Motorcycles In The Park

Text and Photos by Joe Michaud

Photo Album Index with thumbnail gallery of the pictures

The annual presentation by SDAMC of Motorcycles In The Park was held from February 13th through the 21st of this year with a full slate of vintage, antique, classic, and special construction machines represented. This year the club was proud to announce that this popular annual event was sponsored by Brecht BMW who, in the spirit of both Corporate BMW and the Guggenheim Museum which jointly featured the "Motorcycles As Art" exhibition in New York city, agreed to donate the advertising costs.

This allowed the Club to air TV spots publicizing the event (incidentally, the club spots were produced and the “voice over” was done by our own Nathalie George...good job, Nat!) This special advertising budget enabled us achieve the highest attendance in the history of the Automotive Museum for any show.

Ahhh, the bikes. We had some great ones. The oldest known BMW was in attendance, a 1923 R32 owned by Evan Bell of Irv Seaver BMW of Orange CA. This machine is a 500cc twin cylinder machine and is correct down to the period accessories—a generator, front and rear lamps, horn, speedometer, passenger seat and foot rests. The shaft drive machine employs a wooden block clamped into a rear wheel pulley as a stopper. The speedometer uses the front axle to turn a belt that drives the speedo pulley mounted on the front fork. Fit and finish on this machine is first-rate, JPG'ed photos do not do the workmanship full justice. Bayerische Motoren Werke was started in 1917 but never produced an entire motorcycle until the R32 and this particular machine is number 41 of that inaugural production run.

Competition bikes? We got ‘em.

Don Vesco brought a pair of special machines. The little BSA 500, #11, was featured in BSA ad campaigns in the early 70’s after Vesco competed and won against the big 650 boys at Carlsbad Raceway. We first saw this newly-restored bike during Corsa MotoClassica at Willow Springs last April. Nice bike.

Don also brought his 1976 TZ750 Yamaha which Don Vesco Racing, Inc. has sponsored and managed since 1975. The machine competed in the US national circuit as well at races in England and was ridden by both Dave Aldana and Gene Romero. This particular bike also holds the land speed record at El Mirage dry lake for 750PS class which was set in 1978 at 189mph. The same year, this TZ also set an acceleration record at Carlsbad Raceway on the quarter mile strip at 144mph.

The competition bike section also featured some dry lake streamliners, including one by the team of Scott Guthrie, Jack Dolan and Sean Dolan. This narrow-track four wheel streamliner is officially considered the worlds fastest one liter "automobile" and is powered by a 997cc Kawasaki engine.

Eat your hearts out, muscle car owners...this one liter streamliner pumps out more than 4 mph per cubic inch. The FIA world record for this class is held by Jack Dolan with this machine and stands at 258 mph.

Mike Maldonado is best known for creating special construction hotrod Harleys, but his latest work is a melding of both the roots of early chopper building AND some modern hotrod motor craft. This new bike is nearly ten feet long and is raked like an 'old school' chop...48 degrees, according to its write-up in CycleWorld April ‘99. The power is pure Maldonando hotrod. The S&S-built clone motor features 1850cc that breathe through twin Mikunis and provides more than 150 rearwheel horsepower. The bike features Mike's personal touches, including a 4 inch wide belt-drive in an exposed primary, a single sided swing arm with an integral tail light assembly and a disc rear brake that incorporates a dual purpose drive pulley/brake disc. Very nice touches, indeed. Forget about a passenger seat, this is a solo ride. At nearly ten feet in length and with a steering neck about t-h-i-s high, this bike would be a handful as a daily rider, however Mike does ride the bike and threatens to take it on a club ride. I wanna hear it!

Gordon Menzie displayed his racer, a Rob North Triple Trident. The first North frame was built as a 'one-off' in late 1968 by privateer/fabricator Rob North for Percy Tait who was a factory tester for the Triumph factory 750 twin production racers. That bike ran so well that one year later, Rob was contacted by the factory for frames destined for a factory team assault on the Daytona 200. A three cylinder engine was quickly shipped to Rob and he built the first frame in 30 hours designing and bending the tube by eye . The rest is Triumph/BSA legend.  It’s great to see this one plus we hear that Rob is building the next one for himself. Good for you, Rob...come ride with us.

