Here are two books that I read this off-season that, after reading, I didn’t wish I could turn back the clock and get the time I spent reading them returned to me:
jon & hetty burgers, Frank weeink
This is a hard bound photo book. My friend David Bull publishes the most beautiful photo books but he has to do car and car racer books to make money. This book is near David Bull level quality–most of the images are black and white and show the early 1970s period or before. I don’t know who the authors–Jon & Hetty burgers, Frank Weeink–are, but clearly this book is both a labor of love and done to a professional level.
I have no idea how to get a copy. A friend handed me this one at a recent International Motorcycle Show. I’m glad he did.
James Toseland. The Autobiography.
This book was published something like 15 years ago. I’d never read it simply because I didn’t care, at all, about the subject matter.
I have a strange relationship with James Toseland. In that I have nothing in terms of a working or other relationship with him, at all. “We’re not partners, we’re not buddies and we’re not friends”, as the old Eddie Murphy line goes.
That said, I was there, right there, when Toseland had the Biggest Crash of his Young Life at Monza in, dunno, the late 1990s, on the Honda World Supersport bike.
I was hanging about, enjoying some Italian countryside, when I heard a series of nasty crunching noises and then a medium “boom!” on the track. I then saw Toseland’s bike wadded up in a ball, hissing and smoking. Next, I saw Toseland, like maybe 20 seconds after he pulled his helmet off post-crash, and since he had stumbled right next to me, where I was perched, taking bad photos behind the corner, I looked at his face as he stood there, on the scooter path with me after the crash. Toseland’s pupils were so large you could ram a pool cue through them without touching anything. He was concussed and was peering at me like he knew me, which he didn’t. Later, they took him away in an ambulance or a scooter. He writes about this crash in this book and then I remembered that I was there, and suspected he had pooped his pants in the crash. He does not cop to the pooping his pants detail of the crash, in the book, but he does relate that it was one of those crashes a rider has that is a fork in the road. Where you decide if you’re going to be a rider or you’re going back to the real world, reasonably safe in the real world’s cocoon.
I know this because years later, again at Monza, I was sitting there minding my own business in the media center when a Honda PR gal came up as I was fighting off jet lag and introduced herself over my laptop where I was surfing eBay for GPz550 parts. Toseland had won the WSBK championship on a Ducati since that day of big eyes and was arguably the fastest guy in WSBK. Would you like an interview with James or any of the Honda riders this weekend? she asked/offered.
Sure, I said, an interview with then ex-world champion James Toseland would be great. Remember Jimmy when you yard-sale’d that Honda 600 here and almost died?
Right then, she said, can I have your card?
Ah, I don’t have a business card, I said.
Her face in response revealed what she was thinking: drat, I have offered my communication service to one of those internet fan sites that buy media passes and only want an autograph.
Hmmm, okay, right. Well, James will want to see the questions in advance. Are you okay with this?
I gave her the ‘Hey, you asked me!’ look but said, yes, of course, I was fine with the written in advance questions.
Right, she said, I’ll come back and pick them up and we’ll let you know.
Cooltastic, I think I replied.
She came back a while later and I handed her a sheet of paper. ‘This is a very competitive media environment,” I explained to her. “Will these questions be vetted by others or just James? I don’t want anyone else to see them,” I said.
Right, she said again, no, only James will see this, she said as she took the quad-folded paper I handed her. Only James.
Great, I said. I am looking forward to interviewing him, I said, even though frankly I wasn’t.
On the paper she ostensibly handed to Toseland I had written a line inspired by Elmore Leonard. WHERE’S THE MONEY, MOTHERF&CKER?
I never did get a Toseland interview that Monza WSBK weekend. What’s more the PR woman refused to speak to me for the rest of the weekend, even when I sidled up next to her and said “hullo”.
Anyway, Toseland’s book is pretty decent all in all. It was co-written by Ted Macaluly, who wrote books with Mike Hailwood several decades ago. I’m glad I read it.
It’s like $8 used on Amazon.