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The Godspeed Company

Chris Logsdon

Allan Glanfield


Chattanooga, TN

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For the love of moto.

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AHRMA FEMALE ROADRACER OF THE YEAR | A morning with Stacie B. London

Allan Glanfield

The sun peaks up over the well-manicured Barber Sports park lawn in the southern city of Leeds, AL. It's 7am. The silence, along with those who are camped here, is rudely awoken by the echoing sounds coming from this restricted area. Many who make the journey to this track each year witness the blinding speeds of the racers as they wind their way through the impossible turns, but there's more to this scene that is rarely seen. It's why we're here at the crack of dawn, at the crack of the first motor. After sourcing the only cup of coffee we could find from the lonely gas station that sits near the entrance of the park, GSCo. Founder Chris Logsdon navigates his way through Tier 2 of the racers pits to find our good friend Stacie B. London (also know as TripleNickel555) and her faithful sidekick Smokey. Careful to keep the conversation to a minimum, we watch the preparation of the racer, physically and mentally, for the day's races. - GSCo.

CL: Barber 2016 - what were the highlights for you?

SBL: I wasn’t originally planning to go to Barber last year but thankfully at the last minute my plans did come together. Getting from the West coast to the East coast is expensive and requires pre-planning, two things that I was caught short on. At the 11th hour Ari Henning had to back out, which opened up a sacred spot in the van with Stephen and Kevin Hipp from the legendary racing family 2HippRacing. The father/son duo was making the journey from California to Alabama together and offered to take 555. From the first moment I laid eyes on the illustrious Hipp Family’s pit at Corsa Motoclassica 2010, I’ve admired the exuberant methodology and mysterious acumen that seemed intangible. One of the highlights of Barber 2016 was having the opportunity to pit with 2HippRacing. It felt like Smokey and I had been admitted into an illusive inner circle of vintage racing, and felt comfortable and supported. 

Rather than fly into the small airport of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, which can get pricey because there are fewer flights. It turned out it was penny-wise to fly into Jackson, Mississippi, which also allowed for some quality time with our Mississippi racing family, Kim and Steve Sharp (thespeedstable) and their three daughters, who were also planning to drive in. Steve and I have had some good and close battles on the track in the past and last year was par for the course. When your friends are upping their game just to gun you down, you and your equipment really need to be on point in order to stay in the game. Everyone starts the weekend with high hops and goals for the weekend, mine was to race hard, laugh hard, and complete my racing program of four races with the rubber-side down.

Barber 2016 was also the last event my good friend and mentor Ron Perconti would attend; he passed away in his sleep the night he returned home from Barber. There are so many ups and downs on any given race weekend and the bonds that form from going through them together is unique and profound. Racing these vintage machines attracts some real characters with encyclopedia amounts of stories and knowledge. There is magic in the paddock as we all work hard together to get our bikes onto the track, after the races we play and laugh even harder, and the stories and sharing of knowledge goes on into the wee hours of the night. Barber 2016 was no different, but it is the last one we will have with Ron. So I’m very grateful to have these memories and others that I would have missed had I not made the pilgrimage to Barber 2016. 

CL: What goes thru your mind before you race?

SBL: Before I race my mind slows down and I stop thinking in words. Language begins to slip away and transforms to feelings and impulses. Motion around me crystallizes and my senses intensify so that I’m even more aware of the sound my breath and the beat of my heart. Acute focus consumes me as first call clicks to second clicks to third as I complete the final preparations, jump on and 555 starts up with a roar, and we head in the direction of the other rumblers, waiting to enter the track. As I complete my warm-up lap and approach the grid the rhythm of the engine oscillating as my hand pulses the throttle keeping the engine primed helping to contain the adrenaline that’s coursing. Waiting for the flag to drop is a delicate balance between the complete saturation from the buzz and resisting the compulsion to let the acceleration and the power of the moment consume you. This threshold of tension is a golden moment, when all the elements are charging together, your heart is pounding in your ears to the vibrations of the engine underneath and all around you, and all you can do is force your breathing to slow down and focus on the flag about to drop, and then everything goes silent and then full blast. 

CL: Can you walk us thru your pre-race rituals?

SBL: My pre-race rituals start as soon as I complete my last race of the weekend. As soon as I come off the track, I’m already thinking of what I need to do before I get back on. That’s how all-consuming racing is. As soon as I’ve completed my racing program for the weekend, I dump the oil from the bike and give it a rub down. Cleaning the bike not only makes it look nice but it also allows me to see where oil leaks might be, see if anything has come loose, is broken, or come off, and let’s me know what needs to be done once we get home to the shop. It’s way nicer to do prep at the shop than in the pit. Often working on the bike in the paddock is unavoidable, but it’s still nice to try. 

