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October 2012 News

Motohistory Quiz #103:
We have a winner!

Our Motohistory Quiz got some very interesting answers, ranging from Benelli/Montgomery Ward to Aermacchi/Harley-Davidson.  It is clear that the report that it carried a different brand name in America took some Motohistorians down some rabbit holes. 

We also got CZ, Jawa, Maico, Zundapp, and DKW.  At least everyone was on the right continent.  As for technology, CZ and Jawa were very close geographically.

The correct answer came from our Supermotohistory Know-It-All Jean Roquecave of Sainte Soulle, France.  This is his seventh win!  Jean correctly informed us that our quiz bike is a Pannonia, made in Hungary.  This was a 250cc built from 1951 until the early 1970s, and was sold in American under the brand name White.

Congratulations, Jean, you’ve done it again!

Our quiz bike photos were provided by Danijel Puljek from Croatia.


Denny Thrush:
Visible impact


Denny Thrush, born in northwestern Ohio in 1952, got his first exposure to motorcycles at the age of ten when he attended an amateur dirt track race at the Auglaize County Fair.  He recalls, “It was not a big race.  Just local guys racing what they had, but it left a big impression on me.”  This interest in bikes would follow Denny through his life, and eventually weave itself into his livelihood, through which he would have a visible impact on the national motorcycle community.

Thrush (above right) was from several generations of farmers, raising corn and soybeans on the rich, flat land that defines much of northwestern Ohio.  He had already gravitated to mechanical things years before he was bitten by the motorcycle bug.  “I made all my own toys,” he says, “I was fascinated with shapes and colors and how things worked together.  By the age of five or six, I knew I wanted to do something related to art and industrial design.”   

His fascination with motorcycles and things mechanical eventually took the shape of a 150cc Honda Dream, his first motorcycle.  He laughs, “My parents didn’t like it.”  Not only did he enjoy riding, but over time a series of motorcycles became an extension for his creativity.  “I designed and built things for my motorcycles; lower fairings and other stuff I could have bought, but had more fun making.”

After graduating from Wapakoneta High School in 1970, Thrush entered the Columbus College of Art and Design.  There, he gravitated toward illustration and advertising design.  When he graduated from CCAD in 1975, he found a depressed job market.  He relates, “A new degree was worth nothing.  It was a buyer’s market, and companies were demanding artists and designers with experience.  I went to work for a design company in Columbus for $50 a week, and worked there for eight months just so I could get some experience.”  Denny also filled in with freelance work when hecould find it, and in 1976 he did some illustrating for an organization that would later figure large in his career . . . the American Motorcyclist Association (shown above left).

Denny married his wife Carolyn Darlene in 1974, while attending CCAD.  By now he had discovered trail riding and a used Yamaha DT 250.  Herecalls, “I bought a new Husqvarna 175 in 1977, and it arrived in the same container as Dick Burleson’s new Husky.”  Though Denny did national enduros for seven or eight years, the arc of his career was notquite the same as that of 8-times National Champion Burleson.  He says, “We learned that you either had to have a good sponsor or a lot of money to chase the national enduros.”  Besides, the Thrush family was joined by a son – Logan – in 1979, and other priorities emerged (pictured left with son Logan).

In 1977, Thrush got a job in marketing and advertising for Colgate Palmolive, working on brand and packaging concepts for new products.  Then in ’81 he moved to Tailford and Associates in Sylvania, Ohio, a company that specialized in food packaging and design for national brands.  With a chuckle he says, “The Klondike Bar still looks pretty much the way I designed it nearly 30 years ago.”  Thrush and a partner opened their own agency called Davanti Media, Inc. in 1988, specializing in industrial design, product marketing, and advertising (right).

After a decade of running his own business, Denny was burned out.  He explains, “I got tired of the business side of it, like chasing clients to pay their bills.”  His interest in motorcycles, however, had continued, and he had gotten more into street riding and road racing.  He also had inherited substantial farm property, which created its own business demands.  Thrush says, “We moved to my grandfather’s farm in 1982.  I don’t actively farm now, but we lease out and manage the land to other farmers.” 

As he was winding down his own agency and looking for other ways to use his creative talents, Thrush noticed an ad placed by the AMA, the Columbus-based national motorcycle association that he had done freelance work for in 1976.  He relates, “I answered the ad and got the job, working in the magazine department and doing design work for the Association as a whole.”  His work sometimes involved logo design, which included the eye-catching logos and shirt designs for AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days.  He states, “I think the VMD logos were the most fun.  I enjoyed the historical research, learning about antique motorcycles, and creating retro looks that gave the event a unique and strong identity.”

