Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes - Page 10 - The Jockey Journal Board

Go Back   The Jockey Journal Board > General Discussion > The Board

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 07-07-2010, 09:51 AM   #181
Keith Lee
Senior Member
 
Keith Lee's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England
Posts: 268
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by frank spittle View Post
Yes Keith, Marion was big enough to man handle that monster double.

By the way, did you know that Marion and Big Carl were brothers-in-law? Kathy was Carl's "little" sister. It's a small world, huh?
Yes Frank I did know Kathy was Carl's very little sister. I kept in touch with them for a number of years by mail, but we eventually lost touch. When you next see Marion, please give him my best wishes.
The sight of him wrenching the front end back of his double back in line when it eventually came back down to earth on full lock was a sight to behold. Great memories - just wish I had my video camera then.
Keith Lee is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 07-08-2010, 08:44 PM   #182
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 752
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Danny Johnson And "Goliath 1" THE END


The success of "Goliath 1" has been posted here before. I am posting a rare picture of it here. This was taken at Ontario Motor Speedway just weeks after it's debut at Atco in the fall of '72. If you click on the picture twice it will blow the picture up to where you can see the incredible workmanship. As you can see, Johnson was not very happy. He had broke another chain which almost certainly cost him a win. I believe it would be the last time out in '72. I got to see "Goliath 1" at Danny's home not long afterwards. It was THE talk in motorcycle drag racing. Danny had always built show quality machines but this one was just awesome. I could not wait to see it run. In addition to "Goliath 1" Danny also had a single engine Harley Fuel Bike and had plans to build a new super lightweght single with a gigantic engine a large rear slick the same as G-1 used. I was hoping he might need an extra rider but he did not offer me anything and I did not throw any hints. The next time I saw Danny was at Bowling Green in June '73. I spent some time with him in the pits and he asked for the first time when I was going to get back into Fuel Bike racing. I told him I didn't have the money. That was that.

Johnson finished the new single and took both singles to England just a few weeks after Bowling Green. After returning from his tour of England the NHRA U.S. Nationals was only weeks away. One week before Indy I got a call at the Mercedes dealership I worked at. It was unusual to get a call at work. I went to answer the call hoping there was no emergency. It was Danny. That was even more puzzling. He had never called me at work. He got right to the point. "I would like for you to ride "Goliath" at Indy for me" he said. My heart started pounding. I told him I didn't know if I could ride a double. His reply "I have a fortune in that bike and would not let you ride it if I thought you will crash it. Trust me, you can ride it". It was one of the most anxious times in my life. My heart was still pounding and butterflies started flying around in my stomach.

I finally composed myself enough to say YES. I will have to take some time off work but that shouldn't be a problem.


Next: Tragedy


THE "GOLIATH 1" TRAGEDY

I had enthusiastically accepted Danny Johnson's invitation to ride "Goliath" at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in 1973. I was already making passes on it in my mind and it was frightening. I would have to get approval from my boss at the Mercedes dealership I worked at to take off an extra 3 days in addition to the Labor Day Holiday. No problem I thought. I WAS WRONG! He told me it wouldn't have been a problem if I hadn't asked off 1 week in advance. There were several other mechanics who were taking extra days and had scheduled it months in advance. The dealership had work scheduled for me on the days I wanted off. I was devastated. The only choice I had was to quit and that was not an option with the financial obligations I had. It was very,very hard to turn Danny down again. He told me he wanted to do some testing with the new "Big Tire/Big Engine" single he had just finished and since I was taller than him I could ride the double. He couldn't ride both. He was disappointed and it was the last time he asked me to ride for him. It upset me so much that I turned in a two week notice to my boss the next day. I had been considering going in business for myself and this was the anger I needed to make a commitment. I considered quiting on the spot and heading for Indy but didn't want to burn any bridges in case things didn't work out for me.

Danny went to Indy with "Goliath" and did not, I believe. take the single. The pictures below are the incredible work of legendary motorsports photojournalist Steve Reyes. He has a knack for being at the right place at the right time and shooting unbelievable pictures. This was one of his finest moments. We talked about this at zMAX Dragway earlier this year. He is still shooting NHRA Nationals. In the first frame you can see the front wheel detached from the rest of the machine as Johnson is looking at where he is headed as the bike is going down. In the next frames he appears to be trying to push away from the wall which he did manage to do but "Goliath" was destroyed as it hit the wall and careened over it. You can see the fuel tank separated and spewing nitro.

