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September 2006 News

 

Motohistory Quiz #28

(9/29/2006)

 

Quiz #28Okay, kids, its time for another Motohistory Quiz!  What can you tell us about the Bison motorcycle?  Where was it built and how did it get its name?

To win a Motohistory hat, be the first to send the correct answer to Ed@motohistory.net.

Those of you who are VMX subscribers should know this one.

 

Randakk:

Keeping the GLs going

(9/29/2006)

 

Randall with Blue GLRandall Washington stands by the workbench in the garage behind his home in suburban Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is a 10 by 30 foot space that has become Randakk's Cycle Shakk, his business empire. Having recently taken early retirement to devote full time to the business of keeping the world's GL1000 Honda Gold Wings running, Washington says, “I've been a corporate warrior for 30 years, and the thrill had gone from that. Now I can devote all of my time to the preservation of a motorcycle I've always been fascinated with, and I find that very exciting.” He adds, “The first time I saw one of these, it was in a service station Open tankand the guy had all of the panels of its false gas tank flipped open. I was amazed, and I knew that someday I had to have one.”

 

Born in Fuquay-Varina, North Caroling, south of Raleigh, in 1953, Washington got involved with motorcycles at the age of 16 when he acquired a Yamaha R5C for local transportation. He recalls, “I started riding motorcycles and learning to fly about the same time. I chose motorcycling because it gave me the same feelings, but it was more practical and less expensive.” Like many of the Boomers who drove the growth of the American motorcycle market in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Washington moved away from motorcycling to pursue career and family. He earned an MBA, worked for a number of information technology companies, and eventually settled in at a company providing training services for the pharmaceutical industry where he became vice president of marketing. He says, “I guess I'm what they call a re-entry rider. As soon as I had the time and money to return to motorcycling, I did. I got a Ducati and a variety of bikes, but I remembered and always wanted one of the original Gold Wings, the GL1000.” By this time, the original “Wing” Honda Carbswas moving toward vintage status, having been long since replaced by Honda's fully-dressed Interstate, then by the big six-cylinder series.

 

Washington got his Gold Wing, but soon learned that key parts had become non-existent or is short supply. He says, “There was one part for the carburetor you could only get in a full rebuild kit. The kits were expensive, and you never used most of what you had to buy. I found someone who could reproduce the part, and I had a handful made for my own use. When other GL1000 owners learned about it, they wanted to buy the part from me, so I had some more made.” This was the beginning of Randakk's, a company that gets its name from a persistent typographical error that resulted when Randall's wife, Lynn Setzer, kept hitting the “k” instead of the “l” when she typed her husband's name. Washington says, “Apparently it's not so hard to do because I have since met another Randall – a musician I work with – who also goes by Randakk for the same reason.”

 

Officially, the business of keeping GLs alive began in 2000 when Washington set up a web site to share information with other GL1000 owners. He says, “As I began to produce other hard-to-find parts, the web site became a marketing tool for my small product line.” It was not long Weber carbsbefore Washington had a line of a dozen key parts available, with others under consideration. He explains, “Pretty soon I was spending two or three hours a day in addition to my real job, supplying information and filling parts orders for customers. It simply became too much, and something had to give.” What gave was Washington's day job when, by July of 2006, the business became large enough that he retired to devote his full time to Randakk's. He says, “It was a big step and a little scary to walk away from security and a regular paycheck. But once I was my own boss and able to focus fulltime on reproducing and marketing parts for GLs, I found myself thinking, ‘I should have done this two years sooner.'”

 

Lately, Washington has drawn from his experience as a professional trainer to create a new service for his customers. He explains, “GL carburetor maintenance is not just a matter of having the right parts. I started noticing customers who had messed-up carburetors that had been rebuilt or adjusted by factory-authorized Honda mechanics. It is a process that requires technical understanding and a lot of experience, and it is easy to make mistakes even when following a factory manual.” Washington did not want to spend his time rebRandall with bikesuilding carbs for customers, so he teamed up with his son, John, a videographer, to create a step-by-step training video that will become available from Randakk's soon on DVD. He says, “It is a three-hour presentation broken into 18 chapters that shows precisely how to rebuild and adjust the GL carbs. As far as I am concerned, this is the only way it can be taught. You simply cannot convey the process through still photos and a printed explanation.” He adds, “Even making the video illustrates the complexity of the process. We thought we would finish in a day, and it took four weekends.”

 

Now that Washington is free to devote his full time to the business, he has begun to look at the needs of GL1100 owners. In addition, he will soon bring a speed product into his line. He says, “I was a purist and only wanted to provide information and parts to restore and keep the old GL1000s running in stock trim.” However, his attitude began to change when he acquired the RC003, a customized GL1000 built by Mike Barone featuring a modified exhaust system with Ducati mufflers, a sporty solo seat, white paint, and a Suzuki GS1000S bikini fairing (pictured above). Washington hopped it up even more by installing Weber down-draft carburetors (pictured above). He says, “I ride my original GL a lot, but I am very careful with it, and I do not want to take it long distances or ride in bad weather. I restored the RC003 as a rider, began to ride it to rallies, and people started asking where they could get a kit to convert their Wings to the Webers. So I have begun to manufacture the manifolds, and I will make them available with a kit that includes all the bracketry and instructions to make the Rally Signconversion.” For those who want to upgrade their GLs and don't care about maintaining a stock motorcycle, Washington also offers an electric fuel pump kit.

