I am researching this particular 1916 Excelsior racer for a future article in Motorcycle Rides & Culture magazine.
1916 Excelsior motorcycle boardtrack racer
It was a well known West Coast racer in the teens and twenties, and was later owned by Rusty Kay. It was restored in the early 1970s by Dave “Huggy Bear” Hansen of The Shop.
Rare antique motorcycle racer
It was on display at the Peterson museum for a few years. All info, details and history on it is appreciated.
Thanks – Buzz Kanter
Filed under Competition Motorcycles by Buzz Kanter
Amazing article from www.theoldmotor.com.
And what a monster the machine turned out to be. Into a stretched and reinforced Excelsior frame, Luther installed a 1934 Plymouth six-cylinder engine. He was assisted by Adolph Thuiller who helped him with the frame modifications and Jimmy McNeil who prepared the engine and raised the horsepower from 77 to 117. The engine drove through the original Excelsior transmission that was later replaced with a Plymouth unit.
Of particular interest is the braking system that was built for it. Both sides of the rear of the machine carried pivoting lever-controlled arms complete with steel skids that were used to slow it down and also keep it upright when stationary.
After testing at the Muroc Dry Lakes and further refinements Luther took it to the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1935 to try for the 200 m.p.h. goal. There he was only able to get in two runs with the machine. His first trip down the salt resulted in a speed of 140 m.p.h. On his second run The engine broke a connecting rod at 150-160 m.p.h. and his attempt was finished. The text from the June 1950 Cycle magazine article The Plymouth Monster below tells the complete story. Luther’s machine has survived and can be seen here.
A couple of years ago I purchased a wonderful 1937 Indian Sport Scout at a J. Wood auction. It was built and raced in the past by my friend Butch Baer. Butch was selling a few bikes and I was fortunate enough to buy this one.
The following year I decided to start roadracing after almost 40 years off the track with Butch’s old Scout. I spent some time and money going through the bike and raced at New Hampshire International Speedway a few times with this bike and one I borrowed from Doc Batsleer after some technical difficulty with mine.
The old racing bug, that had sat dormant in me since hanging up my race leathers in 1980, had come back and I enjoyed racing in the tankshift class – typically the oldest bikes on the track. As all racers do, I was always on the look out or back up bikes and spare parts. In my searching I found an old Sport Scout dirt track racer in a barn outside Boston.
After some “interesting” negotiations, it was mine. At the track all the Indian racers got together and we managed to get this bike to fire and run for a few seconds. It sounded very strong. Then I left it with my pal Duffy Batchelder to play with for a while. He changed the exhaust, added wheels with brakes and then ran out of time. So it is now back with me.
And I have to decide what to do with this bike. Do I built it as a road racer as my back up? Do I add lights and make it a hot rod street bike, or do I try to restore it – which is my least likely.
I am thinking it might be a good idea to hook up the brakes, get the bike running properly and then decide.