By Dr. Gregory Frazier
A Book Review
Today’s television programming is chocked full of “reality TV.” Viewers find documentation of risk taking and adventure spell-binding and watch by the tens of millions. But in 1912 all round-the-world motorcycle traveler Carl Stearns Clancy had to get his adventurers to the public was a film camera and a simple typewriter; a motorcycle magazine published installments over a year through 1913, his planned book never materialized.
But modern motorcycle world traveler Dr. Gregory Frazier set about researching this ride of 100 years ago and did get the book written and published. Frazier lets us read Clancy’s almost daily reflections on his ride around the world on a 1912 Henderson Four. Frazier located most of the individual published stories and put them together with some support and context, a prologue, an epilogue. Besides travels across America at the end of the journey, Clancy rides through France, Spain and traverses parts of the African and Asian continents. He’s met with bad weather, horrendous roads, or almost none at all in China. Along the way, in appropriate places he works to sell franchises for Henderson motorcycles to dealers.
The book is a great read because it’s in “first person,” Clancy’s words in the moment, 100 years ago, and is really something of a period piece. Thankfully, Frazier found the old stories and put them together so we can go along on a ride that, frankly, with modernization and geo-political changes we can no longer make. You can get your copy from the National Motorcycle Museum On-Line store and will no doubt enjoy it.
1963 & 1971 Grand National Champion
Looking back at racing in the 1950’s through the early 1970’s, Dick Mann is often thought of as the hardest working man in GNC racing. He did it all; was a world class racer, tuner, frame builder and went head-to-head with the AMA in political matters like increased safety, motorcycle homologation and purse money for the racers.
Mann was tough and versatile on the track, loved scrambles and excelled on rough tracks that slowed most riders down, even raced motocross! He was also one of the smoothest and fastest road racers through the 1960’s & ‘70’s.
At heart Dick Mann was an independent soul and though he had factory support for most of his career, he won the 1963 title aboard both BSA’s and Matchless machines, he was not a “true” factory rider for either brand. Though still winning Nationals into the late 1960’s, BSA considered him over the hill and began recruiting younger riders. Mann found a ride with Honda for the 1970 Daytona 200 and riding a kitted CB750 won his first race there after years of trying. He re-signed with BSA for 1971 and his career was reborn. In 1971, he won his second Daytona 200 and went on to win the GNC title again.
Mann’s win at the Homewood Mile in Illinois made him the first rider, one out of four ever to complete a GNC Grand Slam. He had won in every discipline on the GNC trail; short track, mile, half-mile, TT and road race. He won a record eight TT Nationals. His first (1959) and last (1972) wins were at Peoria, notching a total of 24 GNC wins.
Still competitive in 1974, Mann decided to hang it up. He continued to ride motocross and enduro events and began building a successful line of frames. Contracted to help design a short track racer, the OSSA DMR (Dick Mann Replica) is based on his chassis design. Mann has been heavily involved in vintage racing of all motorcycle sports right up to today and was instrumental in the early and continuing success of AHRMA, the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association.
Whether you call it flat track or dirt track racing, it’s a thrilling form of motorcycle competition unique to America. Now Allstate Motorcycle Dirt Track Heroes presented by J&P Cycles brings together nearly 30 race bikes, over 20 sets of leathers and countless photos, paintings and prints. It’s been assembled to build a great exhibition in tribute to the #1 Plate Grand National Champions, tuners and other dirt track greats and many of the motorcycles they raced.
Triumph 650’s, the Harley WR’s, KR750’s and XR750’s, BSA Gold Stars, and some fine short trackers like the Bultaco Astro are all in the mix. Rare #1 leathers King Kenny wore, Aldana’s “skeleton” design as well as leathers Daytona 200 winner Don Emde also wore when he raced the TransAtlantic Match races decades ago. Paintings by Scott Jacobs, prints by Harry Miller as well as photos from Camel Pro photographer Bert Shepard help give action to the exhibit.
Rare among the bikes is a one off that uses a Honda CX500 engine, long before Honda built their own, the NS750 and a machine powered by a Polaris 440 show mobile power plant. Don Castro’s outrageous Tracy-bodied Triumph, outlawed after its first race, Bart Markel’s Harley KR750, his rare bronze Mechanics Award and the checker flag he won at Springfield are on display as well. Terry Poovey’s XR750, Shobert’s RS750, the last Triumph Gary Nixon raced at the end of his professional career and even a Harley MX250 Bill Werner tuned that helped Scott Parker and Jay Springsteen to three National race wins. The story of steel shoe master builder Ken Maely is also included with over a dozen steel shoes on display including his personal shoe, “KM” arc welded onto its toe. And you can check out the “race shop” with master frame builder John Kite’s frame jig, even a flow bench and tool box once owned by Harley racing director, Dick O’Brien.
