LEGENDS OF SPEED
Text and photos by Geoff Baldwin
I've always enjoyed hearing stories about legendary motorcycle riders and racers from the past. They were the men who revolutionised the way motorcycles were made or the way they were ridden. Although some of their lives may be over, their stories live on to inspire new generations of riders and enthusiasts around the world. With this notion in mind we contacted illustrator and all round nice guy Pedro Oyarbide with an idea we had been kicking around for a while. The concept was to create a series of jacket pins that depicted some of our personal favourites from motorcycling history. Being a moto enthusiast himself Pedro did not hesitate in getting involved and the 'Legends of Speed' jacket pin series was born.
The 'Legends of Speed' series, which features 4 unique designs, were developed first as illustrations by Pedro using his trademark style. All 4 designs were then produced in diecast alloy with a black-dyed backgrounds and hand filled enamel colouring. The 4 designs are based on legendary racers Kenny Roberts, Dick Mann, Malcolm Smith and Rollie Free, all who have become icons in motorcycling history.
In 1970 Honda had their eyes set on the USA. Although their newly released CB750 was celebrated as a technological and performance breakthrough, the Honda brand simply didn’t have street cred. So Honda built 4 ‘CB750 Racing Type’ bikes (or CR750s) and had legendary racer Dick Mann pilot one in the Daytona 200. After 100 laps Mann crossed the finish line in first place to secure the win and Honda’s future.
AMA Grand National Champion Kenny Roberts revolutionised motorcycle racing with his fearless attitude and unconventional style. His transition from dirt racing to road tracks singlehandely changed the way racers piloted their bikes through corners. His technique also lead to the development of the knee puck that is used today by road racers around the world.
Winning races earned Malcolm Smith more than gold medals alone. In 1971 his racing career became the subject of Bruce Brown’s documentary ‘On Any Sunday’, a film that is credited as being one of the most important motorcycle documentaries ever made. Smith has since been inducted into the ‘Motorcycle Hall of Fame’ for his life of racing
achievements and contributions to the sport.
It was on September 13, 1948 when Roland “Rollie” Free lay prone along the spine of his Vincent HRD, wearing nothing more than a shower cap, bathing shorts and sneakers. His land speed run on the Bonneville Salt Flats of 150.313 mph earned him a place in the record books, but the photograph of him, in his unorthodox attire, has become one of the most iconic images in sporting history.