Vol. 4, Issue 31
Person of the Week: Bob Moshinskie
By Keith S. Kizer
Born March 29, 1954 in Teaneck, New Jersey, Robert Paul Moshinskie is one of those kids who took an early interest in racing. If you have been anywhere around motorcycle drag racing, especially in the American Northeast or Canadian Southeast, you know who of Bob Moshinskie. Departing from my normal routine of writing, this week is a first. Bob’s daughter Michelle nominated her dad for this story but asked if she could write the story herself. So in her words here is a first hand account of Bob’s life.
The late Alfred “Al” and Helen Moshinskie gave birth to their second son Robert “Bob” Paul Moshinskie on March 29, 1954 in Teaneck, New Jersey. Helen was a stay-at-home mom and Al operated his own landscaping and gardening business.
Bob became fascinated with racing and motors in general, at a very young age. At seven-years-old he was bombing around the streets of his neighborhood in his quarter-midget replica racecar – something that most children in his area weren’t lucky enough to have. The racecar was a gift from his father – a man who adored Indy car racing, motorcycles and cars. Bob spent many afternoons watching racing and tinkering on machinery with his dad.
Al was a perfectionist. His work on lawn grooming, gardening and landscaping was exceptional. His skill-set and attention to detail landed him large accounts including the Ford Motor Company in Mahwah, New Jersey. At one point during the contract, Al was fortunate enough to take Bob into the plant where he was able to watch vehicles being assembled. Amazed by the production line, Bob quickly turned his attention and spare time outside of school to mechanics.
After a family move to Vermont, and having little interest in regular high school classes, Bob attended a local trade school where he focused his studies on machine shop and industrial arts. During this time, he became acclimated and proficient with precision instruments. As class projects, he was asked to rebuild Briggs Stratton engines.
Bob’s older brother Andrew, or “Andy,” owned a Honda 305 Super Hawk throughout Bob’s younger teenage years. Andy spent numerous hours rebuilding the used bike, and eventually, completely restored it. Bob watched on as he fixed it and got scared silly as Andy raced through town with him on the back. Soon enough, Andy had rebuilt not only his own motorcycle, but he started repairing and restoring his friends’ rides on a regular basis. His reputation and craftsmanship was noticed and rewarded with a job offer from the local Honda dealership.
As Andy worked, Bob became old enough to drive himself. His first bike that big brother helped him barter, was a red and white 1971 Honda CB100. This became Bob’s first and only form of transportation. That summer, he collectively put over 14,000 miles on it and was to say the least “addicted to the adrenaline.”
As the summer came to a close, Andy left to serve a short stint with the U.S. National Guard. Missing workforce, the Honda dealership offered Bob a position to complete odd jobs. He started assembling motorcycles out of the crate, and quickly became the business’ most efficient and reliable assembler. Shortly after starting, Bob was promoted to the shop area where we performed light services (oil changes, adjustments, etc.).
After returning from duty, Andy comprehensively showed Bob the ins and outs of servicing motorcycles. His love for the machines and fixing and modifying them quickly grew. Before long, Bob had graduated to a 1972 Honda CB 350 and then to a 1972 Honda CB 750Four. In total bliss, Bob had modified his 750cc into an 811cc with help from an Action Four kit, “R” Norris cam and a four-into-one Kerker header. Not only was it faster, but beautiful – Bob had also gotten custom paintwork done on it.
As imagined, Bob’s near perfect and beautiful motorcycles started to draw attention from the ladies. Still in high school, Bob’s flashy and fast motorcycle paired with his comedic and loving personality caught the eye of Sheryl Bickford – a local farmer’s daughter. Sheryl was actually the first female to ride on the back of Bob’s motorcycle. They rode for miles all over the state and quickly fell in love. In 1973, after graduation, they happily married each other.
With a new and enthusiastic sidekick, Bob started entering his prized Honda CB into various motorcycle shows around New England. Without question, he won several awards to include “Best of Show” and “People’s Choice.” This accreditation and recognition only fueled Bob’s desire to further his custom work!
He worked with the Honda dealership as one of their top mechanics until 1974 before being offered a job at the local Kawasaki dealership. He accepted the mechanic position and was quickly promoted to Service Manager. As a perk, Bob was given his choice of bike to ride – naturally, he chose the mighty Z1. Additionally, as part of a sales incentive, he and Sheryl were lucky enough to be invited to a special visit to the Kawasaki motorcycle factory in Japan.
