Judge this book by its cover and by all the incredible photos and words inside.

Quite often in movies and TV shows, when the viewer is taken back to an earlier time in the protagonist’s life or when it is necessary to tell the back story that led up to the current time, the use of black-and-white footage or photos convey the past. Also, if a dream sequence is portrayed, that too is done in black and white.

The technique is used so often that we sometimes believe that our own past and our own dreams were experienced in black and white, even when color film and videotape were abundant in previous times.

John Owens captured this photo of Rob Muzzy conferring with his rider Eddie Lawson, aboard his iconic #21 Kawasaki KZ1000.

Superbike: An Illustrated Early History utilizes black-and-white photography not because it is portraying a long-since-past era—the genesis of Superbike racing—and certainly not because color film had yet to be invented. On the contrary, as Paul Simon sang in his 1973 “feel good” song “Kodachrome”:

“They give us those nice, bright colors,

Give us the greens of summers,

Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah.

I got a Nikon camera.

I love to take a photograph.

So, mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away.”

Acclaimed photographer John Owens definitely had a Nikon camera, and he certainly had all the Kodachrome he needed. But, when leafing through his book, they are right there in…well, black and white. Clear, evocative, and exceedingly perceptive images of motorcycle road racing from the late 1970s and early 1980s portrayed in breathtakingly glorious black and white. Details and nuances that “normal” color photography couldn’t begin to capture.

Cameron (left) and Owens (right) created a book for the ages.

Owens collaborated with a man who is nothing short of a national treasure. For decades, Kevin Cameron has colored our world with vivid descriptions and vibrant explanations of the processes and procedures that make internal combustion engines run, motorcycles function, and racers compete. Cameron was the perfect person to work with Owens on this project. Together, they created not just a symphony of art and copy, but a magnum opus of how Superbike racing—an American original—began. Credit also goes to renowned motojournalist Matthew Miles for not only editing the book, but also guiding it from concept, to publication, to ongoing promotion.

What is Spencer thinking? The eyebrows offer a hint.

Superbike: An Illustrated Early History captures virtually everything, from legendary bike builders and tuners with hallowed names like Yoshimura, Geitl, Schilling, Velasco, and Muzzy, to epic racebikes like Butler & Smith’s BMW Boxer, the “California Hot Rod” Ducati 750SS, Kawasaki’s fearsome four-cylinder KZ1000, and Honda’s vee-force VF750F Interceptor, to the larger-than-life men who dared to race these leviathans like Eddie Lawson with his trademark ten-foot stare, Freddie Spencer with his expressive eyebrows that sometimes conveyed what he was really thinking more than his words would divulge, and our own MotoAmerica President Wayne Rainey with his California-surfer good looks that belied the heart of a lion and his steadfast determination to win.

The writer and photographer signed this one for a very good cause.

The fact that Iconic Motorbikes Auctions right now is auctioning off a special copy of Superbike: An Illustrated Early History that’s been signed by both Owens and Cameron should tell you right there that this isn’t merely a book to set on the coffee table. It is a timeless tome of a tone-rich time. You’ll look at it, you’ll read it, you’ll ponder it, and then you’ll look at it, read it, and ponder it again and again. It’s that good.

And, what’s even better about this special auction is that all proceeds from the sale will go to Back on Track, a charity founded by the Class of ’79 and supported by MotoAmerica that helps injured motorcycle racers and their families.

Don’t miss your chance to bid on this extra-special signed copy of a very special book.

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