Speed Demons

Bonneville bikes are the stars of the 2014 Quail Motorcycle Gathering

Now in its sixth year, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in Carmel, Calif., has already proven itself to be a most exceptional one-day classic event. And on May 17, 2014, it got even bigger and better as a record 256 motorcycles were exhibited at the upscale Quail Lodge and Golf Course in Carmel.

But the greater number of bikes on the show field wasn’t the reason this year was so special. It was the array of 27 different classic and contemporary Bonneville speed-record bikes, thought to be the largest such group ever assembled away from the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The machines ranged from garage-built, chopped-down naked bikes to computer-designed and engineered streamliners, several of which are now aiming to become the first motorcycle to break 400 mph at Bonneville’s FIM-certified world-record meet in September. In between was an intriguing range of old and new.

One exceptional classic was the sleek Gyronaut X-1, an alcohol-guzzling, twin-Triumph-powered streamliner that set the absolute motorcycle land speed record at 245 mph in 1966. The Gyronaut has an intriguing link to automotive history in that its designer, Alex Tremulis, was the chief stylist for Auburn Cord Duesenberg and also styled the famed Tucker automobile. Likewise, its body was built by Vince Gardner, who created clay models of the Cord 810 for Gordon Buehrig, and was later restored in 2013 by the great grandsons of Preston Tucker. Today owned by the Tremulis family, the Gyronaut X-1 most deservingly won the Quail’s special 100th Anniversary of the Bonneville Salt Flats award.

Another tremendous addition was the Vincent Black Lightning prototype ridden to a 150-mph American record in 1948 by Rollie Free for owner John Edgar, a noted Ferrari racing entrant of the day. Free made history for more than just the speed he attained on the Vincent; he also appears in the iconic photograph of a prone motorcyclist speeding across the salt wearing nothing but a shower cap, swim trunks and sneakers. Free discarded his racing leathers and risked unthinkable injury that day to attain the record, and in this case the gamble paid off. It also paid off for the owner of the machine more recently, when the Vincent traded hands privately for a reported $1 million.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to slip on a set of leathers (or OK, just your swim suit!), straddle a seething motorcycle and speed across a blinding surface rougher than sharkskin, the Quail event provided much to ponder. Arranged on the golf course green, and fully accessible to the 2,000 event goers, more than two dozen other Bonneville machines enticed viewers to sidle up and imagine just such a dare. Among the classics were Norton and Triumph-engine specials, an earthy 1950 Velocette, and even a little Italian-built Harley-Davidson Rapido two-stroke.

The engineering in each bike is as unique as the characters who race them, and studying them closely gives an appreciation for what Bonneville racers really hold dear – freedom of expression. And this year, The Quail Motorcycle Gathering had it in spades.

2014 Quail Motorcycle Gathering Award Winners

Best of Show
1932 Vincent HRD Python Sport
Gene Brown – Colorado

Spirit of The Quail Award
1925 Brough Superior SS-100
Herb Harris – Texas

100th Anniversary of the Bonneville Salt Flats Award
1964 Triumph Gyronaut X-1
Steve, Sandra, and Ally Tremulis – California

Industry Award
2014 Triumph Scrambler
British Customs, LLC – California

Innovation Award
1920 Ack Attack Special
Mike Akatiff – California

Competition Sport Award
1981 Yamaha XS 650
Jeff Palhegyi – California

Design and Style Award
1974 Norton John Player Special
Gene Brown – Colorado

FIVA Preservation
1972 Ducati Imola
John L. Stein – California

The Quail Ride Award
1927 Scott Flying Squirrel
Lynn Upham – California

Cycle World Tour Award
2012 Magni R3
Brent Lenehan – California

Significance in Racing Award
1950 Vincent HRD Barn Jon
John S. Stein – California

Why We Ride Award
1973 Honda XR75
Clayton Benedetti – California

Scooter Award
1950 Powell P-81
Alvaro Iaccopucci – California

American 1st Place
1959 Harley Davidson FLH Pan Head
Kevin Goe – Nevada

American 2nd Place
1967 Harley Davidson-Aermacchi Sprint ERS
Jove Shapiro – California

Antique 1st Place
1932 Vincent HRD Python Sport
Gene Brown – Colorado

Antique 2nd Place
1936 Harley Davidson EL
Dr. J Craig Venter – California

British 1st Place
1958 Ariel Square Four
Robert Ives – California

British 2nd Place
1951 Vincent Black Shadow
Mike Begley – California

Competition On/Off Road 1st Place
1972 Ducati Imola
John L. Stein – California

Competition On/Off Road 2nd Place
1971 Ossa Stilleto
Blair and Kathy Beck – California

Custom/Modified 1st Place
2014 Triumph Mule Street Tracker
Konstantin Drozdov – Russia

Custom/Modified 2nd Place
2013 CDS SC3 Adventure
Jim Carducci – California

European 1st Place
1950 Moto Rumi Turismo
Museo Moto Italia, LLC – California

European 2nd Place
1966 Bultaco Metralla
Phil and Mary Blackburn – California

Japanese 1st Place
1979 Honda CBX
Peter Rose – California

Japanese 2nd Place
1981 Suzuki GS 1100 E
Trace St. Germain – California

Click below for more about
Read next Up next: Controversial ’66 fintail is a winner with this Mercedes-Benz Club of America member

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *