This historic bike is now residing in BMW's Mobile Tradition Collection in Munich, where I photographed it in Nov 2009.
This story on #83 with Mush Emmons famous photo appeared in MotorCyclist
Steve McLaughlin's #83 BMW R90S earned a place in the history books by winning the inaugural AMA Superbike National at Daytona on March 5, 1976, but it's best remembered as the upside down R90S in this particularly painful 1/250th of a second at Laguna Seca five months later. McLaughlin was running second behind teammate and eventual three-time AMA Superbike Champion Reg Pridmore on the #163 Butler & Smith BMW.
Mush Emmons was waiting near the exit of what was then Turn 9 with a 200mm lens on his Nikon F and three shots left on a roll of bulk-loaded Kodak Plus-X, "Of all the race weekends I covered, Laguna was where I got the most interesting photos," recalls Emmons, who now lives in Brazil. "It's always been a favorite racetrack of mine, especially in the morning and early afternoon when this photo was shot. With black-and-white film, the overcast let you bump up the contrast and keep all the details. You could get really close to the track then, and come up with all sorts of nutty angles."
Speaking of nuts, it was clear to Emmons that #83 wasn't content to settle for the runner-up slot. "McLaughlin was in second, and he wanted to stuff it in under Reg in the final corner. I figure he just locked up the front end and threw it down," he says. "You see the front axle is the pivot-point. The front brake is the only thing that's really sharp because everything else was pivoting around it."
Here is a selection of images of #83 in action...
This story is from the Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame
You never forget a first time, but this one was particularly memorable. That’s because the first time this bike crossed a finish line, it took first place in the first AMA Superbike race.
How did BMW, a company known for its refined touring machines, win that first race in 1976, then go on to take the championship that season? With a lot of engine work and innovation by tuner Udo Gietl, combined with the riding skill of teammates Steve McLaughlin and Reg Pridmore.
When the new Superbike road-racing series was announced, Butler & Smith, BMW’s U.S. importers, saw an opportunity to make an impact on the racetrack. So Gietl, chosen to be the team’s mechanic, set to work converting the company’s distinctive R90S sport-touring machine into a racebike.
Gietl shortened the flat-twin’s cylinders to allow greater lean angles in the corners. Titanium connecting rods and pushrods were fitted, allowing a 9,200 rpm redline. The stock rear suspension was replaced by a custom-built Koni monoshock adapted from a Formula 1 race car.
The BMW team arrived at Daytona, not for the 200-mile race, but for a 50-mile race earlier during Bike Week. The team had three riders—McLaughlin, Pridmore and Gary Fisher—and three bikes, including the one pictured here, previosly on display at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum at AMA Headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio.
“The bike broke down every time I rode it,” McLaughlin remembers of practice. “I wasn’t very confident that it would last, so when the race started, I made sure I got a good start to look good while it was running.”
He wasn’t the only one. All three BMWs got away early. “My bike wasn’t as fast, but I could stay with them in the draft,” he recalls. “Fisher was over-riding his, and it blew up within five or six laps.”
Pridmore and McLaughlin stayed tight throughout the race. But McLaughlin had been practicing his drafting techniques—always key at Daytona—and that’s how he got Pridmore by inches at the line.
The bike then slipped off the radar, being used as a club racer by Johnny's in Bakersfield for a couple of seasons, then being stuck in the back of the workshop where Bruce Armstrong, a former district sales manager for Butler & Smith, discovered it, and decided to buy and restore it to it's AMA winning specs.
"I knew if someone didn’t save that bike, it would be raced. I had to make sure one of the three from Daytona survived.” he said, and so Armstrong’s wife and two daughters bought it for him as a Christmas present in 1980, and he immediately went to work restoring it to its former glory.
Here it as as it was raced and discovered at Johnny's.
The story goes on in smaller scale!
My name is Ulrich Hoffmann from Ravensburg, Germany.
My hobby is model building of scale motorcycles.
Also I am riding a 1973 BMW R75/5 since 1982.
Bruce Armstrong provided me with lots of information about the bike.
I started to build a scale replica of this unique BMW.
By closely watching the above shown photos, you can see some differences in the original bike (b/w photo)
and the restored bike (colour photo).
I want to build the model like the the original Daytona winning machine.
(actually I do not like the "hump" on the seat..)
Since there are no 1/8 scale kits of a BMW R90S , I had to take the necessary parts
out of several kits:
Heller( a french model kit firm) BMW R75/5: wheels, engine
and a Heller BMW R 100/S: tank, seat front fairing, frame
And some scratchbuilding.
I used a built model of a R100/S and also some R 75/5 parts purchased via Ebay.
There is also a Revell version of the R75/5 but not so detailed as the Heller kits.
The air filter housing was removed and some engine structures had to be scratchbuilt.
I adjusted the R100S gearbox to the R75/5 engine housing.
The front engine cover was cut off at the top. So I had to scratchbuild several engine interior parts
like the dynamo and diode panel. They will be barely visible on the finished model but far better than a black hole...
