MotoGP Stars Head To Leno’s Place

Paul Carruthers | July 21, 2010

Yamaha and Jay Leno brought out the past and present stars of road racing last night when the two teamed up for a night not many will forget at the television late night star’s Big Dog Garage in Burbank, California.With the likes of Fiat Yamaha’s World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo joined by former stars Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson and his contemporaries like Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, Josh Hayes, Ben and Eric Bostrom, it was a who’s who of road racing – at least from a Yamaha perspective – as the riders past and present gathered before heading to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for this weekend’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.Leno was a gracious host and his 70,000-square-foot home was the perfect dinner site with over 200 motorcycles and cars in the building. And Yamaha added to the Leno collection by presenting the star of late night with an ex-Eric Bostrom AMA Superbike R1.”Last Fall, Jay auctioned off a custom Star V-Max to benefit Bailey’s Cafe, a charity that we both support,” said Yamaha’s Bob Starr. “We were thrilled with the results of that auction; it benefitted a very worthy cause. But we realized that when he sold his V-Max, it left him without a Yamaha in the garage. We wanted to make sure that Jay had a unique bike, that reflects his uniquely effective role as an ambassador for our sport. This R1 Superbike is not something that can be purchased at any price. It is virtually as-ridden by Eric. We put it into storage at the end of the 2008 season. We just asked Chuck Graves to go through it and make sure it was ready to ride again.”The bike was a surprise gift for Leno, who thought he’d only agreed to host a dinner for Yamaha’s MotoGP riders. Since all his bikes get ridden, it will be up to garage manager Bernard Juchli to find a place to hang a license plate on this factory Superbike. When we asked Bernard how he’d manage to register it, he smiled and replied, “I can’t reveal that.”In all, over 100 of Yamaha’s “friends and family” and representatives from Dorna and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, attended the event, which included a meal prepared by Yamaha USA’s racing boss Keith McCarty and crew.Tim Collins of Alpinestars presented Jay with a custom set of leathers to match the bike, and Troy Lee added a custom-painted Arai helmet, which included signatures and elements from the designs used by the legends and MotoGP riders at the dinner.When he posed for photos with Lorenzo, Spies, and Edwards, Leno quipped, “Yeah, this is great – I love being the slowest guy in the room.”When asked if he knew who Leno was prior to being a guest visitor to Tuesday night’s Tonight Show and then later at his garage, Lorenzo said, “Yes… and the other guy, Letterman, and also Oprah.”

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.