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Motohistory Quiz #105:
We have a winner!
(1/31/2013)

Our Motohistory Quiz #105 was not difficult, but it was fun. 

First to jump in with the correct answer was Chicagoland’s Jim Viverito who identified the two individuals as Dave Despain (left) and Larry Pegram (right). 

The photograph was provided by Rick Kocks, who cannot recall the where and when of the picture.   Perhaps there are some Motohistorians out there who have an idea.  Swap meet impresario Will Stoner—who got it right but too late to win—suggested it was at an AMA Amateur Dirt Track Grand Championship.

We got some interesting incorrect answers to this quiz.  Pegram was mistaken for Freddy Spencer and Eddie Lawson.  That’s pretty good company. 

Dave Despain was mistaken for Eddie Mulder and Gary Busey.  Dave, we suggest you shave your head.  Oh, wait, you already did that.

Congratulations to Jim Viverito for becoming our latest Motohistory Know-It-All.  Your personalized diploma will arrive soon.  

 

Ten years of Motohistory
By Ed Youngblood
(1/30/1023

I launched the Motohistory web site in July, 2003. 

When I ended my career at the AMA in 1999, I started a consulting company, providing guidance for museums and galleries interested in motorcycle exhibitions, and management and strategic planning consultation for non-profit organizations.  At first, I was just too busy to think about a web site, but I knew I needed one to market the business. 

 

Originally, the site had two purposes.  Of course, it was intended to promote my consulting business, but I was also excited about the internet as a new opportunity to publish informative and scholarly work about motorcycle history.  For the most part, motorcycle history had never enjoyed many publishing outlets because publications about motorcycle history and antique motorcycles had a hard time surviving in the American market.  There were many valiant efforts, but few lasted more than a couple of years, with the exception of The Antique Motorcycle, official magazine of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.  And, understandably, so much of its space was devoted to club news.

 

The “modern” monthlies, like Cycle World, were devoted to the here-and-now and had scant space available for history.  Furthermore, their editors have some very strong opinions about reader attention span, and strict limitations are placed on word count for feature articles.  Basically, for more serious, longer, scholarly works, nothing was available.  Same pretty much for the opposite end of the scale: brief notes and news items.

 

Thus, I launched Motohistory’s News & Views section as an attempt to fill the void.  Other sites, such as The Vintagent, did not yet exist at that time, so Motohistory was pretty unique.  Now, I am glad the others are here.  I’m not going to flatter myself by suggesting that I started a trend, but I will take satisfaction in being part of it.

 

After Motohistory had been publishing monthly for about two years, a friend sent me a note that said, “Congratulations.  I’m amazed.  I thought you would have enough material for about six months, then peter out.”  It turns out that content was not a problem, in part because I got excellent submissions from some notable contributors such as Ralf Kruger, David Wright, Mick Duckworth, and Leo Keller, just to name a few.  I have been proud to publish these, in addition to many American contributors.  It gives Motohistory an international credibility that I could not have established on my own.  At one point, I had so much content that I was updating twice a month, which I had to stop because it was taking more time than I had available.  

 

Over the past 117 months, I have failed to publish a monthly update only two or three times.  A couple of lapses were due to medical emergencies, but even open heart surgery did not keep me away from the keyboard for more than a month.  The result has been publication of more than a million words, more than 5,000 images, and links to more than 5,000 other sources of motohistorical information. 

 

Since 2003, the medium has gone through innovative changes.  When the internet was young, web site designers came to it with a magazine publishing mentality, and for a time the word “e-zine,” meaning “electronic magazine” was in popular use.  Admittedly, this is the model on which Motohistory is still based.  I am an old ink-on-paper guy, and I still behave like I am arranging text and photos on a page, and publishing to a regular, pre-determined schedule. 

This kind of thinking has been antiquated by the concept of the “web log,” or “blog,” which I think is a perfectly silly term, but one that has become well established.  Bloggers no longer work to weekly or monthly schedules.   They update when they see fit, and they promote interactivity through the use of easy-to-operate, commercially available software that gives their readers the opportunity for instant response.

So, in its tenth year, where goes Motohistory?  I must admit that one of my rare publishing lapses happened just last November, and there was really no excuse for it except I felt like doing other things that month.  I realized then that perhaps it was time to take a good, hard look at how much I am enjoying this.  I’ve had some big changes in my life in the past year or two, and I am moving into new areas of interest.  The last thing I want to do is continue Motohistory just through force of habit.

 

It is my intention to remain committed through Motohistory’s tenth year.  During that time, I am going to write some retrospectives and possibly re-post some of the best features of the past decade.  In the process, I will decide whether to re-launch Motohistory as a blog and make a fresh start with a new commitment, whether to continue under the current model, or whether I will bring it to a close on December 31, 2013.  By that time, I will be 70, and it might be a good time to let it go. 

 

Whatever I decide, I intend to enjoy the year and the process.  I hope you will enjoy it with me.

 

Todd Huffman:
Motohistorian in motion

(1/29/2013)

 

Todd Huffman was like many kids growing up in California in the 1970s.  He was crazy about motorcycles, he followed motocross, and he idolized Bob Hannah and Marty Smith.  Huffman’s family could not afford to buy him a motorcycle, but he could cobble together the illusion of one with a BMX bicycle, and this would propel him to his own national-class accomplishments and eventually to a unique and valued position as one of the most important documentarians of the birth and emergence of American motocross.

