Pre 1916 Rallies in California in the 1970s. Part 1
Tom Holthaus from Quality Machine Shop in Santa Clara gave me a pile of old photos. –Get in touch with him if you have a pre 1916 bike or car that needs service. He does it all, from pouring babbit bearings, to grinding cams to rebuilding wood bodies, etc.
He was digging around in an office and found these photos that were taken in the 1970s at some pre16 tours. He thinks it was at Hollister, and maybe the photographer was a doctor who attended some of the events back then. No other details are known, except that Tom has written the names of some people that he remembers. Just a few of these guys are still active in the pre16 tours, and it is really fun for me to see them in younger days. The pics were really underexposed, but thanks to the wonders of modern computer programs, I was able to brighten them up. A few are out of focus, but I couldn’t do much about that.
Here is Tom himself, on his 1915 Excelsior twin.
Bud Ekins on his Pope motorcycle. This might be my favorite photo that I’ve seen all year. It is Bud, it has a Pope (OHV, rear suspension, etc. engineering exotica), he’s riding down the road, and his smile and plaid flannel just make me happy.
Another good one. Today you’ll know Steve Huntzinger as one of the very top restorers of early machines. But 30 years ago he was a shirtless stud posing on his HD belt drive single with his Vans tennis shoes and a giant belt buckle.
I don’t know who this guy is, but he rules on this Indian. All extra weight has been removed, bars are set low and he’s itching to go fast. And remember that this bike isn’t in a museum, he’s on the road fighting the traffic and the stop lights. A hero.
Start ‘em up! This rider is on the pedals to get this other early Indian to fire. White tires were still available back then, and you can see the adjustable handlebars and the infamous Indian control linkages that would sometimes telescope just far enough to fall apart when the rider turned the handlebars just a bit too far.
A neat Thor single.
That cowboy is watching closely. Fearful of Indians?
A 1913 Excelsior twin.
Lysle Parker lived up in Volcano, CA and hosted some pre16 tours up there. Here he is on an Indian, but his grandson has shown me pics of some of his more exotic machines.
An early HD single. I don’t know these very well. What is the year and model?
Two pics of Sam Merrill on his Pierce single.
Dick Bigness was a local SF area rider of early machines. Victor Boocock has spoken highly of him several times.
There was a great variety of machines on the tours back then. I’ve heard that it was common to see 50+ bikes all pre1916 models on a three day tour. And not just HDs and Indians. Hendersons, Thors, Popes, Exclesiors, Pierces, etc are all shown just in this group of photos. It must have been a lot of fun. Today’s rides are terribly fun too, but we don’t see over 50 early bikes, more like 20-25.
Three pics of Thor singles and twins.
There are 20 more pics in this series, I’ll post them soon.