Monday, October 4, 2010

Peter Small

A little tribute to Peter Small. We visited his home and workshops a few weeks ago.
Just the other day I learned that he had been killed in a motorcycle crash up in Canada.

Peter was an artist, custom jewelry maker, motorcycle racer and collector, and good friend of David McIntosh.

Here he is showing David some of his collection of bikes, trophys, and magazine writeups.
He had raced the Isle of Man TT a few times. Pretty incredible.

One of his many race bikes....this one a pretty rare Honda.

Here Peter is firing up one of his vintage Velocettes. Amazing!

Another Velocette. Lovely old machine from the 30's.

Former racers collecting dust.

Peter's jewelry shop. His son is working on one of Peter's designs.

Here is the house that he built over many years. Fabulous place. Way out in the sticks near Bonner's Ferry, Idaho.

A man who definitely marched to a different drum. He died the way he lived.


Maison St Georges said...

Thanks guys for posting this tribute to Pete. He was a good friend of mine through motorcycling and would often visit me over here in the south of france totally unannounced....but always always welcome.
RIP Pete...we will miss you!!
de Cayless, Martin, Narbonne, France

Kate Reynolds said...

Thanks for the photos. My brother Tom (lives in Paris) and I are Peter's cousins (twice actually - his mom was my dad's sister; his dad was my mom's brother). We were closer years ago but then lost touch in the early 90's. Just heard about the accident - so sad. The photos of Peter look SO much like his dad. I too am at least happy that his death occurred doing something he loved all his life - riding on his motorcycle. He couldn't have scripted it better. Peace to him and those who loved him.

Kate (Grosman) Reynolds
New Orleans, LA

Ariana Gravelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ariana Gravelle said...

My dad was an original, a legend in his own right. I know he will be remembered for the way he chose to live his life, because really he was one of a kind. I am proud to have had him as my father. He was the smartest man I have ever known, and just as passionate as he was smart. What may not be as widely known is how warm and kind he could be. He had a great big heart, and though we didn't always see eye to eye, one thing we always had was our love for one another. I will miss him more than I can say, and I am honored by his memory mirrored in others.

Koot said...

Peter Small and his motorcyc
ling skills were indeed legendary to some of us who work on the ferry that crosses Kootenay Lake in British Columbia. Over the years the ferry carried Peter back and forth to some of his favourite twisty roads and he was a master of those curves, we looked forward to hearing about his riding adventures. He was not far from the ferry terminal when he went down and we are saddened by his loss. Our respects to "those who loved him".

Koot (Marv)

JUDY said...

So sorry to hear of Peter's death. This is Peter's cousin, Judy. His father was my mom, Selma's, brother. Peter lived his life on his own terms and I'm glad to hear he died the same way. We had not seen each other in over 35 yrs, but were close a long time ago. Though our relationship had its ups and downs, I have fond memories of him. He will be missed.

Thank you, Mark and Chris, for your tribute and photos. It's great to see the house he built that we'd heard about for so many years. And it's amazing how much he looked like his father!

Stan said...

I'm not sure of the year, but my wife Judy and I met Peter at least 20 years ago when he rode into Portland with his backpack full of jewelry and walked into our craft store, The Real Mother Goose. We've been selling his beautiful pieces since that day.

We always enjoyed chatting during his rare visits and regular phone calls. Conversations usually covered a myriad of subjects from family to politics. Peter was always ready and willing to give you his opinion on any subject and debate any issue.

Most interesting were his vivid stories about racing, riding, crashing, and the ensuing traumas, surgeries and recoveries. It's amazing that he survived so many close calls and could still walk, talk and create such fine jewelry.

Peter always said, "I love to ride fast and push the limits."
It's probably not a surprise to anyone who knew him that he died while riding.

Somewhere I still have the article about the 'MAD YANK' that was written about him after he raced in The Isle of Man TT. He was really proud of that.

Peter was truly a master metalsmith and adventurous soul. We will miss him.

Annie said...

Thanks for posting this on your blog. I only heard of Peter's death from these entries. I usually heard from Peter about once a year, but hadn't heard from him lately and was concerned.