Once back at the track, its nice to have certain foods and drinks that help get the body and mind ready for the competition. Everyone has their own rituals, but I like getting up early and walking around the paddock while everyone is still asleep. Getting my blood flow going in my body helps me to wake up and get my head in the game. 

If I have a bicycle at the track then it’s also really nice to ride around with the sun still rising and watching the track wake up. I’m nervous before races, so eating light for me is key and then getting in my leathers so I am ready for the first round of practice. Practice starts at 8am sharp so often the first round is empty and its incredible to have the track to yourself while you’re still trying to wake up. I really look forward to Saturday morning practice, with all the anticipation and excitement and a full weekend of racing still in front of us.

CL: How does the Barber track compare to others?

SBL: As we all know, racing at any track any day of the week is always a great day. One of the coolest things about AHRMA is that it’s a national circuit that races at some of the best tracks in the country. I've had the opportunity to race at Willow Springs, Sonoma (Sears Point), Utah (Miller), Road America, Grattan, New Orleans Raceway, New Jersey Motorsports and Barber. With other clubs I've raced at Chuckwalla, Adams, have done two 24-hr endurance races at the Willow Springs Go-Cart Track, and even got in a few laps at Laguna Seca with my BMW on the Quail Ride. However, racing at Barber Motorsports Park is an extraordinary experience. 

If Barber Motorsports was only a 17-turn track with a perfectly maintained surface through a woodland landscape interwoven with sculptures and modern architecture, it would be super cool. If Barber Motorsports was only an event that attracted a few hundred people instead of the 80,000 spectators, it would be super cool. If Barber Motorsports was only an event where the grids included a few of your racing family instead of the 50 that all race towards turn 1 together, it would be super cool. If Barber Motorsports was only a fun and technical track with both long straights so everyone gets up to speed and tight corners that are challenging for the small bikes instead of also including the largest vintage motorcycle museum in the world, it would still be super cool.

If Barber Motorsports was only attended by a few east coast friends that its nice to catch up with once a year, instead of all the folks that make the pilgrimage from Canada, Europe, and Nationally, it would still be super cool. Barber Motorsports is an incredible track, however once all the other factors are added up it equals a bar none racing experience on and off the track. Barber Vintage Festival is difficult to describe because the experience is so unique and individual, however the energy is intoxicating and impressive. It’s impossible and unfair to compare it.

CL: We've been keeping an eye on your Instagram feed and noticed you wrenching on a particular Harley. Can you let us in on the secret?

SBL: I am beginning my LSR program for the 2017 race season. Last year after winning Lady Road Racer of the Year it seemed like the perfect time to put my road racing on pause in order to start my land speed record hunt. Focusing on land speed racing with the SCTA (Southern California Timing Association) also means that can get in a little more action with the Bultaco and flat track. As a national circuit AHRMA Road Racing can be an enormous time commitment if you let it and will absorb as much as you gladly give it, until it slowly gobbles up all your “free” time. STCA starting in May competes once a month at El Mirage Dry Lake. So I’m looking forward to only racing once a month and only traveling 1.5hrs in order to do it. Then in August is Speed Week at Bonneville Salt Flats and my salt fever is already brewing.

I’ve been going to SCTA events for the past four years and helping on Ralph Hudson’s LSR team. After last season when Ralph became the fastest sit on motorcycle at El Mirage (and probably the world) with his 266mph record, we had time to take a serious look at the rulebook to determine which class and bike to begin my LSR record chase. The 250 Push Rod classes seemed like the best bet and a 250 Aermacchi (Harley Davidson) fit the bill. After scouring the interwebs, talking to Aermacchi racers and builders across the country, and getting the word out, I found the perfect bike and I discovered I only needed to drive to San Francisco to a friend’s garage to acquire it. It’s so great when a plan comes together.

I did not know, but as it turns out, another very fast racer and good friend Jim Hoogerhyde also has a fondness for these obscure Harley Davidson Italian imports, and even has LSR records with an Aermacchi. Once Ralph told Jim that I was after one, all bets were off. Jim had sold his stock of “Small Harleys” to a mutual friend and fellow 160 racer John Regan in order to invest into his expanding LSR racing program. A few texts and emails later and it was ascertained that John was happy about making room in his garage for other projects as long as the bike was going to the right home, which it clearly was. So a deal was struck for the 1967 Harley Davidson (Aermacchi) 250 Sprint SS. 

