GRAVES MOTORSPORTS: A WINNING HISTORY OF BUILDING FACTORY PARTS FOR PRIVATEERS
Graves Motorsports was born in 1990 out of the dreams, desire, and dedication. Both a manufacturer of performance accessories and a professional road racing team, the Van Nuys, California company’s ceaseless mission is: craftsmanship leads to championships. Serving that goal, Graves Motorsports provides privateer racers with Factory-quality, race-proven performance parts.
Central to the success of Graves Motorsports is the passion of proprietor Chuck Graves, whose hands steer the company and its racing team. Chuck started his motorcycling career by taking courses in motorcycle repair in high school. By the early ’80s, he found himself assisting a professional racer at the local Willow Springs races. At the track, Chuck’s love of metalworking and fabrication gave way to a craving to compete and soon Chuck was building himself a bike to race.
FAST IS AS FAST DOES
Chuck built a highly modified fire-breathing 1100cc motor and slipped it into a 750cc race bike, to compete in the Willow Springs unlimited Formula USA class, quickly putting his bike on the podium. When the class went national in 1989, Chuck contested the series on his self-built bike, winning races and beating factory-supported machinery. As Chuck puts it, “I had an idea that maybe I could ride better than I could work on bikes. And for a period in my life I think I was right.” Chuck soon signed on with the Valvoline-sponsored team and won the Formula USA national championship. During his years of racing, Chuck has won hundreds of races and dozens of championships, and has owned the Willow Springs track record along with many other track records around the country.
THE ONE THING IN COMMON
The love of racing provided Chuck Graves with an outlet for his fabricating talents. Racing drove him to create products to help him win and winning created interest from other racers in the fairing brackets, clip-ons and case covers he was manufacturing. So in 1990 Graves Motorsports officially set up shop, and in 1993 moved to their present facilities in Van Nuys. When the all-conquering Yamaha YZF-R1 was released in 1998, the GMS crew struck a small deal with Yamaha and campaigned the bike in the AMA Formula Extreme series. Developing the R1 for the unlimited rules of that series gave Graves Motorsports the opportunity to create a huge number of race parts for the R1, becoming the granddaddy of R1 performance accessories. The bike they developed became such a potent track weapon that it qualified on pole and won every race it entered during the 2002 season. Midway through that season it was banned by the AMA. This is the only time in AMA history that a motorcycle was banned mid year while in competition. Ever since then, as Chuck has noted, “For R1 mods, we’re the guys.”
WINNING ISN'T JUST A GOAL, IT'S OUR LIFESTYLE
Over the last decade, the relationship between Yamaha and Graves Motorsports has continually progressed, proving itself as a winning team. In 2004 the team finished first and second in the AMA Superstock championship with rider Aaron Gobert grabbing the crown from teammate Jamie Hacking, and the team’s other riders – Damon Buckmaster and Jason DiSalvo – contributed to making the R1 the winningest bike in the class. Rider Jamie Hacking added another AMA Superstock championship to the list in 2006, with teammate Jason Disalvo taking third in the championship, showing that Graves Motorsports and the Yamaha YZF-R1 are still the winning combination. In 2005, Graves Motorsports expanded its racing program to include the AMA Supermoto Championship Series, earning the Supermoto Lites championship in the team’s first attempt. Chuck said, “We’ve been on the podium so many times in the last few years, it’s hard for me to remember when we weren’t on the podium.”
TEAM TACTICS: DIVIDE AND CONQUER!
At racing events it’s impossible to determine where Team Yamaha ends and Graves Motorsports begins. And that’s by design. “The first minute I was at Yamaha I felt at home. Our combined teams are like a Swiss watch, running smooth. We have the best riders, the best team, the best equipment, and those are just the facts,” commented Chuck Graves on the relationship between Yamaha and Graves Motorsports. Yamaha’s Racing Manager Keith McCarty said, “Our relationship with Graves Motorsports has been tremendously successful. Our goals and teams integrate seamlessly making them an important part of our extended family. And it’s no small thing that they know how to win.”
Today, Graves Motorsports has a growing list of trick performance items available for the Yamaha YZF-R1, YZF-R6, YZ450F, YZ250F, Suzuki GSX-R 1000, GSX-R 750, GSX-R 600 as well as performance parts for other brands. About these parts Chuck said, “We make rear sets, bars, exhaust systems, velocity stacks, suspension components, marker lights, fender eliminator kits, steering damper mounts, tire warmers, cams, valve springs, and on and on. The most significant detail about our parts is, the ones we use for winning on the track are the same ones available to every rider. We are dedicated to our mission of making Factory-quality parts for every rider.”