 

Huffman (pictured above right and left at age 20) was born in Torrance in December, 1962, and grew up in Eldorado County in Northern California, not far from the original legendary Hangtown race track in Plymouth.  Hangtown, which was the epicenter Norcal’s hotbed of motorcycle competition, both spawned some of America’s greatest and attracted top international talent, helping introduce the American public to the sport of motocross through television.  The race is still a mainstay in the national champion motocross circuit.  Todd and his brothers spectated often at Hangtown, but at the time he could not have realized that the television cameras would become central to his contribution to the sport.  A harbinger of that fact may have been his attendance at On Any Sunday at the age of 10.  He says, “I sat through the movie for three consecutive showings.”

 

In high school, Huffman got involved in theater (pictured right), but quickly gravitated from the stage to the production side of the art.  He recalls, “I quickly learned that being behind the scene was a lot more fun than being on stage.”  He and a group of friends were also the producers of his school’s first movie production.  “It was a bad Kung Fu movie,” he laughs, “and it was a pretty primitive operation.  We were out in the school parking lot, pushing around a big video camera and recording deck in a shopping cart, dragging miles of extension cord behind us.”

 

As a youngster, Huffman achieved the rank of B Pro in BMXracing, and earned a berth on the SE Racing factory team out of Signal Hill (the SE team bus, below right).  About an interruption in his career, Huffman explains, “With puberty, many young men leave BMX racing.  We call it the “fume syndrome,” caused by gasoline fumes and perfume.  Cars and girls take over, and maybe permanently.”  Huffman, however, returned to BMX competition at the age of 18 (with BMX trophies below left), and moved to Long Beach where he could be near and work for SE.  There he attended Long Beach City College and soon started his own sideline bicycle business.

 

Huffman recalls, “Bob Morales and I bought a lot of bicycle parts at a liquidation sale and created our own distribution business.  Next we designed our own BMX bicycle and set up our own brand called Auburn, which was manufactured by GT Bicycles.”  He continues, “We were undercapitalized to fund our manufacturing, and we struggled.  But Richard Long, the president of GT, liked us and our product, and in 1989 he bought our company.  Bob was already moving into a new business venture that would become the American Freestyle Association, and Long hired me to become a Marketing Coordinator.”

 

Huffman (managing the GT team, below right) worked for GT for almost a decade, and gained a lot of valuable experience.  In 1991, he teamed up with Don Hoffman to set up GT’s own in-housevideo production department.  Hoffman was also steeped in the BMX and skateboard movement.  His parents owned the legendary Pipeline Skatepark  in Upland, California. In 1995, GT went public, and Huffman was deeply involved in marketing the IPO.  In 1992, GT became the official bicycle of USA Cycling, and Todd was one of the company’s point men for the project, leading up to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta where GT’s boles were ridden by Team USA.

 

Tragically, Richard Long was killed in a motorcycle accident 12 days before the opening of the Olympics. Huffman relates, “The result was what often happens to a boom company when the guiding light disappears.  The board began to reorganize things, and soon I found myself ‘promoted’ with three new bosses.”  He stuck it out at GT for two more years, then resigned, to do some sports marketing and management consulting, promote trade shows, and produce BMX television shows.

 

In 2001, the surprise hit documentary movie Dogtown and Z Boys appeared, practically creating a new film genre.  Huffman teamed up again with Don Hoffman to explore this untapped market for youth sport documentaries, and set up Pipeline Digital Media, LLC (PDM) in 2003.  Still, they thought the BMX market might be too small, and they looked toward motocross.  Huffman says, “I remembered how much I idolized Bob Hannah  and Marty Smith; the kind of natural star power they had in addition to their incredible skill, and I went looking for Marty.”  (pictured above left with Hannah and Smith) Networking through the staffat Hi-Torque Publications, Huffman located Brad Lackey in December, 2003 and went to Carlsbad Raceway, the Mecca of American motocross, to interview Lackey (above right, interviewing Carlsbad GP promoter Gavin Trippe).  He next interviewed Marty Smith in January of 2004, and with this footage put together a three-minute promotional video to sell the concept of a documentary series about motocross (Above, interviewing Brad Lackey, below Churk Sun).

Speed Channel bartered time and commercial space for five episodes during the 2005 season, and Pipeline was in business.  The partners had to scramble.  Not only did they have to produce the shows in about three months, but they had to sell the commercial space to fund the project.  Huffman explains, “We had only three people working on the project, and thank goodness we signed on Lucas Oil.  It was one of Lucas’ first projects to reach the off-road motorcycle market.  I guess it was a great fit, because now they have been the name sponsor of the entire national motocross series for the past four or five years.”  The new show was called The Motocross Files.  Seven more episodes were aired the following season, and by 2008 Pipeline Digital Media had produced 21 episodes documenting the history of motocross and its heroes.

 

PDM also launched on Speed Channel a Southern California-based show called Epic Ride, a reality/adventure show that teamed up three normal Joes with three motorcycling stars, led by supercross legend Ricky Johnson.  PDM produced 13 episodes before recession put the motorcycle industry into a downward spiral in 2008, drying up funding and advertising support (Above left, interviewing Hakan Anderson, right with Laurens Offner).