Thrush left the AMA in 2008, part of a wave of terminations by a new CEO who appeared intent of ridding the organization of anyone with significant experience.  Some of the first to go were the creative staff, including Thrush’s bosses Greg Harrison and Bill Wood, who had guided the magazine to a leadership position in the industry, and assisted withdecades of steady membership growth. 

By this time, Thrush could have remained sufficiently productive managing his agricultural interests, but a call came soon for his proven talents and knowledge of motorcycles.  Harrison and Wood had formed a company that had been hired in 2008 to publish The Antique Motorcycle, official magazine of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (pictured left).   Denny was brought onto the team to give the publication a “look” that would maintain appeal and credibility among America’s most knowledgeable motorcycle collectors and historians.

In addition to design work for the AMCA’s magazine, Thrush also creates identity through logo design.  For example, one of his products is the logo of The Antique Motorcycle Foundation

About his role in publishing The Antique Motorcycle, Thrush says, “This has been a rich and exciting experience.  I’ve been immersed in the world that I had only touched upon in my design work for Vintage Motorcycle Days.”  He continues, “I get a chance to learn so much about antique motorcycles, but it is really networking with the people that is the most rewarding.  AMCA members are fascinating people and know so much.  Just being around them brings creative stimulation.”

Thrush confesses that--with the exception of a Penton--he has not yet started his own big collection of historical motorcycles, but this doesn’t mean that his garage is empty or that he does not find time to ride.  His main bike now is a BMW 1150GS.  If he wants a bit more spirited ride, he can turn to his FJ1200 or his R1 Yamahas.  For road racing he has a ZX6R (pictured left), and when the age-old off-road bug bites from time to time, he can hop aboard his KLX340 or Penton 125 Six Day.

His interests in antique and modern motorcycles are not mutually exclusive.  For example, while many fair weather bikers are hopping flights to Florida in March, Thrush has been known to mount one of his sport bikes in still-frozen Ohio and head south to attend the AMCA Sunshine Chapter Meet.   In addition to long-distance solo riding, he has also joined others for organized tours.  It’s all part of staying in touch with the values and opinions of bikers—vintage or modern—that enables Denny to continue to have a visible impact on their world.

Images provided by Denny Thrush.


Helmut Werner Bönsch:
A man who pushed the German
motorcycle forward like no other

By Ralf Kruger

The success of a motorcycle has many contributing fathers. Not without reason it occurs to us Motohistory readers first to identify it's designer(s), or maybe we recall a great racer who represented successfully the particular brand in the sport. But probably no one in Germany promoted the Motorcycle per se as well as Helmut Werner Bönsch.

H.W. Bönsch (pictured right) was born as the son of a forest ranger in Biesenthal, Brandenburg, near Berlin on October 27, 1907. After he finished school and university, he began working for Siemens in Berlin, advancing rapidly into a leading position.

In 1932, he joined the editorial staff of the German magazine Das MOTORRAD where he wrote test reports under his pseudonym Peter Peregrin. As a journalist engineer, he began to develop precise methods for determining performance and fuel consumption. He also opens his own design office in Berlin, and by 1933 was working on oscillating inlet- and exhaust waves in two-stroke engines.

During a stint at Shell Germany in Hamburg where he mainly tested lubrication loops and several fuels for aircraft engines, he further improved his understanding of the efficient combustion process and their limits in the transition to detonation. In addition, he began research on supercharged engines and fuel-injection on various engine design types.

After years of research at Mannesmann into advanced weaponry, such as the Argus tube pulse jet, he became technical director at the Mannesmann subsidiary Kronprinz where he acquired extensive and specialized knowledge about steel pipes with non-uniform wall thickness.

When the Second World War came to an end, Bönsch returned to motorcycles, his favorite field of activity. As a frequent visitor and stalwart fan of the Isle of Man races, he realizes during the 1950s that the ever increasing demands on the suspension and frame of motorcycles by galloping power gains and speed left little room for ongoing improvisation and development through trial and error.

Consequently, he began to urgently study and develop mathematical and theoretical functions that could identify and describe forces on the chassis. He defined the correlation between stability and maneuverability of a frame's geometry and wheel elevation curves of various types of suspension. He examined frame rigidity and durability, checking his theoretical results through countless laps at the Nurburgring circuit.

