driving style and at times be more cautious. June - Claims his first MotoGP pole at the Catalan GP but a poor start resulted in a sixth placed finish. October 23 - Killed in a crash during the Malaysian GP in Sepang.
Silvio Grassetti was an Italian Grand Prix racer competing in the 250cc and 350cc classes. He rode for the Bianchi, Benelli, Jawa, and MZ teams. Grassetti was active from 1961-1963 and 1965-1973 posting his best year in 1969 finishing 2nd in the 350cc championship to Agostini. He won a total of 3 races during his career and retired in 1974 as a consequence of injuries suffered at Spa-Francorchamps. Ironically, Grassetti's last Grand Prix win was 3 years earlier at Spa in the video shown below.
Sadly, motorcycling lost one of its greats- Claudio Castiglioni. Mr. Castiglioni did for Italian motorcycles what Enzo Ferrari did for Italian cars. He was responsible for iconic bikes such as the Ducati 916 and Monster as well as the MV Augusta F4 and Brutale. His last coup was the purchase and return to to Italy of MV Augusta from H-D for 3 euros or $4.50. His passion and vision will be missed.
It wasn't easy. They are wily buggers and capturing them requires guile as well as a bit of money. This addition to the menagerie is a classic bronze piece with eery similarity to the Cock-a-Snoots created by Jeff Decker. It's cast in bronze and was most likely made for fitment on an automobile judging from its base. I am still thinking about proper mounting options.
I can't overstate my love for bronzes especially those featuring motorsports. It's strange but the material truly lends itself to the subject matter easily capturing sharp technical features and the flowing lines of motion. Jeff Decker clearly is a master of the art but I have also featured Elvio Pantuano, an equally talented sculptor. So it was a pleasure to come across Francois Chevalier. What makes Chevalier different is his keen connection to motorsport demonstrated by an impressive curriculum vitae. Motorsport permeates everything he does including the thesis for his Bachelor's of Psychology on learning to drive! Here are a few examples of his work........
If you want to see more of Francois Chevalier's art go here.
I have posted a couple of Model 7 bob jobs but here's one in the making. The frame is an early rigid "Garden Gate" with a girder front fork. The gearbox is perplexing but appears to be a "Doll's Head" or "upright" type. The front hub is a full width type which is a later dominator brake. Interesting mixture of eras present on this bike but like the the line. You can follow the progress right here at The Gasbox.
P.S. Just noticed the sectioned front downtube. Explains the rake.
For me, motorsport combines the arts of engineering and design with the human element to create the purest expression of human achievement. It's allegorical. It's a clear expression of intellect and physical effort in the pursuit of competition. I watched this video several times and was struck by two things. First, I can only imagine the sheer horror of the situation and wonder what I would have done. I like to think that I too would have parked my car and struggled to free my friend from the inferno. Secondly, I wonder if that conviction to a higher ideal still exists in our sports heroes of today.
Purley clearly places the ideal of selflessness above that of self-glorification. Is that still true today? If you follow the Tour de France, you'll know that Alberto Contador, last year's winner, is being villified all along the course for capitalizing on Andy Schleck's mechanical misfortune in the 2010 Tour. His abandonment of the ideals of good sportsmanship has cost him dearly this year.
Sports is not the only human endeavor in which the recent sacrifice of higher ideals has manifest itself. The worldwide finacial crisis finds its roots in personal greed above fiduciary responsibility. Politicians focus more on the their personal legacies rather than their constituents' needs. Purley's story is one of doing the right thing regardless of personal consequences. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people follow that example. Part of my attraction to vintage motorsport is in part due to those romantic ideals and fortunately many of my friends in the hobby share that perspective.
My French grandfather was a motorcycle fanatic and like many genetic conditions it skipped a generation to me. I made the plunge into vintage motorcycling by coming across a magazine that rekindled a passion that I always had as a kid. I purchased and started refurbishing a 1951 Norton Model 7, which is the departure point of this blog. While motorcycling is my hobby, I have found that there is a convergence of many different motor cultures. This blog is dedicated to camaraderie, sharing knowledge, and having fun while exploring the world of classic motorsports. I also encourage others who want to contribute to drop me an email.