 

In 2006, Huffman was on his way to the annual powersports trade show in Indianapolis, riveted to a biography about off-road legend John Penton The following summer, in 2007, he was also scheduled to go to Michigan to interview Jeff Stanton for The Motocross Files, and he wondered if he could meet John and other members of the Penton family while he was in the “neighborhood.”  Huffman knew industry veteran and media personality Larry Maiers, and that he had worked for Penton Imports in its early days.  Maiers quickly hooked him up with the Pentons and an interview with John.  Huffman relates, “I had no plan in mind – certainly not a movie – but I thought that this was just a great opportunity I could not pass up to get one of the great patriarchs of off-road motorcycling on tape.” (Above left, interviewing Malcolm Smith, right with Mark Barnett)

 

Throughout 2007 and into 2009, with recession in full swing, PDM was making ends meet by producing television commercials for Lucas and other clients. Then, in the Fall of 2009, Huffman got a call from Texas attorney Jack Martin, a huge fan of John Penton.  Martin thought it was high time that someone do a documentary about Penton, and he brainstormed that it would be great to have it narrated by country and western star Lyle Lovett, an off-road motorcyclist who had cut his teeth on a Penton as a young boy.  Huffman says, “The timing could not have been better.  I had been toying with the idea of a Penton movie.  The Lovett thing was just a wild hare.  Neither Martin no I knew Lovett, but I knew Mark Blackwell and knew he was a friend of Lovett.”  Blackwell called his friend, and Lovett responded immediately, “I would be honored to narrate Mr. Penton’s story.” (Above left, interviewing Rex Staten, at right with Ricky Carmichael)

 

With star power onboard, and the influential and connected Martin cheer-leading the project, PDM assembled a promotional short, which debuted at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends Weekend in Las Vegas in November, 2010.  Huffman still had no idea where he was going to get the nearly $200,000 that would be required to make the film, even on a bare bones basis.  Then, David Bailey, one of his Motocross Files subjects, told Huffman about the new internet-driven phenomenon called “crowd funding” which could cast a wide net at little cost to promote an idea to investors.  He recommended the web site Kickstarter.  Huffman set up a Kickstarter account and began the long slog to raise the production funding, a few dollars at a time.

 

Just this month, the funding goal was met, and PDM has launched a crash program to make “The John Penton Story” a reality by the end of the year.  Shooting will take place all over the US, including Ohio, Texas, and California, and as well in Europe during a possible trip by John Penton and son Jack to the KTM  factory in Austria where the Penton brand was assembled from 1968 through 1977.  Also, Huffman is trying to lay his hands on as much archival film and still photography as possible, and has made and appeal to Motohistory readers to contact him if they have material from the 1960s and ‘70s that may be appropriate, whether it includes actual images of John Penton or not. (Above left with Torlief Hansen; at right with Torsten Hallman; below left with Malcolm Smith, Joel Robert, Torsen Hallman, and Brad Lackey)

2013 is going to be a harrowing year for Todd Huffman and his colleagues at PDM.  Hearkening back to The Motocross Files, which became his calling card in the business, Huffman says, The Motocross Files was a project of passion.  Thankfully, our company does a lot of commercial and industrial work, because projects of passion rarely pay the bills.  But they are what keep the creative blood flowing in a company like ours, and with the Penton project, it feels good to be immersed again in a passion project.”

 

Motohistorians who wish to support the project through filmable artifacts or financial support (post-production funding is still needed), can contact Huffman at info@pdmtv.com

Photos provided by Todd Huffman.

 

Dania Beach gets
bigger and better

(1/27/2013)

 

Now in its seventh year, the Dania Beach Vintage Motorcycle Show, held at Frost Park in Dania Beach, Florida January 26, has become a must-see event for locals and motorcycle enthusiasts from throughout the state, and is now the second-largest event of its type in Florida. Along with Riding into History Concours, held in St. Augustine later in the spring, Dania Beach has helped make the Sunshine State a leader for antique motorcycling.  Perhaps this is why it boasts no less than three chapters of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.

 

This year, with 286 motorcycles entered and an estimated 15,000 visitors, the Dania Beach show was up eight percent over last year’s event.  Growing interest in the show is derived from the fact that the organizers offer classes for every imaginable category, period, and nation of origin of old and special-interest motorcycles.  And there are classic and antique bicycles as well.  In addition, product vendors, motorcycle dealer new model displays, food, and live music attract thousands to what was this year a gorgeous, summer-like day where shade under the large oaks was at a premium.  It’s a festive and laid back atmosphere where diverse segments of society mix easily and share the fun.

 

And Dania Beach offers surprises.  For the second year in a row, singer Billy Joel showed up.  As a keen motorcycle enthusiast himself, Joel wandered the field and studied the motorcycles, unbothered and often unnoticed by his fellow spectators.  Then, without fanfare, he slipped onto the stage, took to the keyboard, and played several numbers with the band.  As word spread and the crowd at the stage began to grow, he unceremoniously slipped away, apparently not wishing to upstage the real stars of the day, which were the beautiful motorcycles on display.

 

For more photos and information about the Dania Beach Vintage Motorcycle Show, click here

 


(1/25/2013)

 

Bonhams reports that it grossed more than $2.6 million at its auction in Las Vegas on January 12.  Biggest ticket sales were a 1939 BMW Rennsport 255 Kompressor for $486,000, a 1954 Rennsport 55 sidecar rig for $167,800, and a 1952 Vincent Black Shadow for $134,000.  A NOS 1969 BMW R69US in Riviera blue with four miles on the clock (pictured here) was bid up to $42,500, but did not sell.  Reserve was at $47,000.  Meanwhile, over at Mid-America Auctions, there were scads of Italian bikes for sale, mostly MVs.  A 1954 Disco Volante sold for $19,500 and a 2004 F4 Tamburini commanded $28,000.  $28,000 also for a 1920 Harley W Sport and $22,000 for a 1965 Triumph TR6SCMustangs are now fetching $7,000, and I’m still waiting for someone to explain that to me.  But the crowd-pleaser was when a sign from the Horace Fritz dealership sold for $25,000!  Here’s the complete list. For a list with pictures, here.  You can read more about the Bonhams and Mid-American auctions on the Vintagent's blog

Can’t remember who carried National Number 3 before Joe Kopp, Ricky Graham, and Gene Romero?  How about Fred Nix?  And who before that?   Don LaRue has created a really nifty web site that gives you all of the AMA National Numbers back to 1947.  Plus, AMA National Number has incredibly clever architecture.  It’s a fun site to use.

