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Ed Youngblood's News and Views
February 2011 News

 

Motohistory Quiz #89:

We have a winner!

(2/28/2011)

The engine featured in Motohistory Quiz #89 is a Cucciolo, built by Ducati. Our first Motohistorian with the correct answer was Nick Jeffery from Great Britain.  However, he certainly was not the last.  We had more than a dozen correct answers arrive within a half hour of posting the quiz, so our quiz this time certainly was easier than we expected.

When WWII ended in 1945, gasoline was rationed throughout Europe.  Many companies, including Ducati, began offering small auxiliary engines for bicycles.  The Cucciolo engine was designed by Aldo Farinelli, from Turin, while war still under way.  His fresh design of a very economical four-stroke ohv engine was adopted by Italian firm SIATA after the war.  Demand for these engines was high, much more than SIATA could handle.  So a contract with Ducati was announced in mid-1946 to manufacture engines.  By year’s end, Ducati was the main producer of the Cucciolo engine in Italy.  It was also produced under license in France by M. Rocher. These clip-on engines were sold to customers with a tank which could be fastened on the back carrier of a bicycle.  Ducati Cucciolo engines were also sold to bicycle manufacturers who offered simple mopeds under their various brand names.

 

It is said that when the first prototypes of the engine were run on the test-bed, they sounded like a small, yapping dog; thus their name Cucciolo, or “Little Puppy.”  The engine is a very interesting design, built not just for saving fuel, but to be manufactured very economically as well.  Though simple, it features a lot of technology.  It has a two-speed gearbox with integrated multi-disc clutch, and the drive shaft accommodates the cam lobes for the two parallel pushrods that actuate the valves, making a separate cam shaft unnecessary.  The first series of engines, called T1 (pictured above right), featured an in-unit head and cylinder.  The rockers on top of the head were exposed (pictured left), and its spindle had to be lubricated with grease from time to time.  Internal lubrication is by oil splash on the early engines.  Its capacity is 49cc and, with a 9mm Weber carburetor, delivers about 1hp @4,500rpm.

In early 1947, the first Ducati design, the T2, was introduced.  It was a completely revised, featuring many improvements such as separate cylinder and head, with exhaust facing forward.  Still only 49cc, power was improved by 30 percent.  In 1948, Ducati engineer Giovanni Florio decided to create an updated version, designated the T3.  It offered a three-speed gearbox and over time became available in 50, 55, 60, and 65cc capacities.

 

Still, Ducati had no experience with cycle parts and frames, so in 1949 it established a joint venture with Caproni to build mopeds.  Caproni withdrew from the agreement in 1950 to go its own way.  Ducati continued to update the Cucciolo engine, and in 1954 released the E55 which was mounted in Ducati’s first moped.  It was advertised to have a top speed of 32 mph (50 kph) with economy of 208 mpg.  The lightweight Ducati 65T motorcycle, shown on picture, was claimed to achieve 180 mpg at a steady speed of 35 mph, and was capable of a top speed of 44 mph.  Even if these claims are optimistic and 140 mpg is a more realistic, it remains an impressive figure even today.  This would help explain why more than 200,000 Cucciolo engines were produced. For more about the Cucciolo, click here.

 

Congratulations, Nick for winning our quiz.  Your Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma is on its way. 

We thank Ralph Kruger for providing the photographs, some of which were taken at the Motorradmuseum Ibbenbüren in Germany and the Entrevaux Museum in France.  

 

Marjoe's Maico
(2/28/2011)

"Blasting across the back country of motocross -- raising hell with their hot machines and foxy women!" 

So proclaimed the promotional poster for the 1977 movie "Sidewinder 1," starring Michael Parks as J.W. Wyatt (is this a rip from 'Easy Rider?') and Marjoe Gortner as Digger.

Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner, born in Long Beach, California in 1944 to a couple of itinerant preachers, earned national fame at the age of four as a child evangelist and the world's youngest ordained minister.  Marjoe, whose curious name is a combination of Mary and Joseph, later became disenchanted with evangelism for profit and participated in a documentary that exposed his parents as fakes and child-abusers who would practice something akin to waterboarding to make him behave.

As an adult, Gortner tried his hand at acting for television and in motion pictures.  His filmography includes three motorcycle movies: "Pray for the Wildcats (1974)," "Viva Knievel (1977)," and "Sidewinder 1 (1977)."   In "Sidewinder 1," Gortner plays beside Michael Parks of "Then Came Bronson" fame as motocross racers.  For a brief review of the movie, click here.

In the film, Gortner and Parks ride Maicos.  These were not just prop motorcycles made up to look good on the screen.  They were 1976 440cc Wheelsmith Maicos, which were state-of-the-art racers, featuring cast wheels and disc brakes both front and rear.  After filming ended, Gortner's motorcycle --numbered 78 (Parks rode #77) -- ended up with Hollywood stunt coordinator Gary Davis.  From 2007 to 2010, it appeared in the "MotoStars" exhibit at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.  That's where vintage motocrosser Jay Wilson (pictured right) of White Marsh, Maryland saw it, and decided he had to have it.

After the MotoStars exhibit closed, Wilson contacted Davis, who agreed to sell the machine.  With the motorcycle came Gortner's complete costume from the movie, including his racing jersey, 1976 Bell Motostar helmet, ABC leather pants and chest protector, and yellow Heckel boots.  The motorcycle was complete and intact, but required a lot of work to be returned to racing condition.  Wilson relates, "I probably put a hundred hours into this motorcycle."  He elaborates, "The rear brake caliper was entirely frozen, and they don't make them anymore.  I took it off the bike, and had a machinist duplicate it, working from a go-kart brake."

On February 27, Wilson celebrated the resurrection of Marjoe's Maico by riding it in competition at an AHRMA vintage race at Gatorback Park near Gainesville, Florida.  As luck would have it, a link between the rear brake pedal and the hydraulic master cylinder broke, and Wilson had to pull off after two laps.  Standing next to the bike, in all of Gortner's racing gear, Wilson said, "I'm not disappointed.  It was my goal to run it in vintage competition, and that's what I did."  The Sidewinder lives! 

To read more about Marjoe Gortner, click here and here.  To see Marjoe doing his thing as a child evangelist, click here


David Yetman:
More than motorcycle frames

(2/26/2011)

By applying the problem solving approach of an engineer, an entrepreneurial attitude, the point of view of a historian, and the broad interests of a Renaissance Man, David S. Yetman became a significant contributor in two fields of transportation, despite the fact he was a high school dropout.  He made his early mark by pioneering a new type of motorcycle frame, then he moved on.