 

About Randakk's mission, Washington says, “Ultimately, this isn't just about keeping an old motorcycle running. It is really about maintaining a community.” With that realization, this past summer he organized a rally for owners of first-generation GLs. With about 60 attending, Washington considers it a success and believes it will grow in 2007. He says with a smile of admiration, “We had a couple ride their Wing from Alberta, Canada!” Fulltime attention to Randakk's has also enabled Washington to look differently at the scope and potential of his business. He explains, “I'm not just making a living doing something I love in my own way, but I have a portable business. I can't run this thing out of a single-stall garage forever, and when I decide to move I can go where I please.” Colorado may be the future site for Randakk's Cycle Shakk. Washington explains, “ Lynn is a teacher and a travel writer. She loves the Rockies, and she loves to hike. At some point she may retire from teaching, and we can move wherever she would like to go. Randakk's could be in Colorado as easily as North Carolina.”

 

Many people say they are attracted to touring motorcycles -- including the famous GLs – because they offer freedom. Apparently the same can be said about a motorcycle business. At least, this is what Randall Washington has discovered. For more information about Randakk's, including links to many GL-related resources, click here. For more about the history of the GL1000, click here. For information about a classic Gold Wing owners club, click here.

 

The GL1000 in historical context:

What the magazines had to say

There is a legend that during the early 1960s, an official of BMW's U.S. distributorship said to American Honda's Mr. Kawashima during an industry gathering, “We are happy that your cute little motor bikes are bringing in so many new customers who will eventually graduate to big motorcycles. But, of course, Honda will never be able to build a real motorcycle.” This arrogant and condescending remark was accepted with a typical Japanese reaction: a nod and a smile. But it was understood as a stinging insult that – as the story goes – was reported back to Mr. Honda in Japan. It is also claimed that Soichiro Honda was not terribly keen on the concept of the luxurious, “un-sporting” GL, and for that reason its development proceeded slowly until after his death. Whatever factors may have motivated the Honda Motor Company, late in the 1960s the builder of cute little motor bikes rocked the motorcycle world with the introduction of the CB750. Over the ensuing six years, Honda seemed to sit quietly while competitors set out to trump the Honda Four, e.g. Kawasaki's awe-inspiring Z1, introduced in 1973. Then Honda rocked its world again in 1975 with the GL1000. Drawing much from automotive design, it was like no motorcycle that had ever come before it. But it was clearly aimed at the market niche heretofore owned by BMW and Moto-Guzzi. In fact, its earliest prototypes (one of which was an opposed six) had been built on a swinging arm and drive train hacked off of a BMW.

 

A collaboration between motorcycle and automobile designers was evident in the GL1000. Its innovations included a liquid-cooled, opposed four cylinder engine with single overhead cams, the first shaft drive ever to appear on a Honda motorcycle, fuel fed to carburetors by a mechanical pump, and a counter-rotating alternator that eliminated rotational torque in the engine. Even its incredibly effective exhaust system, which appeared to be a conventional motorcycle design with one silencer on each side of the rear wheel, was actually a single, large automotive-type canister muffler hidden beneath the motorcycle, encircling the leading edge of the rear tire. Its fuel tank was hidden beneath the seat, and what appeared to be a fuel tank was a compartment that flipped open like a three-paneled clam shell to reveal its fuel filler, electrics, tools, coolant tank, a storage tray, and access to its air filter. Though the GL was heavy – above 600 pounds – the low CG provided by its flat engine and low fuel tank made it relatively agile for a motorcycle of its size. And it was quiet and smooth . . . so smooth.  But it was anything but sedate, as signaled by its 4.50 rear tire, triple disc brakes, and four carburetors. In fact, it could exceed 100 mph in a quarter mile and was capable of out-accelerating any motorcycle of its era except Kawaskai's mighty Z1.

 

The concept of luxury motorcycle touring was altered forever by the GL1000, and the European brands knew a gauntlet had been thrown at their feet. While duly impressed, Harley-Davidson dealers were not too concerned, citing the very different style and mystique of a Harley as the factor that would render their business immune to the Wing. Still, as Harley-Davidson descended into worse quality problems and Honda morphed its GL into the fully-dressed Interstate over the following decade, the sophisticated Gold Wing seduced many American riders away from their troublesome Milwaukee twins, retraining them in a new stCycle Magazineyle of comfortable and trouble free touring. Ultimately, it may have been the quality standards set by the Gold Wing that made Harley-Davidson understand it had to change to survive, mystique and tradition notwithstanding.

 

It is interesting now to look back to see how the leading American motorcycle publications responded to the GL1000. We perused the road tests of Cycle (April 1975), Cycle World (April 1975), and Road Rider (July 1975). Regrettably, we did not have access to Motorcyclist. All of the magazines we reviewed marveled at the innovations incorporated in the motorcycle and were awe-struck by its smoothness and power. Some even complained about it being too quiet. All said its acceleration belied its hefty weight and some opined that not only its performance, but its low and comfortable saddle would entice riders away from their BMWs. Its hand grips were bad, its handle bars were a bit too far forward for sit-up touring, and everyone hated the absence of a throttle screw and its loudly-beeping turn indicators. Some were disappointed with its fuel efficiency, but no one complained about how it behaved when they rolled on the throttle or how smooth it ran when they crossed the California desert at Cycle Worlda sustained 80 mph (so much for sincere concern about fuel efficiency). Everyone recognized that nothing like this had ever been built to be called a motorcycle -- not by Honda or anyone else –- and all identified the GL as Honda's next great statement, following the CB750.

