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Ed Youngblood's News and Views
September 2004


Jim Pomeroy coming to Classic Motorcycles LLC



Jim Pomeroy, the first American to win a motocross grand prix and Motorcyclist Magazine's 1976 Man of the Year, will appear at Classic Motorcycles LLC in St. Louis at 6 p.m. on September 29. Classic will feature motocross machines of the 1970s, and provide free posters for fans seeking Pomeroy's autograph. For more information call Becky at 314-481-1291.



More Motocross history on the Web



On July 4, 1969, Gary Bailey became the first American to beat the Europeans in international competition. Part Five of my history of motocross, which tells that story, has just been posted on the AMA Pro Racing motocross web site. To read it click here.


Motorcycle Hall of Fame Activities Set



The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum will host its annual signature weekend on October 8 and 9. Festivities include an “Evening of Stars and Legends” reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, October 8. The event will feature a fashion show tracing the influence of motorcycle leathers and gear on film and fashion. While some of the modern styles will be shown by professional models, several of the 2004 Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductees will be walking down memory lane by modeling their original racing togs. Tickets are $50 per person, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Museum. Other weekend activities include a motorcycle Concours d'Elegance and the 2004 Hall of Fame induction ceremony on October 9. For more information, call (614) 856-2222. To visit the Museum's web site, click here.



Boxers at Barber's



The second annual BMW Airhead Invitational will take place at the Barber Motorsport Park in Birmingham, Alabama October 23 and 24. Bikes must be able to pass AHRMA tech, and riders must be AMA members, have medical insurance, and show proof of completing a road racing school, or hold a license from a road racing organization.  To visit AHRMA's web site, click here.



ISDE Documentaries now on Tape and DVD



JAL Productions, a motor and action sports video production company, has released its International Six Days Enduro documentary shows in both DVD and VHS video tape formats. These shows follow the U.S. teams and riders during the ISDE in Czechoslovakia in 2002 and Brazil in 2003. Both were originally produced for the Outdoor Life Network. Discs or tape are available for purchase through the producer's web site. For more information click here.



Seen at Davenport



The year's antique motorcycle season came to its symbolic close with the usual giant meet at Davenport, Iowa. Davenport is always good for odd and unusual machines, but this year – more than ever – the offering revealed how the membership, composition, and interests of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America continue to change. A wider range of motorcycles shows up each year, including more off-road motorcycles, more international brands, and more machines dating into the 1960s.


A New Black Hawk

The commemorative marque for this year's meet was the exceptionally rare Black Hawk, manufactured in Rock Island, Illinois in 1912. Though four Black Hawk motorcycle engines are known to exist, no complete machine has ever been found. However, a reconstructed Black Hawk, pictured here, owned by AMCA President Peter Gagan, was on display. Based on photos, advertisements, and existing Black HaBlack Hawk Motorcyclewk sales brochures, the machine was barely completed in time for the meet. You could practically smell its lustrous blue and gray paint job.


The Black Hawk was designed George H. Meiser, who had formerly worked for Excelsior. In profile it looks a bit like an Excelsior, but there are many technical differences. For example, it has no top frame tube. Built from 16 gauge steel, its fuel tank functions as an integral part of the frame.


It is doubtful that many Black Hawks were ever built and sold. The few engines that still exist have no serial numbers, suggesting that they never made it into assembled motorcycles. In the course of reconstructing a Black Hawk, Gagan found evidence that the machine, designed in late 1911 and rushed to market in 1912, was little more than a prototype. Writing about the project in the Fall 2004 issue of The Antique Motorcycle, he states, “In order to remove the carburetor, you have to drop the engine from the frame, then remove the magneto, which requires dismantling the timing chest.” Indeed, this is not a design feature well thought out or likely to endear the Black Hawk to owners, mechanics, and dealers.


With a robust engine, strong frame construction, a choice of chain or belt drive, and priced at $235.00, the Black Hawk was intended to appeal as a good value, competing against low-cost brands such as the Flanders or even Indian's belt-drive single. Company advertising claimed it was two years ahead of its competitors, and the best buy on the market.


A Marvel in the Works

Gagan's Black Hawk reconstruction was executed by the talented Paul Brodie, who has undertaken a similar Curtiss Marvelproject for Dick Winger involving reconstruction of a Curtiss Marvel. Brodie, seen here with Winger, has completed the frame and tanks for the machine.

The Marvel, manufactured in Hammondsport, New York between 1911 and 1913, used a Curtiss engine featuring one of history's earliest overhead-valve designs.   A single push rod opens both Curtiss Headintake and exhaust valves through a clever rocking arm, as pictured here. Only one complete and original Curtiss Marvel is known to exist, and restored or reconstructed versions are very rare.


While Brodie will readily take on a reconstruction from American motorcycling's earliest era, his personal passion is for post-war Italian motorcycles in general, and Aermacchis in particular. His stunning Aermacchi Chimera was seen in the Guggeneheim's The Art of the Motorcycle Exhibition in Las Vegas. Winger intends to complete his Marvel in time for the next Guggenheim Art of the Motorcycle Exhibition, which is scheduled to open in Memphis on April 22, 2005. You can contact Paul Brodie at vintage@smartt.com.