Below are a series of shots taken by Kel Pritchard, Christopher Wood and Jean Laughton of Stacie aboard her vintage 250 Aermacchi where she was only 1.4mph away from the record held at el Mirage. See more of Stacie by following her on Instagram at @triplenickel555.

TROG 2017 | IN THE SHADOW OF GIANTS

Allan Glanfield

TROG_2017-86.jpg

It seems like it was just yesterday we were ankle deep in the warming sands of Wildwood, NJ. While we're not frequent visitors of this beach, we've made it a point to make the trip each year for what has become known as 'The Greatest Race on Earth'. Now in it's sixth year, The Race of Gentlemen has quickly drawn international fame appearing in a slew magazines and online pubs that highlight the machines as well as the fashion. With the event drawing massive attention as well as crowds, event organizers have begun to cracked down how the race is captured. In past years the starting line was where you got 'the shot'. Now off-limits to photographers, this meant we had to get creative. We'll let you decide if we succeeded. GSCo. Co-Founders Allan Glanfield & Mike Higgins head back to the beach and in time to bring you TROG 2017. - GSCo.

The long shapes cast by the setting sun mark the finish of another inspired outing for The Race Of Gentlemen. The dark shadows reach back toward the Wildwood, New Jersey shoreline, and manage to stretch back to another era. 

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. And T.R.O.G., now in its sixth year, plays on that theme like very few events can. It has grown from a few guys with a passion for pre-war hotrods and an idea, into a spectacle that now draws thousands to a 1/8 mile strip of sand butted up against this beach town boardwalk.

We’re here to witness the self-proclaimed automotive carnival – the blur of the lines between grace and grit, theatrics and mechanics, distant past and blissful present. We’re here to the watch the heroes of the day pay powerful homage to the giants of yesterday.

Those giants loom heavy. The Harleys, and Davidsons, the Indians and Excelciors. The Fords, Chevrolets and Dodge Brothers.  The ghosts of Carlsbad that led the way and Daytona Beach that followed. But where the giants of the past give the event gravitas, the heroes of the present infuse plenty of levity. None more so than the gentleman with the method behind all this madness – Meldon Van Riper Stultz III.

Mel is the unmistakable maestro, conducting this orchestra of wonderfully tuned sights and sounds from astride his Harley, shoeless and smiling through his thick, white beard. We owe so much of this to him, along with his hand-selected band of misfits and unusual suspects.

All involved take on their role with eager enthusiasm and each part is integral to the aesthetic and experience of it all. The Emcee, the race official, the announcer, the racers and their crew, the photographers and vendors, even the spectators – each adding an important element to the greater good.

If Mel rules the day, though, it’s Sara that rules the starting line. For as much as we’re here to see the kicking up of the sand and the streaking roar of the race, it’s the dancing drop of the flag that we’ll remember.  Sara perfectly exemplifies the dedication to detail and incredible work all this takes to pull off – race after race, and now year after year.

In many ways the great accomplishment of T.R.O.G. is staying meticulously true to its original intent. There’s nothing new to see here. And that’s the point, and precisely why it’s well worth a look. - Mike Higgins, GSCo.

NEVER MORE PRESENT | Entering the turn with Larry Morris

Allan Glanfield

When I find Larry Morris he is huddled over his vintage racing motorcycle. He has to squint into the brightness of the early morning light to see me. The sun has cracked the horizon and sends its beaming nudges out across the array of motorcycles assembled, and being assembled, for another big race day at Barber Motorsports Park. Larry’s lopsided grin sends me the only hello I need, but he extends a hand, still clutched around a wrench, to give me a proper, grease smeared fist bump.

The paddock area is waking. Signs of activity come to life throughout. The engines are quiet, but the place is abuzz with nervous energy. A still sleeping giant beckons, its twisting tarmack cutting a black swath through the color of the Alabama autumn just beyond the paddock walls.

Larry hasn’t slept much, having to overhaul the transmission overnight to ready his bike, a ’74 Triumph T100, heavily modified to get everything possible out of its 490cc displacement. He’s still at it, creating a makeshift gasket as he works to reseal the engine cases. I set down my gear and join him, eager to get some insight, or lend a hand if it’ll help.

Vintage racing at this level is very much a DIY experience. Larry has been at this for 3 years now, but by his own admition he’s still learning plenty. An enthusiast, collector and avid rider turned racer, he remembers distinctly the moment he made the decision to trade his Levis for leathers and get serious. Walking through this very same paddock at the time, he told anyone that would listen, “This will be the last time I will ever come to Barber, and not be racing at Barber.”

Founder of New York City Motorcycles, Larry had long since embraced the lifestyle. Having riden for years, and partial to vintage bikes with some racing pedigree, he fesses up to being the guy that had to be the fastest in traffic.