Art by Conrad Leach will be on display at the Subvecta Motus Gallery in Los Angeles February 9 through April 19.  Read more about it at The Selvedge Yard

Legendary customizer Ron Finch will be featured on Travel Channel’s new “Edge of America” series. 

Motorcyclepedia will host a spring swap meet on April 28, rain or shine.

 

And speaking of dirt track heroes, the National Motorcycle Museum is opening an exhibit by this name on May 18.  The exhibit will be dedicated on June 8 as part of the Museum’s annual Vintage Rally.  For more info, click here.  Image by Bert Shepard/Silver Shutter Photos.

Five-times Daytona 200 winner Scott Russell will be featured guest at the 25th Annual Motorcycle Hall of Fame Breakfast on March 15. Tickets are $75.00.  

The 3rd Annual Collector’s Swap Meet is coming up February 23 in Lebanon, Tennessee, followed by the 11th Annual Spring Thaw Show March 23 in Shelbyville.  Shelbyville’s Calsonic Arena will also host indoor motorcycle races on April 27.  Get details at the Both Barrels Promotions web site.

Lonnie Isam, creator of the Cannonball Endurance Ride, will be honored by IronWorks Magazine at the V-Twin Expo  in Cincinnati, February 2 and 3.

Here’s a rollicking flattrack slide show on YouTube.

Here's Steve McQueen in a 1971 Japanese television advertisement for the Honda CR250 Elsinore.

Here is previously unseen footage of the American Six Day in 1973.

Strictly Hodaka is having a big blow-out sale on Preston Petty products.

RM is conducting a huge microcar auction February 14 through 16 at Bruce Weiner’s Microcar Museum in Madison, Georgia.

Here’s a gorgeous Black Bomber café racer. 

See Louis Rocket Re jump his big American Eagle

 

Barber Motorsports Park has been named Birmingham's Best in the category “Must-see Spots for Visitors” by the Birmingham News.  Of course, we Motohistorians already knew that.

Wall of Death rider Kamikazi Pit Lengner will be performing at the Motorcyclepedia Museum  every Sunday until February 17.  Pit’s 60th birthday will be February 2, and his performance will be a special benefit for the Museum.

Here’s a radio interview with dirt track great Hank Scott

BMW is planning to give full expression to nostalgia with a new airhead which conventional wisdom just a few years ago said would not be possible under modern emission standards.  Hail to the past!

The Wing Nuts offer us some pics from the good ol’ days.

A complete and original 1911 Pierce  is going to auction in April.

Did Cook Neilson’s last ride on a race bike signal the end of an era?  Read about it at Ducati News. 

Steampunk Seduction (left) is David Uhl’s latest bike-n-babe painting.

The AMA has announced Vintage motocross and hare scrambles championship series.

In conjunction with its new motorcycle exhibit, the National Packard Museum is hosting seminars as follows: February 16, “Bobbers and Café Racers” by Jesse Bassett; March 16, “Restoration when no parts are available” by Bruce Williams; May 11, “Group riding seminar” by al Navecki.  For more information, call Bruce Williams at 330-394-1899.

Photohistory by Tom Mueller
Here's one of the biggest stories in moto from yesteryear: Howerton and Hannah sprocket to sprocket throughout the 1981 season.

Anyoneremember why Hannah was running #100?  It's following the infamous Marty Tripes water skiing accident, where Hannah swung wide and impacted shoreline rocks.  This was his comeback season and Hurricane force winds were blowing.

 

There was trash talking in that era, but it was most all one-way. Howerton was soft spoken and did most of his talking through his throttle hand; Hannah was lightning on the track but also had a quick tongue, feeding the media (myself included) great quotes and jabs at his formidable opponent.

 

This battle played out like two top boxers set to spar in the ring. I believe that the personalities in the sport drove that era, making it one of the best in motorsport history.

 

See this image and much more at Tom Mueller’s Retromotocross blog.

The Dodge City 300 Centennial

(1/20/2013)

Editor's Note:  This month we interview Jim Johnson (pictured below right), the man behind the plan to celebrate the centennial of the Dodge City 300, and give his fellow Kansans a better understanding of their rich motorcycle history.

 

MH:  Jim, I suspect our Motohistory readers know about the legendary Dodge City 300, but why don’t you just give us a thumbnail history, why it was important, and why you think it is important to commemorate its centennial.

 

JJ: Sure.  I am certainly no motohistorian but what I've read about the race indicates that it was significant in several ways.

 

On July 4th, 1914 the stripped down stock H-D models 11-K appeared in Dodge City. I am given to understand that H-D had no factory racing team at that time but had hired Bill Ottaway to tune the six domestic market 11-Ks to enter the grueling 300 mile dirt track race. These bikes were not "race built," but were simply stripped down street machines and fared poorly against the race built Indians, Thors, and Excelsiors.

 

Only two of the six finished the race and they were well back in the field. Seeing this, both William Harley and Walter Davidson, who were in attendance, realized their company couldn't afford such embarrassment and decided to start a formal factory racing team, hiring Ottaway away from Thor to manage the team. The upshot was that for the 1915, 1916, 1920 and 1921 editions of the Dodge City 300, Harley-Davidson would become dominant with only occasional challenges from Indian, Thor, Cyclone and a few other makes.

