In those days people made films as opposed to videos. Today we’re treated to all kinds of interesting points of view through the lenses of tiny, lipstick-sized video cameras, the video and audio stream can be switched from bike to bike depending on where the best action is, and the editor can sit in an air-conditioned van and view all the action on a multitude of video screens, switching from one to another as the action dictates, and then broadcasting it in real time. Not so when Starr was making his film.
At the time the best cameras for the job were relics from WWII. They were limited in capacity and held only three to ten minutes worth of film. They were heavy, weighing eight lbs. or more and required special mounts and damping. You had to have a special mount fabricated for the specific machine and camera. The mount and the camera were attached to the bike or rider, and then they were sent on their way with the hope that everything worked out. You didn’t find out what the camera had captured until a day or so later when the film came back from the processor.
Taking to the Limit covers many of the iconic racers and races of the mid-’70s to early ’80s. Starr is the person who captured the now-famous footage of “King” Kenny Roberts on the two-stroke-powered TZ750 dirt tracker at Indy. He documented Stevie Baker’s historic duel with Barry Sheena to capture America’s first international GP win. He persuaded Mike Hailwood to return to the Isle of Man to ride a lap of the famous circuit with a camera mounted on the front of the motorcycle and provide running commentary via a microphone attached to his lower lip.
The off-pavement side of racing is also well documented with vignettes of epic dirt-track battles between Gary Scott, Kenny Roberts, Jay Springsteen and Dave Aldana. Starr’s motocross coverage reaches back to the almost unstoppable Roger DeCoster, along with Bob Hannah, Danny “Magoo” Chandler, and tells the behind-the-scene story of Darrell Schultz’s remarkable journey to a National Championship.
The book is rich with black and white, and color photographs from the era. More entertaining are the interviews and back stories as these idols admit to their misgivings, concerns, and certainties about themselves or their competitors.
The book ends with a current biography of the riders featured that answers that age-old question, “What ever happened to?” As a bonus, the book comes with a DVD featuring Starr being interviewed by Brian Drebber and features some of the best clips from the movie of the same name. If you’re interested in the racers and racing from the ‘70s and ‘80s, this book should be a part of your collection.