Monday, August 20, 2012

Trying to Find a Manufacturer I Don't Hate

Work with what you've invested in while you've still got it!
With the latest trial of one of my favorites, Ben Spies, by Yamaha, I looked back and tried to find a motorcycle factory that hasn't made a decision that pissed me off and it was difficult.  First about Spies, if you haven't heard, Yamaha has been apparently prodding him to give 100% or "don't show up".  Essentially saying, "on your way out the door this year, we're actually going to try and ruin your day by badgering you constantly, and our motorcycles will innocently fail under you (yet miraculously not for your teammate) so try not to take it personally -now go out and do a super job today!"  So I tried to find a team to be a fan of in MotoGP and here's how it went.

Honda: what's not to love, they win everything and have for decades!  I'll look like a genius supporting this team!  Except for the time their American rider, Nicky Hayden, accidentally won the championship (2006) and the following year they accidentally put the entire team effort (and bike) into his diminutive team mate.  To this day, at Laguna Seca GP, there are still fans who wear t-shirts that say "Dani Sucks!".  So out goes Honda.

Ducati: yeah! They've got moxy, lots of fans and an American rider (well, saved from the back-burner at the last minute when our Italian darling suffered his first career failure and bolted for Yamaha.  That brings my memory back to the 2007 USGP at Laguna Seca, I stood in line for an hour or so to get Casey Stoner and Loris Capirossi's autograph.  When it was my turn, Casey was obviously happy in his championship form, but Loris was off.  I found out that they had sacked him just that day -ouch; "now be a good fella and go sign some autographs won't you, my good man?"  So scratch Ducati.

Ok, Aprilia?  No, they took their bike to WSBK (and kicked ass with one of the MotoGP 'outcasts', Max Biaggi).  Kawasaki?  No, outcast and winning poles (and a race) w/ the amazingly looking-exactly-like Lawrence of Arabia, Tom Sykes.  Suzuki?  Nope (although I have an unbelievable fantasy of Suzuki coming back with Kevin Schwantz at the helm, Ben Spies riding lead, and Cal Crutchlow lending Euro cred to the deal -if it happens, I dreamed it here first!).  That leaves the CRT's, which Colin Edwards has declared slow, so they're out.

Now to be more fair, if we asked an old timer, he'd probably remember the time that MZ was betrayed by an opportunisitic Suzuki and will never touch one again; everyone is competing -but you don't have to be a jerk, I suppose that's my point.  Not that I hold a grudge or anything.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Grand Prix Poster That Isn’t Lame

I’m not often accused of theft, but when a race is in town, especially a marquee event like Laguna Seca, temptation becomes overwhelming.   I do remember many occasions where a group of us guys would see a poster in something like a grocery store and we would create elaborate plans with a diversion, backup diversion and a Leatherman tool to remove posters from public places.  The biggest problem, however, wasn’t people actually caring that we were taking down advertising, but that they typically stuck it up there with large hunks of double-sided tape so the only way to take it down was to completely destroy it.  This is the power of souvenir hunters on a grand prix weekend in that the currency of memory is, temporarily anyway, more valuable than long standing morals.
Sample of some of the greats from a long gone era
The problem with the posters is that very few of them are actually worth paying for.  They’ve evolved from some of graphic design’s greatest hits into something that looks like a high schooler would photoshop together (so sorry if I offend, but you may see my point to some degree).  Now to be fair, the medium of printed poster has utterly lost its former power due to a multitude of reasons (automobiles want billboards, internet wants movies instead of stills, etc.).  But a wildly refreshing poster has appeared on the horizon in the form of an anime-esque poster for the Japanese Grand Prix on the 14th of October. 
I am so lucky to have a friend from Japan who can translate all of this for me and has discovered that the artist is (English Translation, but still google-able) Ranka Fujiwara, who has also apparently done design for the late and revered Daijiro Kato.  There are currently no plans for major production of the image except in a small set of promotional materials.  However, at Asphalt & Rubber there is a conversation going on about how to buy the poster and even bold promises of “I will pay handsomely!” being made.  This poster, if ever produced as such, will go down as the first major contribution to the art of the poster since who knows when.  I’d love to buy one and I’ll bet many others would too.  Fujiwara! Please print it!!!  

I’ll post more info here if it develops!!  Please post a comment and I'll have my friend send this request to Japan!