 

However, in the end, a study of the leading publications tells us more about their self-image and editorial style than much really insightful or profound about the new Gold Wing. Both Cycle and Cycle World were much focused on technology. Road Rider differed from every other magazine by focusing more on the experience of motorcycling, which is characterized with both its cover and how it chose to write a road test. Road Rider's covers were often more about scenery than the motorcycle, and this is the case with GL1000 (below). You can see almost nothing of the motorcycle, but there is the suggestion that two people are having a fine motorcycling experience. Cycle presented a large, high-quality, full-page photo of the GL on its cover (top photo). Cycle World, deferring perhaps to its image as a full-spectrum motorcycle magazine, made the Wing share its cover with a Husqvarna motocrosser (above). And the mediocre quality of its cover photography – as was also true of its black and white interior shots – likely gave no one at American Honda much to get exRoad Ridercited about. Cycle, on the other hand, devoted several pages to studio-quality art, including a full spread portrait of the bike, plus excellently clear black and whites. Road Rider never devoted much budget or effort to photography, and nothing changed on the occasion of the introduction of the GL1000.

 

Betraying that their ink was always well-laced with the testosterone of editors, both Cycle and Cycle World devoted a lot of time to talking about how they could grind things in the turns, whereas the team at Road Rider claimed that in many weeks of riding, they may have touched something on the left side one or two times. Cycle and Cycle World ripped around town, went to the drag strip, tried their best to trash the clutch (which at least one of them did), and one tester even took the bike on a real ride from Los Angeles to San Diego! To the contrary, Road Rider's full editorial team of four rode the bike nearly 6,000 miles in both urban and cross-country environments. Cycle and Cycle World dwelt on the technology, and in the case of Cycle it appeared the editors thought they were moonlighting a technical manual. Road Rider took a more real-world approach, Road Rider Back Coverdrawing no torque curve charts and not once going to the drag strip. Rather, they brought in an experienced touring rider who had not yet ridden the Gold Wing (a BMW R75 was his regular ride), turned on a tape recorder, and had the guy ask them all the questions a prospective buyer might like to know about the revolutionary new machine.

 

In terms of insightful journalism, Cycle failed to perform, indicating that Cook Neilson may not have been involved in evaluating the new GL. Its coverage was tediously technical (let's talk about why Honda didn't have to offset the piston wrist pins by one millimeter like they did with the CB750). Cycle World waxed more poetic with the statement, “as smooth as good Scotch, and as quiet as time passing” in its summary of the essential nature of the machine. And Road Rider may have best predicted –- albeit without words -- what the Gold Wing would mean to over-the-road motorcycling. On its back cover (above) was a Calafia advertisement showing a new GL1000 fully dressed with frame-mounted fairing, engine protectors, bags, and a tour trunk. It would not be long until accessory manufacturers like Calafia were put out of business by the Honda Interstate and later the Aspencade, fully dressed for touring and wired for sound, right on the showroom floor. Long-distance, two-up, luxury touring was coming of age.

Magazine cover images from the archives of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.

 

MotoHaiku

For the GL1000 Gold Wing

Honda goes touring.

Smooth as Scotch, quiet as time:

Jee El One Thousand

 

Pursang offered

to benefit Jamie Pomeroy

(9/28/2006)

The American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association has begun an on-line auction of a 1975 Bultaco Pursang to benefit the daughter of Jim Pomeroy, the motocross great who died in a traffic accident this summer. The fully restored and race-ready Model 135 Pursang was provided by Utah AHRMA member Dan D'Amico and his wife, Susan. Bids are being accepted by e-mail and fax until 5 p.m. Eastern TBultaco Pursangime on Monday, Oct. 16, 2006. For complete details about the AHRMA vintage-legal machine and the bidding process, click here.

Pomeroy, the first American to win a world championship motocross round when he won the 1973 Spanish 250 Grand Prix, was synonymous with the Bultaco brand. In recent years he was an enthusiastic participant in AHRMA competition, winning the Plus 50 Expert Vintage Motocross national title three times in a row, from 2003 through 2005. He was killed in a Jeep accident on August 6 outside his hometown of Yakima, Washington. His daughter, Jamie Lee Pomeroy, suffered minor injuries.  "At the races he was always laughing, happy, and had that same old smile," Dan D'Amico says of Pomeroy. "We will miss him, and we would like to do something good for Jim."  Proceeds from the auction will go to a trust fund set up for Jamie Lee Pomeroy.

Pursang photo courtesy of  the AHRMA web site.

 

From the web

The Superbike Planet Wayback Machine

(9/27/2006)

Dean Adams's forte is what's happening here and now with U.S. and world road racing, but his Superbikeplanet.com often cranks up its Wayback Machine with some outstanding historical images and stories.  For pictures of the 1974 American Suzuki road racing team of Gary Nixon, Cliff Carr, Paul Smart and tuner Erv Kanemoto, click here.  For a biography of Dr. Fabio Taglioni, the Wizard of Desmodromica, click here.  For images of the 2003 Springfield Mile, where some of America's current best road racers paid their dues, click here

 

A Davenport winner:

Victory after 28 years

(9/26/2006)

 

Taboada and HarleyLarry Barnes sends us this photograph of Roy Taboada of Millbrae, California, winner of the hand-shifter class at the vintage dirt track races held at the Antique Motorcycle Club of America national meet at Davenport, Iowa on September 1. Taboada, 51, who said he had not been on a race track in 28 years, finished restoring his beautiful 1949 Harley-Davidson WR the day before the event.