His systematic search for a better chassis led him to the conclusion, “As long as the road test is necessary, it is also my uncomfortable admission that I can not think far enough ahead and still can't calculate all loads.”

Being a man who thought constantly about the scales and dimensions of forces and their interrelationships, Bönsch used mathematics in an attempt to reduce is findings into specification sheets. Given the difficulty of this inspiring and challenging mission, he concluded in 1960 “Designing motorcycles is a craft for engineers who are young at heart.”

This much commitment to the motorcycle did not go unnoticed. Bönsch pretty much knew personally every notable designer of motorcycles in West Germany, including his friend Richard Küchen, and because of his position at the center of this exclusive fraternity, soon the Bicycle and Motorcycle Industry Association (VFM) recognized him as the leading independent. Bönsch's supervision of motorcycle tests was welcomed ―even in the presence of competitors―to compare their designs with the goal of improving the overall quality of the German product.

Bönsch's circle of influence expanded when he was appointed a delegate to the international motorcycle federation--the FIM--in 1952, and recognition of his leadership in the motorcycle industry came in late 1958 when he was elected President of the FIM's Technical Committee (CTI). It is a position he held for 25 years, until 1977. From this vantage, he was able to advance visionary ideas that were decades ahead of their time. For example, at one FIM Congress he delivered a paper proposing that a measurement of fuel consumption should be included in all forms of world championship competition. This was years before any international governing body even thought of “green” racing or began to implement fuel limitation rules.

In May 1978, Bönsch was awarded the Gold Medal of the FIM at the Poznan conference, and named the Honorary President of the CTI in recognition of his contribution to the technological development of the sport of motorcycling.

Also in 1958, Bönsch became director of product planning, quality monitoring, and marketing at BMW. Thanks to his personal commitment and determination in favor of the motorcycle, Bönsch was able to convince the Supervisory Board in1963 to approve the development of a new generation BMW, R75/5, which appeared in 1969. It arrived just in time for the market-boom of the so-called "Superbikes," launched by the arrival of the Honda CB750.

When H.W.Bönsch introduced the new BMW R90S in autumn of 1973 to the press in Germany, he revealed, unambiguously, "…that such a development was possible only through the revival of the market by Japanese motorcycle manufacturers." And when he said “Japanese motorcycle industry,” he meant especially Soichiro Honda, whom Bönsch respected immensely.

Bönsch left BMW in 1973 to devote more time to teaching, but retained a consulting agreement with the firm. In addition to his accomplishments as a product developer, he also authored books that included "The high-speed two-stroke engine" and "Introduction to motorcycle technology."

Bönsch but was not only a talented engineer whose penchant for formulas became legendary, but was also an excellent presenter of his scientific work and knowledge, resulting in his nick name "Motorcycle Pope.” His lectures at German universities, which he always performed in sharpened German, were comprehensible and popular.

This is how I came to my unique "experience Bönsch," at a special lecture in 1982 held at the Technical University of Darmstadt before a large number of students. It was about the development of the leading motorcycle engines in history, topped by a short review of the Honda NR500, the current GP project at the time. He explained in understandable terms of the strengths and problems of the Honda oval piston engine, a very advanced exercise in technology. It was an exciting report that remains unforgettable to me. Just like Helmut Werner Bönsch.

H.W. Bönsch died on April 7, 1996.



Here’s a video about the John Burgin collection.

We’re just days away (November 10) from the drawing for this year’s Wheels Through Time Museum raffle bike, a 1932 Harley-Davidson VL (pictured right). Tickets are still available here.

Dean Adams reminisces about Harley-Davidson’s ill-fated Superbike racing effort Superbike Planet.

Wheels Through Time's Dale Walksler has won the Barber Race of the Century for a third time. He took victories also in 2006 and 2011, always aboard Indians.

Last year the motorcycle community responded positively to news that Polaris had acquired Indian, giving the iconic brand its best opportunity in more than 50 years to redeem its proud name.  Now, Polaris finds opportunity in a classic brand again by partnering with Eicher Motors Ltd., the parent of Royal Enfield motorcycles.  The surprisingly successful RE is currently running at capacity of 100,000 units a year with a customer waiting list of up to eight months.  Eicher will soon expand RE’s production capability.  Its relationship with Polaris is not specific to Royal Enfield, but aimed at developing vehicles for emerging markets.

