It’s been 14 years since a British rider, Jamie Dobb captured our last World title after a titanic struggle against injury claiming the 125cc World Title for KTM, after the glory years of Graham Noyce, Neil Hudson and Dave Thorpe though-out the 70’s and 80’s.
However one British artist, Rob Kinsey has made his way to the top in the world of Motocross art through hard work and determination. Rob’s work adorns the walls of Youthstream’s Geneva Headquarters, CEO Stefan Pierer’s office at KTM Austria and is in high demand from clients such as Honda Europe, KTM and many team owners and private collectors worldwide, but just how did the 58 year old Brit. rise to the top?
Rob, you seem to have been around motocross for many years in different roles, how did it all start?
Our family moved up from Crewe Cheshire in 1968, when my parents bought a garage just north of Kendal, Cumbria. My uncle Jack gave me his old DOT 197cc bike and my dad, Fred, who had worked at Rolls Royce in the design dept. explained how to get it going. After that we started schoolboy scrambling, racing against Noycey and Neil Hudson and progressed up in to the adults, racing Montesa’s for Paul Ludlam M/c. I then got a good deal on a Maico 440cc in 1978 and had a great year winning Yorkshire GN, second in supports at Hants Grand International at Matchams etc.
Rob Kinsey leading Don Brockbank, Hutton Conyers, Ripon, 1978
During this time I was studying Technical Illustration at Blackpool Art College, learning all aspects of art and how to do cutaway illustrations of engines, parts diagrams etc. These were drawn by hand using ellipse templates, Rotring technical pens etc All of my college projects were motocross based and I approached TMX News, whose editor Bill Lawless gave me my first break, publishing a series of 3 centre page drawings of Graham Noyce, Neil Hudson and trials rider Nigel Birkett.
Illustration of Graham Noyce and his Honda in TMX News
How come you didn’t continue with TMX News?
Back then the print industry was heavily unionised and I wasn’t a member of the N.U.J.(National Union of Journalists). The in-house graphic designer at TMX complained to Bill Lawless who didn’t want to upset the apple-cart at their offices in Morecambe.
What did you do after graduating?:
I worked for a couple of studio’s in Manchester, but soon became tired of doing repetitous parts illustrations, for companies like David Brown Tractors, so I moved into sales of art materials, then onto Dunlop Motorcycle tyres and also several bicycle companies such as Muddy Fox and Dawes.
Were you still involved in motocross?:
Yes, after a brilliant holiday to California and seeing Supercross in San Diego for the first time , I came back and formed my own company Stadium Motorsports Promotions Ltd. I was also in contact with US Supercross founder Mike Goodwin and arranged meetings for us at Wembley Stadium and also represented Goodwin and his Stadium Motorsports Corp at the 1984 FIM Congress in Munich. We were awarded 2 rounds of the inaugural World Supercross Series in 1985, The Rodil Cup at WembleyStadium, London and the La Coliseum.
L/R: Mike Goodwin, John Davis of Wembley, Rob Kinsey and John Garner Controller of sport Wembley Stadium.
What happened to the Wembley event?:
We had contracts all signed with Stadium and backing for many of Goodwin’s US sponsors, Coca Cola, Wrangler and Honda, but it all fell apart when the ACU demanded a £10,000 sanction fee for Wembley. Goodwin’s exact words were: Fcuk that!, I can get LA Coliseum or Anaheim permit from the AMA for $2,000 US dollars and I know I will get 20 to 30,000 paying fans. On the way back to drop Mike off at Heathrow airport, he offered me a good deal on his Supercross footage, so I formed Stadium Video Europe ltd, and had 7 great years distributing Supercross, AMA Motocross nationals and Rick Johnson instructional VHS videos throughout UK and Europe. Eventually the fledgling sports TV companies, such as Eurosport, BSkyB started buying up coverage, curtailing the home video market.
