November 1, 2011

Last Motorcycle Run at the Maxton Mile

A heavily modified Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster making a run at the Maxton Mile

A heavily modified Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster making a run at the Maxton Mile

When most people think of land speed racing, the salt flats of Utah come to mind.  Miles of smooth white terrain rolling out in seemingly all directions.  But for those who don’t want to travel to the other side of the country, there has been a track operating right here in North Carolina outside of a small town called Maxton.  The “Maxton Mile” as it is affectionally called by those who race there, is a converted runway that was originally built in 1942 for training WWII glider pilots.  The track is roughly 2 miles long, 1 mile from the starting line to the traps and slightly less than a mile for shutdown.  The return road parallels the track, with the pits about 1/4 mile from the starting line.  This track has been operated by the East Coast Timing Association and they have put years of hard work into making an old cracked and pitted concrete runway into a useable race track for vehicles reaching speeds well over 250 mph.

This past weekend (October 29th and 30th) marked not only the end of the season at the Maxton Mile, but also the end of an era.  For the upcoming 2012 season, the East Coast Timing Association will be moving it’s operations from Maxton to a new facility in Wilmington, OH.  Being that this would possibly be the last time I would be able to see land speed racing so close to home, I decided to make plans to attend the event on Saturday, spurred on by rumors of a free BBQ dinner after the races…

Arriving just after lunch, my first stop was the pits and the Twin Jugs Racing trailer.  I’ve ridden with the guys and gal from Twin Jugs for about 15 years and look forward to coming to events like this to catch up with them.  To make things even better, the Twin Jugs trailer was set up right next to the return road, where everyone lines up to race.  With only two days of racing left this year, teams were scrambling to get as many runs in as possible.  Starting just past the pits, the line of cars, bikes and support vehicles was literally a mile long, stretching out past the tower at the other end of the track.  Luckily everyone had to pass the Twin Jugs trailer on their way to the starting line and I was able to hang out at the trailer, watching the parade of vehicles move slowly past.  Whenever something caught my eye, I just had to walk 10 yards to check it out.

Vehicles lining up to race

Vehicles lining up to race

Of course I was on the lookout for Classic American Iron, but for the first hour or so I only spotted a variety of vintage European and Japanese bikes.  Some of them were actually really nice bikes and I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures of my favorites.  The first group was a pair of BMW singles.  Both were great looking bikes, but I liked the green one in particular.  Something about the color made the bike stand out much more than the classic black you usually see on old Beemers.  These bikes were looking for speeds in the upper 70’s, which is not bad for a vintage 250 single.

BMW singles

BMW single motorcycles

The next interensting bike to roll past was a Vincent.  Now I admit that I am not a huge Vincent fan, but I know a lot of people are, so I took a few shots of it.  While I was taking pictures and talking to the rider of the bike, I learned that he was the author of “Big Sid’s Vincati”.  The book chronicles the building of the famed Vincati, which is a Vincent motor mounted in a Ducati frame.

Big Sid's Vincent

Big Sid's Vincent racebike

While I was hanging out at the trailer, I had noticed an Indian Scout riding around the pits.  I took a lap around the pits, hoping to find it, but somehow I kept missing it.  So I walked back to the trailer, only to find it in line, right out front.  The bike was a 1937 Indian Scout set up as a bobber.  Mounted to the Linkert carb was a custom velocity stack, but otherwise there was no indication that this was a serious race bike. Piloted by Sea Eagle Racing, they were hoping to break the 100 mph barrier over the weekend.  Currently the bike holds a record in it’s class of 94.7 mph.  That is almost twice the top speed of a stock 1937 Scout and much faster than I would want to go on a bike without front brakes!   

1937 Indian Scout

1937 Indian Scout motorcycle racer

 

Custom velocity stack

Custom velocity stack on Indian V-twin

Bikes and cars continued to run until the sun started to sink behind the horizon.  As promised, a free BBQ dinner with all the fixin’s was provided for everyone in attendance.  The only downside of the day was in a 14 mph headwind, which had kept most racers from reaching their speed goals.  Luckily they were calling for less wind on Sunday and there were high hopes of better runs the following day. 

Twin Jugs Racing was selected to make the last bike run at  the Maxton Mile on Sunday Oct 30th, 2011.  They were running a heavily modified 1976 1000cc Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster.  Registered as number 1300, this bike has reached a top speed of 141.189 mph.  Quite an accomplishment for a stock bore and stroke streetbike motor.

Getting ready for the last pass at the Maxton Mile

Getting ready for the last pass at the Maxton Mile

While I was wandering around the pits on Saturday, I also came across another piece of Classic American Iron.  It was a 1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, which I am sure a few of you will recognize…

1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead

1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead

 

 

Filed under Competition Motorcycles, Events, Panhead Jim's Blog by PanheadJim

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