SONS OF SPEED | A RACE OF PRE-1925 BOARD TRACK MOTORCYCLES

Matt Harris of 40 Cal Customs racing his 1923 Harley-Davidson – Sons of Speed

Billy Lane of Choppers Inc. had a vision to race vintage board-track motorcycles with his friends, family, and other respected builders and racers. Sons of Speed finally kicked off in Daytona during the 76th Bike Week at the New Smyrna Speedway on March 18th, 2017, after having been cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew.

Waiting outside the New Smyrna gates, there was definitely some anticipation and excitement to see these bikes perform on the track. Since these vintage bikes have no clutch or gearbox, the four riders are positioned at the top of the banked track and are push-started with the help of gravity and some manpower. It’s so great to hear the bikes fire up once the twin engines roar to life, propelling the riders down the paved track.

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THE RACE OF GENTLEMEN 2015 VIDEO | IF YOU WANNA RACE, WILDWOOD’S THE PLACE!

Man, The Race of Gentlemen 2015 already feels like a long time back. Damn the blasted holidays for drowning out the amazing memories on the beach and off-season streets of Wildwood, NJ! More good times, familiar faces, new friends, and great races than you could shake a stick at. Mel Stultz, Bobby Green, Sara Francello, Hollywood, and the entire TROG crew over-delivered on a great event, even in the face of a hurricane threat. In honor of them, and to relive the good times, here’s a great little TROG 2015 film shot by the crew at awol.tv x worthless.co–

“This is the closest thing to time travel we will probably experience in our lifetimes. The Race of Gentlemen challenges the owners of hot rods and motorcycles from the 1940’s and earlier to drag race as it used to be done– at the wave of the flag and on the beach. We ventured to Wildwood, NJ to watch the most unique racing we’ve ever seen.”

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THE RACE OF GENTLEMEN, 2015 | THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF ALLAN GLANFIELD

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The Race of Gentlemen 2015 shined bright in terms of excitement and attendance– even in the shadow of a hurricane threat, and sharing the same weekend with the widely attended Barber Vintage Days motorcycle show. Mel Stultz, Bobby Green, and the team were admittedly short-handed due to the last minute need to push back a week into the off-season, but everything seemingly came-off without a hitch due to the passion, positivity, and perseverance of all involved in putting on what many call The Greatest Race on Earth. Thank you!

Allan Glanfield (one half of The GodSpeed Company and founder of Blackburn and Foster & City Dog Living) generously captured the weekend for The Selvedge Yard — The sea of jaw-dropping hot rods and bikes, and the colorful cast of characters that convened in Wildwood, NJ for the races and to get shit-faced. In that order. Both with gusto. With all the photographers on-hand, the challenge was to balance the must-have shots right in front of your face with pulling away from the pack to find the gems that occur off to the side, caught with a candid eye. Allan more than succeeded, and we are excited to share his captures of TROG weekend.

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All photography in this post: the work and property of Allan Glanfield @blackburnandfoster

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VINTAGE RACING AT PENDINE SANDS | PHOTOGRAPHY OF BASTIAN GLAESSNER

Photographer Bastian Glaessner shot these incredibly cool pics of vintage hot rod racing at the legendary Pendine Sands. His eye and unique style has created a strong signature that feels rich and nostalgic. The images are so stunning, I could stare at these all day…

BastianGlaessner_PendineSands2015_09The Selvedge Yard

“I was super chuffed when Neil Fretwell of the VHRA recently invited me up to the rugged Welsh headland that holds the infamous ‘Pendine Sands’ for a weekend of vintage racing. Since the early 1920s cars have pelted down this 7-mile stretch of fine golden grains to chase automotive speed records. On this early July weekend a mad crowd of hot rod racers from all over Europe had assembled their beasts at this historic spot. By the time I got there Friday after dark, the field around the Museum of Speed was brimming with glorious pre-1949 rods, glistening in the moonlight, begging to be let loose on the endless stretch of tidal sands below.” ~Bastian Glaessner