Born in 1938, Dave Yetman (pictured above) dropped out of high school and entered the military.  It was while serving in the Army in Japan that he took an interest in motorcycles.  He relates, "I was astounded by the number of small bikes and their high level of performance."   Upon returning to the United States, he signed on at King's Rook Honda, in Beverly, Massachusetts, as its service manager, then later became a partner.  He relates, "That first winter was really bleak, and Howard Ferguson, the shop's owner, landed me some work as a mechanic at Autodynamics, a builder of Formula Vee racing cars, since he could not use me fulltime.  It was at Autodynamics where I learned to weld.”

While working at Autodynamics, Yetman crashed his CB77 into the side of a car, badly damaging the motorcycle's frame.  He explains, "I could not afford a new frame, so I designed and built one (pictured above), using the ideas and techniques we were using for Formula Vee chassis."  The principle he applied was "spaceframe" technology.  Similar to the idea applied by Vincent, the frame is not wrapped around to cradle the engine, but rather the engine is the central structural unit, and the frame projects from it to maintain the motorcycle's geometry. 

With Yetman's design, small-diameter, thin-wall tubing was used, and all tubing was straight and triangulated.  Yetman explains, "The frame derives its strength from its form, not its materials.  In fact, it is relatively fragile without the engine bolted in place."  Yetman's design was strictly business, and he acknowledges that it is not suitable for hanging on a lot of luggage and accessories for utilitarian use.  But its advantage--true to its racing provenance--was significant weight reduction.  Whereas the production CB77 frame was around 30 pounds, Yetman' frame weighed only eight!

Autodynamics could see the commercial potential of Yetman's creation, and bought the rights to the design.  However, as the two parties parted ways, Yetman bought back his rights and in 1965 set up The Yetman Corporation.  Yetman's radical concept had already received a lot of positive attention among the editors in the motorcycle press, so Yetman never had to fund a significant advertising budget.  A small, one-inch ad appeared in a couple of the leading magazines, and that was it.  To enhance the commercial appeal of the product, Yetman offered a road racing-type fuel tank, a seat, and a battery box as options.  Later, the line was expanded to include more conventional frame designs, not using spaceframe technology.  For example, when the spaceframe  Ducati (pictured left) did not perform to his satisfaction, Yetman returned with his assembly techniques to a more conventional design (pictured below).  Such frames were built for the CL72 and 77 Honda Scramblers, 175 and 250 Ducatis, the Honda 450 and the Triumph 650.  There was even a one-off frame for a Harley-Davidson XLCH commissioned by Cycle Magazine for a special project as well as a one-off drag racing frame for the Honda CB450 engine (pictured below left).

For a time, Yetman hooked up with Frank Camillieri, who was racing a Yamaha TD250, whose notorious vibration destroyed production frames in short order.  Their creation was not a pure spaceframe, but still applied some of the basic concepts that Yetman had developed.  Yetman relates, "It improved handling and acceleration out of the corners, and withstood the engine's vibration."  Camillieri rode the bike to fifth place and was top non-factory finisher at the Canadian Grand Prix, and won every race he entered on the American Association of Motorcycle Road Racers circuit in 1967.  Yetman and Camillieri also built some Ducati frames that are still winning vintage races today.

Unfortunately, due to AMA rules, Yetman's road racing frames did not penetrate the top tier of national competition.  The AMA required that replacement frames be approved, and only the manufacturer of the motorcycle had the right to submit an application for approval.  Yetman says, with tactful understatement, "The manufacturer's cooperation was hard to come by because an application for approval of a replacement frame would be a tacit admission that their factory frame left something to be desired."  Because of the limitations imposed by the AMA, Yetman believes that the great majority of his road racing frames ended up on cafe bikes and street racers.

But the AMA was not involved in motorcycle drag racing where there were no such rules to limit ingenuity.  In 1966, Yetman was approached by a local Harley-Davidson drag racer, and though Dave resisted because he knew nothing about drag racing, he finally consented to construct a prototype frame (pictured below right).  Yetman recalls, "His first outing produced a new track record and four more orders for drag racing frames.  By 1968, our frames held class national records and we were having trouble keeping up with demand."

But the enterprise was nearing the end of its life cycle.  Yetman explains, "This was all great fun, and it sounds hugely successful in retrospect, but building frames really had its commercial limitation.  Though we had built a great brand, all told The Yetman Corporation made and sold less than 400 frames over a period of nine years."  Yetman closed his frame operation in 1970, but kept the manufacturing facility (pictured below left) for specialty work.  He summarizes, "All of our frames of all types were fabricated from low-carbon drawn steel tubing and brazed (not welded) with a high-silver-content, low temperature brazing rod."

Yetman continues, "The goal for using this combination was to avoid subjecting the base material to temperatures that would stress the tubing and require later stress-relief treatment. This was quite a departure from the practice of people like the Rickman brothers and Alf Hagon in England, all of whom I believe used welded chrome moly tubing."  He concludes, "Our approach was vindicated by the absence of even a single reported joint failure.  I know of a drag racing fatality in 1969, but it was shown to be caused by an overly-lightened rear brake backing plate that, when it failed, caused the bike to swerve off the track at 140 mph.  The frame was literally torn in half, but there was not a single crack in any of its brazed joints." 

In 1969, Yetman used his brand recognition to form Cycle Stuff, a retail accessory store with two locations near Boston, as well as a motorcycle salvage company that is still in business today.  Later, these interests were sold, and Yetman has had no further involvement with in motorcycles in 30 years.  Some years after Yetman’s departure from the motorcycle industry, his wife, Patricia, booked a Caribbean charter cruise.  Yetman recalls, "I didn't want to go.  It sounded boring to me, but I really loved it.  We bought a power boat in 1993 and traded up to a larger one in 1998."

True to his ability to immerse himself into a subject to the degree of becoming an expert, soon Yetman was making a living writing for enthusiast boating magazines, and for a time was on the staff of Motor Boating.  He relates, "I could sell everything I wrote, and the columns and articles evolved into books."  Yetman has written three books about boating, and his "Boater's Book of Nautical Terms" has become a standard and popular reference work.  His latest book, "Without a Prop (2010), detailing a 200-year history of water-jet propulsion boats (did you know Ben Franklin designed one?), is a work that will fascinate any motorhead, even those who are too busy on two wheels to get anywhere near the water.

Like motorcycling and any other recreational activity, boating has been hammered by the current recession.  Magazines have failed and decent pay for outside writers has dried up.  If one asks whether this means that Dave Yetman--at 72--has finally retired, he'll respond, "I guess . . . at least until something else interesting comes along."

To reach the Van Tech and Yetman Yahoo Group, click here. To order David Yetman’s latest book “Without a Prop,” click here.

All photos provided by David Yetman.

 

Yetman at the cutting edge


When it arrived in 1957, Harley-Davidson's powerful new overhead-valve Sportster—the Model XL—became an instant favorite among the high performance crowd.  By boring out the cylinders, using a tall gear, beefing up the clutch, and using nitro methane fuel, riders could run the quarter mile in a single gear, eliminating the need for time-consuming gear shifts.