“I was a street rider making some dumb choices, and living to tell about it,” he says, lamenting that he looks back to everything he was doing on a bike before with a bit of disgrace. “How could I think I was so fast if I wasn’t even willing to go to the one place where you can be fast, and prove it?”

Like about everything he does, he went “all in,” skipping track days on his own bikes altogether. He jumped straight to buying the Triumph racer off NYC Norton’s Tim Joyce and showed up at race school. This baptism by fire got Larry quickly into the thick of all of it, and quicker still to some humbling realizations.

He learned immediately that he wasn’t the fastest. He may have even been the slowest when he got lined up on the grid for the first time. And he learned that there is a hell of a lot more to racing than going fast. 

With the T-100 back together, Larry slips off his coveralls, the lingering morning chill burning off, and has me help him push the bike down to the inspection station. As we pass the rows of paddocks, each now hurrying through its own version of the morning rush, Larry reveals the biggest realization that he has had since getting out on the track. Now, nearly sixty races behind him, he’s still struck by just how utterly present you are once the flag comes down.

“There’s nothing ever in my life that I’ve done that I was ever as present,” he says, his usual lightheartedness taking a more stoic tone. “It’s the one place I know where there’s isn’t anything but what is at that very moment … and that’s extraordinary.”

He goes on, losing himself a bit as he describes the overpowering sense of hyper awareness he feels on the bike at speed. How there’s no past and no future, only the pure essence of cause and effect, the all-consuming physical presence of what’s right before you – the road surface, the lean angle, the braking, everything up to and including the next turn, but nothing else.

“You’re physically lifting up the atoms yourself,” he says, admittedly getting existential about it all. “It feels like it, anyway.”

The sun has flooded the entire valley by now. The crackle and roar of engines has displaced any semblance of a tranquil countryside. Larry too, has shifted into a different mode. Relaxed and jovial by nature, he’s not without a more serious, surly side, but its matched by a disarming quality that let’s you know it’s good intentioned, and temporary.

A check of the start times and grid assignments seems to strike a sense of urgency in him. We return to his paddock quicker of pace and stricter of purpose than our previous stroll. I gladly take on a new roll of staying out of the way. Short of an extra hand to steady the bike as he wrestles with it, I become an observer.

As much as every nuanced turn of a carb screw or tightening of a clutch linkage is significant, I see Larry dialing in as well. It’s that time. It’s time to tweak the machine, and the mind. Time to recheck the equipment, and the strategy. It’s race time.

Turn nine at Barber is part of a chicane that follows a short straight coming out of what’s known as Museum Corner. It’s a dipping left, followed by an immediate, sharper right. The racing lane between the two bends shrinks to about the length of the Triumph Larry straddles as he shifts his weight to push the bike into the turn. He doesn’t see, and has no memory of the events that pile up against him at this instant. Thousands of miniscule, micro-second happenings. Forces act. Counterforces react. Those atoms lift … and ultimately fall. Larry goes down with them.

Another bike inters his racing line. Trying to overtake, but without the speed or the room necessary, it introduces itself into the physics of that moment. All it takes is a touch. A bump of the handle bar … a wobble … a crash. A disruption to that inviolable present, making it forever a part of Larry’s past, and leaving him to wonder about the future.

He wakes hours later, in the hospital, and in a state of denial about what transpired to put him there. It takes some real convincing from friends and doctors alike before he concedes that he has in fact been in an accident. “Don’t you think I’d know if I crashed?” he questions. The shattered foot that will take surgeries and multiple pins to reconstruct surely works against his morphine-fogged case against reality. “There ain’t been no crash.”

This memory, or lack of it, becomes a point of good spirited joking as he recounts the story from his home in New York weeks later. He reflects on everything with his own brand of realistic optimism. It changed him, of course. It made him take stock of everything he was doing, and all that he hoped to do with racing. 

“There comes a time when you ask yourself, is what you’re getting out of it worth what its asking of you,” he says. Admittedly, racing is a hobby for him, a by-product of his love for motorcycles, of the lifestyle, and yes, of the sport of pushing the machines and yourself to the limit. But what is that limit? That’s an individual question. One Larry has had plenty of reason, and suddenly plenty time to contemplate.

For him it’s not about any fear of getting back on the bike. He’s definitely riding again. But will road racing be part of it? He’s already gotten to experience the thrill of victory, and now that clichéd, but far too real agony of defeat. He’s raced all over the country, battling it out with some great people on some great tracks. Must he keep doing it? Again, he returns to that overwhelming sense of presence that he feels on the track, and feels is absolutely paramount to success.

