Motohistory Quiz #92:
We have a winner!
Perhaps tour mysery rider is a little more recognizable in a photo taken when he was older (below right), at the prime of his professional racing career. It is Brad Andres, three-time winner of the Daytona 200 and the only man in AMA history to not only win his first national entered (Daytona 1955), but also the AMA Grand National Championship in his rookie year. Given his early performance and his ability to come back to top form after a serious injury, Andres might have become the greatest of all time, had he not cut short his career to take over management of the family motorcycle dealership. To read Andres' official Motorcycle Hall of Fame bio, click here.
Four Motohistorians correctly identified Andres. These were Don Emde, Bob Heywood, Gilles Vallencourt, and Dick Lepley. Congratulations to all, but Don was the first to submit the correct answer. Emde writes,
"Maybe I had a bit of an unfair advantage on this one. I grew up in San Diego where Lenny Andres has his dealership, so the Emde and Andres families go back a long time. Brad won so many races in his career, it seemed like he always had a big smile like this on his face."
Congratulations, Don, for winning our Motohistory Quiz. Your Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma is on its way.
a man with a big idea
Tom McKee is a guy who has focused on motorcycles since he was a child, even before he was old enough to ride one. He's ridden, collected, and promoted motorcycles, and over the years his passion has evolved into a dream about a vintage vehicle entertainment resort. It's a big idea that could take vintage--and current--motorcycling to a whole new level.
McKee was born in Baltimore in 1957. His father, also named Tom, had owned a string of Harleys and Indians prior to the Second World War, but had later turned his attention to airplanes. One day, when Tom was just 6, a man with a Piper Cherokee asked Tom, Sr. to go up with him, to give him some advice about issues with his airplane. There was no room for little Tom, so the man said, “If you don't mind staying behind, I'll let you sit on my Harley.” Tom didn't mind at all. He says, “I was in heaven. I sat there and thought about riding away, and at that moment I knew what my life's work would be.”
Young Tom got his first minibike at age nine (pictured below). This was followed by a Honda S90 at 12, then a series of competition bikes. Before he could legally drive a car, Tom was thrashing Bonnevilles and Z1s at the local dirt drags, and racing motocross at tracks from Ohio to the Eastern Seaboard. Tom, in fact, was so focused on motorcycles that forsook airplanes, turning a deaf ear on his father's offers to teach him to fly. Eventually, the senior McKee sold his airplane, got back into motorcycling, and went riding with Tom.
In 1970, at the age of 13, Tom had a rare experience that would eventually inspire his big idea. A man in Blairsville, Pennsylvania had created a minibike summer camp, and Tom got to attend. By this time he owned his S90, but camp rules required that the kids ride only minibikes. Tom says, “They were making sure we progressed slowly and safely, but at the end there was a big carrot dangling out there. Those who reached a certain level of proficiency were allowed to ride a Rokon Trailbreaker, and I was the first kid to get to do it. What a treat!”
During high school, the father of one of Tom's friends owned a trucking firm that had a contract to haul Triumphs from the headquarters near Baltimore to dealerships around the country. Tom recalls, “There were a lot of benefits in that friendship. For example, Triumph had started importing the 125cc Rickman Zundapps, and they weren't selling very well. So they gave a bunch of us new Zundapps and all new riding gear and asked us to take them out to public riding areas to get exposure and stimulate demand.” On another occasion, Tom attended special a meeting at Triumph headquarters. Tom recalls, “There was a big round stage with chairs all around it, and everyone was buzzing because they were going to show something new and exciting to their dealers. Turns out, it was the X75 Hurricane. I could not believe my eyes.” Tom adds, “Gary Nixon was really mad at me that day. I think I took his seat. I was just a dumb kid and went right up and sat in the front row.”
Indirectly, McKee got into motorcycle collecting because of some problems with his main bike, a 1979 Low Rider. When the bike was new, Tom and his father embarked on a trip to see the big annual air show in Oshkosh. The Low Rider had major mechanical problems several times, and by the time they got to Wisconsin it was barely running. He struggled on to Oshkosh, wondering what to do about his bike. One morning Tom arose early and left a note for his father that said, “You go on to the air show. I'm gong riding today.”
McKee rode south to Milwaukee to Harley-Davidson headquarters. He says, “I just pestered people there until finally they handed me off to Willie G. I told him about my troubles. He must have been impressed with my sincerity, because they took my bike into the racing shop and had the guys completely rebuild the engine and transmission.” McKee adds, “Then Willie G. gave me this orange plastic card, and said that if I had trouble again I should show it to the nearest dealer, and they would give me VIP treatment.”
More than 30 years later, Willie G. Davidson was at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Pickerington, Ohio, where the exhibit “Heroes of Harley-Davidson” had just opened. On display was Tom McKee's gorgeous 1971 FX Super Glide, the bike that arguably launched Willie G. on his path to fame. McKee was there as well, and as they talked and Willie G. posed for a photo with the bike, there came a moment of recognition. Davidson announced, “You're the guy who had trouble with your '79 Low Rider!” McKee reported with pride that the troublesome bike had eventually carried him more than 100,000 miles, earning 25, 50, 75, and 100,000 mile mileage pins from the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Tom and Willie G. have been friends ever since. Tom, incidentally, has also earned a 500,000-mile Long Rider award from the AMA.
But the Low Rider, which continued to have problems even after its rebuild in Milwaukee, did something else for Tom. In 1981, he rode the bike to California, and it blew up in Monroeville, Ohio during his return. McKee explains, “George Roeder came to get me with a sidecar rig with no body. He strapped my bike on the sidecar chassis, with me sitting on it, and took off, riding like a mad man. I was terrified. I was holding on for dear life with the bike swinging and swaying while George was lifting the sidecar wheel off the ground in the turns.” Upon returning home from this trip, McKee decided he needed a backup bike, and he purchased a 1962 Panhead Police Special. It was the first of many vintage collectibles he would own.
The following year, McKee's father was diagnosed with a terminal disease and told he might have a year to live. Tom says, “My father had given up his airplanes to go riding with me, and I decided it was time to return the favor with the hope we could give him some final good months.” While on a hunting trip in Tennessee, McKee bought a Mooney Ranger, and asked his father to get on a commercial flight and come down to join him. He says, “I had no idea what I was doing. I knew nothing about airplanes, and I certainly did not know how to fly one. I wanted to raise dad's spirits by asking him to fly it home.”
At first, the ploy did not work. Tom, Sr. was furious, declaring, “I can't fly an airplane. I'm dying. Leave me alone.” Later, he warmed up to the idea of flying again, and in 1983 Tom formed McKee's Wings and Wheels, a corporation to restore and refurbish aircraft, and to sell wholesale parts. Tom's father, whom the doctors had told would not live beyond 1983, died in 1998, having lived long enough to see his son take flying lessons and buy a farm in Terra Alta, West Virginia, where they could have their own landing strip. Today, in the very heart of the country that West Virginians call “wild and wonderful,” Terra Alta has become the McKee family's permanent home.
About the move to Terra Alta, McKee explains, “It had become very hard to run any kind of a private aircraft business in the populated areas along the East Coast, especially for vintage and older airplanes that had no electronic navigational equipment.” He adds, “Of course, it got even worse after 911, but you could fly in less populated areas like the mountains of West Virginia.” There, in addition to running Wings and Wheels, McKee turned his attention to his motorcycle collection, which has now grown to a stable of more than 100. Given the fact that he grew up during one of the greatest international boom periods that the American motorcycle industry has ever seen, his tastes are broad and eclectic. In addition to his great American classics, he owns examples of the European and Japanese brands, ranging from dirt bikes to road racers.
As a motorcycle collector, McKee has become a generous patron of the many motorcycle museums that have sprung up around the country, and his bikes have appeared on display from California and Nevada to Tennessee and Florida to Ohio and New York. His Super Glide--the one on which Willie G. posed for a photo--has been selected for Guggenheim Art of the Motorcycle Exhibitions in Las Vegas, Memphis, and Orlando, and he displayed six motorcycles at the inaugural Legend of the Motorcycle Concours at Half Moon Bay.
Tom's passion for motorcycles has infected his wife Debbie, daughter Nicole, and grandson Chase Loughry (pictured below right), who currently rides a Suzuki 70 and already has his own collectible--a 1978 Honda XR75--currently on display at the Fast From the Past Exhibit at the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh, New York. In addition, Nicole has a 1974 Yamaha TZ250 on display at Motorcyclepedia, and Debbie's very rare 1966 Cyrus Special, manufactured in Holland, is on display at the Gillmore Museum in Michigan. Beyond her interest in antique motorcycles, Nicole is a certified motorcycle safety instructor.