BastianGlaessner_PendineSands2015_22The Selvedge Yard

“Come Saturday morning and first the Welsh weather gods got their own. Heavy winds and some blistering downpours overnight meant racers had to be patient a little while longer whilst the team of helping hands were busy getting the course up and running. Once the fences were up, the 110 yard timing section established and the mile long track cleared of stranded giant jellyfish, the show got underway. As if on cue the sun popped out from behind the clouds, crowds gathered on the beach and with a mighty “ROOOAR…” our cars rolled out onto the sands to line up in the pits. What an exciting display of vintage sheet metal that was!” ~Bastian Glaessner

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THE WALL OF DEATH RIDERS PT. II | LION TALES OF FUMES, FURY & FUR

TSY recenty received a scan of this great old Wall of death rider, along with the below note from the sender, Brian in Kansas City, MO. Anyone with knowledge of the rider, and/or this particular Wall of Death motordrome is kindly asked to chime in:

“…I am a collector of postcards and a while back I purchased a postcard of a man on a motorcycle riding in some kind of spectator show. Your article helped clarify a lot about the photo. I have attached the photo and thought maybe you have seen it before or could provide some more info.  The back of the card is particularly interesting. It reads: ‘About 1912– Later he was killed– Someone threw a peanut at him– caused him to dodge and lose balance, falling with cycle to bottom of pit killing him.’ Sounds likes sport spectators were not much different then as they are today.  I thought maybe the motorcycle may have been a Cyclone, however I don’t think it is. The lettering on his shirt may bring some clue as well…”

cyclone clark motorcycle wall of death

Back In Dec. ’09 TSY posted what remains today one of our more popular stories– Wall of Death riders with a lion, no less. I mean, really…old photos of a lion riding the Wall of Death is damn hard to beat…unless you have a video of said lion riding the Wall of Death! At that time there wasn’t a moving image to be found, but British Pathe, an amazing archive of historic film clips, uncovered a little gem of ‘Fearless Egbert’ giving his lion named Monarch a spin back in 1934. They also uncovered incredible film footage of ‘Tornado Smith’ with his Lion, ‘Briton’. It’s definitely worth a look…

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GLADYS INGLE AND THE 13 BLACK CATS | HOLLYWOOD’S HI-FLYING HELLRAISERS

Hi JP,
Your latest post about the Air Fast images really hit a cord with me. Coming from a predominately Air Force military family, almost every male relative has flown a plane at some point or another, and having been schooled in aviation history and legend my entire life I find endless stoke in those images. I thought I would share a few stories with you that might tickle your flying wings.

Firstly this chick [Gladys Ingle] has more balls that all your subscribers combined, including me!

All the best,

Eric Lindeman

Well Eric wasn’t just whistlin’ Dixie! Gladys Ingle definitely had balls to spare– Maybe she had 13 pairs! She was the only female member of Hollywood’s 13 Black Cats aerial daredevil stunt troop. They flew “Jennys”– Curtiss JN-4 biplanes with an abundance of struts and wires to grip, making it ideal for stunt-riders and wing-walkers. Gladys earned her fearless reputation by changing planes in mid-air without a parachute or safety gear. Legend has it she performed her wing-walking stunts hundreds of times. She’s a young and spry woman of 25 or 26 years old in the below pics– amazing. One popular stunt had Gladys performing archery atop a Jenny biplane in midair. She went on to live a long and healthy life, passing away in 1981, at 82 years of age. I’d love to know more about the incredible Gladys Ingle, so please reach out if you’re in the know!

Gladys Ingle transferring from Bob McDougall's airplane to Art Goebel's

Wing-walker Gladys Ingle transferring from Bon McDougall’s airplane to Art Goebel’s airplane with no parachute or safety gear. In 1927, after several aerial stunt and wing-walking deaths, parachutes were finally required by law.  –courtesy  San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives. Keep reading and you’ll see an amazing video of her in action…

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HARLEY-DAVIDSON | AMERICAN IRON, INGENUITY & PERSEVERANCE, PT. II

 

Back in October I ran a piece inspired by my trip to the Harley-Davidson museum and storied archives where I was given a personal tour by their archivist extraordinaire, Bill Jackson. I never posted the complete story, rather referring readers to visit Harley-Davidson’s The Ridebook a site described as “The riding manual from the voice of those few who cherish the search for a new scenery with the wind in their face. A glimpse into a stripped down lifestyle, free of the clutter and filled with style, quality, and the essentials.” There are some great shots and stories that deserve to have a home on TSY now that The Ridebook project is complete. Having grown up with H-D’s and the biker culture, I was honored to be chosen to contribute.

