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Old 06-24-2010, 03:58 PM   #161
frank spittle
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Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Thanks for joining us Yags. I got a feeling the posts of back in the day are going to increase!!!!!!!!! You just posted pictures of three of the guys I admired greatly (and still do) before I joined in on the fun and agony of nitro.
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Old 06-24-2010, 10:19 PM   #162
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frank, joe and all the rest that are posting on here, sharing your history with us...... thank you. that is a shame about ama but, frank, i think you nailed it on the head, all aspects of drag racing has gotten so out of hand, unless ya wanna run bracket, the average joe(no pun intended joe) cant realy compeat.

i dont know if any of you would be interested in it or not(translation- damn it would be cool if some of you would pull out your old drag bikes and come down.) but, RYAN, the owner of this and outher boards, puts on a old school drag race every year. last year was my first time and im hooked. i used to watch and compeat when i was younger but, like i said, it got so out of hand, i just lost intrest, untill last year. heres the web site, http://www.hambdrags.com/
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Old 06-28-2010, 08:35 AM   #163
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This thread is cool. Thanks for the interesting reading.
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:12 AM   #164
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little d

It would be great if we could get some old Fuel Bikes there at Ryan's Old School Drags. The trouble is that there are not many left.

How I Met Danny Johnson

In an earlier post I mentioned I got outrun for the first time on my street Sportster at the '67 Daytona Bike week by Danny Johnson. Here is THE REST OF THE STORY. Me and some buddies of mine had traveled to Daytona hoping to see Leo Payne. There were rumors he was going to come there and kick ass. All the fast street bikes parked on Main Street to show off your stuff and get up races but there was no Leo Payne. One sinister looking Sportster was parked there when we arrived. It looked like a Cafe racer. After looking at more "fast looking" bikes I went back to be with mine (pictured below). Soon a guy came up and started looking my bike over thouroughly. It had twin Linkert carbs and Dytch big bore cylinders on it, a dead give-away. This guy asked who it belonged to and I proudly raised my hand. "Want to go out in the country and race" he said. That's what I'm here for I said. He went to get his bike ....and it was the Cafe looking bike. It was about 10:00 pm as we headed out and at least 25 bikes went with us to watch. We found a long straightaway and decided it was good. The guy asked if I wanted to start from a dead stop or a rolloff. I said a rolloff. We were both side by side at about 20 mph when we turned the throttles at exactly the same instant and the other bike jumped out to a bike length lead on me and it stayed that way through all the gears up to about 130 mph, the fastest my bike would run with the gearing I had and besides it was pitch dark on that lonely highway. I was VERY disappointed to have lost as we rode back to downtown Daytona, trying to get back before the law got to us. As we parked I introduced myself and he said "I'm Danny Johnson". It was the beginning of a friendship that lasted until his death. There are a lot more stories about Danny coming up.
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Old 07-01-2010, 08:31 PM   #165
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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!!!
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:13 PM   #166
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Boris Murray and his twin engine Triumph in the winner's circle in about 1970.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:17 PM   #167
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Originally Posted by scsporty View Post
Great thread, I can't wait to see some of the pictures that this will bring out! One of my all time favorites is Pete Hill. You'll be hard pressed to find nicer people. I have some pics of his bike I shot at his annual Christmas party here
http://www.pbase.com/daron_gray/pete_hill_tf
I also uploaded a video of Pete cranking his T/F Knuckle at the party as well. Check it out here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrvVl899Zyk
Yes Pete's one of the best. I've known him for many great years.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:31 PM   #168
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Here is a cool pic of my friend Granddaddy Joe Smith. He autographed this picture in 1973 to my dad. Most likely at the Cinci. Ohio trade show.
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:38 PM   #169
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Man this has been GREAT reading and remembering.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:47 PM   #170
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I don't know who got a record at that race, records between 70 and 74 jumped around like a bouncing ball...