This beautiful example of the state of the drag racing art circa 1967, was built by Tom Reiser of Columbus, Ohio.  With a Yetman frame and front forks from a tiny Harley-Davidson M50 minicycle, it weighs less than 300 pounds ready to race.  Running originally on gasoline, in 1967 it achieved an ET of 10.89 seconds at 127 mph.  Converted to burn 92 percent nitro methane in 1968, pilot Bob Barker rode it to victory in every race it entered, climaxing the season with an ET of 9.24 seconds and a speed of 154.63 mph at Atco, New Jersey.  During its career, the motorcycle earned the name “Super Sportster,” winning two national and one world championship title.

After a full restoration by Reiser, this motorcycle has been seen at the Hall of Fame Museum, the Motorcyclepedia Museum (as pictured above), and is now owned by the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

 

Rouit’s: A flat-track racing
museum without peer
By Lindsay Brooke
(2/24/2011)

California’s enormous San Joaquin Valley is one of the world’s most productive farm regions, producing a mind-boggling bounty of vegetables and fruit.  But the sun-drenched crescent from Chowchilla in the valley’s northern tip, to Bakersfield 150 miles south, also once was home to perhaps the greatest concentration of dirt tracks and TT scrambles courses in the United States.  Driving southbound on State Route 99 out of Fresno, the AMA District 35 hot-shoes came to race at Hanford, Visalia, Tulare, Porterville, Delano, and Bakersfield.  A couple hours farther northwest was San Jose, where the AMA National boys waged war.  For a motorcycle-smitten local kid, growing up in the valley during the 1960s and early ‘70s was pretty close to being in Heaven.

“There was really hot, competitive racing within easy driving distance every weekend,” recalled Dan Rouit, who hails from Clovis, just east of Fresno.  “For long as I can remember, I wanted to be an AMA pro racer.”

Rouit achieved his goal in 1974, having fought his way up to the Expert class through the Sportsman and Junior ranks, only to suffer a freak accident during a hiking outing that left him wheelchair-bound. 

Fortunately, Dan’s indefatigable spirit—and his dream to preserve the flat-track history he loves for all—were unscathed.  In 1991, Dan and his devoted wife, Kathy (pictured above right), opened their Flat Track Motorcycle Racing Museum in Dan’s home town.  It’s the only museum in the U.S., and likely the world, dedicated to dirt-track racing bikes and their riders.  Needless to say, it’s a must-visit destination for moto-enthusiasts.

Displayed within the 4,800-square-foot museum’s three main halls—the place has been expanded three times since its humble 1,200-square-foot beginnings—are nearly 100 significant, rare, and downright unusual flat-track and speedway racing machines.  When your eyes aren’t fixed on the stunning motorcycles (all nicely described in accompanying signs), they’re sure to be dancing across the fantastic memorabilia covering the walls—hundreds of colorful race posters, banners, and billboards.  And rabid fans will delight in a long row of jars containing clay samples (pictured right) taken from 17 different U.S. dirt tracks—talk about the nitty-gritty!

Racks of well-scuffed racing leathers worn by various AMA heroes await your inspection (pictured below left).  An amazing display of scale-model and toy motorcycles dazzles with its variety.  At one end of museum rests the great tuner Tom Sifton’s original camshaft-grinding rig.  Next to it is Sifton’s home-built dynamometer (pictured below right); he combined a GMC diesel blower and a mailroom scale to create an ingenious and practical engine-development tool.  These artifacts of American speed-tuning history are up-close-and-personal at Rouit’s.

You’d expect this museum to have the meat-and-potatoes machines of AMA Class C racing, and it doesn’t disappoint.  There’s a fine array of Harley WRs, KRs, and XRs, Indians, and ex-works Triumphs, BSAs, and Yamahas to satisfy a dirt fan’s appetite. (There’s also a Class-A-era Indian 500cc four-valve single raced on East Coast board tracks by Herb Webb.)  But perhaps even more compelling than the usual heavy metal are the museum’s many off-beat short-trackers and speedway iron.  The Rouits have given these smaller, but no less interesting race bikes equal billing. 

There’s a Mexico-built Carabela from the mid-1970s with an experimental engine and Mexican CS Hi-Max tires.  New Hampshire’s iconoclastic Rokon (pictured left) is represented by one of four factory prototype short-trackers which preceded a 46-unit production run in 1972.  It’s powered by a Sachs 335cc two-stroke single complete with pull-cord starting and Salisbury drive, Betor fork, and snowflake wheels.  

Doug Chandler won his first national short-track race on the 1983 factory 250cc Honda built by Jerry Griffith (pictured right).  Combining a liquid-cooled MX engine in a C&J frame, with Marzocchi forks and Works rear shocks, the bike was the last 250 to win an AMA dirt-track National.

There were many efforts to transform Japanese light- and middleweight twins into dirt-track contenders during the 1960s and early ‘70s.  The Rouits have a number of these machines on display, including Nick Theroux’s 305cc Honda (resurrected for vintage racing in 1999); the infamous “Oriental Triumph” 350cc Honda Trackmaster half-miler; a Suzuki 100 in a Van Tech frame (the brainchild of Bill Van Ticle of Visalia, California); a Sonicweld-framed Suzuki X6 replica of Lil’ John Hateley’s pro-Novice bike; and a gorgeous period Trackmaster-framed Honda 450 (pictured left).

Four-stroke singles of all sizes and makes are omnipresent at the Rouit Museum, including some Ducati specials and one of the 25 factory Matchless G80Cs built specially (and unsuccessfully) for AMA half-mile competition.  Dan and Kathy also are proud to display Elliott Schultz’s famous Royal Enfield Bullet 500 (pictured right). Tuned by Shell Thuett, it stunned the feared BSA Gold Stars of Sammy Tanner and Blackie Bruce at Ascot during the 1964 season.

A trove of 13 Speedway racers spanning the JAP, Eso, and Weslake eras occupy their own mantel in the museum, including a short-stroke 250 Weslake with leading-link fork built for Kenny Roberts when he was an AMA Junior.  One of the rarest in the group is a Parilla 250 in a Red Rice-built frame (pictured below left).  The Parilla was one of seven lightweight singles (including three BSA C15s and three Triumph Tiger Cubs fitted with 250cc kits) built for Portland bike dealer Cliff Mahjor in the mid-1960s.  Mahjor wanted to introduce Speedway racing to the Pacific Northwest and even hired Sammy Tanner and Gary Nixon as riders.  But according to Dan, “the plan went over like a lead balloon.”