Scott Brown decided to leave his sanitary Velocette at home this year and brought this unusual Japanese machine. As are most of Scotty’s bikes, this one is also clean and unrestored. Scott says the bike is a 1957 Showa 250cc side-valve single. If any readers have any information on Scotts Showa please let us know. Quite nice and very unusual, the machine is badged as a Showa Cruiser.

Bob Bishop exhibited his WW2 Harley which, with its left-side chair, is believed to be the only surviving prototype of the 200 machines originally built by Harley "on-spec" for the Canadian Army. Most of the rest of this group sit at the bottom of the Atlantic sunk by a U-boat. A handful made it to their combat destination in Africa and this one managed to survive until today. Bob found it in England after years of research and all the original war era parts had miraculously survived in storage. It’s a fabulous bike with a great Bob Bishop story behind it. Many parts are one-of-a-kind and Bob says the bike will soon be part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with a larger show called “America in World War II.” We will press him for a center spread article for next issue.

In 1929, Schwinn Bicycle and Motorcycle Manufacturing Company, the parent company to Henderson Motorcycles, planned to make a land speed record attempt in 1929 at Daytona Beach with the Henderson 4 seen here. The Henderson factory attempt was hit hard by the Depression of ‘29 and when the record attempt was canceled, the machine was given to its project engineer who rode the bike on the streets until it was finally parked in 1946. The engineer passed away and left the bike to his son who traded the project to another man in payment for mechanical work on his truck. The truck mechanic became duly frustrated in his attempts to source parts and information and the bike ultimately passed into the hands of Jim Lattin who returned it to its prior condition. The machine sports 2x28 racing tires and a 90 cubic inch KJ high compression overhead engine with a Crower cam. Lattin says that it appears to be built on a lowered Henderson Deluxe frame with a pair of special rigid forks. It was ridden out of the museum moving nicely under its own power. Its noise is a fabulous four- cylinder roar with exposed valve spring clatter. A very nice machine and a special one-of-a-kind offering. You will not see bikes like this everyday.

Not all the machines displayed were bikes with stratospheric prices and "unobtanium" histories. “Motorcycles In The Park” is also a great venue for any members and guests to display their daily rides as well as the high-dollar exotica. Mike Loper entered his 1969 Triumph TR6C, Paul Wheatbread had his pair of fine BSAs (including his “owned-since-new” Super Rocket,) Pete Picksley (AKA “Pietro Pickicelli”) rode his Aprilia Moto 6.5 with a nicely color-coordinated jacket.

Jim Weseman rode his immaculate Norvil Norton “proddy” racer and was brave enough to leave the banana yellow Commando in the parking lot without an armed guard. The fiberglass work on the Norton fairing is as translucent and delicate as fine china. A very stylish ride, although Jim says the steering lock is quite tedious for around town riding. Too bad, Jim...you'll get no sympathy from us.

Brent Santibanez brought a 1948 Harley Davidson Servi-Car. Brent says the bike is an ex-LAPD police bike that was purchased by the Escondido Police in the late '50's. It was later retired to the Escondido Police Drill Team and the Reserve Organization acquired it two years ago. Brent then became the designated care taker and the machine has been restored to this condition on the PDs limited budget. Brent wishes to thank Toms Cycles in Escondido for sponsoring the bike and taking care of the mechanical necessities.

The Club sponsored a few “docents” or experts who lectured on various marques of machines at appointed times during the day to available groups of patrons. This was a great adjunct to the machines on display since the people who restored the individual bikes could give their own personal insight to an interested audience that could truly appreciate the work involved. Thanks to Scott Brown, Paul Lima, Bob Bishop, Wade Parker, and Wesley Stark for their cooperation and for sharing their nearly limitless knowledge. Next year, we plan to add a few more folks to this list and to announce the mini-lectures a little more authoritatively as some museum patrons missed the start times.

The show was a success in setting both a new all-time record plus a new single-day record in attendance.

We would like to thank all of our members and guests for the great turnout this year. The bike displays were of the highest quality, the crowd was most appreciative and the event was fun for us. Plus the museum got a healthy dose of financial support... a good deal for us, the public and the museum. Every one wins. Thanks additionally to Ken and Desi Place who catered our “load-out “ lunch for exhibitors and tired club members who helped with the tear-down. Good food. Good show. Good times. Where was your bike?

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Contents 1999 SDAMC