A few years ago, at Morgantown, near the McKee's home in West Virginia, a group of local leaders were fishing for an idea that would bring tourism to the town. Cliff Sutherland, the local Harley-Davidson dealer, proposed the idea of a motorcycle rally. This seemed an idea worth pursuing, and in 2003 McKee was brought into the discussion. He recalls, “I resisted. I was plenty busy, and I had other ideas Iwas pursuing, and I didn't want to get involved. They said, 'Well, just sit in on one meeting.'” McKee concludes, “I did, and you know how that goes. I was hooked.”
Plans were formed for Mountainfest, and McKee took on a leading role, organizing rides, races--including AHRMA vintage motocross and cross-country championships--and a vintage bike show. (pictured below are Tom and daughter Nicole street racing at MountainFest). Launched in the summer of 2004, MountainFest now draws 70,000 people to Morgantown, and each and every year of its existence it has earned the Star of Tourism Award from the State of West Virginia. While theevent has become a preoccupation for the McKee family, its success has only strengthened Tom's belief in his even bigger idea, which has germinated from the seed planted the summer he went to minibike camp.
McKee says, “I want to create a motorsports park that will provide recreational opportunities for the public at large, but cater especially to people who are dedicated to antique motorcycles, cars, and airplanes.” He explains, “The focal point will be a vintage transportation museum that will present ten life-size dioramas, one for each of the decades since 1900 when man has progressed from horseback riding to space travel. All types of transportation and technology from the period will be presented in each of these dioramas.”
McKee envisions a large and scenic complex that will be a kind of country club for vintage motorheads. He says, “There will be hangars and garages where people can store their airplanes, cars, and motorcycles. As members of the club, they will be able to come here and take their vehicles out to fly over the mountains or travel the winding roads of rural West Virginia. There will be gatherings and special events for all types of historical transportation enthusiasts.”
But McKee's dream is not just for the well-heeled collectors. He adds, “There will also be trails for riding, and we want a latter-day version of the minibike summer camp where kids can come to ride and learn in a safe and beautiful environment. And we'll have facilities and events that will attract road riders on modern bikes as well. You will not have to be a member of the club to be welcome at the park.”
It's a very big idea that has attracted interest from state government tourism officials in West Virginia. It is the kind of big-vision project that takes years--maybe decades--to develop and fund, but McKee knows what can be achieved through patience and pure persistence. After all, he's the guy who made a motorcycle that couldn't cross three states without breaking down carry him 100,000 miles. Ever since he perched on the seat of a Harley at the age of six, he's been into motorcycling for the long haul.
To learn more about MountainFest, coming up July 28 through 31, click here. For photos from MountainFest by photographer Bob Taylor, click here.
Lead and final photos provided by Scott Frederick, Genesis Studio, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Still in love with turning left
Like any mid-western rider of his era, Scott Brown was brought up on hare scrambles and motocross. But the day he and his brothers Jeff and Kim saw speedway racing, they knew they had to do it. Today, thirty years later, after a career that included international competition, and six national titles, Scott is still in love with turning left. Now, however, he provides opportunities to others.
Scott Brown does not recall a time when he was not in the presence of motorcycles. Born in Massillon, Ohio in November of 1958, Brown recalls that his father, Earl, rode motorcycles all of his life. And before that, grandfather Julius spoke of buying his first Harley-Davidson in 1912. Scott's first motorcycle was an 80cc Suzuki Hillbilly. He relates with a smile, “It had two sprockets, and it came with a little section of chain so you could go to the big sprocket for off-road riding,” then adds, “It had a high pipe and knobbies, which is what made it a dirt bike, I guess.”
When Torsten Hallman brought motocross to America in 1966, it didn't take Brown long to board the train. He raced amateur motocross from 1969 through 1975, then held a professional license from '75 to 1979. About that exciting era when Americans were learning to compete with the Europeans, Brown relates, “I raced the nationals from Florida to New York and out west as far as Missouri, but I was never good enough to race on the top tier. I was a support rider, but it was an honor and a great experience just to be walking around in the same pits with guys like Brad Lackey and Roger DeCoster.”
But in 1978, Jeff and Scott Brown saw some speedway bikes at a track in Deerfield, Ohio, and it changed their taste in motorcycling for good. Scott recalls, “I was simply overwhelmed, and I knew I had to try it. I had to know more. There was no internet then, so I went to the library to find anything I could about speedway. I found 'Ivan Mauger's World Speedway Book,' and I couldn't put it down.” Brown knew that the JAWA was a Czech motorcycle, so he and Jeff went to the local CZ dealership to see if one could be had. A two-valve Jawa was ordered, and they bought it for $900.
Speedway races were not as common as motocross in the mid-west, so in 1980 Brown started promoting his own events at Mathias Raceway in New Philadelphia, Ohio. He continued to learn the promotions business until 1983, then embarked in earnest on a full-time speedway racing career, chasing a circuit that ranged from Indiana to New York. He explains, “I would drive about five hours to Indiana to race on Friday night, then thirteen hours to race in New York on Saturday and Sunday. I put 40,000 miles on my van the first season.” Brown also wore out his Jawa, sold it, and bought another. If fact, after his original bike had passed through several hands and been worn out and rebuilt a few times, he bought it back in 2005, and it is now on display at Kame's Sport Center in Canton, Ohio.
In the winter, Brown started teaching speedway and ice racing. Ice racing uses largely the same bikes and riding techniques, except that the motorcycles carry studded tires. Brown says, “I found it was a great way to learn. It is pretty hard to get hurt when you fall on the smooth ice, but you can practice all of the things you need to know for speedway.” He adds with a laugh, “I used to tell the guys, 'Come on out. You won't have to buy ice for your beer cooler, and you don't have to wash your bike when you are done.'” Training on ice must have served Brown well, because in 1985 he won the National Ice Racing Championship.
With a national title in hand, Brown was ready to head for California and the big time. He recalls, “Speedway was so competitive in California, and there were so many riders, there was no way a no-name rider could even get much track time. With a championship title, I was able to negotiate starts with the promoters of several of the leading tracks, including Ascot, Ventura, and Costa Mesa.” As an unknown form the hinterlands, Brown was placed in Division Two, but he won all of his first D2 races and was immediately moved up to Division One.
America had just made its name in world-class competition when Bruce Penhall--born a little more than a year before Brown--won two world championships in succession, then retired from competition in 1982. Penhall's success had popularized speedway racing in the United States, more than at any time since American Jack Milne last won the title in 1937, and Brown found himself in the thick of it with a hot crop of youngsters that included Kelly and Shawn Moran, and Bobby Schwartz. And stars like Greg Hancock and Billy Hamill were coming up right behind them.
Brown knew he had made the right move at the right time. He says, “I went to California to ride for five months, and I ended up staying for four years. It was a great time to be a rider.” Furthermore, in the golden state, Brown met his hero, Mauger. Mauger, born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1939, won six speedway world championships, moved into teaching and world-class speedway promotion, and went on to be knighted as both a Member of the British Empire and in the Order of the British Empire. Brown took one of Mauger's schools, and they became friends to the extent that Mauger let Brown use in his condo in Garden Grove.
In the winter of 1986, Brown was selected as a member of a team of six Americans to go to New Zealand where Mauger was staging a series of races that included German and Czechk riders in addition to his fellow Kiwis. Brown was elected American team captain and raced on both the north and southislands. In retrospect, he laughs, “I knew I could earn $2,000, but I wasyoung and naive and did not realize that a New Zealand dollar was worth half a U.S. dollar. The tour was pretty much a financial wash for me, but it was a wonderful opportunity and a great experience I will never regret.”
In 1990, Brown retired from California Division One competition and returned to Ohio to resume racing in Indiana, Ohio, New York, and Canada, in addition to promoting races at Bear Creek Speedway near East Sparta, Ohio. Brown also put together a troop of riders to provide an opening speedway act for monster truck shows. He explains, “It was not true racing, but a carefully choreographed show. It had to be, because it was the most dangerous environment you could imagine. We were racing round--often on concrete--among junk cars and other hazards, and we had to make it look good for the crowd.” Brown learned just how dangerous in 1997 when another rider ran into him, broke his leg, and put him, as he says, “. . .in plaster for more than six months.” It was the end of Brown's enviable speedway career of almost two decades wherein he continuing to earn state and regional championship titles until 1995. He say, philosophically, “Even when I was at the top of my game, I planned to one day transition back into promoting races. I guess the accident meant it was time.”