One nagging question that I still have is – how is Harley-Davidson connecting with the new generation of riders out there? Have they stayed relevant as a brand, do they continue to innovate (don’t say V-Rod), and do they have the same hunger and tenacity that got them where they are, and what will the history books say about this chapter of Harley’s history? After writing this piece I heard from a lot of disenfranchised folks out there that view H-D as a sad imitation of its former self. One heartfelt rant really took them to task– “What Harley ‘Was’ and what Harley ‘Is’ today are two entirely different things. They used to be Motorcycles. Now they’re fashion accessories. They used to be the innovators. Now they’re a Sad Parody/Pastiche of their former selves. They used to be about selling Motorcycles. Now they’re about selling a ‘Lifestyle’… And they USED to be all built in the good ol’ USA (albeit with overseas sourced parts here and there). Now Harley-Davidson has committed the Ultimate Treason, building complete Motorcycles in India of all places. Toss that last fact in along with ‘The Company’ screwing Eric Buell, the last of the true American M/C innovators and Geniuses, and I’m sorry to say that as an American there isn’t a Hell of a lot to be proud of, or brag about the Harley-Davidson of today.”  Strong words, but he wasn’t alone.

H-D was the badass bike back in the day. If you rode a Harley– you were not to be messed with. Now if you’re on a Harley, you may just be another fat, old, rich, white dude. It’s a sea of ol’ Fat Boys riding Fat Boys out there. (No offense, I’m getting there my own damn self.) One golden rule of branding is to not grow old with your customer, because when he dies you do too. Has Harley-Davidson done a good job of staying relevant and innovative? I know lots of guys who are nostalgic for the brand and love to rebuild the old Panheads, Knuckles, and Shovels who wouldn’t touch a new Harley. How much of the greatness was Harley-Davidson the machine, and how much of it was the the hardcore spirit of the lifestyle (vs. today’s hobbyists) that made it great. When I really stop and think about it– it was the guys on the bikes, more than the bikes themselves, that made Harley-Davidson a badass brand. I don’t remember a lot of stock Harleys ridden by bikers back then. Lots of chopping and customization was going on. It was the spirit of the rider that made it what it is. Always has. So does Harley still draw that same hardcore spirit of independence and individuality? Maybe that lifestyle (and chapter in Harley’s past) was a moment in time that will never be again, and the comparisons are unfair and just need to stop. I’d love to hear from the riders out there– speak up.

1920 — Ray Weishaar is seen above with the famous team Harley-Davidson “hog” mascot on the tank of his bike. (That pad on the gas tank was for Ray’s comfort while racing– not the pig’s.) The ones originally responsible for harley-Davidson’s “HOG” handle were a roughneck group of farm boys that rode for the H-D racing team back in the 1910s-1920s who took their little pig mascot “Johnny” on a victory lap after the 1920 Marion race victory–- giving them the name “Hog Boys.”  They deserve a great deal of respect– like I said, more than one paid the ultimate price and left it all on the track for the sport that was their life– racing motorcycles. These guys also had their careers interrupted by our great country’s call to serve in WWI. More than likely, many of us today cannot begin to fathom the depth of their personal commitment and sacrifices. In the early days, Harley-Davidson fiercely frowned on motorcycle racing– feeling that the danger and mayhem was bad for brand image. Over time they changed their stance on racing (as any businessman would), when they saw it draw new customers into the dealerships and adopted the sentiment– “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday.” — Image by © Harley-Davidson Archives

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HARLEY-DAVIDSON | AMERICAN IRON, INGENUITY & PERSEVERANCE

The folks at Harley-Davidson were kind enough to invite me down to Milwaukee, WI for a tour of the museum, and their storied archives. This trip had deep, personal significance for me, as I grew up on the rumble and roar of Harley. There is no other sound or feel like it. It quickens the pulse, raises the hair on your arms, and brings a pie-eating grin to one’s face. The distinctive “potato-potato” idle of the v-twin is iconic to the brand, and resonates deeply within many loyal riders who have made their lives one with Harley-Davidson. It’s the personal stories of these cultural icons who forged their destiny with Harley-Davidson, evolving together through the decades, that I love– and that are a source of inspiration and pride to this day.

