Rider: Michael Czysz
Then: 6-year-old shop rat
Now: Architect and president of MotoCzysz
My grandfather, Clarence Czysz, was a well-known race tuner in the 1950s and '60s. He had a little shed behind his garage in San Bernardino, California, and there he built some of the fastest Nortons in the nation. In that shed, amongst all the Manxes and Jawas, was a tiny, little, air-cooled, 125cc two-stroke Bultaco racebike. It was silver, black and red, and those colors still stick with me to this day. I was maybe 6 when I first saw it, and was drawn to it immediately. It was the only bike there that I could sit on and reach the bars. I couldn't help but envision myself riding it.
"It wasn't until I was probably 18 years old that I finally rode that Bultaco. It had migrated to a crawl space beneath the house by then. One day my father dragged it out, did some minor maintenance and it fired up! We went out by Ontario Motor Speedway-which at that point had been closed-and found a road near there where I rode the Bultaco back and forth a few times. It was the simplest test in the world, but it was my childhood dream and I couldn't have been more satisfied. For a long time, that was the coolest thing I ever did!
"My dad kept the Bultaco for another 10 years or so, and then gave it to me. I still have it today, decorating my shop. It reminds me of where I came from."