During the 1980-1982 AMA Superbike racing season Jim (seated at right) was the Marketing Director & Product Development for Moto-X Fox. His duties included, like here, managing the applications and tuning of all the Fox Factory Shox used on all the factory Superbike teams from Yoshimura Suzuki, American Honda and Kawasaki including 1982 National Championship winner Eddie Lawson's bike (21).
Jim remains today one of the premier photographers in the motorcycle world. His FastDates.com Calendar and magazine editorial photography for stock use featuresthe world's top roadracing bikes, custom and classic V-twins from America's top celebrity builders , and factory motocross bikes without models, or with the world's most beautiful actresses and models. Here is his story...
Jim testing World Motocross Champion Heikki Mikkola's factory 360 Husqvarnaas Editor for Cycle News in 1972.
Jim was born in 1949 at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington DC, the son of US Air Force Colonel James A. Gianatsis, born in New York City the son of Greek imigrants and a decorated World War II B26 bomber pilot, and mother Gloria Moss from Detroit, Michigan. Jim's childhood was spent living around the world and across America on military bases: from Germany Hawaii and Phillipines, to Virgina, Illinois and Mississippi.
Jim's passion for wheeled motorsports developed early from just 6 years old with building model cars and trains, to stripping down and modifying his bicycles for "racing" when he was just 8 years old. By age 12 Jim had his first camera and was taking candid shots of pets and friends. In 1962 when his family was stationed in Hawai, Jim's career in photographing beautiful girls began at age 12 as he'd approach vacationing college girls in bikini's on Waikiki Beach and he'd asked them if he could take their pictures with his twin reflex camera.
At age 14 when living at Clark Air base in the Phillipines, Jim got his first motorcycle, a Honda 55 Super Cub, as did many of the other boys on the base. Together they'ld roam the base in big "wolf packs" of 5-10 riders with baffles pulled out of their mufflers to help increase power and speed up to 50mph! His hero was Mike Hailwood on the MV Agusta which he read about in Road & Track magazine.
Returning tp America at age 16 Jim's attention shifted to sports cars. His father the Colonel, wouldn't allow him to have another motorcycle because of the accident statistics on base with young airmen. Jim's first car was a used '51 MGTD which he began racing immediately by entering it in a rally just one week after getting the car and his driving license. Weekends were often spent racing the car on the back farm roads of Mascoutah, Illinois, next to Scott AFB where they lived. More than once at night a blind corner saw Jim and his MG flying off the road a plowing through a farmer's corn field!
Jim's final year in high school and 2 years of college were spent at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he started working part time in a local Yamaha shop and bought his first bike in 5 years, a Yamaha 175cc CT1 Enduro. Jim wanted to race badly and the Yamaha was quickly stripped down and coverted to scrambles and motocrossing on the weekends.
Jim bought bought his first 35mm camera at this time, a Pentax and began tasking pictures at the races. He and his buddies formed a motocross club, they built a motocross track in the woods north of town and soon it became the focal point of racing on the Gulf Coast. Their track was visited by such famed racers as CZ's Sonny DeFeo from Ghost Cycles in NY, and Greeve's Gary Bailey and his traveling motocross school from California (Gary's son David wasn't born yet). Jim droped out of college to race and worked in a local Yamaha / BSA dealershipas mechanic , then later with with 2 partners open a CZ dealership.
Jim moved to Florida in 1969 to race motocross and work at other motorcycle dealerships. To supplement his income and hobby of photography he began covering the races for Cycle News Dixie, as well as writing up tests of new bikes when they came into the dealerership. Jim's racing skills advanced up to the Pro level and he was handilly winning 250cc Pro races throughout Florida on now a Yamaha DT1.
In 1971 Jim earn AMA National Numer 100 as a Pro motocross ride rider, placing 17th at the local Atlanta Nationa MX that year. Jim still continued to race Pro MX on off weekends when not covering races for Cycle News. After Jim retired from AMA motocross his same number 100 would be given to Bob Hannah to recognize the No.1 plate Bob had earnd as 250 National MX Champion1978, but never got to use because of a waterskiing injury that broke his leg and left him out of racing nearly 2 years.