There’s a bit of avant-garde here, too.  Occupying center floor of the building’s new wing (completed in 2009) is a pristine Triumph 650 campaigned during the 1980s in Japan’s “auto race” speedway series.  In this very specialized asphalt-oval motorcycle racing, the bikes serve as mechanical horses and the spectators bet on the winners of each heat.  At the Tokyo-area track on an average day, more than 12,000 gamblers will attend the races, placing nearly $400,000 in bets—the majority of the take is returned as winnings.  It’s a major legal source of revenue for some Japanese cities.  For decades, highly-modified pre-unit Triumphs and BSAs were the preferred engine in this national series, which is now dominated by purpose-built Suzuki twins.  With the “auto race” Triumph stand a pair of diminutive dirt-track cars (pictured right), including a late-60s Micro Midget raced at Baylands and Monterey.  It’s powered by a Honda XR500 engine mounted outside the car’s bright orange body.

A Rouit museum wouldn’t be complete without a few of Dan’s former race bikes.  As a strong, athletic youngster, he quickly ascended from his McCullough-engined Taco Frijole and Honda Z50 minibikes to a used Bultaco 250 Pursang, now displayed in restored condition.  From the Pursang he graduated to a race-prepped Triumph TT Special, the purchase of which Dan’s parents helped finance.  He was only 13 years old, but running track and lifting weights in school gave Dan the muscle to manage the mighty 650 twin and its 11:1 compression ratio.

“As an AMA Junior, I was unbeatable at the Chowchilla scrambles,” he said.  “But I also knew I still had a lot to learn against guys I’d been watching race since I was a kid.”  The TT Special was eventually replaced by a Trackmaster Triumph (also on display), and later a fire-breathing Trackmaster/Yamaha TD3.   In between race events, Dan worked as a mechanic at the Chevrolet dealership in Clovis.

Dan and Kathy have grown the museum with help from many friends in the dirt-track community.  In particular, Dan credits former racer “Digger” Helm, vintage race-bike collector Rod Lake, and noted restorer Ken Thiebaud, for their support.  The museum’s annual Open House, which celebrates its 20th year on May 15, has blossomed into one of Clovis’s (and motorcycling’s) coolest events.

“Last year we had over 1,400 people attend—racers, enthusiasts, even hot-rodders,” noted Kathy, who fell in love with Dan in 1980 when she became his care nurse.  “The open house is like a dirt-trackers’ reunion.  The neighbors bring a full barbeque set-up; we serve beef sandwiches, teriyaki chicken, rice pilaf, homemade salsa, and 100 gallons of barbeque beans.  We get a Clovis block-party permit because the event’s grown so big.”

Growth is always part of the conversation with the Rouits.  Their search for new and interesting historic racing machines never ends.  “We’ve got a rigid Sonicweld Novice bike with a TD1-C motor on the way, and I’m looking at a Van Tech-framed Honda 90,” Dan said.  Then his eyes lit up. “And we’re hunting down a Kawasaki three-cylinder miler—man, those things were monsters in the dirt!”

The Dan and Kathy Rouit Flat Track Motorcycle Museum is at 309 West Rialto Street, Clovis, California  93612-4331.  For open hours, please call between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.:559- 291-2242.  The museum’s 2011 Open House is on May 15.  For more information, click here.

Photos by Lindsay Brooke

 

Honoring America's legends
and heroes of motocross

(2/22/2011)

Alex Moroz's passion is, always has been, and undoubtedly always will be motocross.  He abandoned his college football scholarship to race, he had a successful amateur career that evolved over time into vintage racing, he took a leadership role in the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association, and today he and his wife Carol manage Legends and Heroes of Motocross, a full-time operation aimed at giving the great men and women of American motocross the recognition they deserve.

Born in Syracuse, New York in 1950, Moroz was a high school athlete who earned a football scholarship and headed off to the University of Dayton.  But plans changed when he started riding motorcycles at the age of 18, then began to race a year later, in 1970.  He recalls, "I decided I would rather race motocross than play football. Actually, I decided it was safer." he says with a smile.  "The U of Dayton had a strong football team, and I got tired of being a tackling dummy." 

Moroz gave up his football career and focused on racing.  At UD, Alex and his house mate Ralph Martinez got their first race bikes (Alex a 400 Maico and Ralph a wicked fast Honda Elsinore 250). Between classes they competed in local Ohio events and used the dining room of their college house as their “race shop.”  Alex later earned a shop sponsored ride on a Maico through Dirt Bike Specialties out of Fayetteville NY, and chased an amateur career through 1978 with his father, Frank, serving as his mechanic. 

Though he earned second overall in AMA District 3 as well as  his region, Moroz decided he was not good enough to enter the AMA's professional ranks, which by this time in history was turning out the young guns—the likes of LaPorte, Sun, O’Mara, Hansen, and others--who would soon become a generation of world beaters world beaters.  After earning his degree in physical education and health from UD, Moroz taught and coached for five years, then in the early 1980s moved to a 30-year career in computer sales and marketing with Xerox and General Electric, later pioneering in the field of digital broadcasting for Fortune 500 companies and the US Postal Service.

But motocross was never out of his mind.  Moroz continued to race AMA modern motocross and  AHRMA-sanctioned vintage motocross, won six national AHRMA titles, in 2005 he formed a company named Thundercross Associates that promoted events, and from 2007 through 2009 was the National Off Road Director for AHRMA.  It was in this capacity that the idea was born that has become his abiding passion. 

Moroz explains. "In 2007, I got into discussions with Clear Channel, the promoter of the AMA Supercross Series, about providing some vintage racing bikes to display at their events.  I took on the task, which involved a lot of networking and phone time identifying the owners and collectors of vintage iron, and inviting them to bring their bikes out for the public to see."  Recognizing a good idea when they saw one, the outdoor motocross championship promoters followed suit.  Moroz says, “We started supplying vintage racing bike displays at their events as well.” 

Moroz continues, "When I saw how the fans reacted to the old machines, I knew we were onto something.  But it also made me realize that the soul of motocross is not the motorcycles.  As beautiful and inspiring as they are to look at, the real essence of the sport is the great athletes who rode them.  We invited some of the past champions to join the show and sign autographs, which proved to be wildly popular with the fans."  In 2009, Moroz gave up his duties with AHRMA to take fulltime responsibility for the project, forming Legends and Heroes of Motocross as a property of his limited liability promotional corporation.  

Moroz also took on full financial responsibility.  The program had grown from a bootstrap, volunteer effort that was never intended to be a source of income for AHRMA.  Moroz explains, "The promoters do not pay a fee for the show, but they understand the value we bring to their events.  They provide space at no charge as well as passes for our crew, our celebrants, and the owners of the vintage motorcycles, plus promotional support."   He adds, "Actually, this can be a significant outlay.  We've done shows with as many as 85 vintage motorcycles.”

