WTT Motorcycles Among Top Honors At Pebble Beach Concours

Walksler with his 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR racing motorcycle on the Podium at the Pebble Beach Conours d'Elegance.This past Sunday, August 15, 2010, Wheels Through Time Museum curator and founder, Dale Walksler, headed to Pebble Beach, CA to compete in the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and came away with two out of three top honors in his class. 

Now in its 60th year, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance annually attracts over 175 of the rarest and most significant automobiles and motorcycles throughout the world.  Held on what is often proclaimed as "the best finishing hole in golf" — the 18th Green at Pebble Beach, the Concours brings together collectors, celebrities, and enthusiasts for the most competitive event in the automotive world.  During the one-day, invite-only show, cars and motorcycles are judged not for their speed, but for their excellence.

2010 was the second year during which motorcycles were displayed at the Concours d’Elegance.  This year’s focus was pre-World War II American motorcycles, with machines ranging from a beautifully restored 1908 Thor to original motorcycles dating to the late 1930s.  Wheels Through Time Museum curator, Dale Walksler, brought two of the rarest machines in the museum collection — the world’s only remaining 1909 Reading Standard board track racer and the one-of-a-kind 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR racer — both to compete in the Board Track Racing Class.

{mosimage}"The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has long been the most prestigious show for many of the rarest and most unique machines in the world," said Walksler of the event.  "To be invited to Pebble Beach is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and an honor for myself and the entire museum staff."

While at the Concours, Walksler’s machines caught the eye of not only the motorcycle judges and enthusiasts, but of one most famed celebrities in show business — Jay Leno.  The avid car and motorcycle collector and host of NBC’s Tonight Show conducted a special 6 minute interview with Walksler, who gave in depth commentary on both his machines and the rarity of those displayed at Pebble Beach.

{mosimage}Walksler’s 1909 Reading Standard racer received particular attention at the show, as did the 1929 Harley-Davidson.  "Each of these machines are survivors from a nearly forgotten era of motorcycling, and we are proud to display them as both engineering and stylistic marvels of their day," said Walksler. 

The 1909 Reading Standard, which is regarded as the world’s most intricate early American racing machine, is among the most historically significant motorcycles in existence.  Donated to the Henry Ford Museum in 1940, the machine was lost in their basement for over 50 years.  "In 1990, one of the staff members stumbled across the motorcycle after sitting idle for a half-century, and brought it to a director’s attention, upon which is was offered for sale in a silent auction.  I had heard about the machine from another collector, and immediately called to place a bid.  The rest is history," Walksler said during his interview.  After a two year restoration process completed in 1993, the machine has been on display at Wheels Through Time since.

Walksler’s 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR racer is of equal caliber, however, is preserved in original condition just as it left the track more than 80 years ago.  The machine is regarded as "the last Harley-Davidson board track racer", and remains a nearly unknown and undocumented piece of American motorcycle history.  Approximately 25 machines were built for motorcycle hillclimbing in the late 1920s and early ’30s, however Walksler’s machine is the only one ever produced in track racing trim.  Affectionately known as "The Orange Bike", the machine is of unparalleled provenance in that it was never known to have existed, until early 2009 when Walksler found it hanging on a wall in a home in central Kansas.

{mosimage}When the award ceremonies were held during the afternoon of August 15th, in excess of 20,000 in attendance sat on pins and needles awaiting the announcement of the newest class of Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance winners.  For the American Board Track Racing class, both Walksler’s machines placed among the top– the 1909 Reading Standard receiving second place honors , and the 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR receiving third.  The famous Burt Monroe Special, a highly modified 1920 Indian Scout made famous from the blockbuster hit "World’s Fastest Indian" starring Anthony Hopkins, took first place honors. 

Walksler was the only participant at the entire Concours to take home awards home for two machines.  "This has been an unforgettable experience from start for finish for us, and we’ve been so proud to share these machines with the rest of the automotive and motorcycle world," exclaimed Walksler on the podium. 

For more information on the Wheels Through Time Museum and the machines displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, visit their website at www.WheelsThroughTime.com or call (828) 926-6266.  The museum is open Thursday-Monday, from 9a.m.-5p.m. and both machines are currently on display in the museum’s reception area, viewable free of charge. 

Hundreds Turn out for WTT Ribbon Cutting & Open House

This past Thursday, August 12, 2010, Haywood County residents and business leaders gathered at the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley for the museum’s official Ribbon Cutting celebrating its re-grand opening in Maggie Valley for 2010.  Hosted by the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, the cutting of the ribbon took place just after 11:00, and attracted hundreds of visitors from around the area.

