Wayne Stanfield aboard a 1937 knucklehead which he rode 1,825 miles in 24-hours at the infamous Talladega Superspeedway to break a nearly 70-year-old 24-hour endurance record, set by California Highway Patrolman, Fred
Wayne Stanfield aboard a 1937 knucklehead which he rode 1,825 miles in 24-hours at the inf
HOT Bike readers no doubt are aware of the famous/notorious Iron Butt Rally first held in 1984 and that every two years tests the mettle and metal of riders on an 11,000-mile odyssey in all kinds of weather and over all kinds of terrain. The name of the Rally, which includes all makes and models of modern bikes, also sums up the physical requirements for the challenge. You could say the name of the up-and-coming September 2010 Motorcycle Cannonball endurance run definitely echoes the type of physical equipment and mental stamina needed to participate.
The man behind creating the 2010 Motorcycle Cannonball is Lonnie Isam, Jr. of Jurassic Racing, one of the country's leading antique/vintage bike enterprises located in where else but Sturgis, South Dakota. Jurassic Racing can literally replicate a motorcycle from a photograph and has built complete engines from scratch including a run of Big Base Indians to the more esoteric New Jefferson circa 1905-1915. Lonnie's long simmering concept of the Motorcycle Cannonball run centered on encouraging collectors and fans of pre-1916 bikes to pull them down off the display shelf and put them back on the road for the sheer fun of it and to rekindle some good ol' Yankee spirit of grit and guts. Speaking of ... Lonnie himself will be riding a 1914 Indian Twin.
Matt Olsen plans on employing every aspect of aerodynamics he can to maintain maximum top speed.
Matt Olsen plans on employing every aspect of aerodynamics he can to maintain maximum top
The Motorcycle Cannonball is named after Erwin "Cannonball" Baker who set 143 records from 1910 through the 1930s; his first record was aboard an Indian motorcycle in 1914. While Cannonball made the coast-to-coast ride in 11 days, another motorcycling adventurer, George Wyman was the first to set a trans-continental record, in 1903. Due to the lack of roads, gas stations, and replacement parts, it required 50 days of tenacity with 38 days of riding from New York to San Francisco, the rest of the days were spent making repairs. The 2010 Cannonball Run seeks to elicit that same spirit but hopefully without the mechanical gremlins, but that's up to the Motorcycle Fates.
The response to what was initially planned as a "bunch of guys, 15 or 16, wanting to go for a ride on old bikes" generated such an enthusiastic response from both vintage riders and the motorcycle industry that Lonnie had to gear up for a much more involved effort. The Cannonball had literally snowballed into a storm of interest including requests to enter from overseas. Fortunately, he had the input of veteran enthusiasts to help develop the infrastructure for the adventure including John Classen who brought to the table some 20 years experience setting up events including competing several times himself in The Great American Race (aka The Great Race) and winning the title of Champion Navigator in1984.
Scheduled to commence on September 10, 2010, Lonnie plans to launch 65 riders (including two women) and their antique motorcycles off and running along a 3,320-mile route from historic Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, (Wright Brothers first flight) to Santa Monica, California and the end of famous transcontinental Route 66. The run will consist of 16 days spent on the road with a projected average of nine hours per day and a cruising speed of 35 mph...although that's subject to change depending on the machine and the rider as many of the machines are capable of 60 mph or perhaps more due to "fine tuning" by the A-list of competitors. "Our route was chosen in order to avoid having the riders enter a single interstate whenever possible," says route pathfinder Classen. "We'll have 12 hours of daylight each day, and a goal of having every rider check in at the day's ending point one hour before sunset. We don't want anyone having to deal with the safety issues of meeting up with the local wildlife after dark, and we are expecting some break downs."
Matt practicing his mudding skills aboard a '36 Knucklehead.
This is no watered-down putt. The topography of the Cannonball Run includes navigating the Appalachians Mountains, climbing Magazine Mountain in Arkansas, and negotiating Sitgreaves Pass in Arizona, but it eases up as riders cross the fairly flat pass at the Continental Divide in New Mexico. The route was chosen for both its scenery and history including several National Parkways, sections of historic US 66 as well as an overnight stop in Hot Springs National Park, visits at museums and a big end of run dinner splash in Los Angeles on September 26.
Riders from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and the United States will be taking up the sea-to-shining-sea challenge while piloting a who's-who list of famous machines including the Flying Merkels, Excelsiors, Hendersons, Indians, Triumphs, BSAs, Thors, Yales, Popes, Sears' and Harley-Davidsons. There are three Classes of motorcycle: Class 1- Single cylinder, Single Speed: requirements are belt-drive or chain, and single speed. Class 2-Twin Cylinder, Single Speed: Primarily the big boys, the V-Twins, but also four cylinder/single speed bikes, all with either belt or chain drive. Yes, more power, but the V-twin motors of the time were still new to the game and had their teething problems as opposed to the more durability singles of the era. Class 3- Multi Cylinder, Multi Speed: This class features bikes with a transmission, two- or three-speeds and the engines can be single, twin, or four cylinders, basically a class unto themselves and running a faster race. Wait...this is not a race, it's an endurance run. The definition, as in most competitions, could get a bit blurred once in motion.