Now 52, Brown--like his idol Mauger--has moved into mentorship in the sport he loves. With his wife Staci (above right), whom hemarried in 2000, he has moved into vintage
motorcycle racing as well, co-producinga series that includes races at Canton (pictured below) and Wauseon, Ohio, where the Antique Motorcycle Club of America holds one of its leading annual meets. He and Staci also run Applied Innovations, a specialty machining company and Jawa dealership. Daughters Clara--age 2--and Megan--age 10--have also developed a keen interest in motorcycles. During his busy racing career, Brown somehow found time to become a journeyman tool and die maker, and with this skill he provides specialtyservices,mostly for customers doing difficult engine restorations, usually on antique vehicles.
In his heart, Scotty Brown is still always turning left, but today it is by providing opportunities for a young new crop of riders, in addition to the crusty old guys of his era who just can't seem to give it up. On that topic Brown says, “Branching out into vintage dirt track racing has been a rewarding experience. My colleague Matt George, who promotes in Iowa, and the vintage racing crowd have been a delight to work with. They are a reminder that turning left on two wheels never has to end.”
To read Scotty Brown's career summary, click here.
To read the first-person account of Brown's 1997 accident, click here. To see a video of Brown winning at Costa Mesa, click here. To read about Jack Milne, click here. To read about Bruce Penhall, click here. To read about Ivan Mauger, click here. For more information about Applied Innovations, click here. For information about the upcoming Wauseon National Swap Meet and Vintage Motorcycle Races, click here. For more about Brown's race promotions, click here.
Don Emde talks about discovering
the route of Cannon Ball Baker.
Don Emde, is a well-known publisher, historian, archivist, and communications specialist in the American motorcycle industry. As a former professional motorcycle racer, Don and his late father Floyd Emde hold the distinction of being the only father and son to have both won the Daytona 200. Since retiring from racing in 1974, Emde (pictured right) has been involved in virtually every aspect of the motorcycle industry, including retailing, distributing, product development, marketing and publishing. His interest in motorcycling arises from a deep family history that dates back to 1914.
Coincidentally, 1914 was the year that the legendary Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker set a coast-to-coast record aboard an Indian motorcycle. In an era when much of the nation's West did not even have roads, little has been documented about the course he took. This is an historical void that Emde is determined to fill by launching a multi-year research project to discover and document Baker's actual day-by-day route from California to New York.
We asked Emde if he would grant Motohistory an interview and tell us more about this fascinating undertaking.
MH: Don, this sounds like a fun project, but it is also a very significant contribution to our body of American motorcycle history. Can you tell us how you hit upon this idea?
DE: I have been collecting motorcycle books, photos, magazines and other literature virtually my whole life, and sometimes I come across a historical subject which motivates me to look in my files to see what I have about it. And that's what happened here. A year ago, I started seeing publicity about the Motorcycle Cannonball Run, a cross-country event for riders of pre-1916 motorcycles. I wasn't able to participate in that ride, but it got me studying a cross country ride that Erwin "Cannon Ball" Baker took in 1914 from San Diego to New York City in 11 1/2 days. And when I found some literature and magazines in my collection with Baker's actual written accounts, my brain went into motion that it was a story that needed to be told and about ways that I could best tell it.
MH: Before continuing with your project, let's lay some historical background. Can you give us a brief account of the Baker ride in 1914, and why it was significant?
DE: Since winning one of the first motorcycle races held at the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909 on an Indian, Erwin Baker (he wasn't called Cannon Ball yet) was a favorite of the Indian factory. He was participating in motorcycle races and events from coast to coast. At the same time, different motorcycle cross country rides were being reported on in the magazines, and by 1912 the best time that was known for a coast to coast ride was about 20 days. So Baker began hatching a plan for a record run, and the Indian factory was totally supportive of the idea.
To get himself in condition, he rode his personal Indian twin from his home in Indianapolis south to Miami, then took a ship over to Cuba and rode across that big Island. Then he hopped another boat ride to Central America and rode up to Phoenix, which became his home base while he made all the arrangements for his coast to coast ride. Baker logged 12,000 miles on this three month long "pre-run" ride.
At that time, a big car and motorcycle race was being held each year called the San Diego to Phoenix race, and Baker raced in it in 1913 to become familiar with the route and the riding conditions across the California desert to Phoenix. Unfortunately, he didn't finish the race, but the route of that race became his planned route for the San Diego to Phoenix section of the cross country ride to New York. Finally, in the spring of 1914, Baker had studied weather maps, was personally prepared, had the blessing of the Indian factory for a new bike, and had enlisted the help of friends along his planned route to provide needed support. This was all arranged through letters and telegraphs sent by Baker and his wife.
At 9:00 am on May 3rd, 1914, Baker departed San Diego on a fresh new 7 horsepower Indian 2-speed twin provided by the Indian Motocycle Company and prepped by the local San Diego Indian dealer. He was heading east to New York City and his goal was to break the 20 day record by at least three days. When Baker pulled up at the Hotel Astor in Manhattan, he had broken the record by over a week! The significance of his accomplishment was that through the huge amount of publicity he received, his new record put a stake in the ground and became the mark for others to break. Baker truly was America's original Adventure rider. He picked up his nickname "Cannon Ball" from a journalist in New York writing a story on his ride who said Baker's strength had to be like a Cannon ball to hang on to his machine. In his lifetime, Baker would go on to make over 100 more "record runs" with motorcycles and cars.
MH: Today, we probably have a hard time understanding the conditions that Baker faced. What were roads and support facilities like in 1914?
DE: There was a real movement going on in the early teens to establish road systems to make driving more enjoyable and less "eventful." There was also a bit of competition going on with the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego to make their cities the destination of choice by travelers and investors from the East. As promotions by the three cities were ongoing to steer the roads in their direction, highways such as the Lincoln Highway, the Santa Fe Trail, The National Old Trails Road and more began to sprout up. Keep in mind, however, that these were "routes," but virtually all of it were dirt roads, so even in the Midwest and East where the route was well traveled, a rain storm here and there could turn even the best roads of 1914 into a muddy and rutted mess that was very challenging to ride on a motorcycle. And Baker encountered some of that. Out west, his route didn't always have a real road to follow. He writes about "axle deep sand" getting across some sections of the desert in California.
MH: Clearly, under some circumstances, Baker must have been just feeling his way, heading east the best way he could. How can we possibly determine his actual route almost 100 years later? How will you conduct your research?
DE: One thing I have in my collection is his personal account of his ride that appeared in a magazine at the time, and Indian also published a booklet with the story, which I also have. In his account, Baker details where he started and stopped each day. And he also made some comments of other towns, and places he passed. So what I am doing right now is researching maps and other information to match Baker's accounts to the old maps of the roads and trails that existed at the time. It's possible there may have to be some guesswork based on the best information I can locate, but I actually have a pretty good handle on his route in the western states, which was the least established with a road system. The key now is matching up what the current roads are now that once were the original roads, and while we are at it, to document some interesting information about different areas, both then and now.
I think the biggest misconception people so far have about my project is many think I am just going to take off on a bike and ride to New York. Well, in a few years I might do that, but first we have to break Baker's ride down into sections and focus on each section until we have it all identified and documented. And due to weather, we might not be doing it in chronological order from west to east. We have actually already gotten most of his San Diego to Yuma route figured out that he rode on his first day. Now, just eleven more sections to work out.
MH: What will you do with the information? Will you re-ride some of the course? Is a book or major article apt to come out of this?
DE: Our plans for media are fairly broad. We'll be doing project bike stories in my Parts Magazine on the two KTM 990s that we will be outfitting for our research rides. Fortunately, these bikes have been provided by KTM North America, one of our project sponsors. My "co-pilot," Joe Colombero, will be writing some stories for Parts Magazine and some of the consumer magazines, and we may invite some magazine writers and editors to ride some sections with us, once we get everything defined.
There is also an on-line communications component. We've got a web site coming soon, and we've already got our Facebook page. It is listed as "The Cannon Ball Project."
We are planning to produce a DVD and are currently finalizing those plans. Something that should make the DVD interesting is that I have borrowed a 1913 Indian twin, similar to the bike pictured above, and we are going to get it running and use it for some demonstrations on film about what it was like to ride through the sand, up hills, etc. on a motorcycle in Baker's time. We'll be shooting a trailer that we can use to pitch a television program or series.
A book is possible, but we'll let the project take a bit more shape before I decide to go with that.
MH: Will you finish by 2014, the centenary of Baker's ride.
DE: Yes, we plan to have the route documented by then, and I can see making a full cross country ride to honor Cannon Ball Baker. This would be a public event that I would hope would get lots of support and participants. We'll see how things come together. Let me add that 2014 will also mark the 100th anniversary of my family's involvement in motorcycling. And amazingly, the town of Seeley, Califorina (near El Centro) where my grandparents lived in 1914 was one of the towns that Baker rode through. So I hope to tie all that together in 2014.