To keep Legends and Heroes of Motocross alive as an independent operation, Moroz had to bring to bear all of his skills and experience learned from his career in sales and marketing.  Now servicing as many as 30 races and shows a year, "Legends" has become a six digit operation, and is expected to cost even more under Moroz's big plans for the future.  While still personally underwriting the program, Moroz has pulled together an impressive list of industry sponsors to help offset the costs.  Luckily, he has not had to do it alone.  "The idea is infectious," Moroz says, "The champions we have honored have become out biggest backers and supporters.  Brad Lackey, Broc Glover, Danny LaPorte, Gary Bailey, David Bailey, Travis Pastrana, Mark Blackwell, Marty Smith, Chuck Sun, Donnie Hansen, industry guys Tom White, Chris Carter, and many other greats have pitched in with enthusiasm and dedication.  Not only do they function as consultants and promoters, but they get on the phone to their friends and industry contacts to raise contributions and sponsorship money."  In addition, former women's champion Tammy Rice-Greenhill and her husband Rolf have come aboard to function as the program's West Coast managers, and Mike Owens, a Southern California vintage racer and collector, has also joined the team.

The goal that Moroz is rapidly fulfilling is to make Legends and Heroes of Motocross a professional operation, both in quality and sustainability.  He explains, "We are striving for a high-quality road show that will be consistent and spectacular from venue to venue, from coast to coast."  Moroz is doing this just the way a Fortune 500 company would, by establishing a mission statement to guide decision making, setting quality standards, and adopting professional graphics to establish brand and enhance image. 

 

This process, which has professionalized the program, will become even more evident in just a few weeks when the show arrives at Daytona International Speedway in a branded fifth-wheel trailer on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Daytona Supercross.  Moroz relates, "This is another example of how we have grown through the enthusiasm and generosity of the motocross community.  ‘The Professor’ Gary Bailey stepped it up a notch and donated this trailer.  It has been fully renovated and graphics are going on now for its debut at Daytona."  He continues, "We're hoping that plans will come together in a matter of weeks to announce a similar rig on the West Coast."  He adds, "Running the wheels off a single rig to 30 events from one coast to the other is not the way to do things.  Another trailer on the road will give us a huge step forward in efficiency, visibility, and professionalism."

These are big plans indeed for a program that started just five years ago when a few vintage bike owners were asked to put some motocross machines on display.  But Moroz has an even bigger vision, and has just created a partnership with collector and vintage racing national champion Mike Owens to develop a mobile museum.  "The mobile museum, which we’ve initiated this year with a 40-foot fifth-wheel trailer, will be another great way to celebrate the history of the sport and its great champions," he says.  "I want this celebration of our heritage to become part of the fabric of our sport and industry.  Other great sports have it, and motocross should as well.  In fact, it is part of what makes a sport great, when it reaches the point where it realizes is has a great history and great traditions.   We have that, and I want Legends and Heroes of Motocross to help bring us to a higher level of self-awareness of our importance as an American sport."

To learn more about Legends and Heroes of Motocross, or to contribute, click here.  To read about the new mobile museum, click here

Photos, top to bottom:
1) Alex Moroz, the man behind Legends and Heroes of Motocross.
2) Alex and Carol Moroz.
3) Vintage bike display at
Unadilla, New York, 2010.
4) Jim Weinert’s replica 1979
Kawasaki championship bike and Bob Hannah’s Suzuki with Ivan Boyesen link suspension, used at the 1986 US Grand Prix.
5) Another look: Bob Hannah’s 1986 Suzuki Boyesen.
6) At Anaheim I Supercross, 2011, left to right: Danny LaPorte, Alex Moroz, Roger Decoster, John (Johnny O’Hannah) Wolven, Andrew Short.
7) Donnie Hansen and Danny LaPorte at the 2010 Motocross des Nations,
Thunder Valley, Colorado.
8) At San Diego Supercross, 2011, left to right: Mike Owens, Lindsey Owens, Legends Honoree David Bailey, Gary Bailey, Steve Scott, and John Wolven.
9) At Motocross des Nations, 2010, left to right: Chuck Sun, Alex Moroz, Tom White, Donnie Hansen, Danny LaPorte. Doug Gagnon in background.
10) At Anaheim 2 Supercross, 2011, left to right: Steve Scottt, Broc Glover, David Bailey, Tom White, John Wolven.
11) Broc Glover and adoring fan. 
12) At
Southwick, Massachusetts, 2010: Fans of all ages enjoy the legends and heroes.
13) The Legends and Heroes of Motocross road show.
All photos provided by Alex Moroz.    

 

You can still smell the paint
(2/20/2011)

Motohistory contributor Larry Barnes (left in picture) proudly reports that the assembly of his 1948 Indian Chief was finished on the evening of February 18, and it won Best In Show at the Classic Swap Meet the next day.  Steve Benson (right in picture), of Ace Classic Cycles, converted the bike to a four-speed with electric starter.   Purists, you may start rolling in your graves now.  Congratulations, Larry.  Great work, Steve.  For more information on Ace Classic Cycles, click here.  To reach Classic Swap Meets by Will Stoner (no relation to Ace Classic Cycles), click here

Photo provided by Larry Barnes.      



(2/15/2011)

If you riders of ancient iron would like to know where to buy ethanol-free fuel, click here.

The Daytona Motorcycle Auction will take place Thursday, March 10.  For the on-line catalog, click here

Now this is a gruesome bit of history.  A Wikipedia page where you can find a list of names of people killed on motorcycles.  Click here.

Now you can get your knuckle in 93 cubic inches!  It will cost you about $92.20 per inch.  Click here.

For sale: Nice Vincent, one owner, only 722,000 miles, give or take.  To read about it (right) on The Vintagent’s blog, Click here.  It’s owner, Stuart Jenkinson, was one of our Philip Vincent Centenary Tribute authors in 2008.  Click here.

In memory of her late husband Richard, Wanda Winger has donated a newly-restored 1915 Henderson to the Antique Motorcycle Foundation.  To read the whole story, click here

We’ve all heard of Altoona, but how many of us know about the other great Pennsylvania board track, Uniontown Speedway, opened in 1916.  Its history has been chronicled by author Marci McGuinness.  To learn more, click here.

Motojournalist and Hall of Fame Member Gavin Trippe looks to the past to find answers for motorcycle racing’s current woes.  Click here. 

Hey, there’s a bookstore for motorheads.  Click here. 

Yamaha is celebrating a half century in GP racing this year.  Click here

 

Watch “I Can’t Strip My Lambretta Down in the Kitchen Blues.”  Click here

Previously we reported on the demise of Cycle News, one of the American motorcycle industry’s great journalistic institutions (see Motohistory 9/2/2010 and 11/23/2010).  Cycle News has returned, but in digital only.  Click hereCycle News has celebrated its return with an amusing video tracing the history of big news since Moses came off the mountain.  Click here.

