Cycle News

Cycle News 2022 Issue 07 February 15

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 108 of 119

T he early years of Superbike racing in America were known for racers with colorful personali- ties and builders with innovative minds. Originally called "Super- bike Production" racing, it didn't take long for the builders of these powerful 1000cc Superbikes to forget about the "production" part of the name. And one of the primary innovators of the early Superbike era was Udo Gietl. He helped transform a gentleman's touring motorcycle, the BMW R Series, into a championship- winning Superbike. Preferring to be a behind- the-scenes kind of guy, Gietl somewhat reluctantly became a celebrity of sorts in Superbike racing. His name was one rea- son: Udo—it had a certain ring to it and was easy to remember. But more than that was the coverage he got on the pages of Cycle magazine for turning a mild- mannered touring machine into a Superbike. Rider Cook Neilson and tuner Phil Schilling and their Ducati 750SS were competitors against Gietl's BMW crew, but it was a friendly rivalry, and Gietl's very trick Beemers got a lot of ink in the pages of the very influen- tial Cycle and other motorcycle magazines of the day. Gietl was born in Germany, but his family immigrated to the United States when he was just 10 years old. In the 1950s, Udo went to high school in Daytona Beach and was a spectator at the Daytona 200 on the beach. "Watching Dick Klamfoth win the Daytona 200 was the very first motorcycle race I ever saw," Gietl remembers. Interestingly, Gietl's grand- parents owned parcels of land where Daytona International Speedway was eventually built. Gietl started riding a Zundapp scooter for basic transporta- tion when he was 17. Eventually he took up the rising sport of motocross in the 1960s, and Gietl held his own against well- known motocross area racers such as Jimmy Ellis, Joe Bolger and Jimmy Weinert. In fact, Gietl was good enough that he was a factory-supported rider for Bultaco and might have gone on to become a National motocross racer had it not been for an un- fortunate accident on the streets of downtown Manhattan. "I had just finished restoring an R/25 3 and it was absolutely cherry," Gietl says. "It was a total P108 BY LARRY LAWRENCE Udo! Udo Gietl proved that BMW wasn't just your dad's brand of motorcycle. III ARCHIVES CN

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