MH: What if we have some Motohistorians across the country who want to get involved, maybe assist with some research in cities along the route? Are you open to that, and if so how can they contact you?
DE: Yes, in fact I have already had people contact me. Anyone who might have interest in checking some areas out, or who might have knowledge about some of the areas can reach me at 949-215-4780, x206, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's a big country and I welcome any "local knowledge" that people can pass on about where those old roads are today. For any specific area, I could provide them with what I know about the town Baker passed through, and hopefully we can accurately match that up to an existing route in use today. Out west, it actually may not be in use, but hopefully may still be rideable.
MH: Good luck, and keep us posted. We hope we'll be able to help report many exciting discoveries as your project unfolds. In the mean time, Motohistorians who want to keep an eye on your web site can click here.
DE: Thanks, Ed, for the chance to share the inside story of my new project. Yes, we'll let you know how it goes.
*What's in the name?
Sharp-eyed Motohistorians will notice several items in this update about Cannon Ball Baker and activities named in his honor, such as the Cannonball Rally. Sometimes "Cannon Ball" is spelled as two words, and sometimes as one. Why the inconsistency?
Popular spelling today is "cannonball," but this is not the spelling that Erwin Baker used. He autographed photos with "Cannon Ball," and the two-word spelling even appears on his grave stone (or is it gravestone?) While Baker's friends called him "Bake," "Cannon Ball" became a theatrical name, and as Baker's career progressed, he recognized its value and copyrighted it. Thus, Don Emde's use of the two-word spelling in his interview above is precisely and historically correct. Likewise, the Wikipedia entry on Baker uses the two-word spelling. On the other hand, the Motorcycle Hall of Fame entry uses the single word "Cannonball." And in "The Iron Redskin," first published in 1977, Harry Sucher uses "Cannonball." For what it is worth, the "Oxford English Dictionary," the bedrock authority on the language, uses "cannon ball." So, while it would appear that the correct spelling of Baker's theatrical name is "Cannon Ball," "cannonball" is most often applied in current and popular usage, despite what the OED tells us.
We can only speculate why the single-word application came into popular use, but I suspect the trend was driven significantly by the Burt Reynolds movie "The Cannonball Run."
Then there is the whole issue about the meaning of the name. The most common story is that after one of Baker's cross-country record runs, a journalist likened him to the the Cannonball Special, a train on the Illinois Central Line that was made famous in Casey Jones lore. Other explanations say it was because Baker was as strong as a cannonball, as fast, as durable. Any of these seem to apply, but we won't know for sure until someone turns up the original source, if it does indeed exist. I am not aware of any historian who has yet uncovered that primary source.
Last September, Motohistory published a feature about the extraordinary custom motorcycles of O. Ray Courtney (see Motohistory News & Views 9/30/2010), and in the previous month a feature about Frank Westfall, current owner of Courtney's Indian-powered Enterprise and streamlined Henderson (see Motohistory News & Views8/30/2010). Our coverage of Courtney and his motorcycles has been republished at Prairie-Riders.com. To read it, click here.
Our story about Erwin "Cannon Ball" Baker's 1941 cost-to-coast ride aboard an experimental rotary-valve motorcycle of his own design has been republished on the Motorcycle Cannonballweb site. To read it, click here. To review our original story, see Motohistory News & Views 9/12/2007.
In addition, our feature published January 30, 2009 about author and historian Jerry Hatfield has been republished on the "People" page of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation web site. To read it, click here.
A breathtaking blast from the past
In November 2009, Ralf Kruger, our frequent Motohistory contributor from Germany presented a feature about Ernst Neumann-Neander (1871--1954), an artist, intellectual, and revolutionary motorcycle designer who was an enthusiastic futurist who believed it was the role and obligation of art and design to propel mankind into a better era (see Motohistory News & Views 11/24/2009). Using the most advanced metallurgy available--Duralumin, for example--Neander designed motorcycles to be comfortable, inexpensive, and durable. He can be credited with the invention of a basic aluminum spar frame, used for his early motorcycles. Today, similar technology is standard fare for the most high-performance racing motorcycles. In late 1928, his motorcycle design was prepared for mass production by Opel, but fewer models were built than anticipated before General Motors bought Opel in 1929 and ended that effort in the middle of 1930.
We've all heard the old saying that four wheels propel the body, but two wheels propel the soul, reflecting a belief that cars and motorcycles have fundamentally different relationships with their operators. Neander clearly understood this, because at the age of 61 he embarked on the creation of what he called the Fahrmaschine, meaning “riding machine.” Neander wanted to create a partly enclosed, slick and aerodynamic vehicle that could deliver excitement and surpass the normal performance expectations of a four-wheeled car. In fact, he would not allow this vehicle to be called a “car,” andhe never would have sold one of his one-of-a-kind creations to "normal" automobile buyers. He always insisted on his idea that lively power and good road-holding should be essential. It is a concept that BMW uses still today with its claim to build a “driving machine” that thrills and satisfies its owner beyond the ability of “normal” automobiles.
Neander built three and four-wheel Fahrmaschinen using motorcycle engines; in one case, a racing machine with a tuned 60hp Harley-Davidson Knucklehead for Harley-Davidson fan and sidecar racer Paul Weyres. The most exciting were the three-wheelers, whose bodies would pitch over, into a turn, similar to a motorcycle. Like his motorcycles, light materials and advanced construction were used throughout. Not many Fahrmaschinen were built--about 30 altogether--and even fewer survived.
It is understandable then that Motohistorian Kruger found his breath taken away this month during a visit to the Ibbenbüren Motorcycle Museum, and, as if emerging like a ghost from the past, a circa 1938 Neander Fahrmaschine (pictured above) came rolling into the parking lot. Kruger writes, “You can't even imagine my surprise. I ripped the camera out of my tank bag, hoping not to miss a photo of this rare machine.” Kruger spoke briefly with the operator about the vehicle, learning that it was powered by a 1,000cc ohv JAP of about 45hp. Kruger concludes, “He was there for just a few moments, then decided to leave. After some fiddling to find reverse gear, which gave me time to take the photos, he took off, the JAP producing a barking staccato, pulling the machine out of sight and into the distance. I am still trembling.”
Outstanding German two-strokes
we shouldn't forget: Part One
By Ralf Kruger
Many American motorcyclists of the past entertained doubts about the ability of two-stroke engines to propel motorcycles. Accordingly, only a few manufacturers sold these kinds of motorcycles successfully. The astonishing Schickel 500cc single and Big 6 motorcycle of the early '10s were some of these exceptions. Schickel (SMC after WWI because Norbert Schickel --his parents were originally from Wiesbaden -- wanted to hide his German roots), just like Cleveland, Excelsior, Indian, and Evans added "lightweight" two-stroke powered motorcycles in the '20s, some more successfully than others. They all disappeared within the decade.
A unique situation for two-stroke development in Germany resulted from Nikolaus Otto's patent of the four-stroke engine in 1876 (Otto pictured right). After it was attested that there already had been similar patents registered in France and Switzerland, the Otto patent was canceled after several rulings by the German Court between 1886 and 1889. This caused ten years of delay in which the release of the four-stroke engine was blocked by legal proceedings in Germany. This increased interest in research for an alternative concept. Other than electrical motors, the only real alternative of the time was the two-stroke. Even Carl Benz (pictured left) chose to begin with a two-stroke engine as early as 1879, which was based on Belgian Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir's 1860 invention of a so call "pre-compressionless two-stroke engine," which was quite different from what we call a two-stroke today. It contained sliding valves and other mechanical parts, but for intrinsic efficiency reasons, never achieved the break-through to sufficient power.
While theearly four-stroke DeDion-Bouton singles (pictured right) were among the first dependable and frequently used motorcycles engines (they were licensed for production by many manufacturers around the world), a single-source influence is not so easily identified for the two-stroke. British, French, Italian, and other makers were all developing early two-strokes.
But speaking for Germany, it was Julius Söhnlein, from Wiesbaden-Schierstein, who designed a stationary two-stroke engine that used the crankcase for pre-compression as early as 1873 (pictured below). His brother Heinrich Wilhelm Söhnlein opened a factory called "Solos-Motorenfabrik Schierstein" to fabricate these engines, and his state of the art technology influenced two-stroke development in Germany more than any other company. So, simple piston port two-strokes used in motorcycles, as we know them today, were present in Germany since about 1902, even if their break-through was mostly delayed until the 1920s.
