CARMEL, CALIF., MAY 17—Gordon McCall, director of motorsports at Quail Lodge & Golf Club, said, “The common denominator of two wheels is so much deeper than any of us could have ever guessed. We all do indeed share the same passion.”
At the Quail Motorcycle Gathering, you will find just about any kind or brand of motorcycle you can name made in the last century or so; from the very oldest single cylinder to the newest 200-plus mph electric bike and the salt flat racers fast approaching 400 mph.
Gordon McCall started the event six years ago. He said, “Quail Lodge has always been motorsports friendly and has included motorcycles in their car shows. I wanted to see a stand-alone motorcycle show that was all about the bike world.”
The theme for this year was two-fold: the evolution of the motorcycle honoring both prewar and postwar eras of the world’s finest sports and racing bikes, and celebrating 100 years of speed trials at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Four-time Grand Prix champion and AMA hall of famer Eddie Lawson, and three-time champion of the 500cc Grand Prix and winner of the Daytona 500, Wayne Rainey, were also on hand.
The signature start of the event was Friday’s Quail Ride, a 110-mile journey through the surrounding mountains with a California Highway Patrol escort and a stop at the Laguna Seca Raceway for some laps. Robert Talbott Wineries provided stops at their 565-acre Sleepy Hollow Vineyards facilities on River Road and their tasting room in Carmel Valley. Later that evening a full sit-down dinner was held for the riders.
Most of us ride more modern motorcycles and give little thought to having to fix them on the road or check the fluids. A cross-country trip on one of these bikes was a major undertaking and required skills that, let’s face it, a large portion of today’s riders don’t possess. Eighty miles into the ride, two English bike riders were pulling out baling wire to finish. Most of these bikes were around before AAA and cell phones, so you had to know how to fix them when they broke.
At 10:00 a.m. Saturday the Gathering opened. The event area was like a trip through time for motorcycle enthusiasts. The oldest bikes I saw were a fully restored 1909 Winchester and a fully restored 1910 Winchester, the only one known to exist today. They were also displayed with real Winchester repeating rifles. The “newest” oldest-looking bike was a 2014 Sterling Autocycle with 1920’s styling, manufactured in Italy by Black Douglas Motorcycle Company. Power is provided by a Chinese Zongshen electric-start 230cc pushrod single-cylinder engine. This was the bike’s first stateside appearance.
If you wanted a look at the future of motorcycles, there was the race-ready and street-legal Lightning LS-218 superbike being unveiled to the public on this day. Power is through a water-cooled 200 hp electric motor, giving the bike a top speed of 218 mph with 168 ft/lbs of torque. Charging time is 30 minutes to eight hours, depending on charging voltage. It has a distance of up to 180 miles between charges, and retails for $38,800. Craftsmanship is top notch, and there is no transmission. It holds the world land-speed record as the fastest production motorcycle in the world, electric or otherwise. In June 2013, at Pikes Peak, Lightning won first overall competing against 93 other motorcycle teams (electric and gasoline) by over 20 seconds. The first dealership will open in San Francisco this summer.
This was the first time that the streamlined motorcycles were all in one place at the same time: Joe Teresi’s Easyriders, BUB 7, Ack Attack, EZ Hook, Bud Fab Streamliner, Castrol Rocket and a variety of more traditional salt flat racers like all three Salt Shakers. There were two electric racers, the Riches-Lightning and the Corbin-Yardney 1974 electric racer.
There were a variety of classic bikes from Suzuki, Honda, Bultaco, Ariel, Rumi, Ducati, Vincent, Triumph, Scott, Yamaha, Indian, James, BSA and Clews, not to mention Harley-Davidson, including a 1919 Model W Sport Twin and a 1928 JD 74” V-Twin.
Recording artist Casey Frazier of Carmel Valley warmed up the crowd with his original material before The Inciters, an 11-piece band from Santa Cruz, carried the afternoon weight with the sound of 60’s soul music.
In addition to other venders, there was a display for the movie Why We Ride, which was reviewed in our June issue, and producers Jim Walker and Bryan Carroll were on hand. Jim said they set out to tell the story of famed motorcycle racer Ed Kretz, but the story grew as they met more people. Part of the movie deals with the influence motorcycles have on younger riders and, as a result, Walker and Carroll were awarding the Why We Ride Award and the judges for that category were all 12 and under. The bike they chose was to be the bike that most inspired them to ride.
Four-time Grand Prix winner Eddie Lawson was honored as Legend of the Sport. Eddy’s habit of not crashing and consistently finishing earned him the nickname of “Steady Eddie.” Eddie said he learned a lot as Kenny Robert’s teammate. Today he participates in vintage racing.
Of the 27 awards, Best of Show went to Gene Brown of Colorado for his 1932 Vincent HRD Python Sport, one of four left in the world. The 100th Anniversary of the Bonneville Salt Flats Award went to Steve Tremulus’ Triumph Gyronaut X-1 in which Robert Leppan set a record of 245.667 mph in 1966. The Quail Ride Award went to Lynn Upham’s 1927 Scott Flying Squirrel, and the Spirit of the Quail Award went to Herb Harris’ 1925 Brough Superior SS100. And what bike won the Why We Ride Award? The kids chose Clayton Benedetti’s 1973 Honda XR75. Several kids chose the vintage Honda because, “It’s the same bike my daddy learned to ride on.” It appears that riders of any age do indeed share the same passion.
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 SS100, Herb Harris, Texas
2014 Triumph Scrambler, British Customs, LLC, California
100th Anniversary of the Bonneville Salt Flats Award
1964 Triumph Gyronaut X-1, Steve, Sandra and Ally Tremulis, California
Competition Sport Award
1981 Yamaha XS 650, Jeff Palhegyi, California
1920 Ack Attack Special, Mike Akatiff, California
1972 Ducati Imola, John L. Stein, California
Design and Style Award
1974 Norton John Player Special, Gene Brown, Colorado
Cycle World Tour Award
2012 Magni R3, Brent Lenehan, California
The Quail Ride Award
1927 Scott Flying Squirrel, Lynn Upham, California
Why We Ride Award
1973 Honda XR75, Clayton Benedetti, California
Significance in Racing Award
1950 Vincent HRD Barn Jon, John S. Stein, California
1st Place: 1959 Harley-Davidson FLH Panhead, Kevin Goe, Nevada
1950 Powell P-81, Alvaro Iaccopucci, California
1st Place: 1932 Vincent HRD Python Sport, Gene Brown, Colorado
1st Place: 1950 Moto Rumi Turismo, Museo Moto Italia, LLC, California
1st Place: 1958 Ariel Square Four, Robert Ives, California
1st Place: 1979 Honda CBX, Peter Rose, California
Competition On/Off Road
1st Place: 1972 Ducati Imola, John L. Stein, California
1st Place: 2014 Triumph Mule Street Tracker, Konstantin Drozdov, Russia