Thursday, March 12, 2009


In 1954 SPEED THOMAS the Harley-Davidson Dealer KC.MO mention to me that he was going to Trailer Ray Hendershot's Triumph to Daytona Beach for the races, and ask If I would like to come along. Having never been to Daytona . SPEED did not have to ask me twice. The plan was that Ray was going to ride his new BSA SUPER FLASH down to Daytona and we would hook up with him when we got there. Ray was a BSA DEALER IN KC. KS

Making this trip would mean several FIRST so I was really looking forward to the trip. One of the BIGGIES was to see the OCEAN for the first time. Oh, I know you people that live on the COASTLINE and seeing BIG BLUE is no big deal. However for us here in the HEART OF THE HOMELAND it was a BIG DEAL for me. Later in life I had a chance to SAIL across the BIG BLUE, Thanks to the US. ARMY , while on my way to KOREA, but that is a whole other story.

Speed, had ask two other fellows to come along , so the non -stop trip with limited driving was to be a easy one.
My Twin Brother ( Fred) and I had been reading & saving Motorcycle Magazines for several years. and had read all about the 200 MILE BEACH RACE AT DAYTONA BEACH . We arrived at DAYTONA early in the week and the Main Street and South Atlantic Ave. was already full of People and Motorcycles, just like we had read in the Motorcycle Magazines over the years.

We went to our Motel that was right on the BEACH SIDE, and my First view of the OCEAN was AWESOME ! I could also view Bikers riding on the beach enjoying the SUN & SAND'S OF DAYTONA BEACH.

They say that you never forget " THE FIRST OF ANYTHING " and that SEA BREEZE is in my Lungs still today !

Ray, comes by the Motel and looks his Race Bike over and picks up his stuff that we brought down with us. He is stayed in Motel next to ours. That evening we all go out to dinner. When the waiter was taking my order he ask " Would you like some Hush Puppies " with your order. Well another FIRST FOR ME.. Ray and Speed could tell that I had no idea, what the waiter was talking about....They both started laughing out loud. OK ,the joke is on me.

The next morning Ray comes over on the BSA and said " GEORGE LETS TAKE A RIDE TO SEE THE BSA RACE BIKES."

This was great news as the local newspaper had write-ups about the National Riders and Motorcycles ( BSA'S ) that were here from the BSA FACTORY IN ENGLAND. Ray and I rode for about 15 Miles and then we came to a OLD AIRPLANE HANGER WWII STYLE. I guess because Ray was a NEW BSA DEALER he had the info. that the BRITISH RACE BIKES were there. We went inside and looked the BSA RACING MODELS OVER. Little did we know at that time these BSA RACE BIKES would set a record at DAYTONA 200 MILE RACE , that will last forever.

Results later in this story. Now we get a little closer to the ENGLISHMAN WRENCHING , on a BSA.

I don't know how many of you knew AL GUNTER, but they say he was not a easy guy to get to know, if you were around him better, just look at what is going on don't speak . Well here comes AL GUNTER , where we are looking this BSA TWIN . AL notices that the Primary Cover, was off the BSA. AL ask the Englishman working on the Bike "WHY DON'T YOU HAVE A SINGLE ROLLER PRIMARY CHAIN ON IT ? " The Englishman gave the WRONG ANSWER " BECAUSE IT CAN NOT BE DONE?" AL GUNTER Blows -up " You Dumb LIMEY , I PUT ONE ON MY BSA TWIN LAST YR. AND WON A NATIONAL ". What AL was referring to was his First National WIN in 1953 at SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA. AL'S AMA RACE Number was 53Z back then.

Race Day is HERE ! I along with the other two guys that came with us were to be PIT MEN for Ray. I was to be the GAS CAN MAN . Ray only made 4 Laps as his motor blew a piston. THE FIRST RIDERS IN THE 1954 200 MILE RACE WERE :
1st place BOBBY HILL ............. BSA

2nd place DICK KLAMFOTH ... BSA


4th place AL GUNTER..................BSA

5th place KENNY EGGERS..........BSA

Remember early on that I mention SPEED THOMAS was a KC HARLEY -DAVIDSON DEALER ?
He and Ray were long time friends, and he knew that I had a BSA, and that RAYwas my BSA Dealer and friend too.