Many people think the only reason for the use of two-strokes is their cheapness to produce, but this is not entirely the case. The idea of an engine with only three moving parts is attractive to engineers, manufacturers, and merchants, especially if these three parts--a piston, a connecting rod, and a crankshaft--will theoretically double the power of a more complex four-stroke engine.
Two-strokes were thought of negatively within the first decade of the century largely because of their heavy smoking, caused primarily by insufficient burning of the 1:10 oil/fuel mixture used at the time. This rich mixture sometimes fouled sparkplugs (expensive at the time) faster than you could screw in new ones, but still often could not detain pistons from seizing. Thermic stress for main parts of the engine was predominantly caused by sluggish burning and insufficient scavenging. Furthermore, "dieseling" at low load and "four-stroking" often occurred due to bad "flushing" of burnt gas. Indeed, early two-stokes did not achieve their theoretical best, and they could be a mess. The main reason forthis deplorable situation was not because two-stroke engines were fundamentally bad. It was a good idea, but at the time good scavenging still remained a mystery, so many theorists and designers in Germany declared the two-stroke dead well before 1910.
Not so for Hans Grade (1879-1946) from Köslin (Kozalin, Poland today). Grade (pictured right) was a true admirer of German volplane pioneer Otto Lilienthal, and his dream was to become an aviator for "heavier than air" machines. This dream would be fulfilled as he became winner of the "Lanz" award on October 30, 1909, for the first airplane completely designed in Germany (pictured below), which could master the predetermined task to fly around two pylons, describing an "8" in the process. Grade then became licensed pilot #2 in Germany in 1910. But on the way to these achievements, he became a motorcyclist and a motorcycle manufacturer as well.
In 1898, Grade saw his first DeDion-Bouton tricycle. While still a student, he tried to duplicate this kind of four-stroke engine for the future flying machine of his dreams. He lacked the funds to complete the project, but in the process he became convinced that a four-stroke would be too complicated and heavy for this purpose. In late 1899, Grade completed his schooling, but still had to undertake practical training before he could join the Technical University Charlottenburg, in Berlin (established in 1879), which he did in 1900. The new faculty for "inner combustion engines and mechanically generated electricity," established in 1896, taught him the most current knowledge about four-strokes, but he still was on his own regarding two-stoke technology.
Grade's pursuit for mechanical simplicity intended for a powerful aircraft engine led to his decision to begin with a motorcycle. It posed the same requirements regarding power, weight, and cost, but on a smaller scale, which made it a more reasonable undertaking. After a lot of fiddling, his new Grade motorcycle prototype engine was born in 1902. This motor of 269cc (70mm x 70mm) capacity developed 2.5hp @ 1500rpm, and earned him the first of three patents he would earn while still a student. The small engine was able to turn 2000rpm with ease, which was very encouraging. By comparison, the typical engine speed of ordinary, big stationary power-supplying engines in factories was under 200rpm, so you can understand why this new generation of internal combustion engines for vehicles were called "fast running," by university graduate, even though they seem slow by today's standards.
Hans Grade spent his semester break at the University in the construction of a motorcycle, propelled by his own prototype engine. He learned quickly how to ride his new mechanical steed, and because its small two-stroke engine was so easy and reliable to start, he named it "Pronto," meaning "ready." In the spring of 1903 he displayed his new little fun machine (pictured above right) at Berlin Automobile Show, then the biggest trade show in Germany. But the reaction was only lukewarm.Two-strokes for motorcycles were still too exotic.
Grade did not give up. With the help of investor Oswald Hentschel, Grade opened his first work shop in Köslin. There he began to built big stationary two-stroke engines for generating electricity up to 40KW (see advertisement left). These, he hoped, would provide the money needed for the construction of a self-made aircraft. Grade also built small stationary engines for driving lathes and other machinery. A typical one hp engine is shown here (right).
At the same time, he made good progress with a new motorcycle engine of 331cc capacity. This attracted the attention of Fritz Burckhardt from Magdeburg, who had a new bicycle business and wanted to diversify into motorcycles also. In the summer of 1905, Burckhardt purchased the first lot of motors for his new Burckhardtia brand motorcycle. Grade now had his first customer for motorcycle engines.
Bolstered by this success, Grade decided to invest in a new facility to meet the growing demand for his engines. All of his previously built engines were more or less of individual constructions, and he knew only series production could lower costs and would secure his future as an engine manufacturer. So he moved from rural Köslin to the industrially coined Magdeburg to open his new, bigger factory on October, 12 in 1905.
Grade motorcycle engines (pictured left) were supplied mainly to Burckhardtia at the time, and he was surprised and pleased when racers soon began to use these fast motorcycles for board-track racing, and with some very good success. The Grade engines responded well to additional tuning, and Grade's degree of awareness and good reputation among motorcyclists grew very quickly. Grade was so excited about the success his engines had achieved that he started doing his own test riding on board tracks on a specially prepared Grade racing motorcycle.
On the quarter-mile track at Brandenburg on June 3rd 1906, rider Ernst Ahrens on a Burckharditia-Grade special won a 10km race with two and a half laps in advance. Three weeks later, on 24th of June, Ahrens and Hans Grade on his new 500cc racing machine weighting only 85 kp (186 lbs.), got first and second on the streets of Hannover.
On July 1st the same year, Ernst Ahrens won again in Magdeburg, the brand's "home-race," achieving a documented average speed and new record of 54.4 mph. Hans Grade's top-speed was measured as high as 90+miles at longer and faster venues! During 1906, Grade produce twelve podium finishes. This success in the sporting-world caused a sensation in the press, and a lot of discussion among engine experts. What kind of an engine is this Grade two-stroke? Why is it so fast?
Hans Grade became so intrigued with the sport that for some month he putmore determination into the development of his motorcycle engines than his plan to build an aero engine and airplane.
The early Grade two-stroke motorcycle engines of 331cc (75mm x 75mm) and 482cc (85mm x 85mm) capacity were quite unusual single cylinder motors. They were different from the few comparable contemporary engines and much newer designs as well, because Grade chose to use a poppet valve for control of the inlet port. In addition to that abnormality, he did not even use a conventional carburetor! Shown here (right) is a Grade single-cylinder car engine which is very similar to the motorcycle engine in design.
The absence of a carburetor was due to his opinion that the ordinary surface-evaporating carburetor of the era was hopelessly antiquated. The relatively new carburetor operating with flap-valve and jets seemed to him to be far too complex, heavy, and expensive. Keep in mind that his all important aim was an aero-engine, as powerful and simple as possible, and he knew that every part and ounce of weight that could be saved would make it more capable, reliable, and cheaper to produce. Thus, he was convinced that a throttle valve carburetor was unnecessary and even obstructive, additionally not working irrespective of attitude. (as it is important for airplanes). His new idea was to feed the crankcase directly with air and fuel to gain more power with larger ports than would work efficiently with a carburetor.
His next thought was about inlet timing. While the inlet port is controlled by the piston in a conventional two-stroke engine, which means port-timing is symmetrical and can compromise effectiveness, Grade was convinced that an "automatic" inlet valve, like he new from the four-stroke engine, would be advantageous. The inlet-timing and resulting flow would be flexibly controlled by pressure difference between the crankcase and the environment, not by the piston skirt. He designed a poppet valve of considerable diameter (pictured above left) that was opened and closed by pressure changes, not by mechanical means only.
The valve's seat was a removable, screwed-in brass ring that had a connection for the fuel hose on the outer side. The seat was hollow serving as a circular channel providing fuel to one or more nozzles. When the poppet valve opened and cleared the seat, air and a matching amount of fuel were drawn into the crankcase. To provide nearly even fuel pressure, a float-bowl was located between the tank and the connection to the valve system. The location of the intake valve system was fitted into a single transfer port, down low, near the crankcase.
Grades invention of this inlet operation is a historical first in Germany for two-strokes. Some historians even think of it as a forerunner to fuel injection. But this was not his only innovation. Grade recognized the significance of a small dead spot crankcase volume. Crank webs are elaborated as full circle for this reason, to fill out the crankcase as much as possible.
And, engine speed was determined by ignition timing and a short-circuit button only on his early motorcycle engines, which seems rather optimistic to me. But so were the times... But engineer Grade learned fast and had to accept that a motorcycle is driven much more frequently on varying load than an aero engine. So he provided his engines with a "mouse trap" flap valve carburetor. I couldn't find out the exact point in time, but it is likely he made the change to the carburetor for a new series of engines produced in the new factory in Magdeburg in autumn 1905.
