40-Year-Old Team Suzuki Images Saved

While I was working at Suzuki in 1979, a few motocross team mechanics asked if I would shoot photos of them with their riders’ bikes on the grass in front of the Suzuki pagoda in Santa fe Springs. When the slides came back from the lab, they were pitch black. I had totally screwed up the exposure. I was tempted to throw them away but for some reason, I held on to them.

The slides popped up again recently so I sent them to my pal Pat Carrigan. If there was anybody who could extract anything out of the blackness, it was Pat. “You gotta be kidding me,” Pat said after looking at the black squares. “I’ll see what I can get of out of this, but no promises.”

The man is a miracle worker. How he got anything from the darkness is a triumph of Pat’s skill. Here are the shots that I never thought would see the light of day.

Greg Arnette was Kent Howerton’s mechanic. He later worked for Oakley and then started his own eyewear empire, Arnette.
Pat Alexander worked on Danny LaPorte’s bikes. He has never left Suzuki. Pat is still an instrumental part of Suzuki’s racing programs. Harry Klemm called him, “One of the hardest working guys I ever met.” Agreed.
Jeff Clark dialed in this RM for Saddleback specialist Scott Gillman. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest where he runs a sales agency for outdoor brands.
These photos look like they were shot during a total eclipse of the sun. If you think they are bad, you should have seen them before Pat Carrigan worked his magic.
“People didn’t understand what we were doing,” remembers Mark Blackwell, Suzuki’s team manager. “We lowered and ran less suspension to lower the bike’s center-of-gravity, shortened the wheelbase and tuned the motors for more torque. We crushed them.”
I get sad driving by the abandoned Suzuki pagoda off the I-5 Freeway in Santa fe Springs.

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