“Whether that presence is now violated by a memory … that I don’t actually have … which could conjure up a fear?” he contemplates. “I don’t know the answer to that.”

Recovering from the physical injury takes time and process, but it’s tangible. Recovering the confidence and the clarity of mind necessary to race is much more abstract. Now, several months into the process Larry feels good about both sides of that recovery. It has really pushed him to make some decisions, and he’s made some changes. In so many ways it seems to have inspired in him a renewed and even intensified desire to go “all in.”

In the months since the crash he’s moved west, to make LA his home base, and to make vintage motorcycles more of a business than a hobby. By the time I catch up with him in in February, he’s slowly eased into riding again, getting comfortable and feeling his way through it all. It’s all going remarkably well for him. Except for the injury itself, he looks back on the past six months as a really wonderful time.

“I experienced things that I couldn’t have if it weren’t for the crash,” he says. “You gotta take what you can from bad things. Otherwise, what was it for?”

He’s been crisscrossing the country in the old Airstream motor home he purchased as well, attending events and getting back in the thick of things. And he plans to continue pointing it, and himself, in whatever direction he chooses – as long as it’s forward.

“That includes getting back on the horse that threw ya,” he says, referring to his determination to not stop at simply riding, but to get back into racing. “What else am I gonna do?” he continues, regaining a touch of his surliness to add with a chuckle, “I sure am not going to sit in the damn bleachers.”

I wouldn’t fault him if he did, but wouldn’t bet against him either. Regardless, it certainly seems that one thing can be said about Larry Morris – he’s never been more present.

- Mike Higgins, GSCo.

Post Script: Larry Morris is set to race his Triumph T-100 in the Sportsman 500 class at this year’s Corsa Motoclassic at Willow Springs International Raceway on April 21. We wish him all the best, and a heartfelt … Godspeed.

THE “ONE” TO SEE | Reflections From A Weekend Out West

Allan Glanfield

It was 2010 when I experienced The One Moto Show (and Portland, OR) for the first time. That was Year 2 and I haven't missed a year since. Fast forward to 2017 the One Moto is now in it's 8th year and shows no signs of stopping. Due to birth of my 2nd son, I wasn't able to attend this year's show which was a hard pill to swallow, especially when the photos came pouring in. Once again, See See Motorcycles and those in charge of managing the event have outdone themselves. With a new venue that drums up memories of the early years and what seemed to be about 1000 more motorcycles than last year, The One Moto did not disappoint. We sent co-founders Allan Glanfield and Mike Higgins out west to man the GodSpeedCo. booth, snap a few photos, hang with show goers and of course drink a lot of beers. The 2017 season is officially underway. Enjoy. - Chris Logsdon, Founder, GSCo.

Landing at PDX, I immediately checked my phone, sliding it out of airplane mode. It beeped to life. The gang was on the ground. I was a day late, but finally in Portland. Finally going to see The One Motorcycle Show. If there’s a moto-culture mecca, this is it. A decade ago, a glance through Craigslist, eBay, or your old school local classifieds in search of a cheap “donor” bike to get a build going would yield plenty. The gas to go pick up an old CB or GS that “ran when I garaged it,” might rival the sales price. Those days are gone. And we have the boys at See See Motorcycles in Portland to thank – or blame – for it.

These guys weren’t the first to customize old bikes, of course. That’s been going on since the first engine driving two wheels rolled down an assembly line. But as this moto-culture we know today, the café racer clubs, the bobber bike nights, the braaap packs, etc., started popping up all over the country, The One Moto Show was born. It is far from the “One” show to bring together local builders and their builds. But it can be said that it is the “One” that kick started it all. The whole thing has roared to life from coast to coast since.

But this show certainly has a special aura attached to it. Maybe it’s the misty Portland setting, Mt. Hood stoically perched above, the undulating hills and corresponding twisties spread out below. Perhaps it’s the hearty folk, head to toe in flannel and leather and ink, grinning and gritting their way through the chill of a February that would have me dialing up Úber rather than dialing in my carbs. Or it just might be the food, meat-centric, sauce-centric, eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach-centric, its aromas of smoked pork and chicken and hot from the oven pizzas and hot totties overpowering the grease and dust and exhaust-heavy environment.

No. It’s the bikes. Like the steady crowds that streamed through the enormous reclaimed steel factory space over the three-day event, all kinds are welcome. The collection has a little bit of everything. Purists can drool over perfectly restored examples of vintage, off-the-line perfection. Fabricators can drop jaws and rubberneck to see every fantastic detail of handcrafted, one-off customs that both inspire and dismay with their sheer audacity. Even modernists can get their fix of the latest tech-savvy, moto-gadget electrics, and petrol-be-damned battery powered eclectics. A spin through the expansive, multi-leveled show, every corner filled with something worthy of an IG post, debit card swipe, or at least a second look, left me feeling both overwhelmed and overjoyed.