Sadly, I can't provide a picture of an original Grade motorcycle engine of this era. But we will continue with a description of his 1909 aero V4 engine (pictured right), which was very similar in construction. The single transfer port in Grade's 1909 aero-engine is comparably voluminous, located opposite the divided exhaust port. This location is usual with early two-strokes for motorcycles as well. Unfortunately, the transfer-port is directed toward the exhaust port in such a design, which can cause much of the incoming charge to be lost into the exhaust port. To avoid this (task A), a large deflector is welded on the (steel) piston crown, which should guide the fresh mixture to the combustion chamber (task B). Even if point A) does work, plan B) is prone to failure. The distance from the portexit to the deflector and the angle the gas strikes the piston is very critical and can result in unwanted turbulence in most cases. Turbulence at this early time of scavenging means unwanted mixture of residual exhaust gas, which still hasn't left the cylinder, with fresh charge just streaming in. This dilution will reduce ignitable portion of the whole charge at least. Unwanted turbulence at this point in time causes bad scavenging which will lower power, with "dieseling" and "four-stroking" occurring under certain circumstances. Later designs incorporated a sloping ramp into the piston in hope for better results.
As modern and progressive the lower part of Grade's engine was, piston and combustion chamber designs did not differ from the typical compromised designs of the era. With the big protruding guide vane on top of the piston, peak compression was only 4:1. Contemporary four-stroke engines of the decade, with their typical IOE combustion chamber, had similar problems.
Sadly, the development of Grade's 30ci motorcycle engines ended abruptly in early 1908 when his main customer, Fritz Burckhard, closed his motorcycle department due to poor sales. 1907 had been a year of collapse for sales of big German motorcycles. There were several reason for this development: First of all, the motorcycle market was still not a mass market. Motorcycles were still bought mainly by wealthy people and technical aficionados. The typical German was still saving money for a bicycle, and it would not be until 1920 that all German households owned at least one bicycle.
In addition, a new vehicle tax was introduced in 1906. It was a graduated tax where small engines were favored over large ones. Most Germans could not afford or refused to accept the new tax, which led to a crash in the sale of motorcycles, especially those over 200cc. Only a few brands such as NSU and Wanderer survived, and they did so by building bicycles and selling motorcycles to the German Army.
But we can't blame the tax for all the decline in sales. In 1907, there was also a general downturn in the Germany economy, as with national economies throughout Europe. Furthermore, by now motorcycle owners had learned that maintenance was a significant problem. Not only was there fuel, oil, and grease to be paid for, but total loss battery ignition--still used on most motorcycles of the day--resulted in unreliable performance and the cost of frequent recharging or even replacement of dry-cell batteries. In a bad economy, the expense of owning a motorcycle became adisappointment. If that were not enough obstacles, many towns imposed very strict speed limits, with federal approval, in 1906. Typical was 10 miles an hour (pictured above left)!
Under these circumstances, Hans Grade decided to abandon the motorcycle business at the end of 1908. Development of the two-stroke motorcycle engine would have to wait until the more prosperous times of the 1920s. Then, a new lightweight line of Grade motorcycles (pictured above right) would reappear.
Motorcycle Cannonball, Inc.
to receive top award
from Antique Motorcycle Foundation
Among its wide range of features and activities, West Virginia's Wild and Wonderful MountainFest Motorcycle Rally, scheduled to take place in Morgantown July 28 through 31, will host a tribute to the Cannonball riders, a group of men and women who rode pre-1916 motorcycles from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to Santa Monica, California over a 16-day, 3,272-mile course last September. Not only was the Cannonball Rally a feat of endurance and determination for its participants, but it turned out to be a wildly popular event that attracted positive media attention throughout the country.
As part of MountainFest's tribute to the Cannonball riders and organizers, the Antique Motorcycle Foundation will present its prestigious AMF Award for Excellence to Motorcycle Cannonball, Inc., the corporation responsible for organizing the rally. Antique Motorcycle Foundation President Dennis Craig, explains, “The AMF Award for Excellence was created to recognize individuals and organizations that bring positive attention to the hobby of preserving, restoring, and collecting antique motorcycles. This is certainly true of the Cannonball Rally, which generated dozens of favorable stories in the national and international media. We are honored to recognize Motorcycle Cannonball, Inc. with this award.”
The Award will be presented in a ceremony on July 30, 2011 during a reunion of the Cannonball riders, support crews, and organizers. For more information about MountainFest, click here. For more information about the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, Inc., click here. For more information about the Motorcycle Cannonball, Inc., click here.
The Antique Motorcycle Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation. Its mission is to support the collection and preservation of antique motorcycles and motorcycle history, and to tell the story of antique motorcycling to the public at large.
National Motorcycle Museum
chronicles “Motorcycles At Work”
Historically, motorcycles are often considered to be sporting vehicles, with personal transportation as a secondary use. However, though perhaps less glamorous than racing, motorcycles have provided invaluable service throughout the years as “working vehicles,” used for utility and service. This use is depicted and celebrated in a new exhibit at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa that opened earlier this month. “Motorcycles At Work” chronicles a century of courier service, police work, military action, and more in which motorcycles have played an important role.
Bikes on display include an example of the famed 1940's Harley-Davidson WLA as well as its modern counterpart, the M1030 Kawasaki Diesel, a 2010 military version of the venerable KLR. There are also many examples of the utilitarian three-wheelers that were widely used by small businesses during the early decades of the century. These were especially popular during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The NMM is located at 102 Chamber Drive in Anamosa, Iowa. It features more than 300 motorcycles from around the world, as well as thousands of photographs, posters, postcards, and pieces of motorcycle memorabilia, plus a fabulous collection of antique toys. Admission is $8.00 for adults, and children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Visitation hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 to 5, and 10 to 4 on Sunday. For more information, call 319-462-3925 or plan your visit on the Museum’s web site by clicking here. For more about the exhibit on the NMM web site, click here.
An interesting question has arrived from Reese Dengler, publisher of Czechpoint.net. Reese sends along video of the 1968 Czech motocross grand prix, noting that about 20 seconds into the action, one will see briefly a helmet in official U.S. international racing colors (white and blue) with the Stars and Stripes on the side. Click here.
Did an American ride the 1968 Czech GP, and if so, who was it?
While we're at it, why did American car and motorcycle pilots wear white helmets with blue stripes prior to 1970, whereas today the helmets are blue with white stripes? Does anyone know what prompted the change?
Send your answers to Ed@Motohistory.net. To check out Dengler's excellent web site, click here.
Motohistorian David Uhl, of Marion, Ohio, is looking for information on AMA professional rider Julius Walker, seen in the center of this photo. The rider to Walker's left is Don Rees, and to the right is Kenneth Reauso. Uhl has written a story in the Marion Star about Walker, but wants to learn more. Does anyone have information about Walker and his family? If so, contact Uhl at 740-375-4303, or e-mail email@example.com. The "F" on his number plate indicates that Walker was a resident of Ohio.
The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum reports that Phil Schilling, former Cycle Magazine editor and famous tuner/sidekick of Cook Neilson (Schilling is pictured right, with Neilson) and his legendary Ducati, will be inducted later this year. To read more, click here. For tickets to the induction ceremony, which will be held in Las Vegas November 18 through 20, click here. To read about Schilling in Neilson's own words, click here.
The 23rd Annual Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Meet and Show at Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, will take place August 19 through 21. For more details, click here.
Lin Kuchler, who served twice as the AMA CEO--from 1958 to 1965 and 1978 to 1981--died April 18 at the age of 94. To read more about Kuchler, click here. To read his offical Motorcycle Hall of Fame bio, click here.
Now you can have the benefit of modern metallurgy and machining with new Indian 101 Scout cases, made in Tasmania. To see a set of cases being machined, click here.
For a video about the 2011 Motogiro D'Italia, click here.
Bike EXIF has posted its 2011 top ten. Click here.
The Rider Files presents art from 1980, when tobacco money was taking the American motorcycle sport to new levels. Click here.
The Steve McQueen Husqvarna sold by Bonhams at the Petersen Museum Auction in Los Angeles on May 14 fetched $144,500, purported by the auction company to be a world record. For complete auction results, click here. Also, Bonhams reports that a 1954 AJS E95 "Porcupine" will headline its auction at Pebble Beach in August. To read about it at the Cyril Huze blog, click here.
Remember when the CL77 came out and everyone thought it was a scrambler because Honda called it that? For some great images of the era, click here.
Send your kid to Spain to have fun riding in the dirt then return home speaking Spanish, thanks to a great idea called Bultaco Camp. Click here.
The Historical Society of Berks County, Pennsylvania, has opened an exhibit at its Meiser Gallery about motor racing. Former Reading AMA Referee Jack Vanino reports that there are loads of photos and several bikes on display. The exhibit will run through March 31, 2012. For more information, click here.