Speed, would be driving and he would turn the rear view mirror at me , setting in the back seat and say " THE BEST MOTORCYCLE DID NOT WIN THE RACE". My reply was that " Don Hutchinson from KC. MO brought in the 1ST HARLEY - DAVIDSON in 10th Place, so that should make you HAPPY. Well that would SPEED quiet for about 75 miles and then back to " The Best Motorcycle did not WIN the Race"
Arriving back Home , I had much to tell my brother Fred and others about Daytona Beach Races 1954.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More about my Daytona Days of 1948

Hello To Many:
I am trying my hand at coping & pasting: Bob James.

Hello Ken,
I know it was Bill Armstrong that I helped work some on his Indian Sport Scout Racer. Erle "POP" Armstrong was my Instructor at the Indian Factory School. Jackie Armstrong was about my age and Bill was like 30 some years of age or more in 1948 and was married and had at least two children. Bill was working on the Indian Factory assembly line putting the flywheels in the cases when the class was being showed how it works to put an Indian Chief together.
Bill and his family lived in the duplex house with Pop & his wife in the other duplex. One weekend when I was helping Bill and it was getting late and colder outside, Pop came down to the basement and later Jackie & one of his buddies had also showed up. Jackie & his buddy past their bottle of booze around and I refused to drink with them. He ask me if I was some kind of Jesus Frick and I told him; "No, I just don't drink." I just kept working on Bill's Racer. Pop even had his drink with him. So, soon Jackie & his buddy left and Pop went back upstairs. Along about midnight,, Pop came back down to the basement and told Bill & me that I just as well sleep in Jackie's bed instead of getting out in the cold and walking the distance to Fritize Baer house where I was staying.
I should had called Mrs. Baer because the next day when I findly showed up she was worried about me. They hadn't seen me since Friday when I & another young man had rode to the Indian Factory that morning with her husband, Fritize Baer and his son Bobby. Fritize was some kind of BIGSHOT for the Indian's.
Well, Anyway I slept in Jackie's bed like Pop has suggested. Jackie had won a 50 mile race on his Indian Race up at Laconia last year and BOY did I feel special of getting to sleep in his bed! But I took a dislike to Jackie for calling me a Jesus Frick.
Even down at Daytona I didn't like being around Jackie Armstrong. I can't remember the names of the two pit-man for Bill Armstrong. They didn't seem to care much for me being part of the pit crew, so I kind of went my own way the day of the Saturday race for Jackie and Sunday race for Bill. I did let Bill borrow my stop-watch however.
I met Dayton Cooper & his girlfriend from Denver and spent some time watching the races with them. I made a trade with Dayton & his girlfriend at his request. I let her have enough of my bus tickets to get het to het grandmothers place in another state and I rode back to Pueblo with Dayton on his Harley and side hack. Said my GOODBYES to Bill and his two man crew after the Sunday race was over and them Dayton saw his girlfriend off on the Bus and him & I took off on his Harley and drove all night I think and all day until we finally got a motel somewhere maybe along the Gulf of Mexico near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We stayed south until it was time to drive north to Los Alamos, New Mexico to visit with our motorcycle friend Boyd West and his wife Thelma and their small son for two nights. From there it was to Pueblo where Dayton & I pulled into my folks yard on his Harley with a side hack. We would take turns driving & sleeping. I figured out that I could sleep on the Side Hack pretty good and so Dayton gave it a try. One time we had to adjust the chains on his machine and one time we got caught in a hail storm in New Mexico and got down inside of a coveret under the highway. It turned cold then before we got in at Santa Fe and on up to the hill at Los Alamos. It was a GREAT experience for me at 20 years of age.
This is getting too long, so will stop for now. Time to go BOWLING!

Take Care, Dad.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daytona Bike Week I believe is here.

Hello, This is March 7, 2009 and I believe that Daytona Bike Week is going on.