In 1988 I started Moto Travel organising package tours to Motocross des Nations and our big event was the Bercy Supercross in Paris. The first year we took 350 British fans to the event with 6 coaches and also chartered an aircraft for a VIP package. Looking back these were great times and I made £39,000 profit from that one event, a lot of money back then! The second year we did the Paris event again trips to Namur and also the USA Experience Tour, 2 weeks in California with 25 guys taking in the Superbowl of Motocross and USGP. We had some great years but the 80’s recession and downturn in the economy hit ticket sales.
How did you get back into artwork?:
I’d been a sales manager for various bicycle and motorcycle companies, but became burnt out of the constant pressure to sell more, lonely hotel rooms, driving, mountains of reports, 70 hour working weeks etc. Recently re-married I discussed it with my wife Jo and decided to go back to my artwork and see if I could resurrect my career? At the last minute I decided to drive down to the 2006 MXDN at Matterley Basin, Winchester, blagged my way in the press room and saw this exhibition of paintings by a French artist, the press, industry were all raving about! I thought,” I can do better than those” and encouraged by my old friend Davey Coombs I did two paintings of Jim Pomeroy and “Holeshot Unadilla”, featuring Chuck Sun. RacerX featured these on their website and named me “Artist of the Year” in their year end annual awards. The phone started ringing and several orders came in overnight from the USA.
Anthony Sutton of Dirt Bike Rider also gave us some great publicity at the International Dirt Bike Show.
“Holeshot Unadilla” print featuring Chuck Sun #24.
We then set a target of the 2007 Motocross des Nations at Budds Creek, Maryland USA to launch Rob Kinsey Art, creating a body of original paintings and also limited edition giclee prints to exhibit.
Working flat out all summer, Rob created a body of work to exhibit as well as Limited Edition Giclee prints and enlisted the help of old friend Davey Coombs. We flew all the originals and prints out to RacerX offices in Morgantown, West Virginia and enlisted services of a local framer to frame several prints. My first exhibition was at the British MXGP at Donington Park, where Youthstream had agreed to display my work in the Press Office. I also had Chuck Sun flying in to race the Vets championship for CAS Honda. We got the paintings all displayed but there were problems with Chuck’s licence and entry. Rob was sat in Giuseppe Luongo’s office’s when he got a call from the hospital to say his mother Bet had died suddenly. The Ward Sister said there was nothing that would happen until after the bank holiday weekend, so stay at Donington and do the exhibition, it’s what your mum would have wanted!
Paintings on display in Donnington Press Office.
Shocked with the news, Chuck Sun and friends rallied around and Rob made many great contacts that weekend and after organising the funeral, flew out to Washington DC, to visit the capital and meet up with his old friend Davey Coombs at RacerX offices in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he had shipped all his paintings and print stock.
Parking their hired motorhome up in RacerX carpark, Rob and Jo were given the tour to meet everyone and Davey gave him the keys to his Mercedes, saying he didn’t need it for rest of week, so go enjoy the sights of West Virginia. Customs import delays on paintings were sorted out, exhibition stand built and onward to Budds Creek Maryland for the 2007 Motocross of Nations.
Rob and Jo were then invited to a reception at the Belgian Embassy in Washington DC, to present Team Belgium to the world’s press and for Rob to present Roger DeCoster with one of his paintings.
Roger DeCoster painting presentation at Belgian Embassy.
Artist Rob Kinsey and Roger discuss the painting on the lawn of the Belgian Embassy, Washington DC.
Jo Kinsey attends to customers at the Budds Creek MXoN exhibition stand.
Display of painting’s used for opening titles of RacerX video show each night of their MXoN coverage.
We hosted Danny Maggo Chandler on our stand, selling his video’s and enabling him to meet his many fans!
Jo Kinsey, Jeff Castina, Rob Kinsey and Chuck Sun enjoy the warm humid weather at Budds Creek.
The Budds Creek MXoN event was a great success, selling many prints and original paintings, launching Rob Kinsey Art into America, a big thanks to Davey Coombs and promoter Jonathon Beasley for all their help in making this happen!
The profile of Rob Kinsey Art now changed to more commissioned work of original art and less on the print sales. KTM Austria commissioned a painting of Tyla Rattrey to celebrate his 2008 MX2 World championship, presented at the Donnington Park MXoN in the Red Bull Hospitality suite.