Jim's tenure at Cycle News ran four years from 1969 to 1973 as the sport of motocross skyrocketed to popularity in America. His race coverage, newspaper design and photography in Cycle News was done in an editorial style never before seen in the sport, similar to the emerging new Rolling Stone music newspaper.
Boring lap-by -lap race coverage was set aside for the creation of exciting rivalries between up and coming new American motocrossers like Tony D, Bob "Huricane" Hannah and Marty Smith against the reigning World Champions like Roger DeCoster and Heikki Mikkola. Nicknames including "The Hurricane" "Typhoon Tripes", "Lumberjack" Burgett. "Jammin'" Jimmy Weinert. "Gassin' " Gaylon Moiser and others were created by Jim to elevate the riders to cult status among race fans.
Back then, riders like Hannah, Weinert and tripes like to say what they felt with no regard for keeping a "clean" promotional image, and Jim would ofthen pose them leading questions to extract controversal comments from them about their rivals to build epic on and off-track rivalries that would go down in motocross history. 1970 to 1980 became the golden decade of motocross history as directed and recorded in print and film by Jim Gianatsis
Sharing in Jim's enthusiasm for the sport and its rise to popularityat that time were Jody Weisel, then editor of Cycle News Central based in Austin, Texas, and freelance photographer Charlie Morey from Palm Beach, Florida. Jody would later become an editor at Cycle News West, and then Motocross Action magazine. Charlie would replace Jim at Cycle News East, and then later Jody at Cycle News West, and then around 1980 become editor of Dirt Rider.
In April 1973 Jim left Cycle News East (which would within a few years merge with the Central and West editions in Long Beach, CA) to go to work as Marketing Director for Husqvarna East in Lorain Ohio. At that time Husky East was owned by John Penton, and Jim lived in a communial house next door to the Pentons, which was shared by visting factory riders. Jim lived, practiced and trained with the likes of Heikki Mikkola, Kent Howerton, Marty Tripes and Dick Burlsen and other motocross and enduro stars of the time. Jim was involved in the development and testing of new bikes like the Husky Automatic.
Jim's tenure at Husky East was short lived as within the year Husqvarna of Sweden would dissolve the Eastern office and merge it with Husquvarna West in San Diego. Jim moved back to his parent's home in Biloxi Mississippi, and returned to freelance motocross coverage of all the major national motocross series and events for Cycle News, Motocross Action, Cycle World and others. Much of the time Jim traveled and lived with the factory race teams, the riders and the mechanics, as they traveled across the country to race in box vans and worked on the bikes in hotel parking lots. Jim shared in driving the vans, working on the bikes, and often slept on the hotel room floors of his biddies Bob Hannah and Tony DiSterfano.
Being a pro caliber motocrosser, factory test engineer and magazine bike teater, Jim was the only motojournalist allowed to ride and test the exotic factory works bikes of the era including the championship winning YZ250 of Bob Hannha and Marty Smith's RC450, the RM250 Suzuki's of Danny LaPort and Tony DiStefano. Often Jim was able to provide the younger riders and factory teams with valueable input on the suspension setup and tuning of their bikes.
In late 1979,
after 10 years of traveling the national motocross circuit, jim
was turning 30 and thinking it was time to settle down with a
full time job again. He liked the central region of California
around San Francisco and had built up a close working relationship
with Geoff and Bob Fox, the owners of Moto-X Fox, one of the premier
emerging motocross product companies of the time with their Fox
Shox and motocross apparel. Jim went to work at Moto-X Fox as
their first Marketing Director, assisting Geoff with designing
the motocross apparel ine, while handling all the advertising
and catalog design and photogaphy for the company.
With his experience as a test engineer and being a pro motocrosser, Jim also became heavily involved in Fox Shock testing and design. With Jim's inside contacts at the factory motocross teams it wan't long before team Honda and other motocross teams were racing with the new Fox Twin Clicker Shox.
Still racing motocross, Jim suffered a couple of serious injuries in 1981 that regretabbly forced his retirement from motocross. He also wrote a book at this time "Design & Tuning for Motocross: published by Classic Motorbooks, which remains today, the only technical book on motocross bikes ever written.
Jim's attention shifted back to the street where he got back into sportbike riding with a Suzuki GS750E, and into car racing with a street legal Camaro Z28 in SCCA Solo II autocross where he clinched runnerup in the highly competivie BP race car class with Trans-Am spec cars.
Jim introduced the new Fox Factory Twin Clicker Motocross Shox to reigning Trans-Am sports car champion Greg Pickett who becan running and winning with the Fox Shox on his Corvette which proved to be the best shocks of any type on the market at that time. Within 3 years all the major race teams from Ford in IMSA to Penske in CART were running Fox Shox. Eventually Penske would steal the Fox Shox Design and sell it under his own name.
But Jim didn't stop there. Why not introduce the Fox Shoxs to motorcycle roadracing as well? Jim approached and tested with all the major factory roadrace teams including Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki and within 9 months all the roadracing teams were running Fox Shox that Jim built, test and set up for them Wes Cooley wom the 1981 AMA Superbike Championshipon his Yoshimura Suzuki Katana 11000, and Eddie Lawson won the 1982 AMA Superbike Championship on his Kawasaki KZ1100, both on Jim Gianatsis prepared Fox Resevoir Piggyback Shox
In January 1983 Jim had taken Moto-X Fox in just 3 years from 3 million in sales annually to 12 million. And made them the leader in the world motocross and suspension markets. But owner Geoff Fox was wanting to turn over the reigns of his company to his wife and children and fired Jim. Within 2 years Fox fell out of the streetbike market and lost their automotive Shock market to Penske.
Jim moved to Los Angeles in the winter of 1983 and began his own advertising, photography and design agency specializing in the motorsports market. Clients included Yoshimura, White Brothers. O'Neal USA, Body Glove and Mikuni Carburetors.
Today Gianatsis Design Associates with Jim at he helm has expanded its market base with the worlds most popular line of motorsports pinup calendars, the FastDates.com Calendars and Website. And into event promotion with the Los Angeles Calendar Motorccyle Show, which started out as a barbeque party at his house to celebrate the first release of the first Calendar, to now become the biggest custom and performance streetbike show in America.
Jim lives in Woodland Hills, CA, just northeast of los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. He remains a hardcore sports car and sportbike enthusiast. His cars include a highly modified late model BMW M3 good for 190mph, a modified Mini Cooper S and a classic 1946 MG TC. Jim's modified sportbikes once included an array of the best Japan had to offer (a GSXR750 streetbike Jim built and was test by Motorcyclist in 1984's bested Eddie Lawson's Rob Muzzy built ZX750 championship winning AMA Superbike tested by Cycle magazine. Jim's favorite bikes today are Ducati and his garage is home to previous generation 916 and 996R Superbikes, 999R 05. 1098R 08, 1199RS Superbikes, plus a Hypermoto R, Multistrada 1080S and 1200 and an Aprilia Mille R converted to a Tuono R.
Going into the 21st century, Jim got hooked on motorcycle riding in beautiful Western Europe and would go on Edelweiss World Tour rides almost every year, including bike trips crossing through the Alps. And taking Ducati run DRE track days at some of Europe's top Grand Prix tracks with one of his favorite racers, 3-time World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss. And in 2012 Jim wrote and co-authored with famed motorccyle journalist Alan Cathcart the 224-page coffee table book " Ducati Corse World Superbikes".
To Still Be Continued . . . .
JIM "THE GREEK" GIANATSIS SAYS GOODBYE TO CYCLE NEWS,
January 2012 - Here is an editorial that Jody Weisel and I wrote about the death of Cycle News 2 years ago. Cycle News did return to life again about 6 months ago, under new ownership by the MAG Group, owner of many well known motorcycle product companies. The new Cycle News is all digital, it looks really good visually, but it has no advertising to support it and it continues to mix top level motocross and roadracing - which you can't do any more in this digital / speciality age and survive, with no other motorcycle content or industry news to make it really interesting. I just don't see how it will survive unless the owners Mag Group are willing to accept the bleeding cash loss and are using it to market their own product brands.
August 14, 2010 - THE OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE: Cycle News has ceased publication (at least for now) as of Tuesday. August 31. We wish to thank all of our loyal readers and supporters, many of which have been with us for 40 years and more. The people and the companies in the motorcycle industry and sport have been great partners and soul mates for these many years and we have all "grown up" together. We hope to find a new owner to carry on this iconic publication and we thank you in advance for your future support if we are successful. Again, our heartfelt thanks for all your support.
FORMER CYCLE NEWS EDITOR AND FAMOUS MOTO-JOURNALIST JIM GIANATSIS SAYS GOODBYE
"I was with Cycle News almost from the beginning. Sharon and Chuck Clayton started what would become Cycle News West from their home office from in Long Beach, California, in the mid 1960s and they quickly expanded it across the United States by buying up other regional motorcycle monthlies.
"I was 19-years-old college drop-out working at a local Yamaha dealer in 1968 in my hometown of Biloxi, Mississippi, and had my first new motorcycle in years, a Yamaha CT175 which I was racing on the weekends in everything from TT scrambles, to motocross, to road racing (on a 1/2 mile banked asphalt stock car track on Saturday nights in nearby Mobile). I had one set of spoked wheels with Continental street bike tires for road racing, then late Saturday night after the stock car race night, I bring my bike back to the shop and convert it back over to knobbies for motocross on Sunday morning.
"One of my hobbies had always been photography, and since I was also shooting at the races I started covering the local races for Dixie Cycle News based out of Atlanta. Within a year I had turned AMA Pro motocrosser, moved to Florida to work at a couple of Yamaha shops there, and was racing in the Florida Winter-Am Series with guys like Gary Bailey and Barry Higgins, while also sending in race coverage and tests of new dirt bikes to Dixie Cycle News.
"In the summer of 1969 the Clayton's decided to consolidated two Eastern newspaper they had recently purchased, Motorcyclist's Post out of Lorain, Ohio, edited by Todd Rafferty and Gary Van Vhoories, together with Dixie Cycle News. Both papers merged under the new title of Cycle News East based in Tucker, Georgia, under the editorship of Jack Mangus, a dirt track enthusiast from Maryland and friend of Triumph dirt tracker Gary Nixon. Jack immediately phoned me in Florida and asked me to come on board as the paper's resident motocross specialist. About the same time back in California at Cycle News West under the Claytons, a skinny arrogant kid named John Ulrich was hired on as editor there.
"Cycle News West covered the Western region events. And around 1972 the Clayton's bought up another regional publication in Austin, Texas, where another motocross racer, Jody Weisel, was the editor—it became Cycle News Central. When either Jody or I covered a National in our area we had to carry two camera's and shoot three sets of film, one for each of the three Cycle News regions. Then Sunday night after the races we'd drive our rental car back to the nearest airport on Sunday night and put the film on planes to Los Angeles, Austin and Atlanta to be picked up the next morning. We also had to write our race story on the airplane that night as we flew home, as it had to be done by 9 a.m. that Monday morning so it could be teletyped to the other two offices as well. This was all before the days of email, faxes and Federal Express.
"I'd come right back to the Cycle News East office on Tuesday morning to drive the finished newspaper paste boards up to Athens, Georgia, (60 miles away) where our printer was located, and stay the day as the paper was plated and printed, doing a press check and bringing finished copies of the paper back to the office. I usually drive Cycle News East senior editor Jack Mangus' 1969 Pontiac GTO up to Athens and back on the narrow two-lane, moonshiner, wooded back roads with the speedometer hovering around 100 mph. I wore out his classic 8-track tape of the Who's ”Who's Next” album blasting full volume as I raced down the 2-lane backroads like a Georgia Moonshine runner!"
