Last Saturday, Michael Czysz passed away. A man impossible to sum up with mere words, he was about action, about challenging, about winning.

He came to the attention of the motoring world when, in his 40's, he put his successful architectural design business on hold and founded MotoCzysz: an outfit whose original intent was to build and race an American motorcycle at the highest of competitive levels. His first bike, the C1, was a promising prototype – its longitudinal V4 with counter-rotating crankshafts revved fast, high, and smooth, and worked with other innovative features inside an attractive package that betrayed Czysz's commitment to esthetics – but it would never see battle. (You can see and hear Michael test it here)

Before his original vision could be realized, MotoGP switched from 990-cc bikes to 800-cc machines, dashing that dream and causing Czysz to rethink his gasoline-powered focus. Future-minded, he made the leap to the blossoming electric motorcycle racing scene, where he made an indelible mark.

MotoCzysz fielded its first E1PC in the inaugural 2009 TTXGP race on the Isle of Man, and lost. It didn't even finish. Undeterred, Czysz went back to his well-used drawing board, and returned in 2010 with a completely re-engineered machine to the event now known as the TT Zero. With rider Mark Miller in the saddle, the E1pc won its first race. The drama of those first two Isle of Man racing appearances were captured in the movie Charge by Mark Neale.

A little more than a month after that first TT Zero win, Czysz himself donned track leathers and rode the E1PC in the FIM e-Power race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He won in dramatic fashion.

For the next three years, that pattern would continue. Czysz would design and build a set of better, faster versions of the battery-powered E1PC, bring it to the TT Zero, and win. In 2013, the final MotoCzysz appearance, Michael didn't accompany the team. His father Terry took his place managing things on the Isle of Man while he began his next big challenge: battling a rare form of cancer.

Czysz fought his illness for three years, and although the prognosis was terminal, part of us always held hope he would, somehow, overcome the odds. While that didn't happen, we still have to chalk up the extended effort as another win.

Now that he has escaped from physical pain, we can't help but believe his spirit continues on. Not resting idly, but riding and racing on into the unknown, continuing to challenge convention and inspire from the other side. Michael Czysz was 51.

Share This Photo X