Congratulations, Roy. Thanks, Larry.

 

VJEMC severs ties with Krause

(9/25/2006)

 

The Vintage Japanese and European Motorcycle Club has announced it will sever ties with Krause Publications, supplier of the club's official magazine. Previously, VJEMC members have received four copies per year of Vintage Motorcycles as a benefit of membership, but in the future will receive the new club-published VJEMC Scrambler six times a year. For more information on the VJEMC, click here.

 

 

Found in print

(9/24/2006)

 

Hodaka BookThe “Hodaka Book” has been published in a limited edition of 1,000 hand numbered copies and is being offered by Strictly Hodaka as a collectible in time for Christmas.

With many rare photos from the factory in Japan and Hodaka's U.S. distributorship in Athena, Oregon, it is available for $25.00 plus $4.99 shipping. For more information or to order, click here.

BMW BookNew from Whitehorse Press, Kevin Ash's “ BMW Motorcycles: The Evolution of Excellence,” offers a history of the brand from 1917 to the present. Printed in color throughout, it offers many historical and modern photos. At $24.95, copies are available through your local book store or from Whitehorse Press. Click here.

 

 

2006 TT on video

(9/22/2006)

 

Isle of Man 2006Duke Video has released on DVD more than three and a half hours of coverage of the 2006 Isle of Man TT.  This video takes you trackside using cameras on bikes, at ground level, and from helicopters to give you white-knuckle images of the circuit, including John McGuinness's 129+ mph lap.

All six races of TT week are covered, including rider interviews and an on-board lap with Guy Martin. It is $34.95. To order, click here.

 

Dave Mungenast

October 1, 1934 September 20, 2006

 

Dave with LlamaThere are very few people in the motorcycle industry who did not know Dave Mungenast, and those who knew him held him in high regard. He got his start working as a motorcycle mechanic for Bob Schultz in St. Louis during his high school years, and in 1965 he opened his own Honda dealership on Gravois Road in South St. Louis. It is a little known fact that Mungenast gave Honda its first American national championship title when he won a 24-hour marathon at Riverdale Speedway in 1964. He went on to ride nine IDSTs and the Baja 1000. And though he became a leading automobile dealer with award-winning dealerships for five brands, he never abandoned motorcycles. He maintained his Honda motorcycle, watercraft, and power products franchise to this day, and expressed his love for motorcycles by assembling a large and beautiful collection which he has placed on display at his Classic Motorcycles LLC museum in the heart of the old neighborhood where it all began.

 

People in our sport and industry knew Dave for his open and friendly manner, and his loud, custom-made shirts featuring images of motorcycles. But this was not the only Dave Mungenast. Dave functioned competently in several distinct communities, and in each he achieved the kind of success that most of us are unable to wring out of a single endeavor. All of us knew he made his real living in automobile sales, but few of us realized that he was as well-known and admired in that community as he was among his motorcycling friends. Dave's operation was seen as a benchmark by many of the OEMs he dealt with. Due to his outstanding performance as an early Honda automobile dealer -- which he became in 1974 -- he was one of only 50 people chosen by Acura for franchises when it launched its product in America in 1986. His Acura store, designed in part by his wife Barbara, appeared in early Acura brochures. Eventually, his lines included also Lexus, Toyota, and Dodge. He ascended to the top of his field, serving as chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, and in his capacity as a spokesman for his industry, he got face time with three Presidents; Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. At exclusive Detroit Auto Show cocktail parties hosted for the top corporate executives of the industry, Dave Mungenast was often one of the few retailers on the guest list.

 

Then there was Dave Mungenast the Hollywood stuntman. Between 1976 and 1985, he worked on a half-dozen television pilots and motion pictures, including “Airport 77” where he doubled for Christopher Lee whose character was drowned under a crashing wall of tons of water. He did motorcycle crashes for Burt Reynolds and brawled with Jackie Chan. He played Max the construction worker that Paul Newman almost killed with an ill-placed wrecking ball in “Harry and Son.” In 1985 he was on a team of three riders who launched their motorcycles off of a pier into the ocean, earning a nomination for the Stuntman of the Year Award. He raced with motocross champion Kent Howerton in the 1984 film “Stormin' Home.” Dave's physical qualifications for the dangerous and bruising work of a stuntman derived not just from his successful career as an endurance rider, but from the fact that he was an Army Green Beret. As such, he was qualified as an underwater demolition expert, a paratrooper, and a member of the Honor Guard in Korea, an elite corps that functions as a kind of secret service escort for the Army's top brass.