The Florida chapters of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (there are three of them now) are hosting a Turkey Run at Okeechobee November 17 and 18.  For more information, click here. If you are not an AMCA member, here’s an opportunity to meet some nice people and learn about the club.

Has it actually been 20 years since Ducati introduced the Monster?

The Ducati Enthusiast Sport Motorcycle Organization is hosting its 12th Annual Holiday Party December 1 in Nyack, NY.  Italian-themed buffet dinner, door prizes, auction, and lots of swag.   For more information, click here. 

Juris Ramba, organizer of Latvia’s Round Kurland Rally, has taken on a really big task for 2013: the FIVA World Motorcycle Rally.

See how Indians were built in 1953 in this cool, old film on the Cyril Huze Blog.

There's very cool old Triumph rider footage in the music video for Green Day’s “Kill the DJ.“

The next time you are in St. Louis, check out the Kickstart Cafe.

Motohistorians interested in international motorcycle travel should check out the web site of Bernd Tesch.  It is an excellent clearing house of information to which you can make your own contributions.

Bonham’s Las Vegas auction, scheduled at Bally’s Hotel and Casino on January 10, will feature a quartet of rare competition BMWs, including a 1939 RS255 Kompressor. For more information, click here.

IGNITION3’s documentation of Sam Wheeler’s land speed record project has made Cycle News Video of the Week.

Here’s Motorcyclepedia’s 1897 running DeDion Buton.

The Vintagent rides a new Crocker and some old Triumphs.

Check out Bill Connor's half-scale engines (pictured right).

RIP Chris Economaki.

In this case, H-D means “Hendee-Deviant.”

Bored with your Hayabusa? Get an 8,000cc Millyard V10 Viper. If you don’t have the huevos to ride it, just sit around and listen to it idle.

Photohistory by Tom  Mueller

Here's how it played out back in the day.  Those magic years in motocross when box vans served as rider central and a deeper 

camaraderie existed in the pits. 

How many times might we see this view at today's MX National?  Top factory riders from Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha hanging out between motos?  They are (left to right) Danny LaPorte, Marty Smith, and Broc Glover.

However you cut it, this trio represented a major talent pool; all three became racing legends.  This was when access was easy and the sport operated more like a traveling circus than a cash spewing marketing machine.  Between motos, chatter was more community oriented. 

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not against profit and use of the sport for selling bikes and accessories.  But I do believe that overall congeniality and media access allowed motojournalists like myself to be better storytellers for the sport.

See more of Tom Mueller’s photohistory at his Retromotocross Blog.


Trapped by time:
The Kawasaki trapezoids

Some designate the Honda CB750 the world’s first production “superbike,” and some hold that honor for the Kawasaki Z1 introduced three years later.  But we can all agree that the trend was launched in 1969 with the Honda Four.  At one point, Kawasaki was ready to up the ante with an unusual "trapezoidal" engine configuration, but time ran out for it to demonstrate its potential.

With Grand Prix-like features not previously seen on a production motorcycle intended for the street, the Honda Four set new standards for design and performance and left little doubt that the technical superiority of the British – who responded to the challenge with BSA and Triumph triples – had come to an end.  Honda placed an exclamation mark on its claim by winning the Daytona 200 the following spring (1970). 

Power and straight-line performance were now the name of the game (handling could wait), and Kawasaki took up the challenge with an altogether different engine configuration, the air-cooled, two-stroke triple of the H-1 Mach III, introduced also in 1969.  Giving away a third of its engine size (500cc) to the Honda CB750, the Kawi still declared itself the drag racer’s dream with scalding acceleration that no one could match. 

In October, 1970 Suzuki joined the fray with the GT750 Water  Buffalo, which seemed a hybrid of Honda’s and Kawasaki’s theories of how to build a fast motorcycle.  Similar to the CB750, it was big and aimed at a touring market, but it added liquid cooling to a two-stroke triple and delivered knuckle-whitening straight-line performance. 

Motivated in part by new American racing rules that allowed any type of engine configuration to a 750cc limit, Kawasaki pumped its triple up to 750cc with the H2 Mach IV in 1972.  Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki poured big budgets into racing, heavily tweaking their big street machines (except that Yamaha, which had read the rules more cleverly than anyone else, simply built the TZ700/750, a full-blown racer in production quantity at an affordable price). Honda, which felt it had made its point at Daytona in 1970, refused to pay the game . . . yet.

