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.

Billy Lane, the man behind Sons of Speed Continue reading

THE STORY OF THE PARASITE | JERSEY’S OWN TWIN-ENGINE TRIUMPH DRAGSTER

My friend Matt Smith over at Smoke and Throttle has been schooling me on the legend that is John Melniczuk. All this incredible Triumph racing/building history and a showroom of beauties to die for, and in my own beautiful home state (no joke) of New Jersey of all places.

“John Melniczuk is not just a Triumph enthusiast whose hobbies turned into an occupation. He’s been working in the field since the ’60s when he was just a young man at his fathers Triumph dealership– Bauer Cycles (established in 1953). John’s grandfather owned another dealership, Cycle Sports Center, which sold Indians and Vincents among others. John’s ambition and devotion for the sport of motorcycle racing eventually lead to a job turning wrenches for the late great Gary Nixon. After a while, being a behind-the-scenes guy was not enough, so John began to campaign his own custom built Triumph T110 drag racer– setting many track records throughout his career. Dragging Triumphs runs in the family as well– His father’s shop raced a twin-engine Triumph-motored monster dubbed The Parasite.”  –Smoke and Throttle

Check out the incredible story of the epic Parasite dragster below, which can be found on John Melniczuk Jr.’s J&M Enterprises site. This tale of the twin-engine Triumph marvel built by John Melniczuk Sr. and later restored by John Jr. is truly something to behold. The images alone are enough to make you crazy. Combined with the personal stories behind the bike and the family’s who shared in its history make it a truly special piece of history.

The story of the Parasite is a tale of two engines, conceived in casual discussion and created by two friends whose dedication and innovation propelled a one-off motorcycle into the Daytona Drags record books. –via John Melniczuk, J&M Enterprises

So Crazy It Just Might Work

It all started in the winter of 1958 when John Melniczuk Sr., a Triumph Dealer and owner of Bauer Cycles of Salem, NJ, and Tommy Grazias, a fellow racer, first toyed with the idea of building a twin-engine dragster. Both had been racing T-I10 Triumphs and the thought of taking the engines from each and building one dragster was too tempting not to try. John would design and build it and Tommy would race it. The best place to showcase such a motorcycle was the upcoming Daytona Drags. The bike would have to be ready to contest Daytona by March of 1959.

In the late 50s, the two-engine dragster concept was unheard of and John and Tommy spent hundreds of hours over a two month span designing, building, redesigning and rebuilding the motorcycle. Without the advantages of modern aftermarket and factory race parts, each part had to be fabricated by hand. The modified Triumph frame was hand built by John and included a girder fork front end brought back from England in a suitcase by Triumph Corporation’s Rod Coates. The half quart gas tank was made of two bicycle headlight shells and an empty can. The rear rim was reworked from an old Indian rim drilled out to save weight. Due to the horsepower created, most of the transmission gears were removed leaving only second and third. Finally, the drag slicks (not available at the time) were created from recapped Indian tires. But difficulties often follow the exhaust of innovation.

The twin-engined Triumph Parasite dragster getting ready for takeoff. –via Smoke and Throttle

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THE ’66 DODGE CHARGER | MY FIRST TRUE LOVE/WHEELS

 

The 1966 Dodge Charger, a muscle car legend.

1966 Dodge Charger– 426 Street Hemi engine option available that produced well over 425 bhp.

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I bought my ’66 Dodge Charger off a guy up the road for $750 when I was 18. She’d sat there a good long time, but this was Arizona– dry as a bone, so no body rot. Came home hitched to a tow truck– and I know my mom wasn’t too excited about the new lawn ornament. The old 383 V-8 needed a rebuild, and body was a little dinged– but she was unmolested and all original. So what if it didn’t run yet– she was mine. If only I had held on to her– but I ran outta time, money and energy. More than that– I had a girlfriend with plans to move us down to Tucson to attend the U of A. Never should’ve let her go– the Charger that is. It still pains me, but what’s done is done… Guys, listen to your gut and hold on to a good thing. Like your dream car.

