Monday, September 14, 2009

Race Weekend – Day 1 Antique Racers

Not having been able to take a vacation of any kind for a couple of years now I decided that since this one job didn’t show up for the work that was planned that I was going to make a long four day weekend out of the Labor day weekend. For years I’ve heard of the Davenport Labor day weekend antique swap meet and races. Hell I even tried to go last but as some of you might remember I made a wrong turn and didn’t make it. Read that as I was an idiot and didn’t pay attention to where I was going.

Not this year though. I not only made it to this event and had just a bang up time at it. The weather was perfect for the whole event to boot. So nice in fact that I just rolled the sleeping bag out next to Whiskey for the night with no need for the tent. The swap meet was large with some real gems hidden here and there with some real junk thrown in for good measure. There was even an real nice" “ride in” bike show in one of the buildings but I’m sure most if not all made it there in a trailer. Which is in no way a slam on them because some of these restored bikes were very nice in deed and the ones in original condition still showed all of their time worn marks of pride. All in all a bunch of great looking bikes from a time most of us have never seen.

My only issue was my damn digital camera. Oh I was prepared for taking pictures. I had fresh set of charged batteries, a spare set of charged batteries and even a freshly formatted memory card. So what went wrong? The dang memory card took a dump and the camera was unable to format the card no matter what I tried. Heaven only knows why but it worked at home before I hit the road. Got to love the digital adventures… not. So for that reason all of the photos are once again from the phone that despite not having a flash took some pretty good photos in the night time lighting for being just a phone cam. 

Back to the races though. For me the real fun was watching the antique motorcycle dirt track races. What a hoot to watch these men, and one lady, race these old machines around this half mile dirt track. Forget about the riders taking it easy on these bikes, some being well over fifty years old and older. They drove them just as hard as I’m sure they once raced back all those years ago. The real highlight for me and I’m sure others was the old board track racers. Most of these bike were a hundred years old or older. These bad boys of yester year were still very fast. About ten bikes were in this class and to watch them roll off the banking of the short inner track for the rolling start was very cool in deed. Since these real life board track racers have no clutch, or brakes for that matter, it require that they make flying starts. Watching these riders handle these bikes with nothing more then springs on the seats for suspension and handle bars hung down low with skinny little tires was quite the thrill. As they came to the green flag for the rolling start it was like being transformed back to the time these were a main stay of any county fair grounds of the times. Hearing the sound of these engines with their short 10” long pipes, watching the riders three and four wide elbow to elbow joust for the front spot as they head for the first corner to disappear from sight heading for the back straight. Then as they come out of turn four with the rider all but laying on the gas tank to squeeze ever last bit of speed of their machines they fly by again dropping their left foot to the ground shooting off sparks from the steel shoes as the flames belch out of the pipes when the riders close the throttles for the corner. The crowd in the full grandstand roar with approval with each lap. After a few laps one of the old engine expires in grand fashion in the middle of the front straight as it blows the cylinder completely off the engine causing the real wheel to lock up as the rider slides it skillfully to the side of the track. Just then the old blue Harley with the white tires who tried but failed to make the start of the races comes cruising off the banking of the short track to join the race. Again the crowd roars it’s approval as the rider heads off in to turn one. I’m sure for most of these racers it’s not so much about winning as it is just to be there racing. To enjoy a thrill that can’t be had in any other way or time. Maybe getting to keep the checkered flag and make the victory lap with it held high to cheering crowd proved that they were the best this evening was what is all about for some. But as I talked to the rider who hauled all the way from Los Angeles put it best when he said “damn it that was so much fun!” I’ve got to bet that is what it is all about, the fun. Just as when I helped Frog race his nitro Harley it was all about the fun, winning was just a plus. And this was fun for all, riders and spectators a like. The cheap fifteen dollar admission fee was worth every penny. Even the crappy race steaks (hot dogs)  couldn’t kill the great time I had at these old timer races.

The rest of the weekends races where fun but nothing compared to the fun and races I had this evening. Enjoy the slide show, and Dave there is even a 1937 Crocker in there for you. Yes there was one at the bike show and I thought of you instantly. Got to admit it was the first time I’ve even seen one, pretty cool. Sorry the photo isn’t any better for you.


I’ve been lacking at getting to everyone's blog lately so I’ll work on making thee rounds and catch up with what all of you have been doing.



Mr. Motorcycle said...

Man oh man, some of those bikes are SWEET!, And in such nice condition to boot.

Glad you made it this year!

Allen Madding said...

I just love the looks of the old racers. simple but beautiful.


Dean "D-Day" said...

So awesome! I would love to see some old-time boardtrack racing!

Glad you made a weekend out of it.

FLHX_Dave said...

Crap. I broke my camera on the last run so I feel yah. Yea, cell phone picts suck but most of yours came out ok.

I saw a Crocker in there. Sweet! It's probably only worth somewhere around...oh...I dunno $200,000. The last one I saw sell went for $400,000. pffffttt....

Thanks for sharing! I love people who share shit. Nice time out. I'm fond of the older ones...though I wouldn't wanna ride one for any amount of distance...except for the Crocker. I didn't even know what the hell a Crocker was a couple of years ago.

IowaHarleyGirl (Stephanie) said... year let me know about this! I would love love love to go watch motorcycle racing! FUN! Loved the photos of the old racers! COOL!

mq01 said...

but fasthair, wheres the boats & bikinis? ;)

seems we need to check our phone bills, i wonder how high of charges bob and whiskey racked up...

seems like a fantastic time!! great pics. i can just imagine camping under the stars and watching this old school racing, awesome!!!

maybe your next vacation you'll make it out to a certain dead tree?

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Fasthair:

I'm glad you got away for a great weekend! So did I. And while I rode my bike like hell at the final destination, I regret to report I trailered it the four hundred miles as my hips weren't up to the effort. But better days are coming.

My fencing coach from college (you read that correctly) was a board racer for Indian Motorcycles. He was 77 when I met him 1973.

Great blog. Welcome back.

Fobndest regards,
Jack • Reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

mq01 said...

its friday fasthair, whaaaaa pleeeeze.....i want bikes boats & bikinis dammit ;)

Rick and Monique Elgersma said...

The best pictures are left in the brain anyway. Sweet trip man.

Jack Riepe said...

It's been a long time. You okay?


Webster World said...

Has anyone heard from Motorhead? Her last post left us all hanging.

fasthair said...

yah yah I'm just fine thank you. Just been busy at work, doing a few pet projects and well... you know...


Michelle said...

This is such an amazing entry and I love to read more of it so that I will be able to look over and have it as an inspiration for further articles to write about when it comes to updates on motorcycle stuffs and it's pros and cons too. I do hope you will get to visit our official website and let us know what you think about it. Here is the link

Thanks ahead and happy holidays to you and the rest of your family. :)