"At some point in time all the good editors at Cycle News would get fired, hired away to a glossy print motorccyle magazine, or burn out. I got fired. Mangus fired me in November 1982 in a little spat over my not wanting to cover both a Trans-AMA race weekend and also help Van Voorhis shoot a late night AMA Dirt Track Saturday Night National that same weekend in Cincinnati —while working the motocross both days only by myself.
"And many weekedays when not working at the races, we'd go testing new bikes and practicing together at the local Meadowlarks Motocross Track. In following years when covering the racr across America, I'd always stop back and stay at the Penton guest house when passing through northern Ohio. During that time I owned and raced both 250cc Huskys and Pentons and got to race a lot of the cool race tracks like the Trans-Am track at Lexington Ohio..
"When the job at Husqvarna east eneded, I returned to covering most of the National motocross and Trans-AMA races and doing feature articles for Cycle News on both coasts as a freelance editor. I was close friends with all the riders including Tony DiStefano and Bob Hannah and traveled the circuit with them and their mechanics in their factory box vans or in my own Ford E250 Econoline Van.
"Once I made a non-stop record run from Los Angeles to Daytona in 36 hours. The teams often stopped over at my parent's house in Biloxi on the Gulf Coast, where I was based at the time, to rebuild their race bikes on the front lawn between trips to and from Daytona. I covered all the major motocross races, tested bikes and wrote feature stories for Cycle News up through 1980, at which point I went to work full time for Moto-X Fox in San Jose, California, as their product designer and marketing manager.
"In 1976 all three editions were merged together at Cycle News West with Jody Weisel and Jack Mangus moving there to take over the reigns. John Ulrich went to work for Cycle World, and later started his own newspaper Roadracing World which would rival Cycle News for that sport's segment.
"Cycle News was still the news source for motorcycle racing in America up through the year 2000. It filled a need in the sport that lasted until the Speed TV Channel emerged to cover racing in the 1990s. Still the Japanese bike distributors poured tens of thousands of dollar in advertising revenue into Cycle News each month to tout their race wins over each other, or their newest bikes—just as a matter of company pride
"When the US economy started its down turn three years ago, the motorcycle distributors saw their sales drop as low as 50%, all their advertising budgets ran dry, particular for Cycle News— which was now down to a claimed 30,000 readers a week.
FORMER CYCLE NEWS CENTRAL AND CYCLE NEWS WEST EDITOR JODY WEISEL SAYS SOMETHING UNEXPECTED
Jody at Mosier Valley before his Cycle News days. Check his knuckles to see how close the trees were to the track back in 1973.
"I was a motorcycle racer from Texas and I did a lot of test riding during the formative days of American motocross. I was buddies with two famous Cycle News photographers, Richard Creed and Dennis "Ketchup" Cox. They both worked for Cycle News and would often ask me to ride test bikes for the photos. I liked doing it and I liked being on the cover of Cycle News...it was the motorcycle version of the cover of Rolling Stone. What I didn't like was the tests that the Cycle News editors wrote to go along with the bikes I rode. I told them that I could do a better job and they agreed. So, I rode for the photos and I wrote the tests...but I didn't work for Cycle News. I was just riding the bikes for photos. One day they ask me if I would like to be the editor of Cycle News Central (as Jimmy "The Greek" said, there were three Cycle News back then). Richard Creed was moving to California to take over Cycle News West and I was to fill his shoes. I loved Cycle News Central and all the goofballs that Ketchup and I hung out with in Austin, Texas. We had a blast. We raced at Whitney, Rockhart, Mosier Valley, Strawberry Hill, Rio Bravo and Pecan Valley and basically treated Cycle News Central as our own play toy.
"Then something bad happened...very bad.