 

Over time, Mungenast also became a commercial property developer in St. Louis and a marina owner at Lake of the Ozarks. As he and Barbara became more financially able, they devoted more of their energy to philanthropic work through the Dave and Barbara Mungenast Foundation as the responsibilities of running their dealerships were turned over to their adult sons, Dave Jr., Ray, and Kurt. At one time, Dave served on the boards of banks, but he gave that up with the decision that his board service would be devoted only to charitable and non-profit organizations. He served as a director for both the Wheels Through Time Museum and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, and on the boards of the Boys' Club of St. Louis and St. Anthony's Medical Center. The list of organizations to which Dave, his businesses, and Barbara provided support is extensive.

 

Mungenast also invested in rural holdings, including 1,000 acres in the Ozarks near Branson. On their rural land he and Barbara raised llamas, bison, horses, and longhorn cattle. These holdings were the fulfillment of a dream that went back to his boyhood, illustrating yet another aspect of his personality. While growing up near the Mississippi River, it was Dave's fantasy to become a mountaineer and live rough off the land. As a youth he learned to trap game, and he revealed early his entrepreneurial skills by selling pelts to a furrier in St. Louis. It was Dave's plan to use his resources in the hills outside Branson to create a kind of living museum so future young people would have an opportunity to understand how things used to be and how resourcefulness and hard work have built our nation and culture. As he progressed in years, and as his sons produced more grandchildren, Dave's charitable efforts began to focus more and more on ideas and organizations dedicated to the welfare and development of youth.

 

Indeed, Dave Mungenast managed several separate careers, and often his associates in one aspect of his life knew very little about the others. This is not because he was secretive, but because he was a deeply modest man. Though enviously successful in every aspect of his life, Dave never talked about himself or his accomplishments. And he never instructed his peers and subordinates. Rather, he led by example and never placed himself above others. With over 450 employees, he knew their names and could easily converse with them about their families and the events in their lives. He did not wear jewelry or drive flashy cars, and he never bothered to learn to play golf. The Mungenast business empire generated a lot of wealth, but for Dave it was never about the money. He believed that the object of a business is to protect its employees and provide a service to its clients and its community. He believed – and proved – that if business is carried on ethically according to this tenet, profit will be the inevitable by-product.

 

Dave's passing is tragically untimely. For a year now I have been working with his family on a book about his life, his adventures, and his business philosophy which, as I see it, emerged from a combination of his German Catholic upbringing and the principle of Kaizen, the Oriental philosophy of continuous, ongoing, incremental day-by-day improvement that he learned from Soichiro Honda. The book is entitled “Take it to the Limit: The Dave Mungenast Way,” alluding to his favorite song, by the Eagles. In every aspect of his life, Dave took it to the limit. He was neither rash nor reckless, but he could tolerate and embrace a level of risk that most of us would not dream of. “The Dave Mungenast Way” refers to the business systems he developed to instill his philosophy of ethical practice throughout his organizations, from top to bottom. I was working on the final chapter of this book when Dave was diagnosed with the terrible disease that so quickly consumed his life. Last Spring, Malcolm Smith was talking to me about Mungenast's extraordinary vigor and physical condition, and he said, “At 72 he rides a motorcycle like a good 50-year-old.” Sixty days later Dave was incapacitated by cancer, which was simply mind-numbing to all of us who were around him. I had entitled that final chapter “The Shepherd of the Hills,” after the title of Dave's favorite book. Like the Shepherd of the Hills, Dave Mungenast the mentor was constantly watchful of those around him, and genuinely concerned about their well-being.

 

I took the photograph of Dave at the head of this story about a month before his diagnosis when we were visiting his ranch in rural Missouri. To me, this photo depicts the essential Dave Mungenast. Beyond his business prowess, beyond the glamour and excitement of his career in the movies, beyond his achievements as a world-class motorcyclist, beyond the danger of his days as a Green Beret, Dave Mungenast was a gentle man with compassion. He had compassion for anyone who would make an honest effort. He had compassion for his family and his employees. He had compassion for the young people who will struggle to carry on our social, educational, and business institutions in the future. And he had compassion for all of his animals, including this beautiful llama which made happy little grunting noises in its throat as it nuzzled with Dave. I think this animal understood the quiet core of Dave Mungenast.

We will miss him.

 

Motohistory Quiz #27

We have a winner!

(9/13/2006)

We had several identical and near-correct responses to our Motohistory Quiz #27 (News & Views 9/12/2006).  No less than five readers said the bike pictured is an Aermacchi Monsone.  Close, but no cigar.  It is the 125cc Aermacchi Cingo, manufactured from 1951 through 1953.  The conspicuous distinguishing difference between this model and the Monsone, manufactured froAermacchi Cingom 1952 through 1954, is that the Monsone has a dual seat. 

Our winner is Italian motorcycle collector Jim Dillard of Arvada, Colorado.  Congratulations, Jim, your Motohistory hat is on its way. 

Here is another picture of the rare machine.  The photos were taken at the AMCA swap meet at Davenport, Iowa over Labor Day weekend.

 

Charity Newsies returns

(9/12/2006)

 

Charity Newsies LogoIn the days when 500cc Triumphs and BSAs battled against the 750cc side-valve Harleys in pursuit of the prestigious American Motorcyclist Association Grand National Championship, one of the most exciting fixtures on the circuit was the Ten Mile National at Columbus, Ohio, commonly known as the Charity Newsies. Run on the half-mile dirt track at the Ohio State Fairgrounds, the “Newsies” was named for its sponsor and promoter, an non-profit organization of Columbus businessmen formed in 1907 and dedicated to raising money to help clothe needy children. First run in 1939, the Charity Newsies race continued through 1980.

