Peter Starr is a motorcycle racer, TV producer and filmmaker whose work includes dozens of productions about motorcycles and motorcycling: bringing the message that motorcycles are fun, exciting, practical and liberating to countless riders and non-riders.
Here are 12 interesting facts about Starr, who was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2017.
1. Born in Coventry, England, in 1942, Starr started riding motorcycles at an early age and turned his love for bikes into a four-year stint working for Triumph in the early 1960s. He raced Ariels, Nortons and a Triumph T100.
2. After moving to the United States in the mid-1960s, Starr spent six years as a rock-and-roll DJ and two years as a record producer before turning back to motorcycles as a filmmaker. His first film, “Bad Rock,” was about the ISDE qualifier in Oregon.
3. Hodaka put up $6,000 to fund the film “Bad Rock,” and Pennzoil contributed another $6,000-$7,000.
4. Los Angeles’ Channel 11 ran the production and doubled its Sunday night ratings. That got the attention of Datsun (now Nissan), which saw the film as an attractive advertising means for its vehicles, and it was distributed all over America.
5. Starr’s most famous film, “Take it to the Limit,” won Gold and Silver Awards at the Chicago and Houston International Film Festivals.
6. “Take it to the Limit” was the first documentary that was produced in Dolby Stereo. The film featured a variety of top motorcycle racers, including future AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers Mike Hailwood Roger DeCoster and Russ Collins.
7. In addition to “Bad Rock” and “Take it to the Limit,” Starr produced and directed more than 50 television specials on motorcycling and motorsports.
8. He was the first filmmaker to mount a film camera on a motorcycle, during an AMA National race at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., in 1980.
9. Starr was part of the first live broadcast from a motorcycle in competition at the AMA National Mile in Du Quoin, Ill., for ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1985.
10. He designed and built the first fully functional motorcycle sidecar camera vehicles for use in major movies, including “Batman and Robin,” “Apollo 13” and “Lethal Weapon 3.”
11. In recent years, Starr has been an international ambassador for motorcycling, perhaps most notably in Taiwan riding with a group of aging motorcyclists known as the “Grand Riders” who have captured the public mindshare for their promotion of motorcycling as a way to extend an active lifestyle. Starr has also championed the benefits of motorcycling on tours throughout Europe, Australia, Ecuador and Canada.
12. In 2012, the Taiwanese government commissioned a video about Starr, Starr’s efforts to bring American riders to Taiwan and the extent to which Starr has been embraced by the Taiwanese riding community.