One of my greatest “biker” memories was loading my first Harley-Davidson Fatboy onto my Dodge Ram a few decades ago, and doing the over night run from Philly to Daytona Beach for my first Biketoberfest. I had no idea what to expect, but when turning of 95 South onto Rt. 1 towards Ormand Beach, my eyes popped open the size of golf balls. Bikers everywhere, and I mean on bar fronts at every corner, parking lots, roads, beach… everywhere. I knew then that I was in my happy place. Since those days, I have watched the industry flourish, fall apart, pull it’s self back together, and keep trying up till today. I went from being just a visitor to very involved in the media side of motorcycling for the total love of it.Truth is, my generation is getting older, not too old yet, but getting there. Of all of the things I have done in my life, biker rallies top the list by far. I go to as many as I can, and won’t stop until my body says to. My concern is, are the upcoming corporate professionals with the major motorcycle and component companies going to step up and keep up their roles? Are the up and coming media and event organizers going to keep alive these HUGE gatherings? I can only hope so and I would lend my experiences to anyone that would ask.
Just my two cents, have a great Daytona everyone, it’s coming up soon!
More than a dozen vintage-powered race bikes re-created the board track races of the early 20th Century at the second Sons of Speed race on October 21. The event took place at New Smyrna Speedway during the Daytona Beach, Florida’s Biketoberfest.
This fresh yet nostalgic race event, instigated by Billy Lane of Choppers Inc., first ran in March of this year during Daytona Bike Week on New Smyrna’s banked half-mile asphalt track. That time, Brittney Olson took first, followed by Matt Harris in second and Shelly Rossmeyer-Pepe in third. Olsen sat out this round while her bike was being repaired but acted as Grand Marshal for this day.
Many of the same racers came out to compete, some on the same machines they campaigned in March and others on “new” bikes that recently rolled out of Lane’s shop—one, in fact, just hours before race day! The powerplants vary in make but they’re all original equipment from the early days of motorcycling that sat languishing for decades. Lane’s purpose built frames, front ends and sheetmetal created homes for these motors to finally fire up once and get back on the track. The concept harkens back to one of motorcycling’s heydays and it’s exhilarating to watch.
Even the practice runs were exciting. Moonshiner Josh Owens and Matt Walksler ran neck in neck early on, with Owens fearlessly on the throttle. But that rivalry resolved when Owens’s bike wouldn’t start for the final. Walksler and Ebay Jake duked it out, too, crossing the finish line head to head in one heat. Buzz Kanter, Shelly Rossmeyer-Pepe and Billy rocked steady to make their qualifiers; Toce and Roxy ran consistently, too. Though mechanical gremlins bit Xavier Muriel, Rick Petko, Freddy and Brook they all exhibited moxie and looked incredible. These stripped down, pre-1925 machines with no clutches or brakes had to be bump-started and appeared to hang on the banking by magic.
Even with camaraderie high and competitive angst low, someone’s going to win, right? Ultimately Ebay Jake, who’d run strong all day, placed first on a 1919 Harley J Model racer owned by Curtis Wear. In second place—again—was the Matt Harris of 40 Cal Customs, still nursing his broken leg but not holding back a bit on the track. Matt Walksler of Period Modified came in third and was all smiles about it.
Ebay Jake also gave the crowd a stunt show before the main event, mixing it up with Bubba Blackwell who popped some wheelies, too, while taking a break from his emcee duties. Bubba stepped in to fill-in for the recently deceased Barry Boone who was originally set to announce the races. Bubba respectfully led the crowd in a moment of silence to remember Barry.
There were dozens of side stories, the racers took time to meet with spectators, and pit crews exhibited a ton of dedicated effort. But instead of us relating more here, just take this advice: next time Sons of Speed racing happens, go. You won’t regret it.
Story by Leah Misch
Photos compliments of Indian Motorcycles
Indian Motorcycle released the Scout FTR750 at Sturgis, made its victorious race debut at AFT’s Daytona TT, and owned the podium on Saturday’s Atlanta Short Track race.
The Wrecking Crew
The new Indian Wrecking Crew—Jared Mees, Bryan Smith, and Brad Baker—are legends in the making after conquering the podium in a 1-2-3 placement at the Atlanta Short Track races on the Indian Scout FTR750. They revived the original “Wrecking Crew” name claimed by legendary racers Bobby Hill, Bill Tuman, and Ernie Beckman. The original “Wrecking Crew” is known for beating all its competition from coast to coast on their Indian Scouts in the post WWII era.
Fittingly, the racetrack is where George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom met and founded the Indian Motorcycle brand in 1901. “We have a lot to live up to in our founders,” said Gary Gray, Director of Motorcycle Product for Indian Motorcycle. “They raced, they won, and they created the largest motorcycle company in the world.”
Flat track racing is gaining ground and new popularity. Michael Lock, CEO of American Flat Track, is working hard to bring flat track back to the people, an effort that appears to be effective by the nearly sold out seating at Saturday’s race.
At the Daytona season debut the podium was dominated by Jared Mees and Bryan Smith who took first and second. The third Wrecking Crew member, Brad Baker, had crashed sustaining a mild concussion. He underwent testing to ensure his safety upon returning to the racetrack in Atlanta. “Brad had a baseline concussion test prior to the season start and performed better on the retest. The season is too long to rush him back so he wouldn’t have raced if there was a concern,” said Gray.
Baker not only came back to the track, but joined the podium alongside Mees and Smith for a 1-2-3 place finish after a nail biting break in the action toward the end of the final. After Sammy Halbert went down on his Harley-Davidson XR750 in a neck-in-neck race with Mees, the last 5 laps were delayed while the track was re-groomed, followed shortly by Indian’s sweep.