Today, the fairgrounds track no longer exists, but that won't stop the Newsies from making its return this month on September 23 at Scioto Downs, just south of Columbus. The original race drew up to 20,000 spectators, and Gary Stolzenburg, promoter of this year's event believes that the five-eighths mile Scioto Downs track with its high-quality spectator facilities will be an ideal site to renew the great Charity Newsies tradition. The race will be presented by A.D. Farrow Harley-Davidson and will be the final round of the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Twins Championship. For more information about the race, click here. For ticket information, call 866-439-3138. For directions to Scioto Downs, click here. For more information about the history of the Charity Newsies organization, click here.

Charity Newsies logo by Matt Scheben.

 

 

Motohistory Quiz #27

(9/12/2006)

 

Motohistory Quiz 27What is the brand and model name of this scooter/cycle hybrid? Also, if you know, tell us the years it was produced. The first person to send us the correct answer will receive a rare and highly-coveted Motohistory hat. Send your answers to Ed@Motohistory.net.

 

 

When worlds collide:

A commentary about choppers on campus

(9/10/2006)

 

Last evening the art gallery on the ivy-walled campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio opened an exhibit entitled “Chopped: Art of the Custom Motorcycle.” Inspired by the Wheelz Exhibit that appeared at the Columbus College of Art and Design last year (See Motohistory News & Views 10/5/2005), Chopped focuses on regional builders from Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, displaying nine examples of work that ranged from the early 1980s to recent award winners of the Detroit Motor Show, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum Custom and Cruiser Culture Weekend, and Easyriders Chopped Groupingmagazine. The show was curated by Natalie Marsh, formerly the gallery director at the Columbus College of Art and Design and now chief curator at the Miami University gallery. Natalie and I became acquainted while I was curating the motorcycle segment of the Wheelz Exhibit, and she invited me to deliver the opening lecture for Chopped. As a historian who does not claim to be an art critic, I delivered a half-hour talk on the history of motorcycle customizing in America, dating back to the bobbers that emerged during the Depression.

 

Because Marsh had focused on regional builders, no less than five of these artists and craftsmen were on hand for the opening, which proved to be the largest and most successful exhibit opening in the history of the gallery. The lecture hall, consisting of perhaps a hundred seats, was filled withAorta gallery patrons, university faculty, students, and local motorcyclists, plus the builders. I considered it a very successful evening, not on the strength of my presentation, but for the dynamic exchange that took place among the eclectic audience. When we came to the Q&A session following my presentation, I found myself quickly stepping back from the role of Answer Man to that of moderator, facilitating a dialogue between the curious and the builders. Students, teachers, and locals presented questions, and the builders responded with answers. The fact that the builders (I should call them “artists”) themselves were on hand to explain their work and their technology generated enthusiasm and provided credibility. An honest exchange and mutual respect quickly developed between the academics in their khakis and Oxford shirts, and the builders with their black shirts, tattered jeans, long hair, and abundant tattoos.Amiot Blue Bike Often the builders delivered down-to-earth answers to ethereal questions that resulted in laughter.

 

Among the visitors I saw no hint of the type of art-purists who turned up their noses to the original Guggenheim Art of the Motorcycle Exhibition in 1998. There was genuine fascination for the motorcycles and those who made them, and I knew that the show had achieved its objective when one professorial type asked, “Is there any other art from that requires such skill in so many disciplines?” With that question he not only declared his full acceptance of the idea that motorcycles can be art, but he implicitly questioned the traditional disciplines of sculpture and painting as possibly being lesser forms of art, since the customized motorcycle embodies them both, plus other skills. As Bruce Mullins, builder of the 2005 Easyriders Bike of the Year, said, “I do everythingBill Steele Bike you see on one of my motorcycles except the leather seat, and I ain't about to learn to sew.” That remark brought down the house, but the point was made. Not only are motorcycles art, but those who build them are craftsmen and artists extraordinaire, capable of many skills, of planning and executing a complex project, and doing it all with a vehicle that runs.

 

My talk focused on how the status of the motorcycle and the motorcyclist have changed in American pop culture over the last 70 years, characterized by the chopper that has moved from a feared symbol of rebellion ridden by an underclass to an object of art coveted by middle Americans who will pay a handsome fee to own a one-off, original machine, especially if it is by a “name builder.” As for the builders who attended a gallery opening dressed as if for work in their shop, they are no longer seen by the tweedy elite as rogues and scumbags. Rather, they are admired for their eccentricity, their wit, and the beauty of what they create.

 

The Chopped Exhibit will run through December 2, 2006. For information about the Miami University Art Museum, click here.

Photos, top to bottom:

Yellow Jacket by Chris Sullivan, Sully's Customs; F.A.B. by Jeff Hill of Hill's Performance; Panhandler by Bruce Mullins of Skunkworx.

Aorta by Ron Finch of Finch's Custom Cycles.

Mike's Killer XL by Jim Amiot of Amiot's Chopper Works.

Grand Master by Bill Steele of Steele Kustoms.

 

 

From the Web

(9/8/2006)

 

Motohistorian Miles Davis is working on a story about the Holley family of Holley carburetors fame, which traces its roots in motorsports back to the first year of the 20th century when George Holley rode his namesake motorcycle to victory at the first Boston to New York marathon, beating other industry patriarchs George Hendee and W.T. Marsh. For more about the history of the Holley motorcycle, click here.

