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Garage Finds | David Vuillemin’s Shark Helmet and Oakley Goggles


Garage Finds | David Vuillemin’s Shark Helmet and Oakley Goggles

Presented by Throttle Syndicate

In 2002, David Vuillemin won the Anaheim, San Diego, and Indianapolis Supercrosses and led Ricky Carmichael in the championship point standings aboard his factory Yamaha. With a weekend off in between Indianapolis and the legendary Daytona SX by Honda, DV hit me up and asked if I’d shoot some photos of him free riding, literally a mile or two away from my home in Corona. At the time, TransWorld MX was only a couple of years old and our SCAN photo gallery section was pretty popular. “I wanna be in SCAN,” he said. “I have some good jumps, right near your house. Meet me there.”

DV rode me into the hills on the back of his YZ250 and pointed out the jump he planned to hit. It was a pretty big and technical natural gap, but he said he could get really upside down on it. Then, he told me to wait while he warmed up on a smaller jump. Like him, I felt the need to warm up, so I pointed my camera at him as he casually hit a smaller jump about 100 feet away. Through the viewfinder, it looked as if DV’s bike kicked him over the bars as he vanished behind the landing, but I didn’t hear a gnarly panic rev so I figured he meant to jump front end low. “He’s one of the best riders in the world…no way he just endoed,” I thought to myself. But, when he didn’t ride back around I began to worry. I don’t remember what injuries I had at the time, but I was pretty banged up so I couldn’t run to where he was at. I was horrified when I finally saw him. The Cobra was laid out, fast asleep! Just as I got to him he regained consciousness and sat up, and removed his helmet. Glassy eyed, he looked at me and asked, “Where are we?” I told him we were in Corona shooting photos. “What day is it?” When I answered that it was Saturday, he asked, “Oh shit do I have a race tonight?” I told him that it was the off weekend and that he had just won Indy, passing Carmichael with a brilliant last-lap pass, and that he was the series points leader. Then, he put his head in his hands and began to sob. “I can’t remember anything!”

Thanks to Tony Blazier for the scan!

I just realized that I can say that I have ridden a true factory Yamaha YZ250, as I fired up his bike and rode him back to our trucks. I loaded him up, called his then girlfriend Erica, and drove him home. My buddy Buc lived nearby and picked me up and took me back to my truck. 

By the time I got home, I was being roasted on MotoTalk, the most popular Internet forum at the time. Apparently, Erica was online when I called and she mentioned the crash to someone she was on Instant Messenger with. Steve Bauer – an old SoCal pro and massive keyboard warrior – crucified me, saying that I talked DV into a shoot that cost Yamaha a sure championship. (Oddly enough we later became good friends and he contributed to our web site.) 

I spoke to both Erica and David later that night and they assured me that he was ok. I’m honestly not sure if they even went to the ER for a checkup, though, as DV showed up to Daytona the next weekend and pulled out with shoulder pain. A broken scapula was the diagnosis, and with that, his championship hopes were gone. I remember feeling uncomfortable around the Yamaha pits later that year, not because I had coerced Vuillemin into a dangerous photo shoot, but because of the message board knuckleheads that wrongly accused TransWorld MX of bad judgment.

Years later, after DV and I looked back and laughed about the whole ordeal, he gave me the very helmet that he had been wearing that day, complete with its super sick custom flame liner. Always 100% politically correct, DV’s nickname for me has long been “Jackie Chan,” and that’s what the words “Screw U Jackie” written on the back mean. 

I’m not sure if Oakley ever sold the DV signature edition goggles, but they sure were cool with the little cobra embroidered into the back of the strap! 

Today, DV coaches French racers Marvin Musquin and Dylan Ferrandis, and he remains one of my favorite people to shoot the shit with. A few years ago when he was training Christian Craig, I stopped by his home to interview him for a documentary I was making for Craig. David’s thought process about racing and the work it takes to be successful was intriguing, and I couldn’t help but wonder how different things might have been if we hadn’t met that fateful Saturday afternoon in the now Dos Lagos area of Corona. 

Throttle Syndicate Graphic Kit of the Week

Yamaha Graphic Kit

Price: $199

It’s tough to beat the super clean stock graphics that come embedded in the Yamaha YZ’s plastic, especially if you want to stay clean and classy looking. But, this Throttle Syndicate officially licensed Yamaha kit sure does the trick for us! Adding some extra flair and style, while maintaining the corporate look, this kit is just right.  

Throttle Syndicate is a new name in the motocross graphics business, but the company has been around since the start of the graphics revolution. These days, every kid with wealthy parents seems to be starting a graphics company in their garage, but it’s the big players who have been around since the beginning that deliver the best-fitting and longest-lasting products. Proud sponsors of the Monster Every/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki and Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM teams, Throttle Syndicate produces the best stuff in the game. Check them out at throttlesyndicate.com

Donn Maeda

Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.

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  1. Brandon Cote June 20, 2019

    Beautiful story!! Love the helmet!

  2. Justin Leddon June 27, 2019

    Love these throwback posts

  3. Tyler Tillman June 27, 2019


    Love to see these garage find posts. Its great to see some retro stuff and the story that comes along with it! Definitely keep more of these garage finds coming!