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The 1966 Dodge Charger

The 1966 Dodge Charger– the fastback that’s full-sized and fully loaded.

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The 1966 Dodge Charger was introduced on New Years Day– a late but lethal answer to the Mustang and Baracuda fastback frenzy.  Based on the Coronet, the Charger came packed with serious muscle that few street cars could compete with.  The ’66 Charger debuted one of the most legendary and talked-about engines ever– the 426 Street Hemi.  The Hemi engine had been available in prior years, but the 426 Street option was designed for exactly that– performance on the street.  Rated at 425 bhp, some say it actually produced closer to 500 bhp.  That dog will hunt, son.

A Continue reading

THE KRETZ RACING LEGACY | FATHER & SON AMA HALL OF FAMERS

From “A Day at the Races” by S. Clayton Moore–

During the pinnacle of Ed Kretz Jr.’s career in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he raced alongside some of the world’s most famous racers, pushing Indians and Triumphs to the very edge of their capabilities. His racing buddies included screen legends like Steve McQueen and Lee Marvin, television stars like Jay Leno, and world-famous racers like the “Indian Wrecking Crew” of Bobby Hill and Bill Tuman.

Perhaps no one in Kretz’ orbit was more famous than his father, Ed Kretz Sr., who won the very first Daytona road race in 1937. Known as the “Iron Man” for his amazing endurance on a bike, the elder Kretz was the greatest motorcycle racer of his time and one of the sport’s first major stars.

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Ed Kretz Jr. (on the left) and Ed Kretz Sr. (on the right)

Ed Kretz Jr. (on the left) and Ed Kretz Sr. (on the right) on their trusty Triumphs.

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Ed Kretz was born in 1911 in San Diego, and started riding motorcycles out of sheer necessity during the Depression. Another legendary racer, Floyd Clymer, saw his talent and managed to get the young rider to race a new Indian motorcycle. As he progressed through the racing circuit, Kretz quickly became one of the best-known racers in the country. He stood at only 5’8″, but weighed a muscular 185 pounds, and used his sheer physical strength in a style no one had ever seen before.

“My dad was strong like a bull,” his son remembered. “He drove a hay truck and would load and unload the bales by himself. He was shorter than I was, but he was stocky.” That strength served the elder Kretz well during his most famous race, the inaugural Daytona 200 in 1937. The race was already well-known in its first year and went on to become the single most important motorcycle race in America.

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Ed Kretz AKA “Ironman” racing #88 for Triumph 

Motorcycle racing great "Iron Man" Ed Kretz Sr. on his trusty Triumph.

Motorcycle racing great Ed Kretz on the legendary Indian.

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VINTAGE RACING STYLE | Legendary Drivers Crushing It On & Off The Track

An autographed photo given by the great Formula 1 driver Juan Fangio to Harold Cole of New Smyrna Beach, Fl when Fangio made a visit to the Daytona Speedway in 1979.  Love the crazy printed shirts, especially the incredible equestrian horse-bit motif on the left-- very Hermes chic.

An autographed photo given by the great Formula 1 driver Juan Fangio to Harold Cole of New Smyrna Beach, Fl when Fangio made a visit to the Daytona Speedway in 1979. Love the crazy printed shirts, especially the incredible equestrian horse-bit motif on the left– very vintage Hermes chic.

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Sometimes you just strike gold– like this amazing photo series of incredibly stylish race car drivers from back in the day when the world had class.  I wish guys still had enough knowledge of the classics, and confidence in themselves to dress like– well, men.  There’s definitely an equestrian tie-in going on with these two pics– check out driver Peter Gregg (below) wearing classic horse-bit Gucci loafers with his race garb.  Even better still if he actually drove in them. A very ironic, yet fitting homage to horsy equestrianism by masters of raw manmade horsepower.  Gotta love it.

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Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood drove a Porsche 911S in the 1972 12 hours of Sebring. They finished 5th.

Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood drove a Porsche 911S in the 1972 12 hours of Sebring. They finished 5th place in the race, and 1st place (in my book) for personal style. via Louis Galanos

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