Last month’s Race of Gentlemen at California’s Pismo beach brought racers together from as far as Japan and the East coast for a weekend of sand skirmishes and head-to-head racing on pre-WWII machinery.
(See more car coverage here…)
The Pacific coast weather had other plans, however, and a big storm limited the racing to a few wet and wild hours on Saturday. And while many came to see the historic roadsters and coupes, the motorcycles gave the 10,000+ spectators a hell of a show.
Once the tide rolled back enough for the racing to start, the racers made up for lost time battling sometimes four abreast, putting the hammer down and getting squirrely.
While everyone lucky enough to be tearing up the beach that day was having fun, the two-wheelers clearly had the biggest grins on their sand-splattered faces.
All of the bikes had to be pre-approved by TROG and be pre-1947 American machines with a preference for cut-down early-style race iron. This made for an outstanding group of Harley, Indian and Excelsiors. Here are a few of our favorites.
Do yourself a favor and look up the Seattle Cossacks. These maniacs have been stunt-riding on motorcycles since the ’30s – and are still going! Sam Oppie was #32 on the team and also a racer and mechanic. In the ’20s he worked at the Harley dealership in Seattle and, bit by the go-fast bug and probably an employee-discount, started tearing apart stock ’25 JDs. He’d add the 2-cam engine used for competition only (and not available to the public until 1928), lower the seat and rework the new teardrop tank, bob the fender and add a front-brake. It’s thought that he made about 25 of these and only a few still survive. It was amazing to see Domenic Martinico blasting his on the beach.
Like Sam Oppie, Jerry Chinn hails from the Washington state. Maybe something about all that wet weather makes a guy really appreciate a hot bike. 1922 was the first year for the Chief with it’s big 61ci engine from the Powerplus. Jerry’s bike looks to be an original racer probably used on many a flat-track and hill-climb. Perfect.
This bike just hits all the right notes. Built by Jeremiah Armenta, aka Love Cycles, it’s a ’38 Harley frame with ’40 knucklehead engine and ’40 transmission. Love the Flanders bars + risers, Bates seat and those tanks!
This amazing machine made it’s way from Tokyo where Sin Takizawa and Toshiyuki ‘Cheetah’ Osawa built it originally for Born Free 6 as the ‘Kraken’ and have now rebuilt it as a beach racer. The motor is topped with very rare OHV heads originally built by Andy Koslow. He was an Excelsior mechanic who helped develop them in the ’20s for the Super-X which helped Excelsior win the hill-climbing championship in 1929 and 1930. Soon Excelsior went out of business but Koslow got the rights and molds for the heads. While only 3 Super-X’s remain, several examples of the heads are still out there often mated to HD bottom ends as they were used in early midget racing. This bike has an incredible amount of detail and workmanship and went like crazy up and down the beach at TROG!