The 2010 Cannonball Run
Coast-to-Coast on Pre-1916 Motorcycles
Sponsored In Part by Wheels Through Time
Gentlemen….start your engines!
Next September 10-22, 2010, for the first time in nearly 100 years, motorcycle icons, collectors, and racers will bring out their oldest for one of the most anticipated races in almost a century. Called the Cannonball Run, the run will follow in the footsteps of our motorcycle forefathers, with a race from coast to coast….winner taking all. But here’s the catch — in order to compete in the race, riders must do it on a motorcycle built before 1916!
About a month back, I began talking with my friend Lonnie Isam, Jr. of Jurrasic Racing about doing a long distance run on old bikes. While Lonnie and his dad love all types of motorcycles, their true passion is motorcycles of the pre-1916 variety. So it only seemed natural to focus this run on bike from that era. Lonnie had been wanting to hold a pre-1916 endurance run for some time now, and recognizing the accomplishments of riders from that era, followed in their footsteps by making the race coast to coast. This way, not only the machines endurance would be tested, but the endurance of each rider as well.
While the Cannonball Run is named after motorcycle endurance legend Cannonball Baker, the run also pays tribute to another icon of endurance riding, George Wyman. Back in 1903, George Wyman became the first person to traverse our great continent on a motorized vehicle, making the run from coast to coast on a 1903 Yale California motorcycle. Riding from San Francisco to New York, Wyman encountered many obstacles and mechanical problems during the run, but his perseverance, determination, and, of course, endurance showed the world that such a thing is possible. He did it in just fifty days.
The 2010 Cannonball Run will consist of a twelve day run, with the route yet to be determined. Lonnie has give participants four options to choose from: Vancouver to New Hampshire; Los Angeles to Virginia Beach; Portland, WA to Portland, ME, and Seattle to St. Petersburg, FL. While all of these are approximately equal in mileage to that of Wyman’s run, each route consists of different terrain, road conditions, elevations, and weather patterns.
When Lonnie asked me if I’d be interested in participating in the Cannonball Run, I didn’t have to think twice. While I’ve been a part of countless endurance races over the years with old bikes, including four Great American Races with a ’36 Flathead, a coast-to-coast run on my 1917 Henderson, and a 24-hour endurance run at Talladega with a ’37 Knucklehead, I’d never been a part of a multi-rider event where each and every machine had to be made before 1916. My excitement was apparent, and I let Lonnie know that I couldn’t wait to join in with dozens of other old bike nuts and put some of the oldest iron here at the museum back on the road.
When he asked if I knew anyone else that’d be interested in doing the run, countless names came to mind….but one in particular — Wayne Stanfield. Wayne and I have been great friends since my first Great American Race way back in 1985, and of all the old bike riders I know, Wayne is at the top of the list. A true endurance champion, Wayne has won the Great American Race five times, and has more endurance accomplishments than anyone I know. In 1995 and ’96, Wayne piloted my 1936 Experimental Harley to second and fourth place finishes in the Great Race, becoming the first participant on a motorcycle to both compete and finish the grueling event. In 2007, at the tender age of 59, Wayne became the first person to complete a 24-hour endurance run on a 1937 Knucklehead in over 70 years, running an unbelievable 1375 miles in 24 hours! Yes, if ever there was an endurance champ, its Wayne Stanfield, and on the sole basis that Wayne is the true definition of a thrill-seeker, I knew he’d love to join in.
In choosing which machines that Wayne and I would run, many factors came into play. Overall, the Cannonball Run will consist of three different classes: The Single Cylinder-Single Speed class; the Twin Cylinder-Single Speed Class; and the Multi Cylinder-Multi Speed Class. I’ve got many capable machines here at the museum, but choosing one that would be competitive its respective class is important. Being that both Wayne and I would be competiting, we figured it’d be a great idea to be in different classes. In picking which machines to field, we came to the decision that, back then, one of the premier machines on the market was the 1915 Harley. 1915 was an interesting year, as Harley-Davidson offered both a Single-Speed twin and a 3-speed twin to their customers. Believe it or not, we’ve got one of each here at the museum, and those are the machines that Wayne and I will be riding.
With over a dozen riders already entered in the event, the 2010 Cannonball Run is already gaining momentum. I’d expect anywhere from 30 to 50 riders in total, making for one heck of a cross country journey.
Please log onto www.motorcyclecannonball.com to learn more about the 2010 Cannonball Run and to show Lonnie and all of the other riders your support. His site contains great information on the history of the Cannonball Run, rules and guidelines for the 2010 event, and a forum where we can exchange thoughts and ideas about the run.
If you’re not excited yet, you will be. I know I am!