Johnson was not hurt very badly and immediately started on "Goliath II" I have wondered for the last 37 years if I would have had the "coolness" he had and come out of it as good as him.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	2a.jpg
Views:	736
Size:	355.5 KB
ID:	51282   Click image for larger version

Name:	1a.jpg
Views:	734
Size:	434.8 KB
ID:	51283   Click image for larger version

Name:	3a.jpg
Views:	688
Size:	819.1 KB
ID:	51284  

Click image for larger version

Name:	4a.jpg
Views:	658
Size:	408.5 KB
ID:	51285   Click image for larger version

Name:	5a.jpg
Views:	741
Size:	374.9 KB
ID:	51286  
frank spittle is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-2010, 09:31 PM   #183
bhead1968
Senior Member
 
bhead1968's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: South Flo-Ryda
Posts: 1,086
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

wow!...what a great thread.. thanks!
bhead1968 is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Old 07-09-2010, 12:22 AM   #184
bbdiamond1974
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: ROY, UT
Posts: 116
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

amazing machines in here
__________________
UFFU
Go to my blog for my leather tooling
http://www.blogger.com/profile/13763698641010846525
bbdiamond1974 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-09-2010, 04:35 AM   #185
Keith Lee
Senior Member
 
Keith Lee's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England
Posts: 268
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

It was worth waiting for the last part of the Goliath 1 story Frank. Seeing that front wheel following Danny and the bike down the track is frightening. It must have left you with some mixed emotions on seeing that.
That bike was scheduled to run in England in July 73, but did not make the trip due to damage.
Looking at the sequence of shots by Steve Reyes reminds me, as if needed, what a great photographer he is. I was overawed when I first met him on the startline at Ontario in 1973. With his huge Pextax 6x7 cameras and perched on his stepladder, he left me feeling very inadequate. If only I had carried a foldup ladder over on the plane I could have been as good as him - in my dreams!
Keith Lee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-09-2010, 12:55 PM   #186
punisher7
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Milwaukee
Posts: 22
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Those are some great pictures of the crash of Goliath. Cool to hear the whole story behind it.
punisher7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-09-2010, 08:43 PM   #187
FearNoEvo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Iowa
Posts: 370
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by frank spittle View Post
The success of "Goliath 1" has been posted here before. I am posting a rare picture of it here.
Is this around the time the sanctioning bodies started banning "bicycle" parts?

That front wheel looks tiny as do the forks.
FearNoEvo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-09-2010, 11:33 PM   #188
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 752
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Quote:
Originally Posted by FearNoEvo View Post
Is this around the time the sanctioning bodies started banning "bicycle" parts?

That front wheel looks tiny as do the forks.
Yes, this was about the time extremely lightweight parts were banned like the Triumph Cub front end on my first Fuel Bike below. But "Goliath 1 and II" I believe used a Cerriani front end which was used for at least a decade later. "The Freight Train" appears to have a like front forks and front.wheel (see video on post 1). It was just a freak accident from my memory.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	1.jpg
Views:	1025
Size:	69.7 KB
ID:	51325  
frank spittle is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-10-2010, 09:31 PM   #189
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 752
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

This is one of the last pictures of T.C.Christenson and "the Hogslayer" twin engine Norton that made him famous. It was taken at the '97 Fuel Bike Reunion at Virginia Motorsport Park about 20 years after he and the bike retired from national event competition. Between 1972 and 1977 he was in the Bowling Green finals 5 times and won 3. He was the only three time B/G winner. He sold it to a Motorcycle Museum in England a short time later and purchased the triple engined Norton Fuel Bike. John Gregory, his brilliant crew chief, is behind him and not very visable. As you can see it still drew a big crowd when it was fired.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	4 001.jpg
Views:	658
Size:	167.4 KB
ID:	51338  

Last edited by frank spittle; 07-10-2010 at 10:12 PM.
frank spittle is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2010, 01:29 AM   #190
Joe Smith
Senior Member
 
Joe Smith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 215
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Here's an amazing picture taken by Keith Lee of that same bike, TC and his Double Norton, it's was taken at Ontario, it shows me and my Double leading the way through the lights...It's posted on my All Harley Davidson Drag Racing Forum...This is absolutely an amazing piece of Photography...