I rode with him many times in the Kootenays, going back and forth over the Kaslo/New Denver highway.

Peter was an amazing rider, adventurer, philosopher, patriot, and hopeless romatic.

Did I mention slightly opinionated?

RIP Peter,

Annie, Ottawa Ontario (formerly South Slocan)

Texx said...

I was saddened today to learn that Peter Small lost his life back in September.

That stretch of road along Kooteney Lake from Creston to Crawford Bay was one of Peter's favorite roads. Peter always referred to it just as "The Lake Road." It tested all you bike riding skills and was very technical to ride fast.

Just a two days ago I was driving along a twisty canyon highway west of Wenatchee, Washington and thinking of my friend Peter, together we carved our way through those canyons many times. When I returned home today I Googled Peter Small in an attempt to contact him and found this site.

I first met Peter Small in 1986 at a motorcycle road race at Race City Speedway in Calgary, Canada. That day, we met at 160 MPH at the end of the front straight, when Peter ran in to the back of me as we were braking for the first turn. When Peter hit me, he went down and slid past me on the pavement as I entered the turn. It all happened very fast and I went on to finish the race that day - somewhat shaken by the incident. After the race ended, Peter made a point of introducing himself to me in the pits and just wanted to apologize for running in to me at 160! That was the beginning of our friendship. That's how Peter was...

Over the next few years we raced together at tracks throughout Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Peter Small was a good, fast rider both on the track and on the public roads, and I respected him for his ability and commitment to always be fast.

Thanks to Peter's efforts, we raced together as team mates at the 1988 24 Hours of Willow Springs Endurance Race in California. Ridng a GSXR-750 Suzuki we finished 2nd in class and in the top 10 of over 65 teams to start the grueling 25 hour event. To this day, I still display that trophy here in my office to remind me of that great race, and Peter. Before the race started, Peter came over to me and said "Hey Reg, If something bad happens to me during the race, there's $50,000.00 worth of handmade jewelry hidden in the trunk my rental car... Make sure it gets sent back to my family will you?" And he shook my hand and walked away. Luckily for us all, it was a crash free weekend of racing.

See Part 2 of the story below

Texx said...

Peter Small Memories - Part 2

Each year after the road racing series had ended for the season, in late October Peter would always organize a motorcycle trip and we would get togther in the fall and ride (race) down the Oregon - California Coast on our sportbikes. I have very fond memories of those trips with Peter, riding our bikes at warp speeds that are no longer possible on today's public roads.

Peter and I would always share a motel room together after a long day of riding. Although he didn't talk about it much, one night he shared a few of his dark, personal experiences with me from when he was serving in Vietnam. I will remember Peter's war stories for the rest of my life.

In 1990 we once again did our annual fall trip down the Pacific Coast, that year there were 6 bikes along for the ride. All road racers riding with the skills and competitive spirit that we used on the track. Two guys from Oregon, one from Washington, One from British Columbia, Peter from Idaho and me from Alberta, Canada. That day the riding pace was fast, very fast. On public highways you know when the pace is fast because your sliding your knee sliders through the corners. We were just having fun, doing what we loved.

I remember desending in to a small community in Northern California (at 145 MPH) with Peter and the guys named "Happy Camp." Six California Highway Patrol (CHP) cars were waiting for us at the bottom of the hill as we entered town. One CHP car for each bike. We scattered down a few side streets and in to a shopping mall in an attempt to avoid the CHP Officers. It didn't work. They had us each pulled over at different locations around Happy Camp and took our ignition keys away from us so we would not make a run for it. The first question each of us were asked by the CHP Officer was "We had a report that a pack of bikers were riding 100 MPH over the speed limit and we have descriptions by the color of your leather racing suits." The Officer said, "Are you traveling with these other bikes?" Each of us said, "No Sir, I have never seen these guys before in my life!"

That day, we all answered the same way when asked that question, and the 6 CHP Officers became confused about what to do with us. After an hour or so waiting on the side of the road, the Chief of Police showed up and gathered us all together with our bikes. The CHP Chief and his 6 Officer's gave us a police escort 20 miles north to the Oregon Border with strict instructions to never return to "Happy Camp."