In my mind, there is no other brand that better epitomizes the American spirit of Independence, ingenuity, and perseverance than Harley-Davidson. Hands-down. The cultural impact they’ve had on America (and around the world) is undeniable and evident all around us. It didn’t start with Easy Rider either, it goes back much further in time.

My mind immediately races back to the early days and the numerous innovations H-D had on franchising and branding. The following success of their notorious and ballsy “Wrecking Crew” racing team (that risked life & limb for victory on hostile dirt tracks and battered, oil-soaked wooden board tracks with dubious, improvised safety gear) further cemented Harley as the one to follow. I think of the soldiers returning from WWI & WWII–  maybe they rode a motorcycle in wartime, or were pilots looking to replace the thrill of flying, and coming home they bought a Harley-Davidson because they yearned for an intense, physical experience of freedom and speed that only a Harley could give them. A lot of those same servicemen who fell between the cracks of what society or themselves deemed “normal” formed the first motorcycle clubs that would inspire Hollywood films, fashion, music, art and attitude to this day. And yes, 1969’s Easy Rider which became the iconic counter-culture biker film that drove the chopper / Harley customization craze for decades to come, and created a look and lifestyle that many would influence for generations to come. Hell, my stepdad was nicknamed “Hopper” after his character “Billy” in the film because of his dark looks, and that suede vest with fringe that would whip in the wind as he roared down the road on his ’79 Low Rider. Two things he impressed upon me– never ride a Sportster (chick bike), and never use your electric start (for pussies).

The point is, Harley-Davidson and those who ride them are a breed apart. There is a profound connection between man and machine that is beyond words. It’s more than a motorcycle— a Harley has a soul. A mighty soul born in a crude wooden shed over 100 years ago.

ca. 1903 —  William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson built their first motorcycles in this simple structure. Harley-Davidson’s very first “factory” (if you can call it that)– a wooden 10′ x 15′ shed that sat in the back yard of the Davidson family home. In 1907 Harley-Davidson was incorporated and the company was valued at $14,200. (Rewind– Harley-Davidson was started in a freaking 10′ x 15′ shed?! That’s the American “can-do” spirit in a nutshell, people. When I first heard that, I realized there are no excuses for anyone to not get out there and make it happen.) — Image by © Harley-Davidson Archives

1939 — The original shed was later transplanted to the new Juneau Avenue factory (built in 1906, and still the site of  Harley-Davidson’s corporate headquarters) as a symbolic reminder of the company’s humble beginnings. (The lesson– Never get so big that you don’t remember where you came from, folks. And never start acting like a big company– especially when you are one.) Tragically, the original shed was accidentally destroyed in the early ’70s by a careless crew doing clean-up at the H-D factory. — Image by © Harley-Davidson Archives

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THE PROSE-LOVING PRIZEFIGHTER | BOXING CHAMPION GENE TUNNEY


“Normally, I could hit hard enough, 
as anyone who studied my fights might have known. But the impression was that I was essentially defensive, the very reverse of a killer, the prize fighter who read books, even Shakespeare.”

–Gene Tunney

~*~

A 1st generation American of Irish descent, James Joseph ‘Gene’ Tunney is ranked among the top heavyweight boxing champions of all time.  The epitome of the self-made man, Tunney was one of seven children who quit school at 15 yrs old, served in the marines (crowned U.S. Expeditionary Forces champion) during WWI, and was a lumberjack for the J.R Booth Company of Ottawa. While in Canada he kept the fact that he was a boxing champ to himself, claiming he “wanted the solitude and the strenuous labors of the woods to help condition himself for the career that appeared before him.”

