The Mystery Ship Connection
Many have seen or heard of Craig Vetter's Kawasaki-based Mystery Ship motorcycle, which debuted in 1980 to curiosity more than outright applause from the motorcycling community.
What many folks don't know, however, is that the Ship's chassis and overall performance was based on that of the Pridmore racer's. "My goal," Vetter says, "was to offer a real racer for the street with street bodywork. I worked closely with [Pierre] des Roche on the chassis, which is very close to the racebike's."
Only 10 Mystery Ships were built, although Vetter says at one point a couple hundred were planned. "The bike was to be a promotional tool for the then-new Quicksilver fairing I'd designed," Vetter told us, "but when I sold the company in '79 the new owners changed that fairing's design."
For a close-up look at the real thing, the Motorcycle Hall Of Fame Museum in Pickerington, Ohio, has Mystery Ship Number 1 on display. Click on www.motorcyclemuseum.org for more info.
1980 Yoshimura Suzuki GS1000
The bike Wes Cooley rode to beat Spencer and Lawson-along with a protest-for the '80 titleLeafing through Cycle News one evening in early '93, Brian O'Shea was surprised to see the for-sale ad-but also plenty excited.
"It was just a little blurb in the back saying the Wes Cooley and Reg Pridmore Superbikes were for sale," O'Shea says, "so I called the number and spoke to Craig Vetter. I ended up going out to his place [in San Luis Obispo, California] to see the bikes and make a deal. I bought both of them, and ended up spending a couple of weeks out there hanging with Craig. He'd apparently had them for quite a while, more than a decade. He'd had them in his office."
Such dedication-leaving one's job for weeks at a time and spending big bucks on travel and rare-motorcycle purchases-might seem somewhat over the top, but it's just business as usual for O'Shea. And he's got armloads of wild cross-country and around-the-world bike-buying stories.
The Cooley bike-the Yoshimura-built Suzuki GS1000 Wes Cooley rode to the 1980 AMA Superbike championship after an end-of-season protest from Eddie Lawson and Team Kawasaki-is clearly one of O'Shea's favorites.
"Cooley edged Freddie Spencer for the win at the end-of-year Daytona race," O'Shea says, "and Eddie Lawson, who came into the race with a 13-point series lead, crashed, scoring no points and giving Cooley the title. Lawson protested Cooley, saying his bike's frame was illegal, and Cooley protested right back, saying Lawson was aboard his teammate's [Dave Aldana's] machine, which was true because the bike Lawson qualified on had blown up in practice."
Months after the '80 season's final race the AMA determined the title belonged to Cooley. Lawson's protest wasn't allowable because he raced a motorcycle other than the one on which he'd qualified. That meant Lawson was disqualified from the event and therefore not eligible to file his protest. Cooley took the title, with Lawson second and Spencer third.
In its decision, the AMA also recognized it had a problem with the Superbike class, which had outgrown its simple production-spec framework. It noted a certain "lack of clarity" in the rules, as well as some "laxity in the enforcement" (to put it mildly) regarding some of the mods being performed. Yoshimura, for instance, was accused by some of taking advantage of the rules' vagueness, though it wasn't blatant enough to disqualify Cooley and Yoshimura. And, in truth, Yoshimura's rule-bending wasn't any worse than that of its competitors.