The Bike Portraits: Rob Iannucci

The Bike Portraits is a challenge by photographer/filmmaker David Goldman, who travels the world making documentaries, and takes trip to interview fascinating folks within the motorbike scene, wherever he is perhaps.  The result’s a single exemplary photograph, a geolocation of his topic, and a transcribed interview.  The audio of his interviews could be discovered on The Bike Portraits web site.

The next Bike Portraits session is with Rob Iannucci, proprietor of Workforce Out of date, the legendary classic racing juggernaut that has been the lifeblood of genuine historic motorbike racing for over 40 years. Rob has his headquarters in Brooklyn NY, the place he retains a museum-worthy assortment of essential racing bikes from the USA, Italy, the UK, and Japan.  All his machines are extraordinarily uncommon and coveted, with wealthy histories and modern tales, too. David Goldman attended the annual Workforce Out of date vacation get together in Brooklyn, and took the chance to {photograph} and interview Rob.

Rob Iannucci at Workforce Out of date HQ in Brooklyn NY, Dec. 2 2022. [David Goldmann]

Who’re you?

Good day, my identify is Rob Iannucci. And we’re right here on the Workforce Out of date headquarters in downtown Brooklyn within the historic Clock Tower constructing. We’re right here amongst our assortment of historic racing bikes; these bikes have been a serious ardour of my life, and it doesn’t take a lot in stimulation to get me to speak about them.

How did you get began with bikes?

Properly, the way in which I acquired concerned with bikes was I used to be in a Peace Corps within the Caribbean, and I wanted a small motorcycle to get round, and it grew. From there, I wound up ordering a Norton Commando from England, which was delivered on to me within the Caribbean. And ultimately, I used to be again in america, and attached with a bunch of British bike fanatics. And all of it grew from there

A postcard from photographer Invoice Burke displaying the Workforce Out of date camp with the Arter Matchless, a really particular machine with a Matchless G50 motor, which was the final single-cylinder motorbike to win a Grand Prix. [Bill Burke]

What’s an incredible story that would solely have occurred with bikes?

The origin of Workforce Out of date began after I got here again to america, when my Peace Corps work was over, and I had myself a brand new Commando. I attached with some British bike fanatics, and we wound up going into some races. Additionally, I found the Matchless G50 engine in an previous journal article. And it was only a actually, actually sensible piece of engineering, which had begun its improvement within the Twenties. And I simply fell in love with it. So I needed to have one…after which I needed to have two…after which I needed to have three, after which I needed to have extra. And so they had been scarce; they weren’t raised a lot on this nation, nevertheless it was only a stunning piece of structure. It was, , it was suave. It was sensible. And it was constructed for a no-factory racing operation, so is straightforward to work on.

A Matchless G50 racing engine: the seed for Rob Iannucci’s ardour. [Paul d’Orléans]

So I wound up with fairly a number of Matchless G50s. We raced them, and I interfaced with individuals who had raced them 20 years earlier than, after they had been present. And so they had been very completely satisfied to assist me, in many various methods. After which I wanted some riders as a result of we wished to go racing. I wished to race a little bit bit myself, however I wasn’t a gifted rider. So I acquired another riders, and ultimately attached with David Roper, who’s actually form of the King of Historic Racing Bikes as a rider.  And we simply went out and began racing bikes, and we had a good time.

An extremely scarce 1966 Honda RC166 six-cylinder 250cc engine, probably the most unimaginable piece of racing macinery this facet of the Moto Guzzi V8, captured within the Workforce Out of date warehouse. [Paul d’Orléans]

It was simply probably the most enjoyable factor I’ve ever finished in my life. It was instructional, there was camaraderie concerned in it, it was, , simply nice option to spend your vitality. I organized Workforce Out of date within the late 70s. And it grew into one thing that was past my wildest goals or intentions; we wound up getting into about 1800 races worldwide over a interval of 35 or 40 years.  We’ve had 50 completely different riders, we’ve collected the best historic  racing bikes on the earth. And we raced them!  The entire concept was to place these bikes again on the observe, to the extent that was doable to recycle the unique riders and produce them again. And we’ve finished fairly a little bit of that additionally. And it simply grew, , there have been fabulous alternatives everywhere in the world, we’ve raced everywhere in the United States, in Asia, and Australia and New Zealand, throughout Europe. And the entire concept was that the bikes wanted to be raced and ought to be raced, quite than simply paraded or, , be a museum piece. So there’s a form of large, traditionally instructional side to it as nicely, as a result of there are a lot of individuals who weren’t alive when these bikes had been being raced initially. And now they’ve an opportunity to see them, , 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 years later.

Rob Iannucci together with his c.1948 AJS E90S ‘Porcupine’ racer, a horizontal twin-cylinder, DOHC, purpose-built Grand Prix racer, of the kind that received the 1949 World Championship. [Paul d’Oréans]

What do bikes imply to you: 

The entire concept of the that means of bikes… it means various things to completely different folks. We’re concerned in a really esoteric finish of the game. There are classic bikes, and so they had been constructed for function of racing, they’re racing motorbike, so that they’re not designed for use on the road. They’re not designed for the typical individual to personal them, or to function them. They’re very, very single, slender function, designed simply to exit and win a race. And hopefully they’re nonetheless working on the finish of the race. After which they require quite a lot of upkeep and a spotlight and so forth earlier than the following race. However the engineering concerned in these bikes may be very, very particular. And that’s what I discover that very enticing, as a result of they had been constructed with ardour by the factories, to publicize their actions to most of the people.


David Goldman is photographer and filmmaker who has traveled the world on tasks documenting human trafficking, maternal well being and marginalized folks. He additionally interviews and images motorcyclists on this travels for his collection The Bike Portraits. You possibly can comply with his web site right here, his IG right here, and his FB right here.