 

This was, in essence, the birth of the famous Harley-Davidson "wrecking crew" and by association, the "Hogs" as the team eventually adopted a piglet mascot. The race became so popular with the public that the crowds it attracted almost tripled the population of the historic wild west town.

 

In May of 1914, with the two mile oval track under construction, Erwin "Cannonball" Baker passed through Dodge City as part of his famous cross country ride and was invited to inspect the track. Baker also returned in July and rode in the race itself.

 

The race was also significant in that the FAM (Federation of American Motorcyclists) undertook sanctioning the race, one of the biggest events they would sanction up to that time. The FAM of course later became the AMA (American Motorcyclists Association) that we know today.

 

The roster of riders in the first few years of this race reads like a "who's who" of early motorcycle racing in America.

 

Like so many other things in modern times, our history is gradually being lost. Today, very few residents of Dodge City have even heard of the race and the few who have are mostly unaware of its national significance. It is time to re-educate not only local Dodge Citians but also many of today's young motorcyclists to better understand the importance of the Dodge City 300 and the people and machines that started it.

 

MH:  Please tell us a little about yourself and how the idea evolved to have a Dodge City 300 Centennial festival.  Also, please tell us about your team and who is involved in planning the event.

 

JJ:  Well, I've been around motorcycles and motorcycling since the early 1960s. I have also had an abiding interest in history of all sorts. I grew up in the northeast and in the mid ‘60s joined the US Air Force and was stationed in Europe for a few years where far more people were riding motorcycles as everyday transportation than one saw in our country. Over the years, I've owned and ridden many different bikes, though in about 1976 as a touring rider I settled on BMWs and have traversed much of north America on them. In 1984, my job as a meteorologist brought me to Dodge City, Kansas where history is especially rich. Not having been involved with motohistory, I was surprised to learn of the Dodge City 300 race while reading the history of the American west.  Asking around the community, I found that very few people recalled the race and even fewer knew of its importance. 

 

Late last year it dawned on me that we were approaching the 100th anniversary of this famous race, offering a chance to refresh its history in the minds of modern motorcyclists and to provide an event where motohistorians and antique motorcycle collectors and riders could gather to "kick tires" and examine each others’ bikes.

 

In the past I've participated in a number of historic celebrations for various cars and motorcycles so I do have at least passing experience in organizing such an event. Our group began meeting early in 2012, decided to incorporate as a charitable non-profit entity, and started developing the skeleton of the event which can now be seen on our website. 

 

MH:  Can you tell us about some of the features of the event?

 

JJ:  Conceptually, we plan on having a lot of things for motorcycle enthusiasts to do. We have a nice new 90,000 square-foot facility available for a major motorcycle trade show where vendors of all kinds will be welcome. We also plan a number of bike shows for machines ranging from the very oldest through to present day bikes. A symposium is planned where various motohistorians will be asked to give talks on early motorcycling in American, including early racing. We want to place and dedicate a monument at the site of the original two-mile oval track just northeast of the town. We plan to bring an AMA Pro Grand National race in and also bring in antique racers. A short track event is also envisioned as well as the usual amateur things like field events and gypsy tours through the great western history of the Dodge City area. We are working on bringing a major name band in for a concert and, of course, there will by July 4th fireworks.  Dodge City is very well known for its western history and there is always plenty to do and see in town. Finally, author and motorcycle enthusiast Stan Trekell, a Dodge City ex-patriot, expects to have a book signing for his current project, a history of the Dodge City 300.

 

MH:  Are you getting cooperation from city, county, and state?  Do you think they appreciate the kind of tourism bonanza this could become?

 

JJ:  Ed, that's an excellent question. So far we've managed to generate a lot of enthusiasm but it remains to be seen how much follow through there will be.  Eyes tend to open pretty wide when we suggest that 20 to 50 thousand motorcyclists is not out of the question.  At times, we are more afraid of success than we are of failure!  I do believe though that the city, county, and state are beginning to realize that we aren't kidding about this event being very popular with motorcyclists. Our tourism based groups and law enforcement are already being brought on-board and the local Convention and Visitors Bureau and Tourism Coalition are starting to get excited about it. I think we will be fine.

 

MH:  On the subject of tourism, what kind of local accommodations are available?

 

JJ:  This area is currently in the middle of an oil and gas boom as fracking extraction is taking place on private land.  As a result, many hotel rooms are full and several new hotels are being built. Dodge City has been a tourist center for a long time due to its fame as a western history attraction, so we probably have more available accommodations than most towns this size. Still, we are already recommending that people decide quickly about attending and make hotel reservations as far in advance as possible. Camping areas are not extensive locally, and we are working to open other areas to camping.  RV hook-ups are available near the Exposition building as well as at several local camp grounds, but these too should probably be reserved early on. There is a link on our website for "Lodging" which takes one to a full listing of local area lodging, camping, and restaurants.

 

MH:  How can Motohistorians get involved?  For example, are you going to need volunteers?

 

JJ:  Motohistorians will be a lynch pin to the event and we hope to have many of them involved in many different capacities. We are starting to work with the Sunflower Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.  An early meeting with them was very positive and we would hope that they are willing to help with both the symposium and the bike shows in addition to an opportunity to show their own bikes.  Many of the Kansas chapter recall the Dodge City races of the 1950s; some even participated in them.  The Wednesday afternoon (July 2nd) Symposium provides an opportunity not only for amateur motohistorians but also for scholarly presentations in a conference type setting. How would you like to come and talk about some of your great projects over the years?