Bobbers at Davenport

I noted previously the growing popularity of bobbers at AMCA meets (Motohistory 3/9/2004). Some are accurate period restorations, and some are state-of-the art customs done in the bobber style. Two noteworthy examples were seen at Davenport. One is sculptor Jeff Decker's stunning Crocker bobber, pictured below, created in Spartan period style, except that its fit, finish, and quality of detail is far beyond anything that might have been seen in the Crocker Bobber1940s. Another is Jeff and Kristal Sirles impressive Indian retro-bobber, pictured above, built around an 80 cubic inch 1940 Chief engine. Sporting huge twin front disc brakes and twin brass Linkert carburetors, the machine is an inspired blend of old and new. With a nod to practicality, it features belt drive and a Harley-Davidson gear box with electric starter. The Sirles own Iron Horse Livery, specializing in customs and recreations. Contact them at 719-395-9406.


Pentons at Davenport

JP at DavenportThe Penton motorcycle, first manufactured in 1968, has achieved the 35-year-old threshold necessary to be considered a bonafide antique by the AMCA. In celebration of that fact, John Penton, seen here, attended Davenport 2004 with a number of his fans from the Penton Owners Group, who created a historical and informational display. Penton is seen here with Al Born's restored Penton V003, the first Penton motorcycle sold. Al Buehner, president of the Penton Owners Group, observed that Davenport's traditional attendees are largely unknowledgeable about the American off-road motorcycle movement of the 1960s, but that, over time, efforts by organizations like the POG will change that.


What's a GCS?

Once was a time when you rarely saw other than earlGCSy American brands at AMCA meets. But rare and unusual machines like Luke Griesbach's 1919 GCS, seen here, are turning out more frequently in recent years. GCS stands for George Cyril Stillwell of Melbourne, Australia, who built motorcycles from 1913 through 1926. Early GCS machines used JAP engines, but the company later switched to Swiss MAG (Motosacoche Acacias Geneve) engines. The example here features a 750cc MAG V-twin with a three-speed Sturmey Archer transmission. The GCS was a luxury machine with lots of nickel plating, fine finish, and gold striping and lettering.


. . . or an RSY?

One of the most unusual and talked about motorcycles at Davenport was Charles Finney's original and unrestored 1954 RSY, containing a 200cc engine manufactured by Kawasaki Aircraft before Kawasaki entered the motorcycle business. The machine, manufactured by Amano Kogyo Ltd. and acquired by Finney in 2003 from a Philadelphia-based collector of military memorabilia, is in excellent condition. Finney observes, “It is out of character with other Japanese motorcycles of the era. It is of sturdy and expensive construction, and was probably intended for a police, military, or utility market.”  That Amano Kogyo might have aspired to an international market with this machine is suggested by a graphic of the fuel tank that reads in English, "Utility Motor-Cycle." Also, its logo is a blatant knock-off of the Mercedes Benz three-pointed star, intended perhaps as a subliminal reminder of quality.


The Kawasaki engine, possibly built in both 200 and 250cc capacities, was used in several Japanese brands, including the IMC and the Shokai Rocket.  "A Century of Japanese Motorcycles" by Didier Ganneau and Francois-Marie Dumas (Motor Books International, undated) indicates that 1954 may have been the RSY's only model year.


. . . or a ZID?

Equally unusual was the 1958 ZID K55, a motorcycle manufactured in Kovrov, USSR. Noteworthy is the fact that the ZID was yet another of the many post-war brands –- including Harley-Davidson, BSA, Yamaha, and others -- that used a frank copy of the German DKW engine. The ZID was not the only Soviet brand to use this engine.


. . . or an Oldfield?

You don't have to be much of a motorcycle historian to quickly notice that, unlike the GCS, the RSY, or the ZID, the Oldfield was not a mass produced motorcycle. Rather, it is a one-off hybrid combining a 1940 Indian Sport Scout chassis with a Zundapp KS601 engine. Built in 1946 by Andy Oldfield of Waterloo, New York, the machine is now owned by Lloyd Washburn of Port Clinton, Ohio. The Indian frame has been modified to accept the final drive unit for the Zundapp's shaft drive. So why wasn't it called an Indapp or a Zundian?  One, that would have been silly; and two, if I could build something as cool as this, I would name it after myself too!



ISDTR Planned at Tulsa



The eighth annual Leroy Winters Memorial ISDT Reunion Ride will take place at the John Zink ranch near Tulsa, Oklahoma October 22 through 24. The event will be hosted by the Tulsa Trail riders in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the an ISDT held on this same property in 1994. The reunion ride is AMA and AHRMA sanctioned. For entry forms and more information, call Vern Street at 918-224-7433.



Designs Through Time Reopening in Tallahassee



The Designs Through Time motorcycle exhibit, which ran recently in Albany, New York, will reopen October 22 at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Tallahassee, and run through January 2, 2005. Exhibit organizer Dick Daley is currently looking for suitable vintage and modern motorcycles for the exhibit. For more information contact Daley at 877-305-6169, or E-mail him at info@designsthroughtime.com .  


Thundersprint set for May



Previously Motohistory reported on Thundersprint, a festival in Great Britain that brings tens of thousands of spectators to watch races featuring a wide range of historical motorcycles (Motohistory 4/19/2004). Thundersprint will take place again in the town of Northwich on May 7 and 8, 2005. Promoter Frank Melling has set a goal of attracting 100,000 to the event this year. For more information click here.