|Almost as quickly as it started, the 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball covered its last mile on Sunday, September 23, as riders rolled across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco crossing the finish line at the famed Dudley Perkin’s HD — America’s oldest family owned Harley-Davidson Dealership. The placement of this year’s finish line was quite fitting — Dudley Perkin’s HD has been in business since 1914, and actually sold machines identical to several of the competiting Cannonball motorcycles brand new.
This year’s Coast-to-Coast Motorcycle Cannonball Eundurance Run took 16 days crossing the country from Newburg, NY to San Fran, and was for machines made before 1930. Over 70 riders came to the start with a range of expectations…some out for the adventure of riding a primitive machine from east coast to west, and others with a competitive approach to keeping their machine in tip-top shape over every mile in hopes of bringing home the coveted Cannonball Trophy after more than two gruelling weeks on the road.
Riders and their machines were divided into three classes for the 4000-mile journey — Class I held the smallest number of machines in the run, featuring machines below 750cc. Nine riders competed on motorcycles ranging from BMW’s and Rudges to three BSA 500cc Singles. Class II was for machines between 750cc-1000cc, and featured more than a few familiar faces, and machines, from the first Motorcycle Cannonball in 2010. And finally, Class III contained riders with machines above 1000cc displacement, which included a host of Harley-Davidson JD’s and Henderson Four-cylinders, echoing the once tense rivalry between two of America’s top motorcycle manufacturers.
For those unfamiliar, taking a primitive pre-1930 machine from one coast to another is phenomenal undertaking, requiring , stamina and grit, loads of skill and mechanical expertise, experience, and more than just a little luck. For 16 days, riders poured their hearts and souls into this ride…..working long nights to prepare their machines for the next days ride……waking early every morning for 7 a.m. start times….and finessing their 90 year old equipment through the day’s route, over mile-high mountain passes, down long-lonesome highways, through rain, wind, heat and cold.
When the final day arrived, and Cannonballers prepared for the 93 mile ride into San Francisco, 19 riders carried a perfect score through 15 Stages. Quite an accomplishment given the early equipment and long days on the road. With so many machines having maintained full points, everyone knew that the 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball would come down to the final mile. Should even one of the riders miss even a mile, the leaderboard would change entirely.
As fate would have it, all 19 of those “perfect” riders would make the full mileage to the finish line at Dudley Perkin’s HD. When scored became official, none other than Rider #1 Brad Wilmarth – Defending 2010 Cannonball Overal Champion – took home the Overall Title again aboard his 1913 Excelsior. Wilmarth gave new meaning to the word perfection, having covered almost 8000 miles of Cannonball Competitions without missing a single mile. His 2012 victory is much deserved — in 2010 his machine was among the newer machines in the run for pre-1915 motorcycles. The 2012 Cannonball allowed machines up to 1929, covering 700 more miles, with longer days, and higher sustained speeds. But Brad carried on without even a hiccup, riding his almost 100-year old machine to victory once again.
In Class I, the nine entrants fought hard for 16 days on the road, but when it was all said and done, Jim Crain took home the honors, aboard his 1927 BSA, covering 3591 out of a possible 3954 total miles. In Class III, Frank Westfall carried his perfect score to victory beating out Andreas Kaindle in the tie-breaker (which went to the oldest rider, since their machines were the same year).
Read AMCA Magazine Editor Bill Wood’s Article on the Cannonall Finale in San Francisco… Or Visit the Motorcycle Cannonball Website!