Ryan Villopoto painting bought by his parents
Artwork on display in Team USA pits, as the Supercross organisers Feld Ent. enjoy the hospitality.
Giuseppe Luongo and Danny Magoo Chandler with the Chamberlain Trophy at Donnington Park.
The following year at the Motocross of Nations in Franciacorta Italy, Youthstream commissioned a painting and presented it to Ricky Johnson and they also paid for Danny Chandler to attend and threw a surprise birthday party for him Saturday night.
Giuseppe Luongo presents a painting of Maggiora 1986 to American legend Ricky Johnson.
Giuseppe sings Happy Birthday to Magoo and presents a Birthday cake. Sadly this would be Danny’s last visit to the MXDN, as he passed away the following May.
To celebrate Mikka Ahola winning the Enduro World Championship, Honda Europe commissioned this painting of the “Flying Finn”!
The following year he defended his title and Honda Racing manager Roger Harvey wanted something different, so commissioned this illustration which we etched onto Copper plate and presented to Mikka. Sadly Ahola was to lose his life in a freak training crash month’s later.
Honda Europe also commissioned a painting of World Supersport champion Kenan Sofuoglu.
Presentation at Honda Europe HQ to Kenan by Robert Masterson of Honda.
I was commissioned by Alan Bott of Pemberton Tyres to paint Nick Haskell’s original photo of Georges Jobe jumping over Andre Malherbe at the 1984 Hawkstone Park 500cc GP, as Alan was in the crowd. Once completed, Alan upon hearing of Georges battle with Leukaemia, decided to give this original to Jobe. We flew to Belgium, met up with Georges at his house in Retinne and enjoyed a great afternoon and a few Jupiler beers together!
Roger DeCoster with a painting to celebrate his many years as Team USA manager at Lommel 2012.
Youthstream commissioned 3 painting for Lommel, Paul Malin, tribute to Roger DeCoster and Valadimir Gudkov of Invest trade bank of Russia.
Roger DeCoster accepts his painting at Youthstream Awards evening.
In 2012 KTM Austria won 12 World titles across Motocross, Enduro, Rallye and Road racing. I was commissioned by Pit Bierer, Head of Motorsport to create a painting to be presented to Stefan Pierer at their Christmas party at the factory in Mantighofen Austria.
KTM riders celebrate 12 World titles with CEO Stefan Pierer at the factory.
KTM Austria 12 world championships commission.
One of Rob’s biggest commission was to celebrate Giuseppe Luongo’s 30 years of promoting Motocross, at a party at the 2013 Italian MXGP at Maggiora, Italy. The canvas was 6ft x 2ft in size.
Stefan Everts, Usulla & Giuseppe Luongo, Jean Michel Bayle, Alex Puzar and artist Rob Kinsey at 30th Birthday party.Painting from top left Malherbe, Jobe, Vekhonen, Cairoli, Bayle, Omara , Stefan Everts, Bierer, Rick Johnson, Bailey, Villopoto, Thorpe, Geboers and Puzar. Centre Portrait of Giuseppe & Ursula Luongo of Youthstream.
Maggiora track from restaurant at top of this classic venue.
Outdoor pool at restaurant with track behind the hedge.
To celebrate the life of Marty Moates, film producer Todd Huffman made a film of the his 1980 USGP victory and commissioned two paintings of Moates, which were auctioned at the film premier re at Spreckels Theatre in San Diego, California.
Tom White owner of the Early Years of Motocross Museum placed the winning bid for Marty’s painting.
In 2013 Youthstream commissioned a painting of 8 time World Champion Tony Carolli, whose father passed away that summer.
Painting in Tony’s villa near Rome.
Looking foward to 2016, Rob is working on a collection of paintings to celebrate the 30 years between 1986 MXDN at Maggiora and the upcoming 2016 race at this classic Italian venue. A healthy commission book reflects and enviable reputation Rob has built up as one of the world’s premier motor-sport artist’s.