 

For an excellent site about the history of Aermacchi, click here.

 

Yeah, you understand two-strokes and four-strokes, but do you know how a Watt Beam engine works? A Gnome Rotary? An Atkinson? One of the coolest web sites I know is Matt Keveney's “Animated Engines.” To check it out, click here.

 

For more AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days photographs – these by American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association communications director Matt Benson – click here.

 

 

Surtees coming to Barber

(9/7/2006)

 

Barber LogoThe September issue of Vintage Views, official magazine of the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association, reports that John Surtees, the only man ever to win world championships in both motorcycle and automobile racing, will be at the Barber Vintage Festival at the Barber Motorsports Park October 20 through 23 (see Motohistory News & Views 8/23/2006). Surtees will help dedicate the museum's Surtees Corner, he will conduct parade laps with one of his Ferraris, and it is likely he will also help flag off some vintage races and present AHRMA trophies. Wonder if the Barber Motorsports Museum will also break out one of its MV Agustas so Surtees can make a parade lap on a two-wheeler as well? For more information about the Barber Vintage Festival, click here.

 

Coming up

(9/6/2006)

The Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina will host its Fourth Annual Ride & Swap Meet September 28 through October 1.  Vending spots are free and on-site camping will be provided.  For more information, call 828-926-6266 or E-mail info@wheelsthroughtime.com.

The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum will host its 2006 induction and Concours d'Elegance on October 7.  For more information, click here.  For a list of the 2006 inductees, click here.

The 10th Annual Leroy Winters Memorial ISDT Reunion will be hosted by the Missouri Mudders Motorcycle Club at St. Joe State Park near Park Hills, Missouri October 27 through 29.  For more information, click here.

 

Wazzat? A motorcycle in “Wozzeck?”

(9/6/2006)

 

Motorcyclist, former AMA staffer, private investigator, founder of the P.I. Museum, and Motohistory reader Ben Harroll reports the following:

 

Wonders ZundappThe San Diego Opera is looking for a working WWII era German military Zundapp motorcycle or a Russian-built Ural to use in its production of "Wozzeck," opening April 14, 2007 at the Civic Theatre. The vehicle will be needed from April 6 through 24, and no modifications will be made without consent from the owner. There is also a possibility that the owner could appear in the opera as the driver of the motorcycle.

 

Composed by Alban Berg during the 1920s, "Wozzeck" traditionally is set in Germany circa 1830, but San Diego Opera's need for a motorcycle indicates its "Wozzeck," directed by La Jolla Playhouse artistic director Des McAnuff, has been moved forward approximately 100 years. Interested motorcycle owners should call Ron Allen, San Diego Opera director of production, at 619-232-7636, ext. 264.

 

Motohistory readers interested in learning more about the opera “Wozzeck” can click here. For more about the San Diego Opera, click here. For more about Ben Harroll's P.I. Museum, click here.

Zundapp pictured here owned by Jack Wells, as seen at The Art of the Motorcycle Exhibition in Memphis.

 

 

Found in Print

(9/5/2006)

 

Big Sid and Vincati“Engine by Shakespeare, chassis by Michelangelo” is how Peter Egan characterizes Big Sid Biberman's Vincati in the October, 2006 issue of Cycle World. The Vincent/Ducati hybrid about which Egan writes is the motorcycle previously profiled by Motohistory over a year ago when it was a work in progress, pictured here with its builder, Big Sid (See Motohistory News & Views 6/4/2005). Egan describes the machine at speed:“Turning only 3000 rpm at 70 mph, It muscles down the road with a relaxed, easy gait, but when you roll the throttle on it just lunges forward and goes faster. And then faster, with no sense of an end in sight. On the highway, it sounds like a 50-caliber machine gun with an unlimited supply of ammo, spitting out big rounds with a steady, hard-hitting beat.”  Big Sid's son, Matthew, reports that he may take the Vincati into limited production by building up to ten copies. Get in line and make sure there is $100K in your checking account.

 

Johnny Sells of Vintage Motorcycle Works, the man who Johnny Sellsdazzled restorers and historians when he produced a seven volume set of early American motorcycle patent drawings, has now outdone himself, completing a massive 620 page Restoration Guide for 45 inch Harley twins from 1929 through 1936. Printed on pages of high-quality coated stock that are intended to be turned by dirty-fingered builders in the shop, the book has a sturdy wire-comb binding designed to lay flat on the work bench. At $75, it is better than a bargain for anyone who wants to restore his Depression-era Harley flathead correctly. It has crystal-clear and close-up photographs or engineering drawings on every page, and Sells reports than more than 13,000 hours went into its development. It even contains correct color swatches to match factory paint. To learn more about the offerings from Vintage Motorcycle Works, click here.

 

Issue No. 27 of VMX has arrived, containing the second and final part of it history of BMW and the International Six Day Trial (See Motohistory News & views 6/9/2006 for information about the first part of the story). The issue also contains an excellent feature by Nils-Olav Wedin about former motocross world champion Bill Nilsson.  For more information about VMX Magazine, click here.  In collaboration with Lars Larsson, Motohistory hopes to present its own story about Nilsson in a future update.

