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 121 of 129

VOLUME 57 ISSUE 7 FEBRUARY 19, 2020 P121 "The riders were saying 'The bike wiggles,'" Gietl recalls. "What was happening was the downtube system would flex. I asked Todd what he was going to do. He said, "'I'll fix it, and no one will see it. He went back and with a Dremel tool, cut the bend open, top to bottom, took a slice of steel and slid it in there, tag welded it together, ground it off, welded again and then you had two D-shaped tubes welded together. Nobody would see it, nobody would know. We go to Willow Springs, and I think Fred- die [Spencer] rode it and he said, 'This is great! Perfect.' "So I came back and said, 'Todd, I got news for you. It's perfect and now I need 11 more frames.' And Todd would go through his cursing and carrying on, but you know what? The job got done." Udo went on to explain Todd wasn't exactly the corporate type. "He kept odd hours," Udo said. "He would come in at five in the afternoon and then work all night. He was just a great guy, a very hard worker and brilliant at looking at simple drawings and building racing components with great precision and care." Todd was a big man. A pow- erful one too, remembers Jim Rogers. "I remember seeing him at Loudon carrying a complete boxer engine under one arm. [I'll] never forget that image." Todd was a gentle soul at heart but knew with his size he could be intimidating when he needed to be. Once at Laguna Seca when Honda brought its NR500 for Freddie Spencer to ride, fans were doing all they could to get a glimpse and possibly a close- up photo of Honda's trick four- stroke GP machine. One bold fan stepped inside Honda's tent and was just focusing his camera on the bike when he suddenly sensed a huge shadow looming beside him. The snapshot hopeful looked up to see Todd standing next to him saying, "If you want to keep that camera, you'd better beat it." "Yes sir," said the photographer as he beat a hasty retreat. Todd was also legendary for his humor. Friends say he would make off-the-wall observations of things that would evoke a big, belly laugh. As a Superbike builder, Todd knew just what to do to make a little dig at the GP riders and mechan- ics. He showed up wearing a t-shirt that read, "I would rather eat worms than ride a two-stroke." "I knew Todd for over 60 years. He was one of the greatest, most memorable and talented friends I've ever known," said his buddy Skip Vez- zetti. "We rode together, and he built several bikes for me. What can I say? Todd was more than a mechanic or fabricator; he was an artist. You can't speak about or think of Todd without smiling. He'll be missed by all his friends." Cook Neilson, AMA Superbike racing pioneer and former Cycle magazine editor, who knew Todd longer than probably anyone else in the industry, wrote what is perhaps the best summation of the way the folks in racing viewed Todd. "Of all the great people I've been lucky enough to know in motorcycling's wonderful world, Todd was right up there at the top," Cook said. "We got to be friends drag racing back in the early '60s and stayed friends for close to 60 years. Beyond his mechanical skills, his warmth and generosity, his loyalty, and his work ethic, he was the funniest human I've ever been around. There will never be another like him." CN TODD SCHUSTER Subscribe to nearly 50 years of Cycle News Archive issues: Schuster's business card.

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