But Kawasaki had a very big surprise up its sleeve.  Never known for its four-stroke technology, the company unveiled in 1972 the spectacular double overhead-cam Z1, which once and for all copped the “ultimate superbike” title for the Japanese early performance era.  Interestingly, with the Z1, Kawasaki simply ignored the compulsion to go racing and bumped it up to 900cc, establishing once and for all that the CB750 was no longer king of the road (Kawasaki sold a Z2 in Japan, which was the same motorcycle with only 750ccs, but never brought it into the world market or developed it for racing).

Kawasaki also had a project in the shadows that was altogether revolutionary, built around a liquid-cooled two stroke “trapezoid” configuration.  A trapezoid, shown at the head of this story, has one side shorter than its opposite.  The Kawasaki trapzoid engine, with the front bank of cylinders narrower than the rear, is shown below left of the trapezoid diagram.

Pictures exist of this engine in mule chassis like both the H2 and the Z1 (the second and third photos above).  But emission standards in the United States had begun to close the door on the big two-stroke.  Kawasaki’s H2 was gone by 1977, and Suzuki’s Water Buffalo was finished by 1978. If Kawasaki entertained any serious plans to up the ante on its quick two-strokes, the success of the Z1 proved it unadvisable. The street-going trapezoid Kawasaki never saw the light of day.

Later, in 1978, Kawasaki brought forward a trapezoid two-stroke again, but only for racing purposes (pictured above right).  The inboard/outboard relationship of its cylinders was the opposite from the street prototype (the racing engine, shown left, had its narrower bank of cylinders to the rear), but it was clearly a continuation of the concept.  Designated the 602S and intended to capture the World Formula 750 title, it was tested by Gregg Hansford, but never entered in competition.  Those familiar with the machine say the “trapezoidal” geared crank configuration allowed for quick adoption of a vast range of different cylinder firing order. 

Unfortunately, having never been fully developed for street or racing use, the Kawasaki trapezoids remained trapped in time by the new rules of the EPA and the demise of Formula 750, the last season for which was 1979.

Photos provided by Tony Nicosia.


Wing/Henderson for sale

By Stephen Wolski

This is a 1922 Wing Midget race car, built by H.C. Wing and Sons of Greenfield, Massachusetts.   H. C. Wing, a builder of printing equipment, wanted to expand their business.  Inspired by the Vanderbilt Cup racers from the previous decade, they decided to build a smaller replica of these famous cars.  The company only built cars during 1922, and it is believed they managed to build only six examples before moving on to other projects.

The Wing Midget is powered by a Henderson four-cylinder air-cooled engine.  By the looks of the asbestos wrap on the lower block of this example, one might conclude that this engine has never been removed or restored.  The carburetor is a Winfield unit that may have been installed during the late 1940s.  The car is very well built with a steel-wrapped and riveted wooden main frame, a cast solid beam front axle, spoke wheels, and a full dash.  It appears to have been painted three times over the years, and that the original livery was black.

This car has an interesting history.  We know that it made it to California sometime in the late ‘20s, and came to be owned by a fellow named Jim Ash.  Ash was a structural steel worker who raced the car into the 1930s at tracks in the Los Angeles area.  He later became a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff.  Ash was also a technical advisor for WarnerBrothers, and the car was used to promote the film "The Crowd Roars." 

During the war, Ash served on a submarine, and later he raced his car with a submarine mascot affixed to the hood, calling his racer the “Submarine Special.”  It is believed that sometime in the 1940s he sold the midget to a neighbor, Hoot Gibson, a rodeo champion who became a pioneer film actor, director, and producer. Gibson may have campaigned the car at the local tracks.  Pictures of midget racing from the period can be found in Jack Fox's book "Mighty Midgets" (pages 260, 261 and 278).  

In the early 1950s, the car was purchased by Kenneth Howard, aka Von Dutch.  It is pictured in the book "The Art of Von Dutch” on pages 68 and 69.  In his notes, her verifies that it was owned by Hoot Gibson. Consistent with his madcap reputation, Dutch had the car registered and drove it on the street.  