I was there for the races of 1948 when the races used the beach for the front straight-way.
I drew number 12 position for the Saturday Amateur 50 miles race. My wheels didn't materialize like I had hoped for.
I was there with Billie Armstrong No 55 Indian Racer from Springfield, Mass. I took pictures of him and the two pit crew members that we had for Billie and his young brother Jackie Armstrong. Other pictures that I took were Johnny Speigelhoff, Ted Edwards, Bobby Baer and Floyd Emde. Bill Tuman and his brother walking and Ed Kretz with Floyd Emde wife. Oh yes, Chuck Basney and Fred Ford. There is a few more that I can't think of their names right now.

Bob James 80N.

A new way of reaching YOU!

Hello White Plate Trackers,
Here we have an excellent way of reaching each other!

Bob James 80n


Ray Hendershot, was the BSA DEALER in KANSAS CITY, KS in 1958. Ray would help out any rider that needed help, along the way. In 1958 he met such a rider, a First Year Class " A" Rider . During my visit to Ray's shop the Topic of the STURGIS SD. RACES came up. Ray often mentioned the STURGIS RACES and the FEED HELD AT THE CITY PARK...BUFFALO BUGERS !

Being that the STURGIS RACES were a 2 day event, Ray ask me if I would like to come along to watch over things as he could only stay for one race day . Ray had a second night job at TWA, so after the 1st Day Races he would fly back to Kansas City KS. The plan was that after the STURGIS SD. RACES we would then go to thwe Kansas Fair Races and then on to SPRINGFIELD IL. for the MILE NATIONAL. Ray would meet us at SPRINGFIELD IL. that following weekend.

First Year Class " A" Rider did Ok the during the 1st day of racing. The next morning we headed out to get breakfast. We spotted some racers trailerd RACE BIKES parked at this small cafe on main street STURGIS, so we stopped and went inside. While sitting at our booth I noticed several well known CA. RACE RIDERS , sitting at a table near us.

We were about to order our Breakfast when in walks JOE LEONARD National # 1 in 1958. Joe ask the question "Does anybody have a sharp RAZOR as I want to have a clean shave when I kiss the Trophy Girl Today.

First Year Class "A" Rider sitting across from me in our booth says " Joe what makes you think , you are going to WIN the Trophy Dash Today ? " The CA. racer guys , sitting at the table near us look our way....Hell , I wanted to slid under or booths table, at that time. No comment fron JOE. I then ask First Year Class " A" Rider why he would say something like that to JOE LEONARD ? He said in his TEXAS DRAW " WELL THE RACE HAS NOT BEEN RUN YET".

Needless to say JOE LEONARD WON : The Trophy Dash ( Kissed the Trophy Girl) and WON everything else that day.

My long time friend, First Year Class "A" Rider went on to become a NATIONAL NUMBER and WON NATIONAL RACES at the MILE & 1/2 MILE RACE TRACKS ...........SAMMY TANNER # 7


Sturgis 1938

*click picture for larger view*
In Pappy Hoel's book "Life's Bits & Pieces" He has this picture that was taken at the first AMA sanctioned 1/2 mile race in Sturgis, South Dakota.

In the book he tells a great story about some of the events that led up to that day that I will post a portion of it here.

"Back in 1938 while operating an ice delivery business and also just starting my Indian motorcycle dealer agency, Sturgis held its first AMA sanctioned 1/2 mile races.

Old Uncle Mike Tagaris of Denver, Colorado, one of the leading Indian dealers of that time, gave us so much needed help and also so much needed advice to me in setting up a new Indian dealership. Bless his heart, I will never forget him.

His nephew, Jimmy Tagaris who carried on Mike's agency after Mike's death, came to Sturgis late in the night before a race and had no place to sleep. I told him I would fix him up and I took him and his group up the canyon to our ice house where natural ice was stored for delivery. I spread canvas on top of the sawdust which covered the ice and left,
thinking I had done my friend a favor.

Early the next morning here comes Jimmy, cold, shaking and miserable. He said "Holy cow, that place was cold last night. What kind of building was it?" When I told him he had been sleeping on top of over a 1,000 tons of ice he really blew up and I had some real explaining to do."

I am not sure, but I think it was Don Vodden who won the main event that day???

Friday, March 6, 2009

Riders Meeting!

It has been a long time coming but finally here is a place where members and friends of the WPFTA can share stories and do some virtual bench racing.

So with that all said -- let's get going!

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