Team Green vs the Bumblebee
Ever wondered how racing Kawasakis ended up green, or where Yamaha’s “bumblebee” graphics came from?
Well I have found the answer! A long time Kawasaki and race team employee named Steve Johnson shed some light on the story when he spoke about origin of the of the famous Kawasaki Green in an early issue of Motorcyclist Retro, now called Moto Retro Illustrated.
Here is the extract as it appeared in the mag.
“We’d sent some H1-R [a Kawasaki road racer based on the H1 triple] bodywork to a local painter by the name of Molly near Kawasaki R&D’s Santa Ana, California, shop, ” Johnson said. “This was probably in 1970, when Kawasaki R&D was basically Kawasaki’s service division. Molly had painted plenty of race bikes and prototypes for us, and he called back saying he had a cool green colour used by AMC (American Motors Corporation) for their Pacer that he wanted to use. We were after something different, something that would stand out, so we said, ‘sure.’ “The parts came back in what is now known as Kawasaki green, and they looked pretty good. “The colour obviously stuck,” Johnson said, “as it’s remained in Kawasaki’s line up till this day.”
Molly’s California based business is still going strong, trading as Molly Designs and is equally famous for creating the black and yellow Yamaha paint scheme used to great effect in the 70s and 80s. Molly’s success was not limited to bikes, as he also created the yellow, orange, and red color scheme that was used by Toyota racing cars for over twenty years.
Nice work Molly!