The Yankees are coming! There will be a Yankee motorcycle reunion August 27 and 28 at Jim Hoellerich's museum of vintage trail bikes in Cheshire, Massachusetts. The organizers have confirmed that Dick and Kay Mann will be there, as will John Taylor, the man behind the Yankee! To read the announcement and get on the list for more information, click here.
Buzz Kanter, the busiest publisher in the business, has just launched a new blog called Classic Harley Info. To access it, click here.
Chow down on Rice-O-Rama September 11, a vintage and custom Japanese motorcycle show and swap meet at North Brookfield, Massachusetts. For more information, click here.
There's a lot to enjoy in the Motorcyclist's Post on-line edition. To check it out, click here.
For a video of Tom Penton in 1970, click here. Believe us: the camera is more primitive than the motorcycle!
The second conference of the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies will take place at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs June 7 through 10. To learn more, click here.
Earlier this month, the Munch Mammoth Club held its annual meeting in Coburg, Bavaria. For photographs, click here.
The Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame has announced its class of 2011, which will be inducted in a ceremony on November 5. For more information, click here. Likewise, the US Motorcycle Hall of Fame is in the process of announcing its nominees, which will be inducted November 18. For ticket information, click here.
The Wheels Through Time Museum, which has called Maggie Valley, North Carolina home for almost a decade, has announced that it will close on November 12, 2011 to focus on relocation opportunities to a site that will provide for more growth and broader impact. To read the official announcement, click here.
The travel documentaries of Gaurav Jani have included “Riding Solo the the Top of the World” and “One Crazy Ride.” Coming soon is a third feature-length extreme adventure travelogue entitled “Motorcycle Chang pa.” For clips, click here. To read more about the nine-month journey, click here.
See Kenny Roberts relive his 1975 ride aboard the TZ750 dirt tracker. Click here.
Off-road icon Jeff Fredette will be Grand Marshal at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days 2011. For more information, click here. To read our Motohistory feature about Fredette, go top Motorhistory News & Views 12/28/2007.
The FIM has organized a meeting with officials of the international automobile, aeronautical, and boating federations for the creation of a council to promote sustainable motorsport. Having already established a championship for electric motorcycles, the FIM has been in the forefront of envisioning and developing environmentally friendly racing concepts. For more information, click here.
The story of the Ural, a Russian sidecar machine that has found a market among American seniors, was told recently by the New York Times. Click here.
Michael Lichter is hosting his 11th Annual Motorcycles as Art Exhibition in Sturgis in August. For a report on the Cyril Huze Blog, click here.
Things you didn't know about Royal Enfield: click here.
To visit the Honda Collection Hall at Motegi, click here.
For a story about the Lyn Harris estate auction, where a Honda RC30 fetched $27,000, click here.
The ever-popular Wauseon AMCA Meet is coming up in July. For details, click here.
To see images of Loudon 1982, click here.
For a video of Shrimp Burns on the Beverly Hills board track in 1921, click here.
Stylistically, the French Majestic was a motorcycle without peer. To read about it, click here.
Czech out this recently restored historical ISDT video. Click here.
For season recaps of American national motocross dating back to 1972, click here.
Stuntman Louis Rocket Re made a ramp-to-ramp jump aboard a stock 450 lb. 1970 American Eagle 750S at the Rhinebeck Grand National Super Meet in Rhinebeck, New York earlier this month. Evel Knievel used an American Eagle for a period of his career, making 13 jumps aboard the unlikely machine and crashing on six of them. In addition, Knievel's granddaughter Krysten was on hand to sing the National Anthem at the Rhinebeck show. About his stunt, Re says, "I am one man who has the guts to follow my dream." To see video of the stunt, click here.
Watch Freddie Spencer make the Nighthawk S look like a racing bike at SuperbikePlanet. Click here.
The Harley-Davidson Museum is presenting an exhibit called "Collection X: Weird, Wild Wonders of the Harley-Davidson Museum." To read more about it at the Cyril Huze Blog, click here.
National Motorcycle Museum
hosts vintage rally
The National Motorcycle Museum, located in Anamosa, Iowa, hosted a vintage rally on June 3 through 5 that is expected to become an annual special event for this popular destination facility. An estimated 1,600 attended the program that included a swap meet, a vintage bike show, the ribbon cutting for new exhibits, guided tours of the Museum, interviews with celebrities and special guests, and educational workshops and seminars.
Among those attending were a contingent of more than three-dozen Motor Maids (pictured above) who were on hand to celebrate the opening of an expanded exhibit about women in motorcycling that includes a 12-foot time line on the history of the nation's premier women's motorcycle club. In addition to the expanded women's exhibit, an all new exhibit entitled "Motorcycles at Work" was opened, depicting the ways throughout history that motorcycles have been used for utility, police, military, and other service work. Also, a full-scale historical service station was opened to the public, made possible in part by support from the Iowa Historical Society.
More than 60 bikes were entered in an outdoor show where Vince Reece (pictured left) won best in show with his gorgeous 1912 Henderson. Approximately 50 people attended a panel discussion in the Museum's conference center on the topic "Directions in Motorcycle Collecting" that included experts Jim Long, Steve Dawdy, Ray Stern, Ed Vanaman, Randy Baxter, and Dave Lash. John Parham, President of the non-profit National Motorcycle Museum, considered the rally a success and a good beginning for an annual event that the Museum hopes to build into a major mid-western event for enthusiasts of antique motorcycles and motorcycle history.
For more information about the National Motorcycle Museum, click here.
In April, we reported on publication of “The Harley-Davidson Motor Company Archive Collection” from pre-publication information provided by publisher Motorbooks. Now that we have the real product in our hands, we've got to say more. This large, landscape format book is a beautiful piece of work containing more than 600 images, both historical and purpose-shot by photographer Randy Leffingwell. Previously published in hard cover, this new Flexibound edition is an affordable paperback, although no compromise has been made in quality to achieve the low $30 cover price ($33 in Canada and £20 in the UK). At 408-page, this is an excellent book for the Harley-Davidson fan, but its text by Darwin Holmstrom--plus index--makes it of equal value to the serious brand researcher as well. Many of the historical motorcycles depicted are currently on display at the Harley-Davidson Museum; in fact, this volume is the next best thing to a stroll through the Museum. No, maybe it is better, because you can return to it time after time to enjoy its beautiful and informative content. To reach the publisher's web site, click here.
If you are a Triumph brand enthusiast, you should not suffer life without “Triumph Bonneville: Portrait of a Legend” on your bookshelf. Written by Mick Duckworth with photography by James Mann, the images in this book are so gorgeous that I cannot pick it up without being reminded of the legendary Guggenheim catalog. At 240 pages, this book provides in-depth information on 22 specific models, from the 1954 Tiger 110 to the 2010 Bonneville Sixty. As many as ten pages are devoted to each model, including large gatefold profile photographs, enhanced with images of detail. Duckworth's text addresses not only the technical and production aspects of each motorcycle, but delves into the lore that made Triumph the preeminent British brand, including the exploits of American racers who contributed so much to the reputation of the machine. Available from Haynes Publishing, this hard cover (with dust cover) book is priced at £30 in the UK or $49.95 in the US. To access the publisher's web site, click here.
When author Nigel Winter sets off aboard his Triumph, he finds far more than he expects. By "Travelling with Mr. Turner," he throws open a portal to history and encounter the story of Triumph motorcycles, those record breaking machines that earned popularity around the world. It is a brand that inspired such dedication that the people who built them locked out management just so they could continue to make motorcycles and prevent Triumph from being consigned to history. "Travelling with Mr. Turner" draws the reader in to experience how life was lived in those post war decades of tumultuous change when Triumph became a legend. In paperback, at 160 pages, it is available from Motorsport Publications for $16.95. For more information, click here. For an additional review, click here.
For 100 years the Isle of Man Mountain Course has been the ultimate challenge in motorcycle road racing as it twists and turns through towns, villages, and open countryside, before climbing over bleak mountain and moorland, then plunging almost to sea level to complete its dramatic 37 mile lap. Every bend, every straight, indeed every yard of this unique course has a story to tell, and these are chronicled by David Wright in “Mountain Milestones,” and supported by over 500 illustrations. It is available from Lily Publications for £23.50. For more information, click here.