"Richard Creed had gone off to cover the Sturgis Rally and decided that he wanted to stay there. He married a local Sturgis girl and took over the town newspaper. Creed was the greatest photographer I ever met—but he wasn't marriage material. I don't know what happened to him. But, back to the bad part. With Creed leaving, Cycle News West needed editors who raced motocross...Ketchup and I were the only two editors who raced dirt bikes (the Greek raced, but he was on the road 40 weekends a year). Ketchup and I didn't want to leave Texas, but Sharon Clayton was going to close Cycle News Central down and merge it with the West...so we were out of a job any way. I told Ketchup to go to SoCal (where he would run the photo lab) and I negotiated to get to do the complete 1975 Trans-AMA Series before moving to California. Sharon was over a barrel, so she agreed. Tony D, Keith McCarty, Brian Lunnis, Billy Grossi, The Greek and I had a grand time on the road for ten weeks.
"Suddenly, the honeymoon was over. Once the Trans-AMA ended at Saddleback I was at the corporate offices and I hated it. I grew over time to distrust the people in charge. Sharon Clayton appointed some horse's patoot to run the company for her...his name was Bob something. In my humble opinion, he was an arrogant imbecile who was basically spending Cycle News money while making terrible decisions. Founder Chuck Clayton wasn't around much during my time at Cycle News West—but when he did come down from Malibu he was spacey. He had some wacky ideas about publishing that we resisted with all our might. I loved Chuck as a person, but when people would tell me that Chuck Clayton was a genius who was ten years ahead of his time, I would say, "Yes, he is, but his time was 1950."
"Cycle News was a dysfunctional place to work at and I wanted out of there within a month of the 1975 Trans-AMA ending. Luckily, I got five job offers from the motorcycle monthlies looking for editors who raced...I analyzed all the offers and chose the smallest magazine of the bunch—Motocross Action. It was a magazine about motocross and that was all I cared about. Plus, I would get total control—no moron in a suit ruining the hard work. I came to Cycle News West in January of 1976 and I left in December of 1976. I never looked back and I'm not misty about my time at Cycle News West...but I am about the glory days at Cycle News Central.
"And here is the kicker. A couple weeks ago, Ron Lawson of Dirt Bike was telling me that Cycle News was going out of business. I told him that it seemed inevitable because they had made a ton of bad decisions (dropping local coverage, going to glossy paper, focusing on road racing and losing their shop circulation) and I told him my story about Cycle News management, saying that, 'When I was at Cycle News 34 years ago Sharon Clayton hired some boob to run the company into the ground. His name was Bob something.'
"Lawson started laughing and said, 'Yeah, that's the same guy who runs it now.'
"I won't miss Cycle News. Sorry, you probably wanted some tear jerker story from me about how great the grand old paper was. Here it is—I loved the people I worked with—Mike Klinger, Ketchup (who by the way came with me to MXA when I left Cycle News), Bob Dickey, Richard Creed, the Greek, Lane Campbell and all the contributors. I just didn't like the people I worked for.
Introduction Page 2 Graphic Design Page 3 Photography Page 4 Press Release Services
The FastDates.com calendars in turn fostered the Los Angeles Calendar Motorcycle Show which involved from a backyard barbecue party at Jim's house to celebrate the publishing of each season's new calendars, to now become the biggest custom and performance streetbike motorcycle Show in America attended by all the top manufacturers, builders and the motorcycle media. The annual Show takes place on the 3rd weekend of July and presently is located at the Queen Mary Event Park in Long Beach, CA.
The FastDates.com Website first evolved as a marketing vehicle for the Calendars, but quickly evolved as the premier motorcycle and pinup model related website in the world. We are visited by some 300,00 readers monthly.
The FastDates.com website offers regular features on the new custom and race bikes and models being photographed for the next calendars, along with major sections like Pit Lane News with the web's best coverage of AMA and World Championship Superbike and MotoGP roadracing, and Meet The Models with portfolios of the calendar models.
And of course there are the popular Members Corner sections on FastDates.com which include archives of the past edition calendar pictures and very sexy pictorials of the calendar girls, plus The Paddock Garage with sportbike tuning and setup tips.
If you love motorcycles, the world's fastest racing bikes and top celebrity builder custom bikes together with beautiful girls, the FastDates.com Calendars and Website definitely needs to be bookmarked in your internet browser.
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