I have permission from Mr. Lee to use this great picture and believe it also fits here...

__________________

GRANDDADDY JOE SMITH
INDY WORLD CHAMP
1971,74 & 75
http://www.granddaddyjoesmith.com
Copyright 2007-2015. Joe Smith. All rights reserved
Joe Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2010, 07:56 AM   #191
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 752
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

You are right Joe, that is an amazing photo by Keith
frank spittle is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2010, 08:24 PM   #192
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 752
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

This is one of the best pictures ever taken of Larry Welch on Sonny Routt's double Triumph around 1971 at Bowling Green I believe. The background is blurry but the bike and rider are crystal clear. If you click on the picture twice or three times you can see great detail of the machine and Welch's unbelievable concentration.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Spittle 2 001.jpg
Views:	1216
Size:	249.4 KB
ID:	51382  
frank spittle is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2010, 09:23 PM   #193
FearNoEvo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Iowa
Posts: 370
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

I'll tell ya what I would like to hear more about.

The transition from the side bowl S&S carbs to the B and then the addition of leanouts. Some of the most spectacular explosions I ever got to see were a result of a poorly timed leanout or too much timing and the addition of the leanout. By the time I built mine, we used a dump can and an enrichener to try and load it harder off of the line. You guys were shoving pencils into the jets at a 1000 feet and nearly blocking them off to pull the last 300 feet. That had to be scary as hell.
FearNoEvo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2010, 10:05 PM   #194
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 752
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

I am afraid I cannot be very much help to you. I hired crew chiefs to tune my bikes. That is one reason I have SOOOOO much respect for Joe Smith. He did EVERYTHING in his racing operation with very little help. I do know as you know the high speed leanout in fuel injection is a real horsepower maker.......or maker of JUNK.
frank spittle is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2010, 01:30 AM   #195
FearNoEvo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Iowa
Posts: 370
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Right on. My bikes a bit more modern, but not by much.

I run an old Bonnie Truett slipper clutch hat. When we started out with the thing our 60 foot times were miserable. We kept going down on the final drive ratio thinking we needed the lower gear to make it pull harder. At one point we were at about a 4.56:1 ratio. Still couldn't get out of our own way. Lauer came over and talked to us, found out what we were doing and loaned us a rear sprocket which put our final gear ratio around 3.30:1. Our 60 foot times immediately dropped from around 1.6 to 1.30's with an occasional dip into the 20's. Adding the enrichener picked up another tenth and put us solidly in the 20's with occasional dips into the teens.

But with high gear only and a carb, we could never get past 1000 feet without it going fat. Everyone kept telling us to add a leanout but I couldn't afford spare parts so we never did.

By the way Mr. Smith, helluva read on the thread you linked. Thank you for that. Have you ever read the Nitro 101 thread that used to be at stripbike? I believe it has been rebuilt more or less on at least one site. Great thread if you can sift through all the BS'in that went on there.

Thank you again to you guys for taking the time to build this archive. Its a helluva thing you've done in your lives and its damned nice of ya to take the time to share it with us.
FearNoEvo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-14-2010, 05:21 PM   #196
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 752
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Joe Smith's double Harley had a sound of it's own. I could stand in the staging lanes at Bowling Green and know when he fired his bike even if I was not facing it. There were at least a dozen double Harley's I heard at one time or another but none of them sounded exactly like Granddaddy's. It amazes me that at age 80 his mind is still as crisp as ever. The Nitro thread he linked us to a couple posts back is proof of that. I only wish I could have had his knowledge available to us when I was racing "The Freight Train".
frank spittle is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-17-2010, 09:51 PM   #197
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 752
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

DANNY JOHNSON AND "GOLIATH II"

After surviving the 1973 horrendous crash at Indy that destroyed "Goliath 1" Johnson came home and started on the new machine. He had learned from almost a year's racing of G-1 that some things needed improvements so G-II would have been built anyway. Here are some of the improvements:

(1) G-1 was a high gear bike. G-2 would use a B&J 2-speed transmission.
(2) G-1 used a 6 inch wide rear slick. G-II would use an 8 inch wide tire.
(3) G-! used a single row rear drive chain. G-II would use a double row.

