Holy Handlebars, Batman!  Regis Decobeck has blessed us all with another installment of old-school Daytona Beach black & white images from ‘74 – ‘78.  Regis picks up where – BIKES, BIKINIS, BEER & BEACH II VINTAGE DAYTONA BEACH BIKE WEEK– left off, with more eye candy that’s sure to either take you down memory lane, or give you that sick feeling that you were born too late.  Either way — Enjoy y’all.

Circa 1974 – 1978 ~ Another Kustom WTF, Daytona Beach ~ image by Regis Decobeck

Ca. ’74 – ’78 ~ Bikers window-shopping (AMF, not Harley’s Golden years…) Daytona Beach ~ image by Regis Decobeck

Ca. ’74 – ’78 ~ Dig the aggressive ink on the thigh, Daytona Beach ~ image by Regis Decobeck

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Earl Cooper, auto racer, taken at the auto races at Salem, New Hampshire. Cooper’s last major victory was here at the Rockingham board track speedway. He won that 200-miler with a front-drive Miller in 1926.  — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS— Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS


Nebraska-born in 1886, Earl Cooper became a star just as the Golden Age of auto racing was dawning. Cooper’s illustrious racing career, in which he racked-up three National Championships (1913, 1915 & 1917) and 11 top 10 points finishes, all started in 1904– in an ironic and bittersweet twist.

It was 1904, and Cooper was on the West Coast working as a mechanic at a Maxwell auto dealership. Cooper was bitten by the racing bug, but when he appealed to the Maxwell dealership for sponsorship in a San Francisco race, he was refused.  Turns-out his own boss was competing in the same race and did not welcome the friendly competition.  So Cooper scoffed at the dealership’s snub, and somehow was able to convince a kind old woman to let him enter  her brand new Maxwell in the race.  Cooper soundly beat his boss– and just as quick, found himself unemployed.  With nothing left to lose, he went on a racing tear, up and down the West Coast, where he was at times unstoppable.

Cooper joined the Stutz racing team in 1912, and just one year later went on to win the National Championship– racking up 2,610 points.  Cooper dominated the scene that year, winning five of the eight major road races, along with one 2nd place finish.


Earl Cooper and his riding mechanic in the Stutz car. Picture taken at Indianapolis 500 qualifying in 1919. (Indianapolis Motor Speedway photo. Noel Allard collection)


In 1913, Cooper’s Hell-bent rival, Barney Oldfield, was driving for the Mercer team.  The two battled fast and furiously, matching their skill and will on the racetrack–

Cooper and Oldfield would run head-to-head at the Santa Monica Road Race, held on an eight-mile macadam course near the ocean. Oldfield blasted away from the starter’s flag and held a sizeable lead, but Cooper passed Tetzlaff for second and began running Oldfield down. With a 4-minute lead over Oldfield, one of Cooper’s tires blew out and he had to coast into the pits. As his riding mechanic struggled to get the wheel off, Oldfield roared past. Cooper jumped out of the driver’s seat and wrenched the wheel off, the tire was changed and the car back on the track to begin running down Oldfield once more. In his exuberance to stay ahead, this time Oldfield blew a tire and bumped into the pits as Cooper whisked past and on to the checkered flag as the winner.

On September 9, 1913, Cooper and Oldfield again met head-to-head on a 3-mile paved track that circled the town of Corona, California. Cooper, after experiencing the tire problem at Santa Monica, had cannily practiced on the course to find what maximum speed he could drive in order to not make any tire stops at all. He determined that if he drove 75 mph. for the entire race, he could do just that. Oldfield, hell-bent-for-leather, predicted that the race average would go to 90 mph. Oldfield set the pace from the start, over Cooper, Tetzlaff, DePalma and Spencer Wishart. He clocked an awesome 98 mph on one lap, but the track had started to break up from the pounding it was taking from the heavy cars. Oldfield burst a tire and Cooper inherited the lead. Oldfield was back on the track and again at speed when again, a young spectator ran onto the track in front of him. Oldfield swerved to avoid the lad and crashed heavily, injuring several people and himself. Cooper won again and would go on to take his first AAA National Championship.

–Noel Allard



Earl Cooper in action at the start of a race in 1925, Laurel, Maryland.


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Steve McQueen | “The King of Cool”

Steve McQueen, CA 1963.

Steve Mcqueen is an icon–  and I still don’t think we appreciate this guy enough for all that he did in his lifetime.  McQueen personified the “anti-hero”.  A true man’s man who raced cars and motorcycles, and had a very enviable collection of both.  He even flew his own plane, for cryin’ out loud.  What a life this guy had.  He ran away from home at 14- joined the circus- joined the U.S.M.C.- went AWOL- was eventually honorably discharged- worked in a brothel- on an oil rigger- and was even a lumberjack.  Later he was an avid martial artist and friends with Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris.  It was McQueen that convinced Norris to take acting lessons, which could be considered a somewhat dubious distinction, but one that I’m sure Chuck greatly appreciates to this day.  

As seen above, McQueen was no stranger to the workout room and had an exercise regimen of two hours a day, everyday.  I love this shot for two reasons- McQueen of course, and his irrepressible charm- but also for it’s statement on simplicity.  It reminds me of life when things were simpler, and in my humble opinion- better.  To workout all you needed was an exercise bike, free-weights, jumprope, a chin-up bar and of course- a rope hanging from the ceiling.  

I remember when this was a part of phys. ed. class.  All of us anxiously lined-up in our tube socks, waiting our turn to try to pull ourselves up that rope.  If you could, you were the man, and if you couldn’t, well…  And look at what else- he’s wearing simple, classic grey sweatpants and they fit.  No fancy– wicking, moisture management, antimicrobial blah, blah, blah.  Cotton was the original, and still the best performance fabric.  

Steve McQueen was, and still is the one that every guy wants to be, and that every gal wants to be with.  Sometimes you just can’t improve upon the classics.

National Motorcycle Race. From the LIFE archive.


National Motorcycle Race


National Motorcycle Race II.  Helmet optional.  Floppy felt hat - a must.


I love everything about this shot. The cast of characters lined-up on their stripped-down bikes getting ready to tear it up, and the guys behind them buying coffee from the food truck all huddled together in their jeans, pea coats (which were probably their own from when they were discharged) and engineer boots.  BTW- the term “pea coat” is derived from pilot cloth or P-cloth, a coarse type of blue twill cloth with a napped face from which they were made.  

I don’t see any gals around– must have been too cold.