The Motorcycle Cannonball Run


When I was younger, in 1969 to be exact, there was a Hanna/Barbera cartoon show on TV featuring various teams competing in Wacky Races during which cheating of all kinds was the norm: and the real experts in this area were Dick Dastardly and his dog Muttley.

The show sprung from the deep recesses of my memory this winter when I first learned about the Cannonball Run race. The name is shared by the 1981 movie in which Roger Moore, Farah Fawcett and Burt Reynolds cross the US in an outlaw car race, a theme that recurs in Monte Hellman's Two Lane Blacktop.

So it would seem that races of this kind have an important place in American folklore.

I must say that I'm totally won over by this idea of hitting the road on the earliest machines; all the bikes taking part have to be Pre 16, meaning that motorcycles often consigned to museums will be brought back to life again. Some will have more advantages than others in that American bikes have chain drive and European bikes belt drive.

The stages seem long: 164 to 200 miles on average at about 9 hours on the road. The race starts on September 10 on the East Coast, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where the Wright Brothers first took to the air, and finishes 16 days in Santa Monica, California.

Back-up cars won't take the same route as the bikes, thus promising some hair-raising roadside repair sessions!

The heat of the South, the dust and the mountains are hardships that will make the race even more exciting. Will a spirit of fair-play be the order of the day?

At first, the organizers had decided to limit the number of entrants to 50; but there are now 70 signed-up a few of which are European (German).

Among them are some we've already spoken about here; all of them will become our heroes as we use the wonders of modern technology to keep a close eye on this great adventure!

Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy the trip!

Pete Young with his 1913 Premier single


Jeffrey Decker with his 1914 HD

Shinya Kimura with a 1915 Indian C-3

Cris Sommer-Simmons, author of The American Motorcycle Girls,
with her 1915 HD


Mats Olsen and his 1913 Sears more details

Vince Martinico, winner of the Concours d'Élégance at Legend of the Motorcycle 008, will be on a 1914 Pope single de 1914