Wheels Through Time Museum recently resumed regular 5 day per week operations on May 1, 2010, and is off to one of its busiest years yet.  So far this season, the museum has hosted over 30,000 visitors and continues to attract vast amounts of both domestic and international visitors alike.  Known for its dedication to preserving the heritage of American Transportation and its goal to educate its visitors about the history of our country’s two-wheeled achievements, the museum has entertained over 500,000 visitors since opening its doors in 2002, drawing visitors from all 50 states and 60 countries in 2009 alone.

"Wheels Through Time is a huge asset to our community and area," said Cece Hipps, Executive Director of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce.  "We are proud to have this great museum in Haywood County, and on behalf of the entire Haywood [County] Chamber of Commerce, I’d like to thank you all for everything you do to bring new visitors to our area."

Just after the ribbon cutting, the museum opened its doors for its first official Open House as a Haywood County Chamber of Commerce member.  The Open House lasted from 11:00 a.m. – 4p.m., with free museum admission, refreshments and hors d’oeuvres  for all in attendance.  Various members of the Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors were in attendance to celebrate the occasion, as well as countless Chamber members and residents of the area, including Haywood County Economic Development Commission Chair, Mark Clasby, and Smokey Mountain News editor, Beck Johnson.

In total, just under 300 visitors made their way to Wheels Through Time for the Open House, which coincided with the museum’s promotion extending free admission to all Haywood County residents held each Thursday. 

"We’re proud to be here in the beautiful mountains of Maggie Valley, and look forward to continuing to bring new and returning faces back to Haywood County this 2010 and beyond," said associate director, Matt Walksler.

Heralded as the "Smithsonian of Motorcycles", the museum is regarded as one of the world’s premier destinations for motorcycle and transportation history, displaying over 300 all-American machines dating back over 100 years.  For more information, visit the Wheels Through Time website, located at www.WheelsThroughTime.com or call (828) 926-6266.

WTT Displays Rare Machines at The Bascom Center for the Visual Arts

On August 7, 2010, a new exhibit is opening at The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts in Highlands, NC featuring several rare American motorcycles from Wheels Through Time.  The exhibit, titled "Kick-Start! American Motorcycle Design"  will showcase the progression of 20th century designs styles, as evidenced through the evolution of American motorcycles. 

The Bascom was created in 1983 as a permanent gallery in Highlands to display works of art created by regional artists.  This creation of an exhibition space and permanent collection in a village of just a few hundred residents distinguished Highlands as a progressive community committed to nurturing its local talent and to celebrating its natural assets.  In 1999, when The Bascom became an independent non-profit, the art center grew even more rapidly, quadrupling its exhibit schedule over a six-year period, bringing in exceptional two- and three-dimensional work from all over the Southeast.  In May 2009, the art center officially opened its new location — a six-acre, “green,” architect-designed pastoral campus including a 27,500 square foot main building for two-dimensional adult and children’s art, a separate reconstructed Studio Barn for three-dimensional art.

A rare 1914 Harley-Davidson It was in April of 2010, that The Bascom contacted Wheels Through Time Museum curator and founder, Dale Walksler, about a proposed motorcycle exhibit at the new venue.  "I was thrilled to hear about the idea of opening a unique motorcycle exhibit," said Walksler.  "The changes in American style and design are highly reflected through motorcycle styling over the past century, and with such a wide array of outstanding machines here at the museum, we were honored to play a part."

"Kick-Start!   American Motorcycle Design" will exclusively display many rare and unique machines in the Wheels Through Time collection dating back to the earliest days of American motorcycling.  Machines will range from the world’s only 1908 Apache, to Harley-Davidsons spanning almost 50 years,  to a brand-new, never-ridden 2009 Harley-Davidson XR1200.  Many of the machines on display are so rare that they can only be seen at one or two locations throughout the world.  Through this unique and original exhibit, visitors will gain a better understanding of the elegance and style of American design through the aesthetic evolution of American two-wheel history.

The exhibit opens on August 7th, and will run through September 26, 2010.  Admission to the exhibit is free, and a reception and gallery talk will be held from 5p.m.-7p.m. on opening day.  For more information, visit The Bascom website, located at www.TheBascom.org.

WTT Heads to Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance August 15!

