Cycle News

Cycle News 2020 Issue 07 February 19

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 120 of 129

CN III ARCHIVES BY LARRY LAWRENCE T odd Schuster was one of those larger-than-life charac- ters that you never forget. Todd died on January 24 in Westwood, New Jersey. He was 76. Friends say he'd been ill for a long time, and his passing wasn't a com- plete surprise. Still, it's a shock to the system when someone who was such a big part of racing his- tory passes away. After seeing the outpouring of love and admiration for Todd's craftsmanship, his inventiveness and his fun-loving personality, with comments by friends, we have the opportunity to look back at Todd's life with a fuller picture of the influence he had on the sport. Todd was a master fabricator and was instrumental in the early days of AMA Superbike racing P120 THE ONE AND ONLY TODD R90S ridden by Reg Pridmore to the very first AMA Superbike Championship in 1976 and you'll see innova- tions dreamed up by Gietl and brought to life by Schuster. Did the bikes look or perform anything like produc- tion BMWs? No. Were they legal? Let's just say they passed tech, often amid protests from fellow competitors. The Butler & Smith BMWs were masterful on the track and when- ever the bikes rolled through the paddock, fans did everything they could to get a closer look. That's about all you can expect from a racing machine, and Todd's chas- sis wizardry was a big reason the Butler & Smith Superbikes were such magical machines. When Udo got the call to run Honda's factory Superbike team, Todd got the call to join him. And again, Todd found ways to make the powerful 1000cc beasts handle at least halfway decent for riders like Freddie Spencer and Mike Baldwin. with Butler & Smith BMW and American Honda. After years of working with race teams, Todd opened his own shop, Precision Specialties in Tappan, New York. He was also a member of IATSE Local 1 in New York City. Todd got his start in motorcycling working a side job doing pre-de- livery inspection for the legendary New Jersey-racing shop AMOL Pre- cision, owned by Oscar Liebmann. He came to national fame as the fabricator for the stunning Butler & Smith BMW Superbikes of the late- 1970s. Todd and team boss Udo Gietl were masters of reading the AMA rule book, finding the gaps and filling them with the among the most imaginative creations ever seen in motorcycle road racing. Look at the Butler & Smith BMW (Left) Todd Schuster (left) congratulating Freddie Spencer after Spencer's win in the 1983 Daytona Superbike 100 aboard the factory Honda that Schuster helped build. PHOTO: CYCLE NEWS COLLECTION

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