Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Today in motorcycle history, December 4, 1988



  Hollywood actor, Reality TV star, human trainwreck, Gary Busey crashes his celebrity-special Harley-Davidson,  whacking his noggin on the Culver City asphalt.


  Gary Busey couldn't wait to "get in the saddle".  The mechanics had finished installing a windscreen on his customized $15,000 Harley-Davidson, and Busey wanted the bike right away.  So even though Bartels' Motorcycle showroom is closed on Sundays, salesman Gene Thomason opened the Culver City, California, shop to let another celebrity wannabe pick up his bike.  The actor hit the starter, waved, then wheeled the custom-painted black-and-cream motorcycle into the traffic on Washington Boulevard.

  Barely 100 feet out of Bartels' door Busey tried to make a turn around a bus, his 625-pound Harley went into a skid.  Instead of laying the bike down in the direction of the slide, as he should, "Gary high-sided," says Thomason. "The momentum threw him off.  He landed on the curb on his back and his head hit."

  After the crash, Thomason ran across the street and cradled the star's bleeding head in his arms (People Magazine look at me!). "He kept saying he wanted to get up," reported the salesman. "He's a tough guy."  He was almost not tough enough.  A CAT scan at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. indicated blood clots between Busey's skull and brain, and that night he underwent 90 minutes of neurosurgery to remove the clots.  According to doctor's, luckily, there was no sign of brain damage.  Really?  Do they still stick to that opinion?

  "Actors go out and buy these bikes because it's become a status symbol," says Marjoe Gortner, a well-known Hollywood Harley rider. "All this macho stuff comes into play. You feel invincible on a bike—you're Marlon Brando.  Because they ride carelessly, I've stopped riding with celebs." Salesman Thomason takes such play-riding philosophically. "We get a lot of celebrities," he shrugs. "They all ride; they all crash."


  Did you know that before he was known as "Uncle Lobotomy" he was an actual paid actor who appeared in "Thunderbolt & Lightfoot" and an episode of "Kung-Fu".