The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the world's premier motorcycle and automobile show.Coming up on August 15, 2010, Wheels Through Time Curator and Founder, Dale Walksler, will travel across the country to Pebble Beach, CA for the world’s premier Motorcycle and Automobile show — The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  The invitation-only gathering of over 175 of the world’s most prized collector cars and motorcycles is annually held on the third Sunday in August, as owners, collectors, and enthusiasts gather on the famed 18th fairway at Pebble Beach for an event that is said to be nothing short of amazing.

Regarded as one of the most competitive events in the automotive world, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is not a contest of speed, but of excellence.  Now in its 60th year, the show attracts hundreds of the most well-designed, rarest, and most collectible two- and four-wheeled vehicles ever built.  Machines are judged for their historical accuracy, technical merit, and their style.  

2010 is just the second year that the Concours will feature machines of the two-wheel variety, with the focus being pre-World War II American motorcycles.  In total, twelve motorcycles have been invited to be judged on the 18th fairway, two of which are among the finest machines displayed at Wheels Through Time. 

In March of 2010, museum curator, Dale Walksler, was contacted by Pebble Beach staff who were in hopes of gaining a few of America’s most historic motorcycles for the Concours.  After long discussion of the many extremely rare machines at the museum, it was decided that two of the museum’s board track racers would The 1909 Reading Standard Board Track Racer is one of 12 machines invited to the motorcycle exhibition at the Pebble Beach Concoursbe judged and displayed.  "To be invited to Pebble Beach is an outstanding honor," said Walksler.  "We’re extremely excited about attending the 60th Concours, and look forward to sharing a few of the rarest and most unique machines housed within the museum with the rest of the automotive and motorcycle world!"

For the show, Walksler will be displaying the world’s only 1909 Reading Standard board track racer.  Regarded as the most intricate early American racing motorcycle in existance, the 1909 Reading Standard has a unique story that dates back to the earliest day of racing in the United States.  Built in the hills of Eastern Pennsylvania, in Reading, the machine features a 1000c.c. "super-charged" factory racing engine, and is capable of speeds in the area of 90-100mph.  While there are approximately less that 50 Reading Standard "production motorcycles" in existance today (the company operated from 1907-1922), the 1909 board track racer on display at Wheels Through Time is the only example of its type.    After a short racing career through the late 1900s and early 1910s, the machine sat idle until it was donated to the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan in 1944, upon which it was lost in the museum’s basement for nearly 50 years.  In early 1992, the machine was brought to one of the curators attention, and was promptly put up for silent auction via sealed bid.  Wheels Through Time curator, Dale Walksler, heard about the machine, and immediately made his way to Dearborn, Michigan to see it and place a bid.  Less than a week later, Walksler was notified that he was the high bidder.  After a short stint at Wheels Through Time when it was at its Mt. Vernon, IL location, the machine was sent to famed restorer Steve Huntzinger for a detailed, two-year restoration process.  Today, the machine sits in outstanding condition at the museum’s new Maggie Valley facility, and is held as the first 100-point restoration on the Antique Motorcycle Club of America judging scale.

The rare and undocumented 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR will be on display at the second showing of motorcycles at Pebble BeachAlso on display at the Concours d’Elegance will be Walksler’s 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR board track racer.  A truly outstanding piece of American racing history, the ’29 DAR is the product of 15 years of development from Harley-Davidson after joining the racing game in 1914.  Resting in original condition, the machine comes from a somewhat forgotten era of American racing, when board track racing was all but over, and American hillclimbing and dirt track racing were on the up and up.    Regarded as "the last American board track racer", the 1929 DAR features an overhead-valve, high compression 45" factory racing engine, of which only 20 were produced.  For over 70 years now, it has been documented that the OHV 45 was developed as a hillclimb motorcycle (given the model designation DAH), debuting during the 1930 season, however, the ’29 DAR at Wheels Through Time predates the DAH.  "This is the machine that we dreamed about, before we even knew it existed," said associate director, Matt Walksler.  The machine is truly an undocumented marvel of American motorcycle history, as no information or pictures of it exist to this day.  It is the only OHV 45 in track racing trim, and is capable of speeds in excess of 120mph.  In early 2009, Walksler found the machine in the midwest after it had sat hanging from the rafters of its current owners house for over 50 years.  With careful research, and a stroke of luck, Walksler managed to find the exact engine that was installed when this machine was built in Milwaukee in late 1928 or 1929.  Today, the motorcycle rests in the museum’s American Board Track Racing Exhibit, and is occasionally fired up for visitors who are lucky enough to be in attendance.