Preventive maintenance is the best maintenance.
Call it a gathering of eagles...and of egos. As no both rider and machine will be ridden (rather than pushed) to the limit, it should make for a most interesting event to follow. But as usual, preparation, strategy, and he-who-makes-the-fewest-mistakes-wins will be the name of the game.
"As far as his physical preparation, Matt's been lifting weights and doing a lot of cardio."
Spotlight on the Competitors
To provide a sampling of the diverse group of Cannonballers we'll focus on a quartet of vintage bike movers and shakers that bring both youth and experience to the event.
Matt's dad Carl started Carl's Cycle Supply, the Aberdeen, South Dakota, shop specializing in vintage Harley Knuckleheads and Panhead restorations. Matt literally grew up with a silver wrench in his mouth and motorcycles hardwired into his brain. At 18 he rode a 1948 Panhead to the West Coast and the next year a 1946 Knuckle to California again. In 2009 he rode not one but two Iron Butts in one month, one aboard a '39 Knuckle, the next week riding a '36 Knuckle, with a passenger no less.
At 24 he's the youngest rider entered in the event, but used to getting a headstart. Matt's also the youngest board member for the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. His choice of mounts for the Cannonball is a S194 vintage Sears, a twin-cylinder, single-speed machine. "When I heard from Lonnie about the run I went hunting for a bike. I knew my best bet would be a Spacke-engined bike so I ended up with two Sears, a 1913 and a 1914." These bikes were originally sold through the famous Sears and Roebuck mail order catalogs popular throughout the early 1900s.
While the EX currently doesn't have a front brake, a recent meet 'n' greet with the street via a trip over the handlebars has encouraged Mike to install Simplex brake for the run.
While the EX currently doesn't have a front brake, a recent meet 'n' greet with the street
They were powered by a 70.62 ci Spacke V-twin motor, a proprietary power plant used in a variety of motorcycles of the day. Matt was fortunate to locate Tim Spacke, a direct descendent of the original builders and now the family historian who was able to supply two motors, and a third from his good friend Dale Walksler. "I actually bought my first motor before I found my first frame. Then I found that water had cracked the tubing so I fixed it as a display bike but nothing I would ride because it might explode out from under me. So I cast molds from the original parts and made myself new stout parts including the frame and frontend." Matt will be running the stock magneto and carb but making his frontend a couple inches wider to accommodate a disc brake and running 1920s safety rims for some added protection.
As far as his physical preparation, Matt's been lifting weights and doing a lot of cardio. "After the two Iron Butts last summer, I thought what next. Then Lonnie came up with the perfect answer... the Cannonball Run." (More info about Matt's shop at www.carlscyclesupply.com.)
Mike Vils from the LBC plans to attack the course aboard his 1913 Excelsior.
"I'll be riding a twin cylinder, chain drive, three-speed 1000cc 1913 Excelsior," says Mike from his home base in Long Beach, California. "I'll have the squeeze on it...nitrous...but don't tell anybody." Is he joking? Nitrous oxide on a nearly 100-year old bike? A general contractor for some 30 years, Mike was painting and restoring bikes even before that and is also on the board of directors for the Trailblazer's club from whom he's got major support for his Cannonball participation. His personal vintage bike focus is on the Excelsior, restoring and repopping parts of the bikes for other collectors. Mike poses the question, "Do you know when the first motorcycle race was held? When the second motorcycle was built." Right from the start, we know Mike's going to be a contender. He goes on to add, "The bike runs like a bus. I ride the wheels off the thing. We've got it all cammed up thanks to my friends at Isky Cams who doubled the lift. We're rebuilding the engine for the race and will have tripled the horsepower. Now, remember these engines when new produced 6-7HP so we're talking 18 or so with the upgrades." We said that still could be more than his competitors, then asked if any brake upgrades were planned. "Well, a while back I ended over that bike going down a steep hill doing about 40 mph. The Excelsior has no front brake and a bicycle coaster type brake on the rear, so for the Cannonball I'm running a 5-inch front brake off a Simplex and maybe a perimeter rotor brake on the rear and rolling modern Bridgestone tires."
