A breakout year for the Quail

The 11th Quail Motorcycle Gathering featured epic weather, jaw-dropping motorcycles, Malcolm Smith and more

The ‘Made in America’ display was a hit.

Words by Mitch Boehm

Photos by Felicia Morgan and the Quail Motorcycle Gathering

Gordon McCall, the founder, point man and primary driver of the annual Quail Gathering in Carmel, California, is a happy guy. You can see it on his face, hear it in his voice.

“There were quite a few aha! moments this year,” McCall tells me on the heels of the 11th Quail Gathering. “We had a great crowd, wonderfully interesting and historic motorcycles, and superb weather. Leading up to the event I kept telling everyone that this event deserved sunshine…and we got it!”

Gordon McCall, welcoming all.

And boy, did they. There’s something crisp and clean and almost magical about the Carmel/Monterey Peninsula sunlight that appears once the ocean mist burns off, and it’s the perfect sort of light in which to take in the truly world-class motorcycles the Quail features each year.

This year’s event featured the usual vast array of memorable machines, from new to old and everything in between. Highlights were the 100th Anniversary of Brough Superior effort (with ten examples on display) and a 50-year Honda CB750 birthday celebration (with a sandcast 750 Four owned by Sam Roberts winning Best of Show). Also featured was the appearance of On Any Sunday legends Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith, with Malcolm accepting the AMA’s Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement award from AMA president Rob Dingman.

On Any Sunday  heroes Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith with AMA’s Rob Dingman.

McCall, who got into motorcycles at the age of 14 when he secretly bought a Honda CL90 against his mother’s wishes (which he rode and kept hidden until he got his license two years later), feels strongly about offering attendees a fabulous time and a wide swath of motorcycles and moto-history to take in. “Peninsula Hotels and Peninsula Events, who’d I’ve partnered with for the Gathering, are all about a great experience,” McCall says. “They do hospitality, and they do it well, which is why the only people who have negative things to say are the people who haven’t been here!”

Old Harleys soaking up the sunshine.

“Traditionally,” he adds, “motorcyclists are used to security people telling them ‘You can’t park here.’ Well, at the Quail, you can park here. You can eat delicious food. You can check your jacket and helmet. And you can – and will – have an amazing day looking at and talking about the world’s great motorcycles and motorcyclists.”

A CR/CB750 duo.
A Brough Superior.

And he’s right – as the 3,000-plus people who attended the Quail gathering will gladly tell you.

Next year’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering is slated for Saturday, May 16th, 2020 at the Quail Lodge in Carmel.

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