When Jeff Shults bought Wayne Rainey’s replica Marlboro Yamaha leathers he set himself on the path to become one of the most prolific collectors in the world.
He now has 110 race suits worn by the world’s leading MotoGP, WSB, BSB, 500GP and Suzuka 8 hour riders and a collection of almost 350 lids.
“I consider it a pretty great honour to be able to care for these pieces of road racing history,” the 40-year-old from Washington, USA said. “New suits arrive just about every other week it seems and there is usually something new (old!) to keep up the excitement as the different eras supply lots of opportunities in collect-ability.”
He talks MCN though his collection and explains how it come to be:
What was the first item of memorabilia you acquired?
I found a guy advertising a Wayne Rainey replica Marlboro Yamaha suit in California while I was going a web search during a work phone call.
Why did you get it?
I thought it would make a great wall decoration for my office and looked much cooler than those terribly daft “teamwork” posters that a lot of office walls are covered with. Clients come into the office and our lobby is set up in a typical fashion I guess you could say, but when they step through the door to my office they’re assaulted by glass shelves lined with colorful helmets and race suits hanging on the left over wall spaces. They’re like “Good grief! What is all this?” They usually then spend the next few minutes checking things out and asking questions about where all this stuff comes from and the people who wore them.
What was the most difficult to acquire?
I’ve worked on getting a set of Randy Mamola’s leathers from his 1986 season aboard the Lucky Strike Yamaha for three years now - and just got them at the ’09 Laguna Seca MotoGP event just recently. Even after his racing career has been finished for years, the guy is still so busy traveling the planet with the MotoGP circus and his charity events that he’s incredibly tough to track down.
When did you develop an interest in bike racing?
After watching the 1988 USGP at Laguna Seca on television at a friend’s house. I had seen a little bit of coverage in magazines before but after seeing it on TV, I was hooked.
Do you ride yourself, and if so what?
Absolutely. My favorite machines to ride are my old classic superbikes: Yamaha 0W-01, Yamaha R7, Honda RC30, Honda RC45, Bimota YB4, YB6, V-due, Ducati 851, 888 and various other street or roadrace machines that make their way into my garage. I live in an area with mountains all around me so there are a few dirt bikes and trials bikes in the collection too.
What is your favourite item?
That’s a tough one to name. Maybe either the Team Roberts/Lucky Strike Rainey leathers from the 1988 GP season or one of the most recent suits I acquired -which is the Kenny Roberts, Sr. leathers he wore at the 1982 Grand Prix at Silverstone. He fell off chasing Sheene and ended up hurting his finger and knee in the crash. I met Kenny at this season’s MotoGP at Laguna Seca and he remembered the suit. His long time team physio Dean Miller was there also and they both talked about the suit and the injuries sustained in that race so it was really neat to be standing there listening in and hearing the stories come directly from the guys that were there back in ’82. Kenny signed the suit and posed for a few photos so that was a real bonus and a great afternoon for me as a fan.
Do any have funny/interesting stories about the acquisition of any of the pieces?
Lots of interesting stories -but too many to list as it would be hard to remember them all. I guess the most “interesting” part of this collection is the really interesting people from all over the world that I’ve met in pursuit of memorabilia collecting. One of my favorite stories is buying an Eddie Lawson replica helmet from a guy in Australia and it turns out he used to live in the States not 100 miles from where I’ve lived for the past 35 years! We became good friends and have kept in touch ever since. He came back to the States to visit three years ago and my wife and I headed to Australia for the MotoGP at Philip Island in October to visit him.
How much time/money do you devote to collecting?
Loads and loads of time is spent tracking down suits I would have to say. I’m probably sort of an addict actually in that I have an extensive network that I search through on a daily basis. I actually don’t keep track of the costs too closely anymore -as I would probably be shocked by what sort of money gets spent on this hobby.
Check out all of Shult’s collection at www.motomemorabilia.com
Do you know a fanatical collector or are you one? MCN wants to hear from you!