For a bit more comfort Mike's also adapted a Harley KR seat to the Excelsior. Asked what he's doing to prepare for the physical demanding challenge, Mike laughs and says, "Yeah, I joined the Y. I've got to get my Iron Butt self back. I just sold my rigid chopper that I rode 150,000 miles, often 600 miles a day, so I gotta get back in that shape. But mostly I'm just looking forward to having a lot of fun."
Dale Walksler, getting deep inside the case of one of his many time machines.
Team of Dale Walksler and Wayne Stanfield
The name Dale Walksler and vintage motorcycling is literally synonymous. He's the founder and curator of the Wheels Through Time Museum currently in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, and the nexus for one of the world's most fascinating collections of machines and memorabilia as well as on-going restorations. It's also known as the "Museum that Runs" and Dale will prove the point by lighting up any of the hundreds of bikes under his care including the V-twin Crocker that regularly burns rubber...inside the museum... for the enjoyment of its many visitors. Dale has clocked some serious miles already, for example riding coast to coast in seven days on a Henderson 4-cylinder not to mention umpteen vintage rallies and winning the Race of the Century at the Barber Motorsports Park aboard his 1903 Indian single, while his riding buddy and longtime friend Wayne Stanfield is a seasoned veteran of the Great American Race, taking Second one year and tying for First in another.
Both Dale and Wayne will be riding 1000cc three-speed V-twin 1915 Harley-Davidsons, as it were the big guns. One is an older 1960s restoration, to which Dale is the second owner. The other bike found its way to the Wheels Through Time Museum about four years ago after sitting in a basement for 50 years. "The top speed of the bikes in their original form would be about 60mph, while our goal is not necessarily to go all out fast but have reliability. We will increase the horsepower of the engines so we can have enough power but not stress it out. I just located a pair of what appears to be original racing cams for the bikes. We also have the best engine testing device in the world here in North Carolina. It's the seven mile run at nine degrees up the Soco Mountain. If you can run in third gear up the mountain and accelerate, your bike will work. Gerald at Rinehart Exhausts, right down the street from us, is building us custom tuned exhausts that will probably add another five horsepower to the bikes. We'll think about improving the brakes, but right now we're concentrating on making it go before we worry about making it stop." Top competitors, there's no doubt that Dale and Wayne will be pulling out all the stops for the Cannonball.
Dale putting in some training miles aboard one of his 1915 H-Ds.
While finishing the race will etch the names of the successful riders into the history books, the ultimate reward will be the unique experience of the run itself and the enjoyment of sharing the adventure with like-minded vintage motorcycle fans. In addition, at the end of the 3,000-plus mile rainbow is The Wyman Cup, a one-off bronze beauty created by Jeff Decker and named for the pioneering cross-country solo rider George A. Wyman and his 1903 California. The award goes to the rider/bike with the best time in the single speed/single cylinder class, which was the class of Wyman's record making bike. Decker will also be competing in the run aboard his 1910 Harley single.
There is so much more to this event such as other interesting characters/participants, the stories behind the bikes/restorations, and of course the ride itself. We will continue to bring you updates as well as a final feature on the race and all the excitement of riding 100-year-old machines across our great country. For complete details visit motorcyclecannonball.com
The route the Ballers will be riding will stretch from the East Coast to the West Coast through nine states.
Pre-Event - Weds. Thurs. Sept. 8-9
Registration and Optional Practice Run, Kitty Hawk, NC
Stage 1 - Friday, Sept. 10
Kitty Hawk to Greenville, NC
Stage 2 - Saturday, Sept. 11
Greenville to Concord, NC
Stage 3 - Sunday, Sept. 12
Concord to Maggie Valley, NC (and the Wheels Through Time Museum)
Stage 4 - Monday, Sept. 13
Maggie Valley to Chattanooga, TN
Stage 5 - Tuesday, Sept. 14
Chattanooga to Florence/Tuscumbia, AL
Stage 6 - Wednesday, Sept.15
Florence to Lula,MS/Helena, AR
Stage 7 - Thursday, Sept. 16
Helena to Hot Springs, AR
Friday, Sept. 17
Rest Day in Hot Springs
Stage 8 - Saturday, Sept. 18
Hot Springs to Fort Smith, AR
Stage 9 - Sunday, Sept. 19
Fort Smith to Lawton, OK
Stage 10 - Monday, Sept. 20
Lawton to Clovis, NM
Stage 11- Tuesday, Sept. 21
Clovis to Albuquerque, NM
Stage 12 - Wednesday, Sept. 22
Albuquerque to Gallup, NM
Stage 13 - Thursday, Sept. 23
Gallup to Flagstaff/Bellemont, AZ
Stage 14 - Friday, Sept. 24
Bellemont to Laughlin, NV
Stage 15 - Saturday, Sept.25
Laughlin to Victorville, CA
Stage 16 - Sunday, Sept. 26
Victorville to Santa Monica, CA