BOOK REVIEW: Taking It To The Limit by Peter Starr

Publish Date: 
Feb 2, 2011
By Mike Vaughan

TAKING IT TO THE LIMIT is a book that documents the motorcycle film making career of Peter Starr. As an ex-pat Brit who’d come to America on the suggestion of Bud Ekins, Starr tried to turn his European endurance roadracing success into a stateside career. Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out. Instead, Starr turned his eye toward the music business until he again felt the pull of two wheels.

But Starr never lost his enthusiasm for motorcycles and motorcycle racing and eventually ended up producing a film for Hodaka about the 1973 Bad Rock ISDT qualifier. Starr took the film to Los Angeles and sold two motorcycle enthusiast VIPs from a local TV station on the idea of airing it. The film ran on Sunday in a 9:30 p.m. time slot and attracted double the audience of any previous show that had run in that time.

From here, an executive from Datsun saw it and agreed to sponsor its screening across the nation. As the film aired, additional sponsors and others interested in developing motorcycle programming jumped on board, and thus Starr’s successful transfer to another career — making motorcycle racing films and later videos — was complete.

With the success of Bad Rock, Starr went on to film other events such road racing, dirt track, and the developing sport of motocross. It had been several years since On Any Sunday had hit the big screen and it dawned on him that a movie covering all aspects of motorcycle racing might be successful. He contacted Bruce Brown to see if he was interested, but Brown at the time was focused on following the surf and declined. So Starr decided to do it on his own calling the film, Taking It To The Limit.

This book, with a forward by Kenny Roberts and Dave Despain, tells Starr’s story of making the film and all the behind the scene adventures with promoters, racers and the authorities. During the 1970s, it somewhat novel to have film crews at races and or even just consider making a movie on racing. Sometimes the people in charge and the people being featured weren’t quite sure what to make of it.