Competition Motorcycles

January 3, 2015

Fred Luther Tried 200 MPH on Antique Motorcycle Racer in 1934

Amazing article from
Fred Luther Tries for 300 MPH on a Plymouth - Powered Motorcycle at Bonneville

Fred Luther Tries to Go 200 MPH on a Motorcycle at Bonneville


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.

Fred Luther Tries for 300 MPH on a Plymouth - Powered Motorcycle at Bonneville



Filed under Competition Motorcycles, Random Ideas by Staff Report

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November 16, 2014

Classic Indian Motorcycle Racer – Project Ideas?

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.

Right side as bought

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.

1939 Indian flattracker 005

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.

Your thoughts?

Filed under Buzz Kanter Classic Motorcycle Blog, Classic Indian Motorcycle History, Competition Motorcycles, Random Ideas by Buzz Kanter

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October 5, 2014

Indian Motorcycle Racer At Race of Gentlemen On NJ Beaches

There is a cool new event for classic motorcycle and car racers on the Wildwood, NJ beach called the Race Of Gentlemen. I was hoping to attend this year but between recovering from the Motorcycle Cannonball and other obligations I could not participate this year.

Buzz Kanter’s 1937 Indian Sport Scout Classic Roadracer

In my place I am pleased to loan my little 1937 Indian Sport Scout roadracer to my friend Pete Minardi to race in my place. Pete, a competitive racer, mechanic and fabricator, was delighted to race my Indian. Pete and his wife Maureen run Precision Cycles in New Jersey.

While in Pete’s shop he made some modifications on my Sport Scout, including swapping the magneto ignition for a battery and coil set-up, the 2-into-1 exhaust for a better 2-into-2 exhaust,  fixed some clutch issues and redesigned the rear brake set up.

Yesterday was the first day of races and the rain stopped by mid day. Among the classic cars and bikes Pete managed to squeeze in 3 races on my Indian and he won them all. Fast little bike. Today there are more races and I hope Pete can do well with the American Iron Magazine Sport Scout Indian racer. Details to follow.

SUNDAY EVENING UPDATE: Just spoke with Pete Minardi who reports he entered 6 races on the little Indian and won all 6, including one with a very fast Harley UL, which he later found out crushed a seagull during the race (Pete was so far in front of the Harley rider he didn’t see it happen).

Filed under Buzz Kanter Classic Motorcycle Blog, Classic Indian Motorcycle History, Competition Motorcycles, Events, Random Ideas by Buzz Kanter

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