At some point, noted racer Don Edmunds was involved with the car.  He may have sold it to Von Dutch, or bought it from him.  Later, the car wound up in the long term stewardship of the Brucker family at their Movieworld Cars of the Stars Museum.  When that business was closed, many of the items were put into storage.  The Buckners were big collectors of Von Dutch items, and also his employers.  When their collection was sold a few years ago, this Wing Midget found its way to a collector in Connecticut.

This car checks all the boxes for collectibility: quality build, low production, known history, famous owners, and documented in print.  A few of the people that have been involved with the car are still with us, and may be able to shed yet more light on this great piece of automotive history.  It is now for sale by the current owner.  Collectors with a serious interest can e-mail Connecticutclassix@gmail.com or call 203-952-6001.

Craig sweeps
Art & Wheels bike show

Antique Motorcycle Foundation Chairman Dennis Craig, of Lakeland, Florida, took top class and show honors at the Art & Wheels Classic and Custom Motorcycle Show hosted by the Florida Artists Gallery in Floral City, Florida on October 6.   The event, with a judging class structure designed to showcase creative and aesthetic qualities of motorcycles from every era and nation of origin, was staged on the scenic grounds of the historic Knight House, home of the Florida Artists Gallery.

Craig (above left, receiving his award from Florida Artists Gallery President Ann Covington) won the Classic Class with his 1940 Indian Four, and took the IronWorks Best of Show Award with his 1938 Indian Chief (pictured right).  The Indians were a clear stand-out in a class that included a range of antiques from a 1948 Whizzer to a Honda CB750 Four.  One observer at the event stated, “There were a lot of beautiful motorcycles on display, but the two Indians were about like rolling a pair of Duesenbergs into the Wednesday night cruise-in.  They were simply in a class of their own.”

The winner of the Harley-Davidson of Crystal River Best American V-Twin Award was earned by Lee Doggett of Brooksville, Florida for his hand-fabricated Harley-Davidson custom Knucklehead, assembled with components from model years from the 1930s to the present (pictured left).  It was singled out by the judges for its elaborate trim and hand fabrication.

For complete results of the Art & Wheels show, click here.  For more information about the Florida Artists Gallery, click here

Photos by Walt Haste.


L'Épopée de la Moto to be honored
by Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame


For nearly a decade L'Épopée de la Moto motorcycle museum has been at the forefront of motorcycle heritage in Québec.  This year, the Canadian International Motorcycle Heritage Museum Foundation (CIMHMF) recognizes its unique contribution with the 2012 Bar & Hedy Hodgson Award.  L'Épopée de la Moto will receive the prestigious award on November 3, 2012 as part of the Seventh Annual Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Banquet & Reunion at the Delta Centre-Ville in Montreal, Québec.

Jean and Francois Gagnon first opened L'Épopée de la Moto in 2003.  Since, the museum has welcomed a growing number of motorcycle enthusiasts to enjoy motorcycling's exciting past. Hall of Fame chair Kellee Irwin stated, "We are thrilled to celebrate L'Épopée de la Moto's phenomenal achievement.  Jean and Francois Gagnon's dedication will continue to draw people to Québec to appreciate the fascinating history of the motorcycle."

Honoring a person, group or organization making a significant contribution to the preservation of Canadian motorcycling heritage, the Bar & Hedy Hodgson award was created by the CIMHMF Board of Directors to recognize exceptional contributors to motorcycle culture.  The CIMHMF's mission is to record and preserve the history and heritage of the motorcycle and motorcycling activity in Canada, and to recognize, honor, and celebrate those who have achieved excellence or made significant contributions to the advancement of motorcycling in Canada.

For thirty years, brothers Jean and Francois Gagnon have shared a passion for motorcycles, acquiring an impressive collection along the way, some of which are pictured here.  In 2003, they realized their dream of opening a motorcycle museum, the acclaimed L'Épopée de la Moto.  Located in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli along the cliff-side banks of the St. Lawrence River, the museum has seen more than 30, 000 motorcycle enthusiasts walk through its doors in the past 9 years.  It boasts a collection of 100 bikes dating back to a 1903 Clément 150 and a number of unique thematic displays.  As the first motorcycle museum in Québec, L'Épopée de la Moto will be honored as a forerunner in motorcycle heritage preservation.

The Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Reunion is the annual signature event of the Canadian International Motorcycle Heritage Museum Foundation (CIMHMF), a non-profit association with charitable status. It is governed by an independent board of volunteer directors located from coast to coast, and sponsored by the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada (MCC). 

