Eddie Lawson Replica: Kawasaki GPz1100 Restomod

Kawasaki GPz1100 Eddie Lawson

A vintage superbike racer builds a tribute to the Eddie Lawson Kawas… 

In the early 1980s, legends such as Fast Freddie Spencer, Wes Cooley, and Eddie Lawson spent their days trying to tame a stable of big-bore air/oil-cooled four-cylinder monsters — large, heavyweight superbikes that loved to slide, wheelie, and thrill both riders and crowds. While these four-stroke, twin-shock liter bikes don’t have quite the same lethal reputation as the “Unrideables” — the 500cc two-stroke GP machines of the era — they were plenty fearsome, making for some damn entertaining racing.

“Racers such as Wes Cooley, Eddie Lawson and Freddie Spencer became legends riding these powerful, evil-handling Flexi-Flyers, which were scary to watch let alone ride.” —Motorcyclist

Eddie slidin’ the big Kawa!

Unlike the GP machines, the big fours were also somewhat attainable, based as they were on production models like the Honda CB750/900, Suzuki GS1000, Kawasaki KZ1000, and Kawasaki GPz1100.

Kawasaki GPz1100 Eddie Lawson

Enter our new friend Paul Massingberd, a Canadian builder and VRRA (Vintage Road Racing Association) racer of vintage superbikes who likes to call his operation F.O.G. Racing, whose acronym is up for interpretation:

“(Fast Old Guy, Fat Old Guy, F…d Old Guy ), take your pick.”

Kawasaki GPz1100 Eddie Lawson

After Paul picked up an Eddie Lawson tank and bodywork from a swap meet, he set out to find a bike to suit them, locating a 1982 Kawasaki GPz1100 down in Florida. His vision for the project was clear, an Eddie Lawson replica restomod:

“Original Eddie Lawson bike looks but updated with modern 17″ wheels for better tire choices, newer brakes, and updated suspension.”

Kawasaki GPz1100 Eddie Lawson

This ELR is sporting an arsenal of late-model ZZR parts, including the wheels, forks (with Racetech internals), lengthened swingarm and more. After all of the work, it was time to test the machine on the track:

“One positive of COVID is having time to actually finish something. After the first year developing the bike and only one race, it was now time for the big one, Mosport, fast and unforgiving — best track in the world!”

Kawasaki GPz1100 Eddie Lawson

Paul managed to bag a third-place trophy in the bike’s first Mosport outing — and on a very special day:

“Some great trophies and swag. Also I get a chance to say thank you to my best friend and wife on our 40th anniversary. What a great weekend — I’m a very lucky guy!”

Below, we get the full details and race report straight from the F.O.G. himself!

Kawasaki GPz1100 ELR Restomod: Builder Interview

Kawasaki GPz1100 Eddie Lawson

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

Paul Massingberd: Old guy building and racing vintage motorcycles.

GPz1100

• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?

1982 GPz1100 converted to Eddie Lawson Replica Restomod.

GPz1100

• Why was this bike built?

Love the early 80s era of racing riders like Spencer, Cooley, and Lawson sliding the big beasts around.

GPz1100
The man himself signing the tank!
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

Original Eddie Lawson bike looks but updated with modern 17″ wheels for better tire choices, newer brakes, and updated suspension.

GPz1100

• What custom work was done to the bike?

Many components used from the late model ZZR, including wheels, forks updated with Racetech components, and lengthened ZZR rear swing arm. Ohlins rear shocks. Engine rebuilt, updated, ported and polished.

GPz1100

• Does the bike have a nickname?

ELR Replica.

GPz1100

• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?

Very fast and stable, holds its own against many modern superbikes.

GPz1100

• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

I compete in the VRRA against a number of Honda Spencer replicas that have spent many thousands more dollars. This bike is a swap meet special that competes very well for a fraction of the cost.

Mosport Race Report: August 11, 2021

GPz1100

Inspired by great riders. Born in a swap meet. A motorcycle love story.
By F.O.G Racing (Fast Old Guy, Fat old guy, F…d old guy ), take your pick. Inspired by the Great Canadian Riders — Lang Hindle, Art Robbins, Rueben McMurter, Paul Macmillan, Norm Murphy — and Americans Eddie Lawson and Freddie Spencer, riding big heavy fast bikes that slid and wheelied but were amazing to watch.

Fast forward to a swap meet purchase of an Eddie Lawson tank and bodywork from now good buddy Richard Biggs. Now find a bike to put the stuff I just bought on — I found a bike in Florida just got to put it together. One positive of COVID is having time to actually finish something. After first year developing and only one race. It’s now time for the big one Mosport fast and unforgiving best track in the world!

Kawasaki GPz1100 Eddie Lawson

Friday practice goes good, no issues. Bike seems strong, rider needs work.
Saturday: first race gets rained out due to lightning. Only Sunday left to see what we both have.
Qualifying warm up lap, I downshift and shifter ends up dragging on the ground. “Crap.” Run around scrambling to get parts. My buddy Rich bails me out even though he’s working for the competitor Honda camp — got to love motorcycle racers. Get it together for the final.

GPz1100

Starting last I get a poor start, everything just closes up. Just put my head down and go! Mosport lives up to its unforgiving reputation. Top competitor Tim Ruhl closes fast on another rider in turn four known as the chute. Not enough room for both riders. Tim takes to to grass to avoid taking out the other rider and pays a huge price. Rider gets really hurt and bike is trashed. He is up but with multiple injuries, one of the toughest people I’ve ever met.

Race is red flagged but over halfway so it’s finished. I figured I’m 5th or 6th — Rich bets me a case of beer that I’m third. I think he’s full of crap but hang around the podium just in case. Wow I get third! Some great trophies and swag. Also I get a chance to say thank you to my best friend and wife on our 40th anniversary. What a great weekend — I’m a very lucky guy!

 

4 Comments

  1. Got a kick out of “the man himself signing the tank”. I have a great pic of Eddie “the man” signing his autograph on my sisters boob while she wore her bikini top at a Laguna Seca race back in the day.

    • Lol, great story! I briefly “met” the guy at one of the Cycle World shows either in San Francisco or San Mateo back in the early 90’s. At that time Cycle World/Sportrider had introduced their UFO annual event, and lo and behold I came across either Richard Sims or Billy Rohm (I think it was Billy) at their Sims & Rohm booth at the show. I was so enamored, I viewed them as kinda gods for making such crazy bikes, so I went up to say hello to Billy and was completely oblivious to Eddie, who was chatting with Billy at the time. Billy had to point out to me that it was the great Eddie Lawson, there, I felt kinda dumb and was at a loss for words. Heh. I was very young at the time. Eddie smiled and was cool with nary a condescending vibe in him.

  2. When I hear of restomods I’m wary, as many of them are starting to look very cookie-cutter. Before I opened this link I was dreading seeing the modern swingarm on this bike. OR, seeing the original 80’s swingarm, which is kinda ugly. Bingo, this one looks excellent! A modern bike that hasn’t had all the running gear from a 3-year-old GSXR/CBR/ZX/R1 stuck on it. Nothing wrong with that approach, but so many people do that it actually gets kinda old. This one is super nice, it fits the Goldilocks formula of “just right” in terms of being modernized. I think the “low” budget approach is what helped here. Nice that Paul is actually still a competitive racer, and congrats to him and his wife on their anniversary!

  3. The best Kawasaki fours ever.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*