The Power of the Scout FTR 750
The Scout FTR 750, a purpose-built race bike that required tedious hours of development, is revolutionizing Flat Track racing. Gray states, “It was forged to win. We have a very narrow V angle and super compact motor designed to give us great flexibility in packaging. It is lighter and smaller than our competitors but still makes power to win races.”
Catch the Wrecking Crew in action this race season here: http://www.indianmotorcycle.com/en-us/flat-track-race
Find the 2017 AFT schedule here: http://www.americanflattrack.com/news/view/ama-pro-racing-announces-2017-american-flat-track-schedule
Next race is in Charlotte, NC on April 1st.
As a Motorcycle Rally Photographer, my wheels are always turning, and my motorcycle as well. Weeks & sometimes months in advance, the shooting schedules and daily plans are being designed. I’d say, just from my perspective, over the last 20 years, pretty much the same crowd has been producing the events and rallies. Not to say that there aren’t many new faces, because there are, but I always ask myself who will begin to step up to really take over the responsibilities for the larger events. Daytona Bikeweek and Sturgis for example are two GIANT rallies. I walk them religiously meeting and talking to groups of great people. With many of the promoters & photographers now getting into their mid 50’s and above, I’m always on the lookout for the next breed. Facebook & Instagram are fine for people to post images on, but when it comes to serious event coverage, who is going to handle it? Who is going to coordinate these massive events? My eyes and ears are open, this is a challenge to the younger cast now entering the stage.
I just returned home from Daytona Bikeweek 2017. It had a rather chilly start, but by the end of the week, the sun was blaring and the temps back where they should have been. Something I took notice to all week, Main Street and some of the outer areas had the traffic of the old days. We aren’t back to what the early 2000’s brought regarding visitors, but this Bikeweek wasn’t far from it. Mr. Johnny Lange (above) is kickin’ some butt at the major events coordinating space with vendors with contests. His company SCC PROMOTIONS, just had an extremely successful Bikeweek in Ormand Beach, across from the Iron Horse Saloon. Johnny leased the Boot Hill Saloon property and opened it to all types of vending, motorcycle repairs, his own bar, and a killer Bagger show. Contact Johnny here if you want to vend with him at an upcoming rally. (714) 465-7103
Mr. Lange said, “Daytona Bikeweek 2017 in Ormand Beach was huge, we had a record number of vendors at the Boothill property. The Strip Club Choppers / American Bagger Worlds Sexiest Bagger Show was an amazing success with a record number of entrants”. This is what I am talking about, the industry needs people like him, many people, to lite the next fire. The 20 something crew needs to emerge so that none of this goes away.
Story by Leah Misch
Photos by Jack McIntryre and Leah Misch
History of the Race
The Inaugural Sons of Speed race held Saturday, March 18 at New Smyrna Speedway was an epic mark in history for Daytona Bike Week. That was when Billy Lane brought back board track racing; a style of racing in which daring souls laid everything—even their lives—on the line.
Imagine the pure adrenaline of racers in the early 1900’s riding motorized cycles needing a push start to begin the downward descent on an angled wooden race track. If this isn’t thrilling enough many bikes of this time leaked fluid on the track while riding on thin slick tires. Oh, and if that didn’t seem daring enough; don’t forget these motorcycles did not have brakes!
In 1912, Eddie Hasha crashed while board track racing, killing himself and 5 others, while injuring 10 spectators. This gave the board tracks the nickname ‘The Murder Drome.
The sons of speed race emblem on Billy’s bike
Prep for the Race
In preparation for Daytona’s Sons of Speed race builders worked tirelessly to have the pre-1925 motorcycles running. A practice ride left many racers making final adjustments to their motorcycle into the early morning hours of race day.
Along with the excitement of bringing back the ‘Murder Drome’, safety needed to be addressed. A well thought out safety plan was reviewed with drivers before the race. A red towel tied to a flag pole was used as a makeshift Red Flag to warn racers of hazards on the track. Xavier Muriel, who is not just the drummer for rock band Buck Cherry but also a motorcycle enthusiast said, “I’m not here to push the limits on winning, I still need two hands to drum afterwards.” No injuries occurred on the asphalt track on race day.
The Race Highlights
Brotherly love graced the track when Billy Lane, the master mind of the Sons of Speed, raced alongside his brother Warren Lane.
Billy commented with a beaming smile, saying the best part of the long-anticipated race was, “RIDING!”
Racers reached speeds of 60 to 70 miles per hour on their bikes. “Moonshiner” Josh Owens gained great speed during the practice round and scampered to a stop. The crowd roared as he safely stood on both feet.
One nail-biting heat saw Buzz Kanter passing Billy Lane to take the lead in a neck-in-neck competition that ended with grins of excitement. “Being out there is a whole new level of racing,” he said.
In a post-race interview, Xavier Muriel who was initially hesitant of going full throttle stated, “Now I need to go home and sell 10 drum sets so I can pay for the work Billy needs to do to my next bike I’m going to race!”
How did the race end? Shelly Rossmeyer finished third on a 1915 Harley. Matt Harris finished 2nd on a 1924 Harley. And Brittany Olsen of 20th Century Racing took home the champion title—as the Daughter of Speed—on a 1923 Harley. Spectator John Marcella commented, “My vote was on Brittany the whole time; she has nerves of steel!”
Stay tuned for more excitement being brought back with board track racing from Iron Trader News! Enjoy the images below from Race Day!