Take it to the Limit: A Motorcycle Documentary with No Bounds

Above all others, Take it to the Limit and On Any Sunday are considered motorcycle documentary classics today.

| September/October 2020

take-it-to-limit
The original movie poster.

On Any Sunday probably registered first in your mind as one of those films, but if you weren’t part of the motorcycle scene during the early 1980s you may not be familiar with the other title, Take It To The Limit, produced and directed by expatriated Englishman Peter Starr.

Arlo-Guthrie
Peter Starr and Arlo Guthrie, who was also in the film.

Starr’s film focuses on what could be described as motorcycle racing’s Golden Era — the mid-to-late 1970s. Limit’s opening scene features an aerial view of the late Dave Emde riding a 1978 Yamaha XS1100 at speed on California’s Highway 150 along the Casitas Pass. The speedometer needle registers 130-plus mph before the film cuts to Kenny Roberts gracefully road racing his Yamaha TZ750, then cuts back to Emde on the street bike before showing a nasty crash by racer Bob Endicott at Ontario Motor Speedway. The stage is set for the rest of the film, and what follows is a litany of scenes, commentary and interviews with racers, among them American speedway star Scott Audrey, Steve Baker’s unforgettable 1976 Race of the Year win at Mallory Park against Barry Sheene and other greats of that era, and more.



steve-baker
Steve Baker at the 1976 Race of the Year at Mallory Park.

The point-of-view perspective, mixed with racers’ commentary, puts the audience up close and personal with legends such as Roberts after his historic Indy Mile win in 1975 aboard a TZ750-powered flat tracker, a gut-wrenching quarter-mile 199-mph ride with Russ Collins aboard his Sorcerer twin-engine (Honda 750s) drag bike, and a reckless jaunt in a Southern California desert race with offroad master AC Bakken, who wore an eight-pound helmet camera (sorry, no GoPro back then!) for a rider’s perspective of dodging desert pucker bushes at breakneck speeds while overtaking slower riders.



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