 

MH:  At my age, I don’t make promises too far out, but I have every hope of being there, whether I participate in some capacity or just kick tires and have a good time.

 

You said you have set up a non-profit corporation for the promotion and management of this event.  Can people get a tax deduction for making financial contributions?

 

JJ:   Absolutely.  We expect to have our IRS 501(c)(3) charitable designation in early 2013 as the paperwork is already filed. All charitable donations will then qualify for a 100% deduction on federal taxes. This would also include in-kind donations by major sponsors such as motorcycle manufacturers.

 

On a side note, we are currently working with the state of Kansas to obtain a waiver concerning their new rules about raffles. A new Kansas law was recently passed making raffles such as motorcycle giveaways and 50-50 drawings "gambling," and therefore subject to a lot of special regulations, taxes, and fees. This law really hurts fund raising by many organizations across the state, not just motorcycle related events and groups. 

 

MH:  We really want to wish you luck with this important venture.  Is there anything else you would like our readers to know before we sign off?

 

JJ:  Everyone dig out a 2014 calendar and mark July 1st through 6th for your vacation!  Also, bookmark our website at: www.DodgeCity300.org.  Also, please "like" our Facebook page at:  www.facebook.com/pages/Dodge-City-300/104847276306075.   Those two places will be where to find the latest and greatest information on the event.  Posters will soon be hitting motorcycle dealerships and vendors across the nation, and the website will have an online registration page which will allow early confirmation of attendance. I do want to warn people that if this ends up being as well attended as we think it will be, admission to the AMA Pro Grand National and the evening concert will likely become first come first serve due to space limitations. Bottom line: "Don't Wait!"

 

MH:  Good luck.  At the very least we will be doing regular updates on your progress, and frequently pointing our readers to your web site.

 

Fifth Ormstown Vintage Off-Road Festival
set for August 23 through 25

(1/18/2013)

The Ormstown Vintage Off-Road Festival, held at the Pritchard Farm near Ormstown, Quebec, has quickly become one of eastern Canada’s most popular vintage motorcycle gatherings.  This year, the fifth annual will be staged August 23 through 25, 2013.

Observed trials legend and ISDT champion Mick Andrews and his wife Jill will be on hand for the third year in a road, and rumors claim that New England favorite Joe Bolger and his wife Sandy are expected as well.  Bultaco has been named the commemorative marque.

The festivities will begin with a trials school by Andrews, followed by a one-hour observed trial where students can practice their newly-learned skills.  The evening will include bench racing with special guests, a hot dog roast, and live music by the popular Durham County Poets.

Saturday will open with a trial, followed by a hare scrambles in the afternoon.  A concour will offer trophies for best in show and the best Bultaco.  The day will end with a banquet, trophy presentation, and remarks by special guests. 

Sunday will offer a trial and motocross.  All events will include age classes so more senior riders can enjoy fair competition against their peers.  The races will be followed by a trophy presentation and announcement of the Ironman Award.

 

Entries for the event must be submitted by July 31. For more information, click here.

 

 

Smith elected Chairman of motorcycle
Leadership Forum planning group

(1/15/2013)

 

Roger Smith, Vice President of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation and long-time Director of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club, has been elected Chairman of the Foundation’s Leadership Forum Planning Committee. 

The Leadership Forum, now in its fourth year, is designed to improve communication and find solutions among organizations dedicated to the use and preservation of vintage and antique motorcycles.  Smith plans for the committee to announce by March the date and venue of the 2013 Forum. 

 

Other members of the Planning Committee include Paul Danik, Penton Owners Group; Paul Stannard, Hodaka Owners Club; Fred Guidi, American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association; and Tracey Powell, Jon Radermacher, and Ed Youngblood, all Directors of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation.  For more information about the Antique Motorcycle Foundation, click here.  

 

 

Jones County, Iowa backs
National Motorcycle Museum
with endowment fund grant

(1/12/2013)

The National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa has over 400 motorcycles on display.  Each has a story to tell any visitor who is curious about its maker, its specifications, maybe even its rider.  Now, more of the motorcycles on display will be able to "speak," thanks to a grant from the Jones County Endowment Fund.

"When you visit any museum, you go there to see objects and learn about the ones that grab your attention," says Museum President and Founder of J&P Cycles, John Parham.  With over 400 motorcycles and several thousand artifacts on display, Parham says it's an expensive, daunting task to label each motorcycle.  "We want to help visitors learn, but when you factor the research, design and printing of each label, making a mount to set the label at a comfortable reading height, times 400 motorcycles, you are well into a five figures expense!  This Jones County Endowment Fund grant will be a big help in bringing information on more motorcycles to our visitors."

"We are proud to support the National Motorcycle Museum," said Cali Beals, Chair of the Jones County Endowment Fund. "The Museum is a primary attraction for visitors from outside our county and is critical to our tourism business. We are very pleased to provide funding that will enhance the experience for those who visit the Museum."


For more information about the National Motorcycle Museum, click here.  To learn more about the Jones County Endowment Fund, click here.

 

National Packard Museum opens

13th annual motorcycle exhibit
(1/10/2013)

 

The National Packard Museum’s 13th annual antique motorcycle exhibit, which opened January 12, is entitled “Motorcycles ABC: Antiques, Bobbers, Customs.”   Presented in conjunction with the Lake Erie Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, it features more than thirty different motorcycles, exhibited alongside the Museum's stunning Packard automobile collection. 