Raymond Dhue, a tireless servant of both the Antique Motorcycle Club of America and the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, succumbed to complications from chemotherapy in January. To read about Ray, click here

  

It’s the end of another era.  The Chris Carter Radio Show that has played during bike week at Daytona for more than 30 years, is no more.  To read about it, click here

One of the really fun ways to start the season in the Eastern United States is the Ohio Valley BSA Owners Spring Classic.  To read about it, with access to other links, click here.

The Brit biker bobber has really come into its own in the last few years.  Check out this lovely BSA Lightning on the Cyril Huze blog.  Click here

David Uhl’s latest Daytona commemorative painting (left) is “Ready to Rally.”  To learn more about Uhl’s fine art, click here

This year’s Popular Culture Association Conference, including sections on Motorcycling Culture and Myth, will take place April 20 through 23 in San Antonio, Texas.  For more information, click here.

Erik Buell will be the guest speaker at this year’s Motorcycle Hall of Fame Breakfast in Daytona on March 11.  Tickets are $75.  For more information, or to order your tickets, click here.  Rumor has it that Buell will be launching a new street bike.  For more on this, click here.   

The 9th Annual Chadds Ford Classic Motorcycle Auction will take place in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania on April 10.  For more information, click here

For a video about Castrol Honda past and present, click here.

Thad Wolff’s recent victory in the Premier Open Twins Expert Class aboard a BSA at the Catalina Grand Prix revival in December is reported on Myles Raymond’s Beezagent blog.  Click here

Terry Good is posting complete Trans-AMA motocross results on his MX Works Bike web site.  1970 and '71 are up now, and more will come later.  Click here

Watch Don Vesco in the Silver Bird, traveling 303.812 mph in 1975.  Click here.

There are some very nice motorcycles at the Pipeburn blog.  Click here

The 2011 AHRMA  season is off and running.  To check the schedules, click here. 

   

Remember our story last month about the Megola at the Deutsches Museum in Munich (see Motohistory News & Views 1/28/211)?  Cyril Huze has published a story about the Megola as well.  Click here.

Were you aware that Steve McQueen did a commercial for Honda?  See it at Superbikeplanet.  Click here.

To access the web site for the Keating Wheel Company, click here

It’s been a hell of a winter.  Watch Buzz Kanter start his 101 Scout at 18 degrees Fahrenheit.  Click here.

Want to learn how to change a clincher tire without pinching the tube?  Click here.

Need something to while away the winter hours?  Be like Susumu Suzuki and built a miniature model of a 1967 RK67 50cc Suzuki GP bike (right).  Even the rims are laced with individual spokes!  To see the build, click here.  You’ll be amazed. 

The 2011 Antique Motorcycle Club of America season of national meets and road runs has just gotten underway.  To see the full schedule, click here.

Ever heard an Indian eight-valve?  Click here.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame is planning a Sturgis Road Show April 15 through 17 at the Pennsylvania Farm & Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Up to 3,500 square feet of space will be used to create a replica of Sturgis’ famous Main Street.  If you have a motorcycle you would like to be considered for the display, E-mail Christine Paige Diers at cpaigediers@gmail.com.

 

 

When we were all

40 pounds smaller:

A reminiscence
By Ed Youngblood
(2/12/2011)

 

In 1970, which had not been a good season for Harley-Davidson on the race track, the Motor Company decided to bolster its reputation with a run at the world motorcycle speed record.  Racing Chief Dick O’Brien quickly pulled together a team that included some of his staff, engine builder Warner Riley, fuel guru George Smith, and Cal Rayborn to serve as the reluctant spam-in-a-can pilot.  Rayborn had no Bonneville experience, but was chosen for his name recognition and his abundance of courage behind the bars. 

 

But what to do for a motorcycle?  A young self-taught engineer named Denis Manning had been experimenting with a Bonneville chassis that he had built on the floor of his garage in 1968, and O’Brien brought him aboard as the final essential member of the team.  The liner was modified to carry a Harley XL engine, and Manning was offered a performance-based deal.  If they earned a world record, Manning would receive $10,000.  If they failed, O’Brien would pick up his motel room.

 

Rayborn ran the liner to a record of 265.492 mph, Manning got paid, and Harley-Davidson put the bike on the 1970/71 winter show circuit to celebrate the accomplishment.  At that time, I had just gone to work for the AMA as managing editor of American Motorcyclist, and somehow I begged my way into the seat of the machine for a photo by, I think, Rick Kocks.  About a month ago, a long-time friend and colleague who likes to haunt me with my past from time to time sent me a copy of the photo (shown here).  Note that I am trying on the double chin that I would later own permanently. 

My recollection of the liner is that it was incredibly basic.  You were lying in a narrow seat with frame tubes gouging your body in various places.  The windows in the nose were useless because a lot of stuff, including the front wheel, was in the line of sight.  And there was little more than faith in Warner Riley’s tuning skills between you and a thundering engine running on nitro methane.  By comparison, this thing was a Yugo compared to Manning’s current Lexus-like liner piloted by Chris Carr.    

 

I think Rayborn was about my height, but he was smaller and had longer legs.  My crotch pressed uncomfortably against the steering column, and I could not slide in the additional inch or two it would have taken to get my head under the roll bar.  I doubt that I could have gotten my head in under any circumstances had I been wearing a helmet.  If you will recall the footage from “On Any Sunday,” you can remember that it was very difficult for Rayborn to get his helmeted head inside without a little friendly pushing and shoving from his crew.

 

About thirty-five years later I curated an exhibit for the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum entitled “Heroes of Harley-Davidson,” on the occasion of the Motor Company’s 100th anniversary.  We tracked down the liner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum (I have never learned how it ended up there) and borrowed it for a display that celebrated the achievement of O'Brien, Rayborn, Riley, Smith, and Manning.  When I pulled the canopy off the machine, I simply could not imagine how I ever climbed inside.  Denis Manning later visited the exhibit, and we stood there laughing about the notion of either of us fitting in it today.  I can't speak for Denis, but I’ve gained about a pound a year since 1970.

That photo really makes me feel old (and big).

 

To read Denis Manning’s official Hall of Fame bio, click here.  For Cal Rayborn, click here.  For Dick O’Brien, click here.  For George Smith, click here.  To read our previous feature about Denis Manning, go to Motohistory News & Views 11/20/2006.

 


(2/10/2011)

Out Front,” by Ian Berry, with foreword by Jeff Smith, is the story of the golden age of British motocross (from 1960 through 1974).  It includes the stories of Dave Bickers, Jeff Smith, John Banks, Bryan Wade, Vic Allen, and more.  The careers of eleven champions are covered in great detail and illustrated with outstanding black and white photography from the period.  At 264 pages, this soft cover, large format book is available from Panther publishing.  In the U.S. it is available from Motorsports Publications for $45.  To access the Panther Publishing web site, click here.  To reach Motorsports Publications, click here.       