His time spent riding the Z1 as well as his trip to Japan really proved Bob’s passion for not only the industry, but speed! After his return back to the States, Bob focused his work and talents on modifying engines. Head work, valves, cam degreeing and MTC piston kits quickly became second nature to him. He used his entries into the custom motorcycle shows as opportunities to showcase his work. He continued to win several more awards and was soon known as the “go-to” guy for performance and style.
In 1975, while working at the Kawasaki dealership, Bob was encouraged by friends to not only show his motorcycle, but to try running it at the drags. With a young family, it seemed like a better alternative to feed his need for speed rather than street racing and outrunning cops.
That year, Bob brought his bike to the track in Epping, New Hampshire. Finding bracket racing a bit confusing at first, he quickly mastered the set-up and knowledge needed to outperform his competition. Before long, Bob started winning regularly each weekend.
At the same track, Bob also began to meet racing icons, including Terry Vance and Bryon Hines. Additionally, he was lucky enough to meet Bill Hahn, Sr. and Pee Wee Gleason, both notable figures from American TurboPak. He was honored to meet their team but even more honored to witness their and the country’s first eight-second pass on gasoline! This iconic moment made Bob’s passion to go faster even more prevalent.
Over the course of the next several years, Bob continued to work for various local motorcycle dealerships. He had become a certified master technician of all four major Japanese brands and decided if he was making other businesses successful that it was time to start his own.
In 1980, at the young age of 26, Bob opened the doors of Moshinskie Performance. Set-up in a shop beside his house, Bob worked around the clock to build his business and his family over the coming years. He offered complete service and modification to all major Japanese motorcycles and offered parts and accessories from the main aftermarket companies.
The business was truly a family affair. Bob offered superior service and knowledge; wife Sheryl ran the business operationally; oldest son Eric offered back-up service support; and the three youngest completed odd jobs, detailing and cleaning. Before long, Moshinskie Performance was Central Vermont’s premier motorcycle service and sales business.
As if running a full-time business wasn’t enough, Bob continued to feed his passion for racing whenever time permitted. Bob secured several three-wheeler victories under the track-given name “Bouncing Bob.” He sponsored and built engines for multiple motocross racers who went along to win track championships throughout New England. He modified motorcycle engines for numerous customers who also became champions in several classes throughout New England’s drag strips. He even started building engines for the ever popular dwarf car class. Bob’s name and business were becoming well-known in the industry and was even spotlighted several times in numerous publications.
For a number of years, Bob had put his personal motorcycle drag racing career on the back burner in the pursuit of building his business – until one weekend when his ambitions were rekindled during a trip to the Napierville Dragway in Canada.
Bob renewed his passion for drag racing with a salvaged 1983 Suzuki GS 1100. After rebuilding it to the stock form, he added a wheelie bar and slick and began bracket racing in both Epping and Napierville. The stock set-up was able to produce 10.80 runs – not quite fast enough for Bob.
That winter, Bob took the engine out and apart looking to add more horsepower. By spring, the engine had too much power for the tire he was running. He drove to Massachusetts to visit Harry’s Machined Parts for a rake of the frame and outboard sprocket. During this trip, Bob met and connected with Stan Gardner – a local crank master. They quickly became friends and racing associates (Stan eventually opened Gardner Racing Concepts and even today, remains the best of friends with Bob). With Bob’s newfound traction and fortitude of racing companions, his motorcycle began to run 8.80s.
It was at the Epping track that Bob caught the attention of racing icon Paul Gast. Paul marveled at Bob’s tire changing speed and even asked Bob to come to his trailer to change his bike’s tire! Through this friendship, Bob was quickly convinced that he needed a car tire conversion for his bike.
In the middle of a busy season, both on the track and at his business, Bob and his bike headed out to New York to visit Fast by Gast for the conversion. With the one-piece fiberglass body and fairing, Bob entered into the Pro Gas class and started to compete against the heavyweights!
In 1991, Bob won the Napierville track championship with ease. With the win under his belt and inflated confidence, he decided to enter into the Prostar World Finals nearly 1,200 miles away in Commerce, Georgia. As his first Prostar race, Bob surpassed a sea of other Pro Gas racers and was finally eliminated in the quarterfinals. It was then, that he decided to run the full Prostar circuit the following year.