We crossed the border and stopped at the next tavern for a cold beer and to celebrate that we avoided spending the weekend in jail in "Happy Camp, CA."

I still ride motorcycles today and hope to ride them for many years to come. In the spring I'll ride out to where Peter Lost his life and share one last story with him in our own way.

Peter and I rode 1,000's of miles together, always with smiles on our faces and he will always be my Biker Buddy.


Thanks Mark & Chris for posting this tribute to Peter.

Peter lived his life his way and he was a true patriot.

Reg Down (Texx)
Calgary, Canada

Texx said...

Peter Small Memories - Part 3

I forgot to mention that, as Stan commented here, Peter Small was very proud of his success at the Isle of Mann TT Races off the coast of England.

As a first time rider at the tricky curcuit, Peter acccomplished something that was rare for a newby racing at the Isle of Mann TT. Peter "Did The Ton" which in local racing terms means that he lapped the 37 mile Isle of Mann Mountain TT Course with an average speed exceeding 100Miles Per Hour. This meant top speeds of probably 175 MPH on the open roads and quickly learning the intricacies of racing on public roadways he had never seen before.

Maintaining an average speed of over 100 MPH on the damp, narrow, and often blind public roads on the TT Circuit goes to prove how much raw determination and natural talent Peter had to be that fast on a motorcycle.

Reg Down

D man said...

Thanks again Mark & Chris for posting this tribute to Peter. I'm glad it's still here. I raced with Peter and rode with him on our slightly mad California rides. He was, and will always be a cherished friend.

It's been over a year since we lost you Pete, and riding full tilt out at Race city a couple of days ago I had to pull in after almost crashing. I realized I wasn't paying full attention to what I was doing,& I couldn't concentrate clearly any more. I kept thinking about you. I miss just knowing you are in this world, I miss your calls and those rides. I miss your antics and our long conversations about ... well everything. Mostly, I just miss you.

All my best to Andrew, Ariana and the family.

Darren Lane

Texx said...

Hi Darrin - Thanks so much for your kind words here. In August I rode 5,200 miles on my Harley-Davidson down the west coast - Alone.

Many of the same roads that Peter and I rode (raced) on many times.

My friend Peter was on my mind a lot during that ride, with me in spirit, I know that.

I miss Peter Small...

Texx (Reg Down)

Jean Hess said...

As with many other writers here I was Googling Pete because I had not heard from him in a while and missed him. His email had changed since he visited us here in Tennessee on one of his periodic jewelry jaunts to major cities. He looked great then and was enthusiastic about his life -- his jewelry, his kids, and his racing.

I knew Pete first when we were in the sixth grade in Baltimore, Maryland. His family had just returned form Japan. He was a beautiful and exotic child --magical -- I fell in love with him immediately in that way 11-year-olds focus on the new and exciting. And when I met his artistic mother, Muriel, well -- I was beyond worshipful. Muriel volunteered in our class to do art projects and I also got to visit her home studio many times over the years because my parents became fast friends with Muriel and David. Their kindnesses to me as I struggled through teen-hood probably saved my life. Muriel also taught me what it might be like to be a professional artist. That is a whole other essay. But they raised a sensitive, creative and brilliant son who was, as many of you have noted, one of a kind.

Pete and I were good friends and remained so over the years, even though we saw each other infrequently later on. I think when Muriel and David died so close together, and my own mother died soon afterward, we found it hard to keep the news flowing. I am grateful that we saw each other a bit at least.

Pete was always my idea of a brave and original soul. I worried about him through two stints in Vietnam as a Green Beret; I heard enough about his time there to know he had been harmed physically and spiritually. But he moved to Idaho and found his niche as an artist and fine craftsman.

Pete, I wish I could have said goodbye to you, but I know you went the way I myself would like to go -- doing something you love. When one is lucky enough to have it go that way it of course must come suddenly -- for oneself as well as for others who love you.

Jean Hess