The weekend was full, to put it plainly. Full of expectations; all met, most exceeded. Full of moments; so many memorable, some unmentionable. But mostly full of friends; plenty old (but aging nicely), plenty new, and even a few old, but renewed, those blasts from past shows and FB chats, and the like. This show definitely brings them all – the who’s who, the enthusiasts, the obsessives, the curious – and mixes it all into a wonderful mess, and mass of moto-junky delight. I’ll need a week or two to recuperate from all the stimulation that See See manages to fit into their show, and their macchiatos.

As I slid onto my JFK flight early Monday morning, happily arranging myself into my exit row bliss, my phone chimed in one last time before take off. The alert didn’t say much. It didn’t have to. Just a thumbs up emoji… and an exclamation point. Indeed. - Mike Higgins, Co-Founder, GSCo.

TROG WEST | 2016

Allan Glanfield

Just show up and say hi. It's February, 2016. The location is the 1 Moto Show in Portland, OR where Erik Jutras shows up at our booth, introduces himself and says '...hey, if you ever need someone to shoot for ya, I'm your man.' Now this wouldn't be the first time someone has asked to do this sort of thing for us but then Erik did another thing, he followed up. It was winter at the time and with that came the usual silence of the moto world. A few months later talks of TROG 2016 would break the silence as the show organizers announced an east and west coast version of this spectacular race. As we usually do, we deployed GodSpeedCo. co-founder Allan Glanfield to New Jersey to capture the sights & sounds of the event (check out our previous blog post HERE if you haven't already done so).

Months later, TROG Pismo Beach, CA would be upon us and guess who dropped an email in our inbox? Yup, Mr. Erik Jutras, or @mr_pixelhead as he likes to call himself. Not wanting to miss the inaugural running of TROG WEST and having a few connects in the industry (thank you Sasha of CaferacerXXX), we were fortunate enough to get the highly coveted photographer press pass for E. What follows, in his own words and photos was the outcome. Although the races were cut short due to weather, Erik managed to capture some of the most breath-taking images we've seen thus far and for that we're thankful. Moral of the story: show up, say hi and stay connected. Great things can come from it. - GSCo.

From as far back as I can remember, the machines of days past have always intrigued me. As a young teenager, I was fascinated with all things flight, finding inspiration in the sleek design of the warbirds that fought in the skies during WWII - the P-51 Mustang and the P-38 Lightning to name a few. These interests evolved and expanded over the following years into an obsession for speed and vintage aesthetics (I realized that I should have been born in an earlier era). Naturally, classic motorcycles became my new passion.

So, befittingly, the moment I first learned about The Race of Gentlemen I knew I would some day have to make it to the sands, most likely with a vintage camera in hand, donning some old-timey apparel. Disappointingly, I narrowly missed the New Jersey races when visiting family back east, but imagine my excitement when I heard that TROG was taking over the west coast and only a mere 3 hour drive from my home base of San Francisco. I couldn’t buy tickets fast enough. 

Finally October rolled around and TROG weekend was upon us. I packed and re-packed all of my camera gear, making sure I had every last lens as I played over in my mind the race scenes I hoped to capture out at Pismo Beach. 20mm wide-angle, 24-70mm, 70-200mm telephoto, prime 50mm, 3 memory cards, extra batteries, medium-format film camera, extra rolls of film, flash, Go-Pro, point and shoot camera, I packed it all. Everything but a poncho...and imagine my disappointment (and a bit of stress) to find out that rain was forecasted for the whole weekend, yes, rain for California. Despite this news I wasn’t going to sweat the details or let anything soak my Pismo-bound buzz. 

Equipment in hand, I set off on my road trip south along the coast arriving to Pismo’s shores late Thursday night. When I awoke on Friday morning, there were nothing but sunny blue skies overhead -  maybe we all had lucked out and the weather man just blew it once again! I cruised over to the campgrounds at Grover Beach, where TROG was hosting its racers, to check in and get my press pass. I didn't take more than 5 steps into the place before snapping pictures of the scene right and left. At every campsite on the grounds there were either vintage hotrods, trailers, or motorcycles, and sometimes all three. It was almost overwhelming to the senses- sights, sounds and smells. Engines backfired in attempts to ignite, and the air quickly filled with the familiar and comforting smell of rich exhaust and burnt oil fumes.