Founded by Bar and Hedy Hodgson in 1999, the CIMHMF preserves and promotes Canadian motorcycle history for the benefit of the motorcycling community and public.  Since the first induction banquet in Toronto in 2006, almost 100 distinguished motorcyclists have been inducted into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame. To purchase tickets to this year's banquet, click here.  To visit the L'Épopée de la Moto web site, click here.

Photos from the L'Épopée de la Moto web site.


Festival planned for
Dodge City 300 Centennial



Early plans are underway for the Centennial celebration of one of the most significant and historic motorcycle events in the history of America, the Dodge City 300.  On July 4th 1914, Dodge City, Kansas hosted a major national (and possibly international) 300-mile motorcycle race.  

The list of competitors reads like a Who's Who of motorcycling.  Beyond earning fame in its own right, the race served as the debut of the first Harley-Davidson factory racing program, which proved to be the beginning of one of America’s greatest eras of motorcycle racing.   


The Dodge City 300, Inc., a non-profit entity formed to organize and host the celebration July 1st through 6th, 2014, is assembling an agenda that will include, but not be limited to the following:


  • AMA Pro Racing Grand National points races
  • AHRMA historic motorcycle racing
  • Judged Concours d'Elegance for pre-1925 racing motorcycles
  • People’s choice classic, vintage and custom motorcycle shows
  • Single day gypsy tours
  • Motorcycle history symposium and book signings with well known motohistorians
  • Motorcycle amateur field events
  • Motorcycle trade show with vendors, dealers, apparel & gear
  • Historic motorcycle displays
  • Historic marker dedication at the original track site
  • Fun, fellowship, camaraderie, and much more...


As plans evolve, they will be reported at Motohistory.  For  more information, click here. 



At last, the much-awaited The Complete Grand National Championship,Volume II: 1970-1975 is now available. This new 562-page book, by Gregory Pearson, details the explosion in popularity of GNC racing in the first half of the 1970s, considered by many the peak of a “Golden Era” of American motorcycle racing.  Factory involvementwas at its highest and the best riders competed on dirt tracks and road courses from coast to coast.  Over two years in the making, the book has been painstakingly researched and covers each championship race of the period.  It is packed with neat trivia and nearly 200 photographs, many never before published. Other highlights include a foreword by two-time Grand National Champion Dick Mann and a tribute to road racing legend Cal Rayborn from his close friend, Jim McMurren.  Like The Complete GNC Volume I, the detailed account fills in the gaps and tells the whole story of this exciting era for the first time.  Price is $39.99 plus shipping, $3.99 for Media Mail, (U.S. only).  Priority shipping is  available. The books will ship out from the publisher, which normally take 3-5 days. Paypal, check or Money order are fine.  The book will only be directly available from the author until late November, at which time it will also be available on Ebay.  To contact the author, e-mail gncbook@aol.com

The November issue of American Motorcyclist, the official magazine of the American Motorcyclist Association features the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame class of 2012, represented by history’s first Superbowl of Motocross winner Jimmy Ellis on its cover.  Other honorees will be off-road maestro Ty Davis, the late KTM CEO Rod Bush, women’s motocross champion Sue Fish, tuner extraordinaire Nobby Clark, motohistorian and restoration expert Brian Slark, and the late Al Wilcox, racer, promoter, and AMA official.  The featured classic bike in this issue is Terry Poovey’s Harley XR750 dirt track racer, restored and owned by Jim Oldiges.  The motorcycle is currently on display at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.  American Motorcyclist is not available on newsstands, but is a benefit of AMA membership.  For more information, click here.

The December issue of IronWorks contains stories about a number of customs built from old iron, including shovels, pans, and an ironhead Sportster.  There’s a fun feature by Johnny Zapp who grabbed the ape-hangers of his Pan and retraced the route across America from the movie “Easy Rider.”  Black and white photos give it the story a nice period feel.  Margie Siegal’s “Seasoned Citizen” series this issue is about a 1941 WLDR, which the author describes in context of emerging Class C competition soon to be terminated by the Second World War.  Less than 200 or the ’41 WLDRs were assembled.  My Motohistory in Print column this issue is about Charles “Fearless” Balke, a pioneer racer who is not currently—but certainly deserves to be—in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.  Balke, who raced for Indian, won America’s first national championship road race (1913) and once won 48 features in a row at Chicago’s Riverview Motordrome.  To subscribe to IronWorks, click here.