Because of a thriving business and young family back home, Bob pledged to race and fully commit to the circuit for only one season – with a goal to secure a top 10 national number plate.
For a rookie, Bob did well – and was never ranked out of the top 10. His bike was one of the quickest 60-footing Pro Gas bikes in the country with 1.19 times. He was one of the first racers to run the Mickey Thompson car tire, and his reaction times were almost unbeatable… all of this with a bike that started itself – no remote starter or fancy electronics. Furthermore, Bob, his bike and his crew looked good while doing it. In Atco, New Jersey they were recognized as the best appearing crew.
As the summer went on, Bob continued to race with authority. In Indianapolis, he ranked second in the nation in the Prostar series. His bike immediately caught the attention of an overseas buyer. Greed set in, and Bob was bought out. Because of this sale, he missed the last two races of the season, and dropped his ranking to the number four national number plate… not bad for his first and only season of nationwide circuit racing.
The following winter, when work had died down at his business in Vermont, Paul Gast asked Bob to work for him at his shop in Grand Island, New York. Bob left his family behind for four months, working with Paul and his crew day-in and day-out to perfect Paul’s bike for the upcoming season. When spring arrived, Bob went home to his family but continued to travel to races as a member of Paul’s Pro Stock team. Collectively, they ended up with the number one national plate that season.
Between his own race career and the one with Paul, Bob’s knowledge and skill-set was demanded by numerous people around the country. With his goals met, Bob decided to return his attention to a successful long-term business back home.
After the completion of his racing career, Bob stayed very involved with the industry. Racers from around the country continued to reach out to him, asking for help or to hire him to modify their bikes. From that point until 2008, Bob maintained a successful business. Moshinskie Performance was marked on the map and continued to lead sales and service within Vermont.
In 2008, Bob and wife Sheryl moved to East Tennessee. His network remains extensive and he is still called upon for his broad knowledge and meticulous skills. Although Moshinskie Performance is no longer Bob’s full-time job, he continues to work on motorcycles out of his garage in his Tennessee home.
Today, he and Sheryl own several motorcycles, and still love to ride. Located approximately 45 minutes from East Tennessee’s unique “Tail of the Dragon,” Bob enjoys taking friends on their first trip through the twisted road. Additionally, he often volunteers his time working for local motorcycles rides and rallies.
And, it wouldn’t be right if his passion for motorcycles didn’t spread throughout his family. He’s currently rebuilding a Z50R with his granddaughter and grandson and regularly services and rides with his daughter and son-in-law. And speaking of a supporting son-in-law, Jeremy Gile and his father-in-law, Bob, together had Bob’s company logo permanently inked on their chest. No matter what, Moshinskie Performance will always be on Bob’s heart, literally …
Other Areas of Interest
Current Residence: Kodak, TN
Spouse’s Name: Sheryl Moshinskie
Children: Eric Moshinskie, 37; Shawn Moshinskie, 34; Stephanie Moshinskie-Metcalf, 31; Michelle Moshinskie, 27
Occupation: Production Trainer at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Team Name: Moshinskie Performance
Home Track: Epping, New Hampshire and Napierville, Canada
Crew Members: Sheryl Moshinskie, Eric Moshinskie, Gabriel Cole, Jaime Constantine
Sponsors: Boy-Rad Racing, Fast by Gast, GRC Racing, Harry’s Machined Parts, Northeast Cycle, Rick’s Motorcycle Electric, Snap-on Tools, Star Racing, Tsubaki Chains
Current Class/Division: Retired Prostar
Professional Career Accomplishments: Best Appearing Crew Award, 1992, #4 Pro Gas Plate, 1993, Crew Member for Paul Gast – #1 Plate, 1993
Goals: To ride and work on motorcycles until he can’t ride anymore!
Daily Drivers: 2004 ZRX 1200R Kawasaki; 2001 750 ACE Shadow Deluxe; 1998 GL 1500 Aspencade Honda; and a, 2008 GMC Sierra Truck for when it rains.
Interest Outside of Racing: Recreation Motorcycle Riding, Fishing, Guns and Archery
Hero: John Myers
If you are interested in being featured as person of the week, contact Keith Kizer