Everyone was welcoming, jovial and buzzing with laughter. Folks were happy to engage in hearty conversations about the machines they drove or trailered there from near and far. I could tell I was amongst a close-knit community, one where old friends reunited and new friendships were being forged, all over the love of the details of these custom machines. 2 wheels or 4, both were equally admired. An endless array of patinas and hand-painted lettering adorned the paint of countless bike tanks and cars’ sidedoors and hoods. The gorgeous details of exposed hotrod engines gleamed in the sun and the 100 year old residual build up of oil and gasoline on Harley flathead engine cases drew the wonder of those who set their sights on them. I was getting my fill and it was only day 1.

Race Day: As Saturday morning rolled around, unfortunately so did the rain. I MacGyvered up some waterproof camera protection out of some ziplock bags so I could set out for the races and not worry about anything but getting the perfect shot. I threaded my way through the sandy parking lot which was filled to capacity with vintage cars and trucks, and made my way through the large crowds of excited spectators. Finding a good vantage point proved challenging enough as the sidelines were stacked 5 people deep all elbow to elbow. I found my spot and pressed the shutter button to capture the racers starting to come down the road into the pit. They were being instructed by TROG officials on how to handle the angle and speed of the sandy and wet ramp. Many made it through successfully to the unified cheers of the crowd, while others stalled in the foot-deep sand as fellow racers rushed over without hesitation to help push them along. 

Conditions weren’t supreme so it took racers a good amount of time to all get to the pit. While the start of the race was delayed an hour, spirits were still high and the crowd cheered on each and every racer coming down the line. Once all the vehicles had all made it into the pit, officials started to close the gates and there was a mad rush of the press to get behind the gate. Luckily I was one of few to make it in and there I was able to capture the racers prepping their rides, hanging out and socializing with each other, and posing for the many other photographers covering the event. Motorcycles were set to race first, the riders began to gratefully pushed their way across wet, hardpacked sand towards the starting line. Crowds formed behind the barriers along the sideline, the entire length of the course.

The sight of renowned riders such as Matt Walksler, “Sushi” Akashi Yasui, Scott Jones, Shinya Kimura and many more all donning their leathers, their vintage wool racing sweaters, linesman boots, and helmets as they sat atop their bikes, along with the sounds of their engines idling in unison stopped me in my tracks. Standing amongst them all in the haze of exhaust smoke and the falling rain, I felt like like I was in the middle of a motorcycle regiment preparing for battle. In that moment, I was grateful to witness such a truly unique experience, one that felt timeless.

As the TROG official motioned to them to advance, the first two riders crept to the start line. I aligned myself behind them, itchy finger on the shutter trigger, as flag girl Sara Francello aka @ratherbeagypsy made her way in front of them carrying her checkered race flag. The west coast inaugural of the Race of Gentlemen was poised to begin! Co-founder of Born Free, Grant Peterson and Elias Klein revved their engines and with the highest of jumps and a kick, Sara dropped the flag signaling the start. The racers let loose two sandy rooster tails as they sped off down the beach.

Wave after wave of alternating hotrod and bike races followed, and I continued to capture the roaring action occurring all around me. As I stood further out on the beach to capture the entire scene, the tide aggressively lapped at my boots several times, and I found myself wondering how long we had until it would inevitably interfere with the races. For now, there was still plenty of action, so I just continued shooting.

Eventually, soaking wet from a heavy downpour, I made my way inside Fin’s, a restaurant located beachside to dry off and edit my pictures. And have a damn beer. I took a pull of from my glass while anxiously plugging in my card reader to see what images I had captured that rainy afternoon. A smile grew on my face with every new image that appeared on my screen. I edited a batch and sent them off to Chris of Godspeed Co for a takeover of CafeRacerXXX’s feed that weekend.

Soon after, the officials called the race an hour early due to the heavy weather and increasing tide. There would be no bonfire and I’m sure to the dismay of thousands, Sunday’s races were called off later on also. Mother nature, the party pooper. The following morning, the sun taunted everyone but the relentless tide reached the barriers where the crowds had once stood covering the entire beach, and the staging area of the pits where over 150 racers had congregated with their machines the day prior, was now underwater. 

While it was a short lived event due to the weather, I felt humbled and grateful to have witnessed what I did that Saturday, as I’m sure many others did as well. My thoughts go out to any of the racers who didn’t get the opportunity to race, as many miles were covered in the exodus to Pismo Beach. But at least there’s always next year. Here’s to a great first TROG in the west, and to many more to come. 