 

Rollie Free CoverIt's not here yet, but early in 2007 the much-anticipated “Flat Out: The Rollie Free Story,” by Jerry Hatfield will become available. This will be a 178-page, hard-cover book with over 100 photographs not previously published. Its unusual 10x12 inch horizontal format begs the question, “What better way to convey the story of a man who made his name on the vast horizontal flats at Bonneville?”  Not surprisingly, the book embodies the usual impeccable and unhurried scholarship seen in Hatfield's previous work. In addition, it contains a rare and remarkable bit of motohistory: a bonus CD containing an audio interview of Free conducted four days before he died. A price has not yet been set. For more information, contact Hatfield at beemer73@sbcglobal.net.

 

Mungenast coverAlso coming soon will be my biography of motorcycle collector, philanthropist, and nine-times ISDT veteran Dave Mungenast. Entitled “ Take it to the Limit: The Dave Mungenast Way,” the book will debut October 7 at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It tells the story of the Mungenast family and how Dave, its current patriarch, built a successful business empire without compromising his high ethical standards. I have been working with the Mungenast family on this project for more than a year, and while writing the very last chapter I learned that Dave had been diagnosed with cancer.  This was tragic news about a man known for his vigor and physical prowess. The book will be available for $24.95 through Dave Mungenast Classic Motorcycles LLC, the St. Louis museum that houses Dave's extensive collection. For more information, contact Dave Larsen at Classic Motorcycles LLC by clicking here. I plan to publish a tribute to Dave Mungenast in a future Motohistory update.

 

These days, “in print” does not necessarily mean ink on paper. It can include electronic digits on a plastic disc, and through this mediuim the Vintage Japanese and European Motorcycle Club has produced an impressive resource entitled the “ 2006 Comprehensive Vintage Motorcycle Dealer Guide.” Using a spreadsheet format, the disc contains over 1,300 entries with complete contact information and notes on what each company specializes in. Impressive indeed! It is available to VJEMC members for $20 and non-members for $35. For more information about VJEMC, click here.

 

 

Scenes from Davenport

(9/4/2006)

 

Paul BrodieThe Antique Motorcycle Club of America national meet held at Davenport, Iowa over Labor Day weekend was the usual overwhelming array of vintage bikes and ingenuity,

 

Paul Brodie's replica 1920 Excelsior overhead cam racer (pictured here) seemed to be the hit of the meet. Introduced through Motohistory (See News & Views 8/22/2006 and 8/29/2006) just prior to Davenport, it was constantly surrounded by curious admirers. Though this example is a non-running pattern bike, Brodie's Flashback Fabrications intends to build the first running example by next MaHarley Eight-Valvey, then follow with up to nine more copies in coming years, depending on market demand. Brodie's one-off replicas, including a Blackhawk and a Curtiss Marvel, represent a trend in vintage motorcycle collecting, offering accurate replications of machines that no longer exist, or whose limited numbers have been snatched up to become otherwise unavailable. For more information on Brodie's work, click here.

 

Others are getting into the replica game as well. Aaron Mohr had on display at Davenport his work in progress, a frame and engine castings for a replica Harley-Davidson eight-valve racer (pictured above). Mohr plans to have his first running example finished within the year, then will Dick Winger Indianproduce additional examples on demand. For more information, click here.

 

Dick Winger has taken the replication game in another direction, toward miniaturization. We have previously reported on half-scale Indian engines that Winger has brought to AMCA national meets (See Motohistory News & Views 3/4/2004, 4/25/2005, and 9/9/2005). First it was a Hedstrom twin, then an Indian eight-valve, both fabricated by Tom Sieber. This time, Winger showed up at Davenport with a complete miniature Indian racer assembled around his tiny eight-valve engine.Lawn Mower He reports that while Sieber can offer copies of the 50% scale Hedstrom, only one eight-valve miniature has and will be built.

 

Of course, Davenport 2006 offered the usual array of whacked-out creations by guys with way too much time on their hands, such as the Honda-powered three wheeler complete with lawn mower deck pictured above.  Almost as useful as the Honda Four-powered shopping cart that turned up at Davenport a few years ago.

 

 

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More about Jim Pomeroy

(9/2/2006)

 

There has been much homage to the late Jim Pomeroy on the Internet since his untimely death on August 6 (See Motohistory News & Views 8/8/2006). Members of the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association especially have posted photos and tributes.

Don Ankrom, a former staffer for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, sent us this photo of Pomeroy, taken recently at a DirtBike School.   ApPomeroy in Classparently never too old or expert to learn, Jim is seen at the head of a line of younger students. 

Ankrom writes:

 

Jim and I completed the MSF DirtBike School (DBS) Preparation Course at the Honda Training Center in Colton, California last February, and became certified DBS Coaches. Jim had already developed his own renowned motocross curriculum and clinic based in Washington for more advanced riders, and I think he wanted something – like the DBS program -- to offer to new riders as well. Jim traveled a lot and offered courses throughout the country. He told me that when he was invited to teach outside Washington, his only requirement was that the host had to take him riding on local trails.

 

I spoke with Jim about the MX curriculum, and I'm sorry I was never able to take the course. He spent a lot of one-on-one time with his students and provided them with feedback reports to assist their development.

 

Since his work with Pomeroy, Ankrom has left the MSF staff to return to graduate school and to open his own Dirt Bike School in Las Vegas. Thanks, Don, for sending us the photo of Jim Pomeroy in action.