Neil Spalding: MotoGP Technology (*****)
About Mike Norman:
"My passion for motorcycles began when I was just a boy. I used to ride my bicycle down to the local Honda shop and stare at the XR-75, dreaming that someday I would own one. When I would ride my bicycle, I would make motorcycle engine noises, imagining that my bicycle was really a motorcycle.
By the age of 10, I was learning how to ride on a moped that my Step-Mom brought home. By 11, I had started working on the moped, and was feeling comfortable with engine work on it. One day, she brought home a Honda CB-125S. It wasn't long before I was tearing into that bike, and working on it's motor. Shortly after that, I was working on bikes for friends and neighbors.
I have always been mechanically inclined, and aspired to be a mechanical engineer. I started early in life, working for a small satellite division of Teledyne as a Jr. Drafter as an after-school job when I was 15. I wanted to learn how to design things, so I could design motorcycle parts. All I could think about was motorcycles.
When I was 17, I was in the motorcycle parking lot of my college, talking to a fellow motorcyclist, when he offered me a job at a small independent shop. I stared work there as the parts-runner, willing to do just about anything to learn more about motorcycles, and the industry. The shop catered more towards BMW owners than sportbikes, but the owner and all the employees were avid racetrack fans.
The owner of this shop was one of the best influences in my career. He was detail-oriented and cared more about the satisfaction of his customers than the bottom-dollar. The shop was always kept clean. The bikes were always kept clean, and the customer always came first. He had one of the best reputations in Southern California for service and customer satisfaction. I have always admired his standards, and continue to live by them to this day.
Over the next decade, I bounced back and forth between mechanical design jobs and motorcycle jobs. I loved the engineering industry. Nevertheless, I loved the motorcycle industry more. In my vast experiences, I learned more and more about engineering processes and technologies that I could apply to the motorcycle industry. Some of these process are still new and unique, and the motorcycle industry has not seen them yet. I hope to apply these advancements to motorcycles very soon.
I have had various motorcycle shops from the time I was 17. Infact, since I was about 13 or 14, I have always had some sort of motorcycle repair operation out of my garage wherever I lived. My first attempt at a motorcycle business was called "Racing Stripes". I painted motorcycles for local racer friends, eventually advancing to crash repairs and insurance work for companies like Progressive and State Farm Insurance. Since then, I have always provided some sort of assistance to my fellow motorcyclists.
Motorcycle racing, race engine development, mechanical design, photography, being a father.