3/27/09

George Formby, No Limit


Burlesque and spectacular this movie about the TT race is from 1935.

Mr N.Y.C Cummings a Norton Racer

Kenny(1s) and Doug MacRae(918) from Daytona

A few days ago i ask Kenny Cummings to tell us more about him and his life as a musician and a Norton rider.
We all know him thru is website but i wanted more from him.
You will find bellow what he sent me.

Hi Frank,

I grew up in Seattle, Washington. I started playing piano when I was 4 years old, and began playing in bands when I was 13.
I was quite successful with my music in Seattle, but, after a chance visit to New York City, I knew that this was where I needed to be. I moved to New York a week after my 22nd birthday, and began working in a recording/rehearsal studio used by internationally renowned artists. There, I made many contacts and ended up working and touring with musicians from Elvis Costello and Aretha Franklin to Midnight Oil. After a few years, I decided that I needed more time to work on my own music, so I quit touring and landed a day job in a small company that publishes and distributes high-end art and photography books.
At that point, I finally had enough stability in my life to buy my first Norton Commando, a 1974 MKII. I'd had dirt bikes as a kid, but this was my first true street bike.

I rescued the bike from a Harley dealer in West Virginia for a fair price. I don't think I'd been so excited since I was a kid at Christmas time. If only I'd known how much my life was going to change!

Around this time, my band, Shelby, was formed. We got a great recording contract with a large indie label, Gigantic, and put out our full-length CD "The Luxury of Time". Many songs on our initial EP and on "the Luxury of Time" are about riding, although the connection may not be immediately apparent.

Owning a Norton in New York has its built-in challenges. People live in apartments with no private garages, and there are very few public places in which you can work on your bike. At first I had to wrench on the sidewalk in front of my apartment building. Later, I found a garage in the East Village, where I could park the bike and keep my tools, leathers, etc. I rented a 3' x 7' space there for many years, and completely restored my Commando in that spot. I rode the bike almost every day, whether just pottering around New York, or taking it on long, spirited weekend mountain rides. I became quite competent at wrenching and maintaining the bike; it was well-ridden but was polished and clean all the time. I LOVED my bike.

I decided to keep a web log (long before the word "blog" was used) of my bike stuff. It is still out there at http://www.nycnorton.com

A few years into glorious Commando ownership, I traveled to a big concours show in Park City, Utah, to look at the pretty bikes. A vintage race was being held there at the time, and, as I walked through the show I could hear the race bikes buzzing by, and decided to take a walk up to the paddock. I was absolutely floored at what I saw: Manx Nortons, Commandos,Triumphs of all sorts, CR750 Hondas, Goldstars, Matchless G50s, lots of Ducati 250 and 350s, etc. As I stood there with my mouth wide open, a racer pulled in on his Manx with oil leaking out of the tank, did a quick repair, and shouted at me to give him a push to start. When that bike fired up in front of me the hook was set.... This was where I needed to be--at the race track.

my Seeley at Grattan in June, 2008 (photo credit Doug MacRae)

Sometime around 2002 I bought a rusty 1962 Featherbed ES2 frame and Commando motor and began accumulating the parts to build a Commando-based Featherbed Racer. Again, a new learning curve. I immediately realized that there are very few parts you can buy off the shelf to make a race bike. You have to fabricate most of them yourself. I began putting considerable time and money into this bike, building a moderately tuned motor and getting the chassis sorted. I had no idea what I was doing, really, but had such intense motivation that no one could tell me different. After a year of steady work the bike was almost ready to go, but its owner had never even been on a race track before. I knew that it was time to face facts - either I had to learn how to race or I had to sell the bike to someone who could give it what it deserved. So I took a racing
school, renting a modern Ducati 900ss for my 2-day session, and came home with a racing license. That year, I took my Featherbed out to Mid Ohio, which is one of the biggest vintage-racing events in the US. I'll never forget lining up in the grid for my first race and seeing the names on the backs of the leathers in front of me: "Springsteen", "Nixon". WOW.
at Barber in October, 2008 (photo credit Esther Montoro)

I took 6th place in my first race in the rain! I thought I was so fast, but I was really SLOW! I went to 6 events that year, crashing out of my last race in October. Time to re-evaluate and repair. All winter I worked on making the bike more of a racer and less of a café racer. I spent the next two seasons getting as much seat-time as possible on the track, and began to figure it
all out. I became friends with fellow New Yorker Dave Roper (the only American ever to win the Isle Of Man) and we'd share expenses traveling to races together. During the long drives I would quietly pick his brain about racing. I think his mojo rubbed off, as I won my first race after we traveled up to Quebec together.


my 1st place plaque at Daytona this year (photo credit Esther Montoro). In 2007, I decided to do as much of the AHRMA national series as possible, starting with Daytona and ending at Barber. By the end I had won several races and was able to clinch the National BEARS (British, European, American Racing Series) 750 class. However, as I became faster, my poor old Featherbed began to show its weaknesses and
was cracking at almost every race, sometimes necessitating a complete teardown before the next outing. I had taken a friend's Seeley Commando out for a lap at Mid Ohio that year and immediately knew that I had to have one.
Over the winter, I contacted John Woods in the UK, and within six weeks I had the most beautiful frame and parts in my hands, ready to build up for 2008. Working with John was the best experience I've had with a racing supplier. In 2008, I began winning with the 1968 Seeley Commando, and although I never felt a miraculous change from the Featherbed (a testament to how well a Featherbed frame is designed), my lap times went down significantly. Two-thirds of the way through 2008, I had clinched the BEARS championship again.

2009 is here, and I fared quite well at Daytona in March, taking a 2nd and 1st in BEARS, and 3rd in Formula 750. I'm tentatively planning on running most of the AHRMA series and will focus more on the F750 class this year. I am looking forward to running with the big dogs.

I still love my bikes. Sadly, my street bike doesn't see much action these days. Once you're on the track, you never go back. Or something like that.

-Kenny Cummings
NYC

The Video :



Listen to Shelby's track "the wait"