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