Opinion: Bondo’s best

There were a hundred or so good friends at Oshawa’s Portly Piper pub on Sunday who share Steve Bond’s passion for motorcycles and for racing.  Our friend died earlier this month after battling cancer through the summer and fall, and we gathered to remember the good times. Many of those recollections included crashes at the track, with Steve flying through the air, or into the trees, or over the guardrail, and often breaking bones, but he always bounced back. He was just that kind of all-or-nothing guy.

Larry already told us some of his favourite memories of Steve. Here are some more:

Lang Hindle, racer: Steve had an unusual riding style, where his legs would stick right out, you know? It was mesmerizing to follow him. You wouldn’t want to pass him, because you’d want to be watching those legs. Then when we’d come into the pits, Steve was always so cheerful about it. He was always up – it was very seldom that he was negative about anything.

I have a legacy of racing, but that’s all gone now. It’s done. Steve’s legacy for us all is all that he’s written as a journalist, and I really admire that.

Nathan Naslund, industry executive: He joined us at a Friday 13thevent down in Port Dover during my Harley years. The Harley lifestyle wasn’t really Steve’s thing, not at all, and it was an interesting time. He came up with some really good one-liners on the different people he’d see, questioning some of the attire they’d wear – you can just imagine. He’d always speak his mind. I’d rather not repeat it here, but it was hilarious. He was a great guy and will be sorely missed.

George Morin, former Canadian Superbike champion: I remember one time at Mosport, at practice for the last race of the year, we were going up the back straight very fast, and he passed me on the outside of the corner. I thought, ‘Uh-oh – this can not be good.’ And it wasn’t. He went tumbling down and broke his wrist, I believe. Later on, he came and told me, ‘I knew I was in trouble when I passed you at the end of the straightaway.’ And he was.

Colin Fraser, CSBK Grand Poobah: The ultimate compliment I can pay Steve is that he was a good guy. Fun to ride with and a great person.

Jim Arnold, racer: We started the Mickey Mouse Racing Team because a buddy of mine in high school had Mickey Mouse on his helmet and I thought that was pretty cool. I’d just sold my 150 Suzuki to buy my first racing bike in 1970, so I painted Mickey Mouse on the front of my helmet, and then I met Steve and Steve thought it was pretty cool too. He ended up with Mickey Mouse painted on the front of his bike. And then some other friends joined in and we all just stayed together.

He was my friend for over 50 years. He was the best man at my wedding. I sold him my Yamaha TD1C 250, and I remember Steve going to Daytona with me. Steve was out there on the Yamaha, first time he’d ever ridden it. I said, ‘What are you revving it to?’ and he said, ‘about 8.’ So I said, ‘Get out there and take it to 10,5!’ So he took it to 10,500 and immediately ran off the track.

Ken Livingstone, racer: Steve and I one year decided to get into shape so we started playing squash. But we were a couple of idiot racers, so it was full-contact squash. We were just bouncing off the walls and would never give up.

Mike Willis, VRRA racer: My wife and I volunteered as marshalls. One time at Pit Out, Steve was late for his race, so instead of being able to take his warm-up lap, he had to start from Pit Out. We advised him strongly to take it easy – there was no way he was going to win the race in the first lap. Get the tires warmed up first. Then we heard on the radio that just before Corner 10, someone had crashed on the first lap. Steve broke his shoulder. As he said later, what racer is not familiar with the red mist that comes over you?

Graeme Jones, Yamaha Canada: When I was a journalist, we got to ride together, and he was a really good rider. We also got to eat together, and he was a really good eater.

Larry Gammon, racer: At my first race, at Sanair in Quebec, Steve came over with some masking tape and put a big X on my back, because that’s what you did with new guys to warn everybody. On my first trip out, he gathered a bunch of the guys to surround me and usher me around the track for a couple of laps before they all buggered off. But Steve stayed with me and escorted me around to show me all the lines. He was quick, but also really safe. Steve often had a group of guys around him on the track because everybody trusted him.

Mark Richardson, CMG Editor: When I was editor of the Toronto Star’s Wheels section, Steve pitched me a story about going up to North Bay to ride vintage motorcycles on a track that was also part of the runway at the local airport. He sent in the story, and he wrote something like “we were racing around on the racetrack but it was just a runway, and I expected that at Turn 1, everybody would crash. The only thing that would make it worse is if a plane came in and crashed at the same time, and even more people would be killed.” That was the lead to his story.

Back then, we used to pre-print the Wheels section on a Thursday and then distribute it in the Saturday Star. I wrote back and said, “Steve, you know that if we print this on Thursday, it’s going to appear in the paper on Saturday, but on the Friday, there’ll be a huge plane crash somewhere in the world that will take the whole front page. You know that’s going to happen, right?” And he wrote back, and said, “Oh yeah – that’d be good!” Ever since then, he was proud that he had officially written the most tasteless copy to ever almost appear in Canada’s largest newspaper.

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