The reflectors at the front fork were removed. The resulting holes were filled with a piece
of styrene tube. These parts will go towards the inside later.
The next challenges will be the wheels and the upper fork bridge.
Some small but time consuming progress:
The left cover of the rear brake drum.
The Heller BMW R75/5 kit supplied chrome cover wouldn´t do.
So I had to scratchbuild the
cover. A Tamiya BMW R 90S part in 1/6 scale served as a sample.
(Why didn´t I use this model as a base... what the heck.. )
Various sheet circles and pieces were used.
here´s the complete thing before base coat and drilling the holes for the spokes.
The front disc brakes:
The R90S did not have slotted discs at Daytona.
So I made new discs with my circle cutter.
The original ones were sawed off and the new one glued to the hub.
The resulting gaps will be filled with modelling putty.
The rims and hubs:
I used two rear wheels from the R 75/5 kits. I drilled the holes for the new metal spokes and
cut off the plastic ones. Now they´re ready for paint:
aluminium for the hubs and a special paint called Alcad polished aluminium for the rims.
On with the wheels:
The front wheel is half done. Spokes are 0,35mm insect pins with spoke ends from brass tube,
0,4mm inside and 0.9mm outside diameter cut to lenght.
I need to repaint the rim edges, the Aluminium Metalizer paint easily rubs off during handling.
Now we´re getting somewhere!
First try fit:
On the tank you see "ghost lines" from the molded on pinstriping.
I carefully sanded the tank before covering it with Revell base cote
from a spray can but it reacts somehow with these things.
After the next sanding the lines will be gone.
The tires are from a Laverda SF for the front tire and a Honda 750F kit for the rear.
I have to find a way to make slick tires out of them.
Sanding down is no option because they will get too thin.
Leftover parts from a Ducati 750 project.
Several details have been added with Evergreen rods etc.
They are in 1/9 scale, but there are no Dell´Orto carbs in 1/8 scale.
Here the intakes made of so called cable ends, which are normally soldered to electric cables
to prevent them from splicing.
Shortened and stretched over a conus .
The front fork mudguard holders. Originally from a BMW R75/5 adapted to the R90S fork.
The front mudgard will be fixed "the wrong way" like on the prototype
so that the longer rear end points toward the front
preventing the wind to go under it and lifting the front wheel.
The monoshock damper. Scratchbuild from Evergreen rods and disks.
The spring is still to short and will be replaced.
The new upper forkbridge. It was constructed from aluminium on the orginal bike to
get some more ground clearance. The front wheel had to be changed from
19" to 18" rims because there were no 19" slick racing tires.
But also the shortened cylinders still scraped the ground in the turns at Daytona..
Colour will be put on later. Now I have to testfit and dismantle things too often.
And now in colour!
Yet without polishing and clearcoat.
I simply sprayed good old Revell enamels through my airbrush.
First silver then orange.
Still missing are the red pinstripes. I tried to scale down a 1/6 Scale Tamiya
decal sheet from the BMW R90S and use the stripes.
Here you can see the colour change between silver and orange.
The upper part of the fairing will be painted matt black.
The pinstriping is now done with ultra-thin self adhesive foil
from our local script design shop
The stripes were cut out with two scalpel blades put parallel into a x-acto knife holder.
Unfortunatly I strechted them too much around the cornes so they shrunk a little and thus
were not parallel.
I still need some R90S badges for the engine, maybe someone can do some photoetching for me.
Pinstriping also on the seat, front fender and fairing.
After long hard work on the computer here are my first selfmade decals for the BMW
and another modelling project, a 1911 Flying Merkel Board track racer.
This is only a low-res jpeg of the artwork.
Converted from various sources and modified with a graphics program.
Then printed out on white decal film with my inkjet printer.
When dry they will be covered with clearcote.
I will use clear Tamiya Metal Primer from a spray can.
I bought the can some time ago not knowing the primer is clear.
But now it is of good use.
On with a part which caused me some headache.
After some search I stole a set of oil coolers from a 1/12 Tamiya Porsche 934 .
After some treatment with a saw and file the thing looked like this:
The detail pieces came from a insanly priced set from Detail Master that I bought some 10 years ago
to detail my 1/24 Nascar models with braided lines etc.
The big diameter parts were still in the box just right for this project.
The Air scoops are 0.3mm aluminium sheet.
The half finished oil cooler. The hose connections and holding brackets will be added later.
The finished bike:
Original and model:
I visited the BMW museum in Munich l and was allowed to take some pics.
Fortunatly the original bike was not behind glass!
And yes, the model is different in some details to the original. My model is built to look
like the 1976 Daytona winning machine. The restored bike has upgraded brakes and a
"hump" on the seat . Also the exhausts are black and not chromed.
The bike was crashed several times and the exhaust were always the first thing to go...
83 and 83/1
On the edge...
Outside the museum
this is my photograph as it looked June 1976 in the paddock of Loudon, NH.,
in line with it's 2 brothers - no big hump on the seat that day.
Sorry to say the Reno Leoni Guzzi LeMans with Mike Baldwin in the saddle
came in 1st that day.
Creighton Demarest photo