 

The March issue of Racer X Illustrated contains two features that are of interest to the motohistorian of American off-road racing.  David Pingree takes us to the revival of the Catalina Grand Prix, which happened this past December after a 52-year hiatus, and Eric Johnson tells the story of Guy Cooper in his article entitled “Crazy Heart.”  While Catalina has changed from a mostly road to a mostly off-road course, catering to modern bikes (of course), it still included classes for the big four-stroke dinosaurs.  Pingree talks joyfully about the vibe, which sounds like it was similar to the days of yore.  Johnson’s story about Cooper earned great popularity with the fans even though he was usually overlooked and under-appreciated by the motorcycle industry.

The April issue of Racer X Illustrated contains an interesting bit of historic research by publisher Davey Coombs entitled “Unbreakable.”  Pointing out that records are meant to be broken, Coombs identifies eighteen accomplishments in motocross and supercross that he believes may never be surpassed.  These include things like Rickey Carmichael’s 150 race wins and 15 national titles, Stefan Everts’ 101 GP victories, Jeremy McGrath’s 72 supercross main event victories, or the 13 straight years of Motocross des Nations victories by the United States (including the discontinued Trophy des Nations, it actually comes to 17 national team world championships over 13 years).  Coombs offers also an amusing sidebar about “dubious” records.  For example, David Vuillemin is the only rider to be lapped and still finish second in an AMA national race, which happened when Ricky Carmichael won at Milleville, Minnesota in 2006.  Then there’s Marty Tripes.  His laudable achievement is in being the youngest rider to win an AMA championship.  His dubious achievement is in being the most hireable and fireable motocross rider in history, having ridden for nine brands including Harley-Davidson and Can-Am.  To subscribe to Racer X Illustrated, click here.

The February issue of American Motorcyclist features a cover story about seven-times AMA motocross and supercross national champion Bob Hannah.  Grant Parsons provides the words and Hannah provides the character.  Best line: “I like few people, but I like all dogs.  I like my dogs (Bogie, Gracie, and Willie) more than anything else in the world.  They come first.  Everything else is second.”  So what would Hannah do if he had more money than he could ever spend on airplanes? “I’d do what I’m doing now but have a house in Hawaii and a jet and take the dogs back and forth.”  The issue also contains an account of Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductions held recently in Los Vegas.  Oh, and for you vintage rock fans, there’s an editorial by Jorma Kaukonen.  American Motorcyclist is not available on newsstands, but is included in AMA membership.  To join, click here.   

 

There are several items of historical interest in the March issue of American Iron Magazine, including a column by Jim Babchak that traces the evolution of the Harley-Davidson tank insignia from 1903 to the 1970s as a form of art and a technique for building the brand. Tom Johnson pens a feature about a very unusual 1979 XLCH, outfitted with at road racing fairing, that became the winner of the only drag race ever held inside Daytona International Speedway (1986).  The regular American Iron Classic feature—again, by Jim Babchak—offers an overview of the history of Indian’s famous skirted Chief, illustrated with photos by Nate Ullrich of a stunning yellow and white example from the collection of Dave Conro. For more information about American Iron, click here

 

The February issue of VJMC, the official publication of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America, contains a story about the little-known Honda Dream CM72, a 250 utility machine with mild engine and a single saddle that was manufactured only in 1961.  Author Bill Silver reports that few are seen in Japan today, and that he is aware of none in America.  There are also stories about the Solvang Motorcycle Museum, using a Yamaha DT2 for moto giro, and the rebuild of a Honda VF500F under the headline “Pain & Suffering.”  VJMC is not available on newsstands. As always, there are vintage Japanese bike tech tips and lots of classified ads.  You must be a VJMC member to receive.  To join, click here.

In the September/October 2010 issue of Ride With Us!, the official magazine of the International Motorcycle Federation, historian Marc Petrier presents a fascinating article that explains why there was no FIM manufacturer’s championship in 1954.  Delving into the minutes of FIM meetings, Petrier tells the story of a struggle for control of the sport between the FIM and a consortium of motorcycle manufacturers.  The manufacturers wanted to control the number of GPs and where they were held, and at one point even wanted to ban all riders from the GPs except their own factory riders.  The FIM held its ground, refused to issue manufacturer’s titles in 1954, and in 1955 the season the manufacturers dropped their bid to control the GPs.  The story is illustrated with excellent black and white photos from the period.  Also in this issue is an interview with 1981 U.S. Motocross des Nations riders Danny LaPorte, Chuck Sun, and Donnie Hansen on the occasion of the 2010 Motocross des Nations.  For more information about the FIM, click here

 

Penton Owners Group
presents living history
at 2011 Annual Meeting
By Ted Guthrie
(2/8/2011)

This past February, the Penton Owners Group (POG), held their annual Penton Day at the AMA meeting, which takes place each year at the American Motorcycle Association’s Hall Of Fame Museum, located in Pickerington, Ohio

Few historic motorcycle companies are still capable of being represented by their original, namesake, founding members.  However, present on this day were no fewer than six members of the immediate Penton family, most all of whom were part of the original company operation.  Those family members in attendance were; father and patriarch John Penton, sons Tom, Jeff, Jack, and Tim, and nephew Dane Leimbach (pictured above left to right are Tom and Jeff Penton, Dane Leimbach, and John and Jack Penton).

Save for Tim Penton, who was too young at the time of Penton motorcycle production to be involved with the company, these individuals , from the beginning, planned, designed, tested, raced, marketed, and developed Penton Sportcycles.  In a few short years, they took a new, unknown motorcycle from merely an idea to the top of international-level off-road motorcycle competition, making Penton motorcycles among the most sought-after race bikes in the sport.

With this kind of background and experience, the Pentons had much information to share with the assembled POG members.  John Penton and Dane Leimbach, who at previous POG meetings have shared many stories and considerable technical data and insight, this time put Tom, Jeff, and Jack in the spotlight.

Discussion began with how the boys started out in the sport of motorcycling.  Contrary to what may be supposed about the sons of the owner of a motorcycle company, none of the boys had a fleet of motorcycles from which to choose.  Neither did they necessarily grow up riding motorcycles.  In fact, the earliest motorcycle riding adventures enjoyed by both Tom and Jeff, the oldest of the boys, came as the result of unauthorized rides aboard their father’s ISDT BWM R27.  And, although Jack, the youngest of the three racing sons, got an earlier start than did his brothers, none of the boys entered into serious competition on Penton motorcycles until they were in their teen years.