This popular four-month annual exhibit regularly attracts visitors from all around the world.  For example, last year’s exhibit attracted guests from 35 different states as well as Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Portugal, and Russia.

 

"Motorcycles ABC" exhibit features some very rare antique motorcycles, including a 1911 Flanders and a 1917 Dayton; a number of significant American, European, and Japanese bobbers, including an award winning 1940 Indian Scout bobber; and several vintage and modern custom bikes, including Evel Knievel's own 1988 Knievel Cycle Chopper.

 

"The purpose of the Annual Antique Motorcycle Exhibit is to educate audiences about motorcycle history, and to promote the preservation, restoration, and collection of antique motorcycles," says Mary Ann Porinchak, the museum's Executive Director.  She adds, "The exhibit is also designed to raise awareness of the significance of the motorcycle to transportation history, and to cultivate an interest and appreciation for the conservation of transportation related history among motorcycle enthusiasts." 

 

For the sixth year in a row, the museum will present in conjunction with its motorcycle exhibit a Saturday morning Lecture Series that is free with paid admission to the museum.  This year it will include “Bobbers and Café Racers” by Jesse Bassett on February 16, “How to Restore your Bike When Parts are Not Available” by Bruce Williams on March 16, and “Motorcycle Safety and Group Riding” by Al Nevecky on May 11.  “Motorcycles ABC” will run through May 19.  For times and more details, click here.

Photos provided by the National Packard Museum. 

 


(1/6/2013)

 

What’s old is new again, and the newest trend on the block is Café Racers. Written by well-known motorcycle and automotive author Doug Mitchel, “How to Build a Café Racer” starts with the history lesson. And though those first bikes were build in the UK for racing from café to café, now the rage for café racers has spread to the US.  Mitchel starts the book with a chapter on planning. Choosing an appropriate bike comes next, followed by chapters that detail the modifications that will likely be embraced by anyone converting a stocker to a rocker. From shocks and tires to engine modifications, the author lays out each type of modification, and how it’s best carried through.  The center of the book holds a gallery of finished bikes; not just Triumphs or Nortons, but nearly every brand imaginable from Japan, Italy, the UK, and Germany.  Final chapters include two start-to-finish Café builds.  At 144 pages in soft cover, “How to Build a Café Racer” contains 225 full color images.  It is available for $27.95 from Wolfgang Publications.

 

History of the Honda Scrambler,” by Bill Silver, has just been published. This 188-page book (also available as a Kindle or Nook e-book) includes information on all Honda Scrambler models, dating from 1958 to 1975.  A generous portion of the book is dedicated to the early development and history of the first Honda Scramblers, first seen in 1958. Two of these first-edition models were brought to the US, tested, and raced even before the creation of the American Honda Motor Corporation.  In research for this book, the author tracked down the early pioneers of racing who were involved in the testing and eventual production of the legendary CL72 250 Scrambler, which debuted in 1962. These legends of racing contributed stories and photos of their involvement with Honda Motor Company’s efforts to establish and refine their products for the fledgling US market. Factory photos and details of all 70cc through 450cc Scrambler models are included. The retail price for this large format, soft-cover book is $28.95, plus $3.00 media-mail shipping in the U.S.   Add $10 for overseas shipments.  Copies autographed by the author are available by request through his web site.  E-book versions are available on Amazon for Kindle, and Barnes & Nobel for Nook e-readers.

 

The March issue of IronWorks contains a cover story about a lovely retro Harley Panhead bobber/sidecar rig built by Chris Richardson of Los Angeles County.  There is also a photo feature about Paul Pankow’s large period chopper collection at Bones Legacy, a shop in Las Vegas.  My Motohistory in Print column this month is about how Harley-Davidson and Indian helped train GIs to ride their motorcycles during the Second World War, and Margie Siegal’s “Seasoned Citizens” feature is about the history and significance of the 1929 Harley-Davidson JD, distinguishable by its unique twin headlights.  Excellent photography by Sedrick Mitchell is of an example owned and restored by Steve Thielicke of Preston Cycle Works, which specializes in the restoration of pre-1931 motorcycles.  To subscribe to IroWorks, click here.

 

The cover of VMX No. 52 displays a 1971 360cc Yamaha RT1-M, which upped the ante from the instant success that Yamaha’s DT1 had become.  Other classic off-roaders featured in this issue include Husqvarna’s 420 AXC and AE automatics, a gorgeous BSA Metisse dirt tracker built by Greg Webb in Great Britain, the 1981 KTM 495 (once clocked at 123 mph at El Mirage), the 125cc Yamaha AT1-M, the 1978 RM250 Rockstar Suzuki, and a “Yamaico” hybrid.  There is an excellent feature about the popular American racer and innovator Joe Bolger, and event coverage of Suzuki Classic Dirt 9 at Wallerawang in Australia, the Hopetown Grand Prix Reunion staged in California, the Top of the South snow motocross in New Zealand, and the Veterans MX des Nations held at the classic Farleigh Castle circuit in England.  Beyond its beautiful photography, good journalism, and high production standards, VMX’s unique offering is its international coverage.  It is regarded by its fans an instant collectible, based on these qualities.  For more information or to subscribe, click here

 


(1/4/2013)

 

Our editorial about the higher quality of early Japanese motorcycles, thank in part to the work of American Edwards Deming, jogged the memory of retired General George Ogden (pictured below right), who wrote as follows:

 

“Where were you in ‘72” (Motohistory News & Views 12/28/2012) brings back memories of my introduction to Dr. Deming's work and its influence on the Department of Defense in the late 1980s.

