For Eddie Lawson, today wasn't supposed to be a special day. Yamaha US asked the former four-time world champion to drive in from his home in Upland so that he could sign art prints for Yamaha's US employees. Lawson agreed. He was signing the limited edition Hector Cadamentori prints when something quite unexpected and amazing happened.
Lawson tells the story, "I was signing posters and talking to the people who work at Yamaha and (Yamaha US Communications Manager) Bob Starr came and said, 'By the way, we've got a gift for you'. I was like, all right, you know? I really didn't know what to expect."
After a brief and very personal presentation, Yamaha US President Akira Sano gave Fast Eddie the 1986 YZR500 Grand Prix bike that Lawson won his second championship on. Yamaha rebuilt and refurbished the machine recently and shipped the bike in from Japan as a gift for Lawson.
Lawson was clearly blown away by Yamaha's gesture. "I was almost speechless," he said via cell phone, while driving home from Yamaha this afternoon. "I was speechless, really. I could not believe it. Yamaha is such a cool company and such cool people work there, you know? They didn't have to do that, but, man, it was so nice that they did."
The Grand Prix racing legend, the only American to win four world 500 titles, seemed giddy about both the gesture and the condition of the 500 that Yamaha presented him with. It is a museum-quality machine. "The bike is like ... sano. It's perfect. It looks nicer than the one I raced," Lawson confirmed.
When asked what he will do with the two-stroke Grand Prix machine now, Lawson said Yamaha will send it to him but it won't sit in the garage.
"I'm going to put it in a trophy case and mount it on the wall in my house," Lawson said. "Then I can sit there and admire it, think about how cool a company Yamaha is, you know?"
"Man, it's been a good day," Lawson said with a chuckle.