"This year will be my first experience at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance," said Dale.  "We’ve arranged to bring two machines that will be serious competitors at the show, and regardless of the results, we’re honored to be a part of Pebble Beach’s second selection of motorcycles."

The Concours is slated for August 15, 2010. Judging of machines will commence at 9a.m., and the field will open to spectators at 10:30 a.m.  For more information about the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, visit their website at www.PebbleBeachConcours.com

Motorcycle Cannonball September 10-26, 2010!!!

An early motorcycle endurance race held during the 1900sThis fall, men and women from across the globe will gather in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for a ride of epic proportions.  The world’s first "Motorcycle Cannonball Run" will kick off its coast to coast journey on September 10th at the birthplace of aviation in North Carolina as over 70 participants gear up for a true test of man and machine on their way to Santa Monica, CA. 

"What makes this coast to coast ride so different than others?" you ask.   Quite a bit — most notably, that each and every machine on the run must be built before 1916!

The Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run is the brainchild of Lonnie Isam, Jr. of Jurassic Racing in Sturgis, SD.   Over Lonnie’s 30+ years in the old bike world, he’s developed a particular taste for extremely early American motorcycles, and has had the opportunity to work on and restore several of America’s rarest two-Cannonball Baker covered over 5 million miles during his career as a motorcycle and automobile record setterwheeled machines.  In September 2009, Lonnie began tossing around the idea of a coast -to-coast run on motorcycle’s nearly 100 years old.  Within just a few weeks, Lonnie began receiving a great response from dozens of riders, and before he knew it, a field of almost 70 riders signed up to test their grit in September 2010.Motorcycle Cannonball is appropriately named after a true American pioneer — Cannonball Baker. 

Baker was born in 1882 and by the time he was 22, he was winning dirt track races around his local area.  Over the next three decades, "Cannonball" would go on to set over 140 motorcycle and automobile speed and endurance records for numerous manufacturers.  It is said that he racked up over 5,500,000 miles over his years a record setter, making countless cross-country and other point-to-point runs.

Each rider in the field of over 70 participants has been developing his or her machine (and strategy) for months now, taking all the right measures to prepare both their machines and themselves for a 3,300-plus mile trek across these great United States.  Here at the museum, my dad and I have been working hard on two 1915 Harley’s for the run.  Each machine has about 300 test miles on so far, and we’re making all the little adjustments to have them both ready for the road come September 10th.

The 1915 Harley which Dale will be riding during the coast to coast run!While some of the riders will be riding bone stock machines, just as they left the factory almost 100 years ago, most have been slightly modifying their machines to make them a bit safer, more comfortable, and more capable.  Adding more modern drop center rims has been a common upgrade, as the old style clinchers tend to be a little dangerous at high speeds.  The addition of a front brake is another big step as far as safety goes, and of course, headlights and taillights will be installed to keep the law off our backs.  We’ve also modified the two ’15 Harley’s on Team Wheels Through Time to fit a rear mounted gas tank on the luggage rack for extra fuel range.  I’ve been following the builds of many of the Cannonball bikes, and I’ve got to say, some of the innovations are pretty impressive.  Our friend, and vintage bike builder Matt Olsen even tacked on a recirculating oil pump on his 1914 Sears.

Riding machines of this age across the continent will not be an easy task.  Its my guess that only a small percentage of the bikes will make it to the finish in Santa Monica.  The run will be a true test of stamina, endurance, preparation, and grit.  Few riders have ridden a distance of this magnitude, and even fewer on bikes as old as these.   My dad  and his friend Ironman Wayne Stanfield will be making the trek, and although they’ve both done rides like this before (Pops on a 1917 Henderson, and Wayne on a ’36 Experimental Harley flathead) each knows it’ll be a challenge.  When Wayne rode our ’37 Knucklehead for 24 hours at Talladega, he admittedly said it was the hardest thing he’d ever done.   After talking with him last week, he’s expecting this run to even top that.

With the deadline coming down the wire, it seems like almost everyone is in scramble-mode trying to get every little detail wrapped up for the start.  But by the time the riders make it to Kitty Hawk, you can expect nothing but business from there on out.

If you’re interesting in learning a bit more about "Motorcycle Cannonball", check out the website located at www.MotorcycleCannonball.com.  They’ve got a full route sheet posted, and lots of information about the run. 

On September 12th, they’ll be a few days in, and will stop at Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley for an overnight stop and tour of the museum.  We’ll be open late, so if you have a chance, come on down and show these guys your support.  It’ll be a once in a lifetime experience, whether you’re riding or not!  See you there.