However, from that point it was a very steep learning curve, culminating in participation by all three boys in the 1970 International Six-Day Trial, for which Jack barely qualified for entry by virtue of having just turned sixteen.  Stories of their experiences in this event and many others continued throughout the day as Tom, Jeff, and Jack alternated jogging each other’s memories to bring up long-forgotten experiences.

The meeting continued with a topic the POGers call “What’s in Your Garage?”  This ongoing show and tell demonstration commits a different group member each month  to produce and share unique, interesting, and historic motorcycling artifacts from their personal collections.  This time it was Tom Penton’s turn, who had arranged for a large box to be shipped in from his present home in the Pacific Northwest, the contents of which included various pieces of off-road riding gear – most from ISDT competition -- which even he had not gone through for many years (pictured left, Tom Penton shows his IDST team windbreaker from Czechoslovakia, 1972).

In addition to many more wonderfully interesting stories, including supplemental insight and comments from John Penton, the day included a luncheon, served in the AMA conference area, as well as opportunities to tour the museum, where displays currently celebrate the Hall of Fame inductees, American dirt track racing, and Honda’s Ohio-made motorcycles.

 

Penton Day at the AMA is typically held each year on the first Saturday of February, and everyone is welcome to attend.  POG membership is not required, nor is ownership of a Penton motorcycle.  All you need to bring is an interest and enthusiasm for this great, American-based, historic motorcycle and the amazing Ohio family who created it.  For more information about the Penton Owners Group, click here.

Photos by Bill Smith

 


(2/5/2011)

Last month’s Motohistory Quiz featuring drag racing legend Russ Collins was apparently the easiest quiz we have presented.  We got dozens of correct answers, very quickly, but the first was Lindsay BrookeSomer Hooker, who get in just seconds after Brooke, also sent us a photo of an unusual Russ Collins motorcycle in his collection (pictured below).  Hooker writes:

I am sending a photo of a Honda Four that Russ Collins custom-built for the late collector and motorcycle enthusiast Zach Reynolds.  Zach was an interesting character.  He was the grandson of tobacco magnate R.J. Reynolds, and he had 30+ motorcycles a fleet of muscle cars.  He loved to drag race.  This bike was built by RC Engineering for Zach in 1970.  The engine was built with dual Weber carbs by a young Byron Hines. Zach was pretty much undefeat-ed on this bike.

Reynolds was also an excellent stunt pilot and was killed in a plane on takeoff in 1981.  His daughter was four at the time and was on the ground crying because she couldn't go up with him.  In 1982, all of his were auctioned off.  It was the first motorcycle auction I have ever attended.  I have also sent a picture of Zach with some of his collection.  The RC Engineering Honda is second from the right on the front row, right next to an MV Agusta.

Former Cycle News Editor Jack Mangus was also an early respondent with a correct answer, and he also shares an experience about Collins.  Mangus writes:

Ed, that's Russ Collins and he called his bike the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe.  Bob Lenk and I went up to Bowling Green to see it run and it was certainly something special.  Collins had big huevos!

 

Craig Vetter, also an early respondent, said simply:

 

Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe.  Makes my heart pump, Ed!”

 

Thanks Somer, Jack, Craig, and all of you other Motohistorians who came in with the correct answer.  I can’t send you all a diploma, but you’re all Motohistory Know-It-Alls in my book.

 

In January, we provided a link to Doug Klassen’s blog and a photo of a GP sidecar outfitted for the street, pictured here (see Motohistory News & Views 1/16/2011). Former AMA Head Technical Inspector and owner of Road and Tri Sports in Novato, California Rob King writes:

How are you doing, Ed?  I believe that the Bingham kneeler sidecar referenced on your web site was built by Doug for a friend of mine and his brother.  If in fact it is the same sidecar, I have ridden on it, at speeds considered only slightly illegal (at least by us).  It was some of the most fun I've had on a motorcycle, and the only time I scuffed my racing leathers, on my right shoulder from hanging off at those only slightly illegal speeds.  I can see the bicycle bell that the driver used to let the passenger know that we were going to turn, and which way.  It was then up to the passenger to determine the timing and how much to lean out or over to make the turn.  Good fun!  And this was about the time the picture was taken, around 1977.  If the same bike, it was not owned at that time by Doug.  However, it was built by him.

Thanks, Rob.  What a great story.  Readers who want to check out Doug Klassen’s excellent blog, click here.  To reach Rob King’s shop, click here.  To reach Doug Bingham’s Sidestrider web site, click here.  To read our prior feature about Doug Bingham, go to Motohistory News & Views 5/30/2008

Last October, we published a Motohistory Inquiry seeking information on a lovely headlight that had been discovered by reader Gary McDonnell with a BSA basket case he had acquired (see Motohistory News & Views 10/12/2010).  He knew it did not belong to the BSA, and wondered if another reader could shed light (pun still intended) on it.  McDonnell has since discovered the answer and has checked back in, writing:

I've identified the light as made by German manufacturer Ennwell for bicycles and small motorcycles.  Mine is the Aero model.  Google Ennwell Aero for more information.

We did as McDonnell advised and found some excellent photos of the headlight, with more information about Ennwell.  Click here.  Thanks, Gary, for getting back to us to share your results.

About a year ago, we published a feature about the Yamaha U5E owned by Floridian Kathy Dhue, a pink and white step-through with a fringed seat that represented the company’s effort to appeal to women customers in 1967 and 1968.  The “Lady Yamaha” did not sell well, and today is exceedingly rare. 

 

Now, Laurie Darrow of Seeley Lake, Montana writes:

 

Good Afternoon, Ed.  I have to say “thank you” for the article you published in Motohistory on 3/31/2010.  I have looked for many years, on-line for another Lady Yamaha.  I am so tickled I finally found another one! 

 

Yes, I have one too, and mine is also original.  I purchased it over 16 years ago from a gentleman who ran a Yamaha dealership in Havre, Montana.  He was selling a home in Seeley Lake, and he had a pink bike in his garage and asked me if I was interested in buying it.  Well, I did.  He told me he had stored it for the past 20 years after he purchased it back from a woman who originally purchased it from him.  I have stored it for the past 16 years.  I road it home—approximately one mile—and it has sat since that time.  

 

My title states it is a 1970, Lady Yamaha, 50cc.   After reading your article, I understand that mine is in fact a '67 or '68.  This may be why I could not find any information on the bike.  I have been looking for a 1970.  I don't have that lovely basket on my bike.  My speedometer reads only 987 miles.  The tires still have those little rubber knobs on them.  All the parts are there except the spark plug.  I even have two small cans of original pink paint.  It's in very good condition too. 

 

Laurie sent us photos of the bike, and she is indeed correct that it is in beautiful condition.  Just look at the condition of that paint, plastic, and seat.  Thanks, Laurie, for telling us about your Lady Yamaha.  If this keeps up, we may soon launch a Lady Yamaha Owners Club.