Many thanks to Sasha at CafeRacerXXX and the guys at The Godspeed Co. for the opportunity to cover the event, to Mel aka @yeoleghost for dreaming up this amazing Speed laden event, and to all the Gentlemen racers who travelled from all over with their museum worthy machines to partake in the greatest race on earth.

Until the next race,

- Erik Jutras aka @mr_pixelhead, Photographer.     

Feeling The Need For Tweed

Allan Glanfield

Motorcycles have a funny way of bringing people together. And this story serves as a great example of that magnetism. Three years ago GSCo. Founder Chris Logsdon found himself thrusted into the DGR spotlight when the event leader backed out last minute leaving Chris to lead the pack of nearly 150 well-dressed riders through the streets of NYC. A daunting task, but worth the experience. Through this he met a determined group of riders doing their part to battle the ferocious enemy that is prostate cancer. It was here too that he met Michael Higgins. Dressed in a crisp suit with a shop rag as hanky and a beer in his hand, Mike introduced himself and thus forged the relationship they now share.

Fast forward two years. The GSCo. relocates to Chattanooga, TN unfortunately leaving Sir Higgins to manage the ever-growing NYC DGR. But fortunately for NYC, it couldn't have been left in better hands. As you read Mike's words below and experience the photography of Jason Goodrich keep in mind all this was done out of the kindness and generosity of a few individuals willing do their part in raising awareness and funds and contribution to the global cause that is The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. We applaud Mike and those who have stepped up to aid him in making the NYC DGR one grand spectacle. - GSCo.

Kicking over the motor, my Honda revs to life. It’s early morning, the sunlight pushing through a wisp of clouds that streak an otherwise clear sky. I twist the throttle to wake both the bike and myself. I need coffee, but it’ll have to wait.

As the vintage engine warms, I train my attention to making sure I’m geared up properly for this ride. Running a gloved hand over the lapel of my newly acquired wool Herringbone suit from RRL, I size things up. Waistcoat, dress shirt, pocket square, Chelsea boots … helmet.  Standing beside the quiet chatter of the classic motorbike I thumb at my top button, and lean down to adjust the knot of my necktie in the bar end mirror. Better. That’s it. I’m ready.

I first came across the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride through a random Instagram post a couple years back.  Following up on it, I found myself on an extremely agreeable, and unmistakably unique ride through the streets of Manhattan. I was hooked. The event, now in its 5th year, is a worldwide success consisting of throngs of classic motorcycle enthusiasts all eagerly embracing the mantra, “Ride Dapper.” To those ends, I was now pointing my 1967 Honda toward the South Street Seaport to help host the 2016 ride.

Newly polished chrome reflects glimpses of sun peaking through the city’s architecture as I zip through empty streets toward the bottom of the island. This morning, and this ride, has been months in the planning. While I’m proud to be a big part of it, I can take little credit as this event has taken on a life all its own.

Arriving onto the storied cobblestones that make up the oldest streets in the city, I slow the bike to a crawl. The main square, witness to a bit of everything since colonial settlers first called this tip of land home, will serve as a fitting kick-off point for the day’s charity ride to raise funds, heart rates, and as many eyebrows as possible.

I rock the bike up onto its center stand, shutting it down as I pull off my helmet. The open square, empty except for a few tourists, will soon be filled with every sort of classic two-wheeled machine, and an equally diverse congregation of riders.

Playing host to an event that has evolved to include over 55,000 riders participating in upwards of 420 separate rides across the globe is both overwhelming and utterly satisfying. The good it does worldwide for prostate cancer and other men’s health concerns can’t be overstated. For the handful of volunteers that pulled together to organize the NYC ride, it’s a labor of love. Simply being able to have a front row view of the spectacle is reward enough. 

The riders roll in. A few at a time began to line up in the square, the Brooklyn Bridge, looming just blocks away. Larger groups arrive, each individual somehow more decked out than the last. Bow ties, ascots, braces, scarves and even stogies play in perfect harmony with the gloves, goggles and helmets you’d expect at a motorcycle rally. The bikes don’t disappoint either. A bit of everything makes this ride unlike any other. All of them – classic café’s, choppers, bobbers, brats, and even side-car models – make up an eclectic, if not eccentric collection of enthusiasts.

By the time I find my small band of fellow organizers to make final preparations, the throngs of meticulously clad men and machines have swelled the final ranks to more than 750, well over the 300 riders of the previous year. Finding my bike and my bearings, I revisit our planned route. In hopes of turning heads and stopping traffic, the ride will send us across the bridge to Brooklyn before setting sights on the green of Central Park, the whirl of Columbus Circle, the bustle of Times Square, and the charm of Washington Square, finally returning to the history of the Seaport for a grand Finale event.