Of 82 bouts, Gene Tunney lost only once, was knocked down only once (by Jack Dempsey, no less), and was never knocked out.  A thinking man’s boxer, he was known as an intelligent, defensive boxer who “treated boxing as a sweet science” and would out-point his opponents, unlike many of the sluggers (Jack Dempsey, Harry Greb, etc.) of the day.  Tunney also possessed great punching power, and could stand toe-to-toe when needed– like when he defeated Harry ‘The Human Windmill’ Greb with an unrelenting punishment of body blows that brought the brawler down.  He was reigning world heavyweight boxing champion from 1926-1928, and was also crowned Ring Magazine’s first-ever ‘Fighter of the Year’ in 1928.

1928 was also the year Tunney married his beautiful bride, Polly Lauder.  She was a wealthy well-healed socialite (related to the Carnegie family) whose father, George Lauder, Jr. was a philanthropist and accomplished yachtsman who once held the record for the fastest trans-Atlantic yacht passage ever made. Upon their marriage, Tunney promised his bride that he would quit boxing for good. True to his word, he would defend his boxing title just once more (after his rematch with Jack Dempsey) against challenger Tom Heeney of New Zealand. The couple made Stamford, Connecticut their home and raised four children together.

Gene Tunney seldom spoke about his days in the ring with his children. His son Jay, who wrote “The Prizefighter and the Playwright: Gene Tunney and Bernard Shaw,” recalled that the first time had any inkling of his father’s fame was in 1944. The family went to the rodeo at Madison Square Garden, and Roy Rogers, riding out on Trigger, announced that Gene Tunney was in the crowd, and spotlights shone on where he was sitting. “At first I thought the lights were for me,” his son, Jay Tunney said. “But then there was this huge wave of applause.” And rightly so.  Gene Tunney was a class act.

World champion athletes — from top row, left to right; Babe Ruth (baseball), Gene Tunney (boxing), Johnny Weissmuller (swimming), Bill Cook (hockey). Bottom row, from left to right; Billl Tilden (tennis), Bobby Jones (golf), Fred Spencer and Charlie Winters  (6-day bicycle race). — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

August 27th, 1927, Speculator, NY — Gene Tunney, heavyweight champion of the world, who will defend his title against the former title holder, Jack Dempsey, in Chicago, September 22nd, is daily engaging in light training. He will not start heavy work until he reaches Chicago about September 1st. Here, Tunney is engaged in his favorite recreation, reading. — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

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“FOUR WHEELS MOVE THE BODY — BUT TWO WHEELS MOVE THE SOUL.”

GILDA TEXTER VANISHING POINT HONDA MOTORCYCLE

 

Gilda Texter on a Honda Scrambler in the epic film “Vanishing Point”, 1971.

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Woman riding a motorcycle

That’s a woman on that gnarly chopper!

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1982, Sturgis, South Dakota — Hells Angels at Sturgis — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

June 17th, 1977, Cleveland, Ohio — Plumber Sam Green drives his customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle on a tree lined street in Cleveland.  Green added hundreds of lights, horns, and chrome balls, as well as a television, canopy, CB radio, and tape deck. — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

April 17th, 1974, Daytona Beach — They’ve got all kinds of names for members of the younger generation. At Daytona Beach, at least, it might be termed the relaxed generation. Some youngsters from Ohio rest on their motorcycles after arriving in the area recently. Daytona Beach is one of the few resorts in Florida where vehicles can be used on the beach. — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

March 9th, 1968 — Cyclists are Sought in Murder Case.  Cleveland, Ohio:  Their bikes are their most prized possessions, say the Animals.  Shown working on their motorcycles are (from left):  V.C.; Gabby; and Tom (only nicknames given).  In foreground is an unusual three-wheeler.  Local authorities are looking for the motorcycle riders who killed two men in a cafe on February 28th.  Three suspects in the case are former members of the Animals. — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

Dec 3rd, 1966, Las Vegas — Hordes of teenagers cruise the Las Vegas Strip on motorcycles and in cars at night. Traffic along the strip is bumper-to-bumper every weekend as youngsters arrive to observe and be observed. — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

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