Ski Story #19: Hood Surfing at 70 MPH
Racing the Past: Recalling Thrills and Lessons with the one and only David Sadowski
Around this day in 1996, I had my one and only lesson on riding a fast motorcycle around Road Atlanta. My instructor was the late, great David Sadowski. He had just received two brand new Suzuki GSXR-750's, the sleek black and yellow ones, fresh from the wooden crate. We were slated to shoot commercials and features for various shows produced by Chet Burks Productions, and we had the entire track to ourselves for the day.

Excitement coursed through me as I anticipated learning from Ski. I sat astride one of the bikes on pit lane, clad in jeans and a leather jacket, while Ski emerged from the bathroom fully suited in leathers. He strode over to my bike, slapped a piece of duct tape over the gauges, and uttered, "Don't look at the speedometer, and try to keep up." With that, he mounted his bike and sped off, disappearing from view in about 20 seconds. I seldom glimpsed him again, except for the moments he'd zip past me, usually wheeling and giving me a cheeky gesture.

After a few leisurely laps, I pulled off the track, and eventually, Ski stopped to check on me. I expressed my disappointment with the lesson, to which he bluntly replied, "You're too slow; I can't teach you anything." So much for riding lessons, I chuckled.

Today, I found myself reminiscing about that shoot. It was chilly, and although we were supposed to have the bikes for only a couple of days, we ended up keeping them for a few months. We stashed the bikes in a garage at Road Atlanta and I drove Ski back to his house in Jefferson. As we cruised on I-85 with the cruise control set at 75, Ski suddenly instructed me to maintain speed, stay in the left lane, and not slow down. Then, without warning, he disappeared out the passenger window, crawling onto the roof, making faces through the windshield, indulging in his usual daredevil antics. I always despised when he pulled stunts like that. But working with him was never dull; beneath his wild exterior, Ski was genuinely caring and always stood up for his beliefs. I'm grateful we repaired our relationship before he passed.

We collaborated on a project involving my old pit bike, intending to gift it to an 8-year-old boy battling leukemia, whom Ski barely knew. We had plans for another project when he passed away. The last time I saw him, he handed me an old 8x10 photo of himself on the V & H bike, winning Daytona—an old ad of sorts. He refused to sign it for me. I should've insisted more forcefully.
— ends —
Share on:
Superbike Planet