The exhibit is open now, but you are invited to attend the official dedication on June 8 during Vintage Rally 2013 and meet Bubba Shobert, Jay Springsteen, Chris Carr even Bill Werner. Hall of Famers, #1 plate guys, among the hardest working men in Grand National Championship history. Meet them at Vintage Rally 2013. Get an autograph, ask them questions, hear their stories in the Panel Discussion. Or if it’s Beach racing that you marvel at in racing history, talk with Bill Tuman, Dick Klamfoth and Bobbie Hill plus Iowa flat track racer John Tibben. Authors Greg Pearson and Gerald Foster will have plenty of their books on dirt track racing so you can get your copy, maybe add some champions’ autographs. All at the National Motorcycle Museum June 8 and 9 during Vintage Rally 2013 as we dedicate Allstate Motorcycle Dirt Track Heroes presented by J&P Cycles.
With all the uncertainty and change in our world, it’s nice to see something constant. If you know Mike and Margaret Wilson, motorcycling friends from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, you know there are many ways they have never changed, been constantly at each other’s sides, and constantly and tirelessly helping motorcycling.
As Harley-Davidson and later Honda dealers, they too kept the world around them on two wheels. And they helped great racers like Leo Payne succeed in racing. Mike is also part of the antique aviation world. He has given tirelessly to historic projects like the resurrection of Glacier Girl, a World War II aircraft buried under the ice at the South Pole.
Margaret, a lifelong Motor Maid continues to attend the club’s national events and until very recently rode her motorcycle to them. A great listener and judge of character, she is most certainly Mike’s better half.
This couple has greatly helped motorcycle museums and halls of fame continue their work to honor motorcyclings’ past and its great history. They have served on boards, worked events, counseled leaders and given of their resources to make sure the history of motorcycling is preserved.
So this week we honor Margaret and Mike Wilson, married for 70 years, exceptional in so many ways, including in their constant love for each other, and motorcycling.
Fueling youthʼs early interest in motorcycles long before the age they can grab the handlebar themselves, the motorcycle toy can rivet even an adult’s attention. On a tabletop or down on the ﬂoor, wind-up, friction or just cast iron push type, the motorcycle toy doubtless helped make some motorcycle riders of the future. This large, complete motorcycle toy collection on view at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa includes some small machines so rare and ﬁne they may have been bought by adults for personal display!
The motorcycle toy collection shown here is the work of well-known motorcycle collector, and founder of J&P Cycles, John Parham. Parham has been collecting not just ﬁne real motorcycles for over 25 years, but the museum he presides over has amazing graphic art, memorabilia, apparel, petroleana, bicycles, even full scale diorama representations of motorcycle racing scenes. So adding motorcycle toys to the mix of great objects on display, adding something to excite youth was a natural for Parham. “I remember a few select toys from my youth, how I longed for them and eventually got them from my parents and played with them a long time, really enjoyed them. I see this in my grandson now as well. The design and manufacture of what he enjoys is much different from these antiques, but they are just as important to him. ”Many of the toys in the collection represent real life motorcycle use and some even employ mechanisms to put the rider and machine into action. Soldiers, police, ﬁremen, competition riders, the ice cream man, there are even circus performers and elaborate three wheel ﬂower delivery machines. A near complete set, many versions and different scales of Hubleyʼs Say It With Flowers toys are on view. Hubley, Marklin, Matchbox, Arnold, Techno-ﬁx, Fischer, Marx, Hot Wheels, ﬁne older German, French, Japanese and American toys along with toys relevant to baby boomers and their children; Rat Fink chopper variants by Ed Roth. And, though maybe not really toys, thereʼs a grouping of the ﬁnest die-cast from makers like Franklin Mint and Harley-Davidson.
Youʼll be amazed by the original and restored pedal cars which range from boats to airplanes with great examples of cars and motorcycles making a strong showing. The National Motorcycle Museum website is www.nationalmcmusem.org and offers location and lodging information, or call 319 462 3925 for details. Currently the website is focused on the “real” motorcycles in the collection, but these photos should give you an idea of whatʼs there in collectible toys. Itʼs well worth a trip to this museum in east central Iowa which is about three hours west of Chicago and is open daily year around.
The National Motorcycle Museum has become quite a cross roads for all sorts of antique and vintage motorcycling. John Parham, long time collector and president of the Museum practically lives there and welcomes in almost daily collectors of motorcycles, toys, artwork, photos and more, even old oil cans and great porcelain signs.
Interesting linksHere are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)
102 Chamber Drive | PO Box 405
Anamosa, Iowa 52205
Phone (319) 462-3925
Fax (319) 462-3982
The National Motorcycle Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation
Donations may be tax deductable, please consult your local tax advisor