 

I was the commander of the Defense Logistics Agency supply center at Richmond, Virginia.  DoD got caught up in the Sigma Six quality movement and every supply center in DLA had to establish a program for quality improvement.  We all learned about Deming and went through a lot of effort to improve the quality of just about everything.  I made a presentation at the Defense Management School at Fort Belvoir, describing our efforts at Richmond.  

 

I retired before the movement started bringing the expected results, but the experience led me to some ground-breaking work on a contract in the early ‘90s to bring full-costing to maintenance work at Army installations.  From time immemorial, maintenance costs at Army posts only captured direct labor and parts costs -- not the indirect costs associated with overhead.  We changed all that based on the Army's industrial fund wholesale maintenance procedures at the depot level.  That led us to then introduce Acitivity Based Costing and activity based management to Army installations.

 

Now that I've forced my brain to recall that stuff, I'll go back to the shop and continue restoring my ‘63 FLH Panhead (pictured above left).  Just got the sheet metal back from the painter, who did a great job of matching the Hi-Fi Purple color that my bike was blessed with when it left the factory.  The first two owners had covered it up with shades of blue, as pictured when I acquired it in December of 2010.

 

I have also included a photo of my pair of pride-and-joy WLAs.

 

Happy New Year!

George

Thanks, George.  I am familiar with your restorations, and I have no doubt that all that quality research that Uncle Sam put you through has piad off.

 

Belgian Motohistorian Jean-Paul Cerfontaine delved back into our archives to bring an interesting fact to our attention.  In October, 2010, Ralf Kruger wrote about vintage motordrome racing in Germany, and among his photos was a Motobecane that contained an OHV engine very unlike anything the company was offering in serial production circa 1931.  Cerfontaine explains why:

 

Mister Youngblood, I am a member of the K21 Forum, an emanation of the British Classic Racing Club.  We’ve had a protracted “guess the engine” game about the 250cc Motobecane in your Motohistory News & Views 10/31/2010.  It is an Abingdon King Dick of British tool-maker fame.

 

Thank you, Jean-Paul.  Although this was not an official Motohistory Quiz, I should send you a personalized Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma.  E-mail me your address, and it will follow.

 

In the mean time, readers who want to know more about Abingdon King Dick can click here and here.

Günter Giebl reached even farther back into the Motohistory archives to January of 2010 to provide information about Manfred Dudek, the man to whom Steve McQueen gave (or sold) his ISDT jacket at Erfurt in 1964.  Giebl writes:

 

Hello friends,

 

Your story about Manfred Dudek is true. Manfred Dudek got Steve McQueen's jacket in 1964 in Erfurt as a present.  On the 1983 picture you can see him wear the jacket.  Sadly, Dudek died in an traffic accident on September 23, 2012.

 

Surprisingly, the photo that Giebl provided (shown here) is from American Motorcyclist, the official magazine of the AMA.  Since I was working for the AMA at the time it was published, you would think that . . . oh well, you can’t remember everything.

 

To fill in the background, we will republish below our original feedback story.  Hugh Fleming wrote and we replied:

I also have a Steve McQueen story. Back in the early ‘80s (maybe 1982), when I was attending the ISDT in Czechoslovakia, an older gentleman approached me and told me a story about working a checkpoint in an early 1960s ISDT (I believe it was in East Germany).  He explained in broken English that he was at the checkpoint when Steve McQueen had to stop riding the event because of a broken leg.  For caring for and comforting McQueen until they could get additional medical help, Steve took off his black Barbour riding jacket and gave it to the gentleman. However, just before he passed it over he took out a pocket knife and cut off the small American flag that was sewn on it, saying that he wanted to keep a souvenir of his trip.

The gentleman was wearing the jacket while he told me the story, and I could actually see where the patch had been. Because I had a pocket full of American flag patches use by our team, I took one out and tried it in the original spot. It fit perfectly. He had tears in his eyes as he said thanks and promised to keep in touch (I never heard from him again).

Hugh, this is indeed a heart-warming story, but I fear the fellow either was pulling your leg or suffered from an overly-vigorous imagination.  McQueen rode as part of the American team in 1964.   He dropped out after destroying his bike on the third day, not after breaking his leg.  It was Bud Ekins who broke his ankle, but he did not require assistance on the course.   He finished the day with the intention to try to continue riding, but knew it was pointless after he learned that McQueen’s bike was inoperable.  Only then did Ekins go to hospital to get medical help.

The 1964 East German ISDT is one of the best documented events, thanks to a fine book by Rin Tanaka and Sean Kelly entitled “Steve McQueen: 40 Summers Ago.” It contains wonderful photography from the event and was researched with the cooperation of all of the surviving members of the American team, including the Ekins brothers. This book reports, “Steve McQueen sold his Barbour suit and Bell helmet to an eighteen year old, Manfred Dudeck. Where are you now, Manfred?”

Whether your momentary friend was truthful or not,  it is still a fine thing that you gave him an American flag for his worn coat.  There is no doubt this made his day and probably added new layers to his story.

Still, I maintain there are unanswered questions about the Dudek legend.  Hugh Fleming recalls Dudek in 1982 as an “older gentleman,” which is understandable since it had been nearly four decades since the ISDT where he acquired the McQueen jacket.  However, the photograph of Dudek taken at this time and published in American Motorcyclist in 1983 is by no means an older gentleman.

We wonder how many “Dudeks” there are out there among ISDT fans who claim to own Steve McQueen’s jacket.   We thank Gunter Giebl for confirming the existence of the real Dudek, though we are sorry to learn that he is recently deceased.