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Five days before Christmas 2007, and a gift of a lifetime.
A legend, and local, Mert Lawwill. He is one of the men who brought us the classic motorcycle movie, "On Any Sunday". Along with Mert, Malcom Smith, Bruce Brown, David Evans, and Steve McQueen, a movement in motorcycling was made in 1971.
Mert has always been a hero of mine since I was old enough to hold on to handlebars.
It was an honor yesterday to go to his home, coincidentally very close to my home. I joined my brother to visit Mert so that he could sign a few DVD's of 'On Any Sunday' for a charity track day raffle taking place a few days later.
What I thought was going to be 15 minutes of 'here ya go', turned out to be the best Christmas gift of all... 2 solid hours of hanging out with Mert in his home garage where he now builds his own motorcycles.
Little known fact, that it was Mert and a few other locals that invented what we all know today as 'the mountain bike'. Mert also developed one of the first rear suspension bicycles.
Not only is he a man who raced Daytona when helmets only covered the top of you head, and the master of slide on a flat track, but he's a genius when it comes to motorcycles mechanics.
Currently, along with building only 20 of his custom motorcycles, and designing custom suspensions, he designed a prosthetic attachment for arm amputees so they can ride. It's ground breaking, and changing the world for people who have lost arms, and wish to ride anything with handlebars again. True genius.
I just kept ripping through rolls of film as we all talked racing stories. There was a moment when Mert glanced over at me, and I happened to be holding my camera to my face, and instead of a nervous smile, I got a comfortable candid.
I can't make a print of this fast enough.
Leica M6 : 35 f2 Asph
Bergger 200 pushed to 400
D76 Straight for 10.5min
More from this series can be found here: www.joelaron.com
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