Danny built almost every part for "Goliath II" including the chrome-moly tubing frame which weighed only 29 pounds. He put his touches to both alloy wheels and of course put his touch to almost every mechanical part. This bike also had the first Candy Apple Red Metalflake paint that would be his signature for every bike he raced for the rest of his career.

I am not sure when Danny finished the bike but I believe it was in late '74 or almost a year. He raced his singles during construction which kept him busy and not a lot of spare time to work on G-II. Johnson had took in a partner on G-II, Joe Stadler from Milwaukee, WI. G-II was raced for several seasons with Johnson and Stadler sharing the riding duties. I watched the bike race many times in it's long career. It was competitive with the other multi-engine machines until the larger rear tire bikes started making a presence. And then Ron Teson came out with the single engine supercharged T/F Honda out of the RC Engineering shop that changed Top Fuel as much as G-! had years earlier. It changed Danny and made him realize twin engine bikes were doomed. He sold his interest in G-II to Stadler and for the first time started experimenting with Kawasaki parts.

Stadler kept the bike until his death in a non racing related matter. His widow sold G-II to John Heidt who kept it for a couple years. I bought it from him almost 20 years ago. The first photo was shot by Tom Loughlin Jr in 1975 and the other photo is one I took recently (click on the pictures several time to get detailed view). It is just as it was last raced with the exception of the engines. It has the original paint, chrome, tires and wheels etc. I can not tell you how priveliged I feel to be the owner of this bike. I hope to get it in running condition at some point and take it out and have some fun at Vintage Racing Events.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Danny at (2).jpg
Views:	2398
Size:	502.4 KB
ID:	51538   Click image for larger version

Name:	3333.jpg
Views:	683
Size:	291.7 KB
ID:	51539  

Last edited by frank spittle; 07-18-2010 at 09:14 PM.
frank spittle is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2010, 04:30 AM   #198
thefrenchowl
Senior Member
 
thefrenchowl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Great Britain
Posts: 506
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Hi Frank and all,

Nice thread indeed, thanks a lot for the history and insights...

Quote:
Yes, this was about the time extremely lightweight parts were banned like the Triumph Cub front end on my first Fuel Bike below.
Attached Thumbnails
Can't help thinking your fueller looks like the same bike as this one despite the change of frame, the front end is really too similar!!!... That was owned by Zach Reynolds of tobacco fame sometimes in the late 60s...



Is it???

Patrick
__________________
Flat Head Forever
www.harleykrxlrtt.com
www.jonghi.org
thefrenchowl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2010, 11:12 AM   #199
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 752
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for your input. Zach Reynolds was a very good friend of mine. He was the richest guy I have personally ever known (he was R.J. Reynolds grandson). He was one of the greatest motorcycle drag racers ever and always had the fastest bikes here in North Carolina. He was a real daredevil in just about everything he did. We all knew he was NOT destined to live to rocking chair status. I have sooo many stories to tell about him on future posts.

The bike he is sitting on is very simular to mine but not. It is ironic that you mention this because I did call him to let him know my bike was for sale back in '69. Zach had his own plane and called to ask if I could pick him up at the Charlotte airport and take him to look at it again even though he only lived an hour's drive away. We set up a time but he never showed.
frank spittle is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-18-2010, 02:17 PM   #200
thefrenchowl
Senior Member
 
thefrenchowl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Great Britain
Posts: 506
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Hi Frank,

Thanks and yes, looks like he lived life on the VERY FAST LANE, when I look at all the hardware he had!!!

About 210 photos of him, his family and some of his rides here:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=zach...48101682%40N00

Patrick
__________________
Flat Head Forever
www.harleykrxlrtt.com
www.jonghi.org
thefrenchowl is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:05 PM.