Though they are not really history books, I find the core message in Paul Jamiol's children's series “Bikers are Animals” to be so important that they should be on the shelves of all libraries and in the collections of all motorcyclists who care about fair and equal treatment and understanding. Cartoonist Jamiol's “Bikers are Animals” (see Motohistory News & Views 7/10/2009 for a review) presented the concept that motorcycle culture--like any segment of society--is not monolithic, but made up of varied and diverse personalities, which are depicted by Jamiol as fun-loving animals who just want to enjoy their motorcycles and have a good time. The core message was to challenge the idea of the biker stereotype. “Bikers are Animals 2: The Rest of the Crew” (see Motohistory News & Views 5/16/2010 for a review) expanded the original concept. Now, “Bikers are Animals 3: On the Road,” brings the characters all together for an overnight road trip. Getting all of the personalities into a single adventure creates a new dynamic that was not seen in his previous editions. In my opinion, it is the best yet, and like the previous in the series, it also delivers a very strong message about safety and responsibility. To reach the Bikers are Animals blog, click here.
The May/June issue of Motorcycle Classics features a cover story by Greg Williams about a BMW R50/2 restoration undertaken as a tribute by a son to his father that, when memorialized on YouTube, went viral, rolling up hits (373,000 to date) like a BMW rolls up miles. To see the video, click here. Other features in the issue include an account by Margie Siegal about why Harley-Davidson's 1957 Sportster was a game-changer, a story about Suzuki's brave but flawed attempt to break new ground with its radical RE5 rotary, Alan Cathcart's account of riding a McIntyre Matchless replica, a road test of the new Royal Enfield Bullet, a story about girder-forked Brit bikes of the 1930s, and reports from the recent Las Vegas auctions conducted by Bonhams and Mid-America. The July/August issue contains a cover story by Phillip Tooth about the 1969 Royal Enfield-powered Indian, which was one of Floyd Clymer's several attempts to keep the brand alive through badge engineering. In addition, there are stories about the 1976 Honda CB400F, the Ducati 750 Sport and the curiously-styled 860GT; the Parilla 175 Sport and 250 Grand Sport, the BSA A50 Royal Star, and the 1922 Peugeot GP 50occ twin. As always the Motorcycle Classics package contains stories from a wide range of brands, nationalities, and historical periods. Layout, graphics, and print quality again pass the eye candy test.
To subscribe to Motorcycle Classics, click here.
The summer issueof The Antique Motorcycle, official quarterly of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, contains a cover story by Herb Wagner about the origin of the motorcycle, tracing the advent of powered two-wheelers to steam vehicles from the mid-nineteenth century. Of special interest to demographers--and all the rest of us who find ourselves the victims of the march of time--is a detail report of a membership survey recently conducted by the AMCA. Of concern to a club like the AMCA is the fact that the average member is just shy of 59 years old. This is not unique to the AMCA; most vintage motorcycle organizations in America are composed of an aged and rapidly aging membership. There is also a feature about the 1905 Yale-California, similar to the first motorcycle to transport its rider--George Wyman--from coast to coast in 1903. There are also national meet reports, technical features, and classified advertising. The Antique Motorcycle stands tall in print quality, literacy, and graphic design, but is not available on news stands. You have to be an AMCA member to receive it as a benefit of membership. For more information, click here.
The January 2011 issue of BMW VMCA News, the official magazine of the BMW Veteran Motorcycle Club of America, contains features about the annual Bench Mark Works open house, held April 14 through 17 in Sturgis, Mississippi, and record trials at Bonneville last October. As always, the strength of this magazine is its technical articles. A list of upcoming meets of interest to vintage BMW owners is provided. BMW VMCA News is provided with membership in the club at $25.00 in the United States and $30.00 in other countries. For more information, or to join, click here.
The June issue of The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Magazine (previously called VJMC), official magazine of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club of North America, features the first of a two-part series about the restoration of a Kawasaki H1 that turned out to be a classic example of that old saying, “Let the buyer beware!” Although the results are beautiful, the cost of the project was far too dear in terms of both money and aggravation, thanks to omissions or misrepresentation by the seller. It is a story that probably plays out far too often in every area of antique motorcycling. There are also stories in this issue about rebuilding a Suzuki water-cooled engine, and the very rare Honda CE71 Dream Sport. In addition to its name, the quality of this magazine has been upgraded throughout. Its extensive classified section makes it a must for anyone looking for collectible Japanese motorcycles. It can't be had on news stands. You must be a member of the VJMC. For more information, click here.
While its main purpose isto keep readers informed of what's happening now in American and international motocross, Racer X Illustrated frequently contains interesting and well-researched historical features. Both the July and August issues are a case in point. Publisher Davey Coombs devotes his column in the July issue to the fact that this season the AMA Motocross National Championship Series will turn 40, and he highlights a few of the many accomplishments that have been achieved over those four decades. With the series offering live television at every round during 2011, there is an interesting story about the technical evolution of camera-mounted helmets, from the large and cumbersome cameras and battery packs used in the early 1970s to the tiny self-contained clip-ons that can be affixed to bikes and helmets today. A fixture in American motocross's 40-year history is Donnie Emler and his Flying Machine Factory, better known as FMF, a company that has remained at the cutting edge of providing high-performance accessories. An inside look at the history of FMF is provided by Frank Hoppen. There is also a great first-person account by Harry Klemm, the mechanic who helped Rex Staten develop his powerful but fragile CZ in 1974. In the August issue, top writer and top photographer David Pingree and Simon Cudby present an extensive and empathetic bio of Malcolm Smith at age 70. To reach Racer X Online, and to subscribe to Racer X Illustrated, click here.
Issue No. 46 of VMX has arrived, containing one of the most unusual historical features we have seen lately in any motorcycle magazine. Specifically, Bryon Farnsworth presents Part One of a two-part series about incarcerated legendary supercross promoter Mike Goodwin, who is currently serving two life sentences for orchestrating the murder of rival promoter Mickey Thompson and his wife Trudi in 1988. Along with Farnsworth's feature is a sidebar by Rick Sieman about Goodwin's character and personality (by the way, the latest Racer X Illustrated (see description above) also contains a column by Larry Huffman about Mike Goodwin). Bikes covered in the issue include the 1983 Yamaha YZ490K, a selection of British four-stroke twin specials built for scrambles and motocross, the 1981 Honda line including 125, 250, and 450Rs, Montesa 242 and 247 trials machines, and the 1974 Kawasaki KX125. There is also a feature about late-80s Russian motocross star Valery Korneev. VMX always brings high-quality printing and graphics to goodjournalism. To subscribe, click here.
American Iron Magazine almost always contains at least one feature of historical interest. The June issue contains a story by Jim Babchak about the 1917 Henderson Four as well as a feature by Wayne Scraba about Ray Price's Harley-Sportster funnybike, a machine that helped define modern motorcycle drag racing and that was selected for display with the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum mounted its “Heroes of Harley-Davidson” exhibit in 2004. The July issue contains a story by Babchak about an un-restored and totally original 1948 Harley-Davidson Panhead. It's crusty but lusty! The August issue contains a story about the Harley "Dirtster" special around which we built an April Fool spoof not long ago (see Motohistory News & Views 4/1/2011), and a feature by Babchak about the Simplex, which built a production run of nearly 30 years on simplicity and utility. To subscribe to American Iron Magazine, click here.
Our story about the grand opening of the Motorcyclepedia Museum caught the eye of Sid Wellman (see Motohistory News & Views 4/30/2011). Wellman writes:
Hi, Ed. I was delighted to see the photo showing the Intrepid, a trike we built 40
years ago and haven't seen or heard of since. WOW! It looks exactly the
same. I've included also an image of how it appeared on the cover of Street Chopper Magazine in February, 1972.
I was one of the original four builders that also included Ron Ebert and Victor "Tico" Guidera who owned California Cycle Wroks, and Larry Marshall, who onwed
Free Form Art Studio. Ron was also a show promoter and owned the Sacramento Motorcycle Show, which he later sold to Harold Bagdasarian. Ron and Tico did most of the chassis work and Larry and I came up with the bodywork and paint.
We built other bikes and trikes, photos of which you can find on my web site: http://www.sidwellman.com. I would love to find Semi-Cycle and Pinball Wizard, which were two of our other creations of the era.
Sid, it would be very hard to say there is only one "show stopper" within the hundreds of incredible bikes on display at the new Motorcyclepeida Museum, but I can assure you that I noted more people pointing their cameras at Intrepid than perhaps any other exhibit. Surely, some of the attraction of this iconic custom is its current condition, which is excellent and still in original paint.
Intrepid is owned by Ted Doering, one of the principals behind the Gerald A. Doering Foundation and the brainchild behind Motorcyclepedia. Ted has one of the finest collections of 1960s and '70s chopper art I have seen anywhere. To access the Motorcyclepedia web site, click here.