Joe, this will answer your question about who came home with the AMDRA National Record at the first Bowling Green race in 1970. You set the ET record and Boris set the MPH record. There are some other names you will remember too. Eight of the 17 AMDRA National Records were set at that historic race.
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Old 07-03-2010, 05:19 PM   #171
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Looking forward to reading the next instalment of the Danny Johnson story Frank.
Meantime I thought I would contribute a static burnout pic of Marion in England in 1979 - doing his best to push over one of the supports of the control tower with his awesome Harley power.

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Old 07-05-2010, 01:38 PM   #172
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Looking forward to reading the next instalment of the Danny Johnson story Frank.
Meantime I thought I would contribute a static burnout pic of Marion in England in 1979 - doing his best to push over one of the supports of the control tower with his awesome Harley power.

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Keith,

Here are a couple more of Marion Owens and family.
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Old 07-05-2010, 03:44 PM   #173
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Keith,

Here are a couple more of Marion Owens and family.
Funny you should post those pics Frank. The left hand picture is a poster produced at Santa Pod when Marion visited, and I only rediscovered my copy the other day in the loft. The original pic may I think was mine, used to make the drawing, as Marion used my shot on his hero cards back in the 70s.
The family picture I only looked at earlier today as I was looking through my (untidy) desk, as Marion sent me a copy many years ago.
I have attached a pic of Marion and Kathy behind big Carl behind the Orange Crush.

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Old 07-05-2010, 06:05 PM   #174
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Here is a story about Marion I love to share with other MO fans. By the way, he is one of the nicest racers I have known. His entire racing career was a family thing for the Owens. It has been tough on Marion losing his wife Kathy earlier this year.

We were at the NHRA NATIONAL HOT ROD REUNION in Bowling Green in 2005, the year before NHRA honored Fuel Bike Racers. Owens had won Top Fuel there in 1975 on his twin engine Harley at the AMDRA Motorcycle Nationals. There were about 10 "Old Timer" Fuel Bike racers there including Marion, Sonny Routt, John Dixon, Larry Welch, Virgil Naff, TC Christenson to name a few. I was sitting next to Marion at a table for Fuel Bike racers. Standing next to us was Don Garlits talking to "Broadway Bob" Metzler, the legendary owner of the Union Grove Wisconsin drag strip. Marion had been booked in by Bob many times back in the day. Marion punched Bob to get his attention and when Bob realized who it was his conversation with Garlits ended. We made room for Metzler to sit and the conversation between the two was heart warming. The mutual respect between the two was evident. Owens has always been a BIG guy but had gained many more pounds since Bob had last seen him. "Are you still racing" he asks Marion. "No, but I am thinking about building a new bike" Marion said. The whitty Metzler took another look at Owens and said "You better put three engines in that one".

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Old 07-06-2010, 03:02 AM   #175
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Nearly spat my coffee out when I read that!
You build them big in America, and it was fascinating to watch Marion competing. He was the giant, and his brute force kept the monster Harley under control - but the sight of little Kathy wielding a pair of spanners making sure everything was good and tight coming up to the line is an abiding memory for me.
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Old 07-06-2010, 06:42 PM   #176
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Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

This gets my vote as "Best ever Thread".
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Old 07-06-2010, 06:46 PM   #177
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I remember seeing that back in the Seventies Joe, probably in Playboy, but did not know it was you and Gene until today.


Thanks Tony the torch.
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Old 07-06-2010, 06:53 PM   #178
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I have to agree with Tony! Defiantly a awesome thread! I love this kind of stuff, glad to see there are so many to contribute, and thank you all for contributing!

-Jusitn
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Old 07-06-2010, 07:08 PM   #179
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Nearly spat my coffee out when I read that!
You build them big in America, and it was fascinating to watch Marion competing. He was the giant, and his brute force kept the monster Harley under control - but the sight of little Kathy wielding a pair of spanners making sure everything was good and tight coming up to the line is an abiding memory for me.
Yes Keith, Marion was big enough to man handle that monster double. I was not at this race but the story is legendary. MO could always get down the track no matter how out of shape he got. But at this race his bike pitched him off at the clocks. Panic set in as everyone was worried about his condition. When the lifesaving crew got to him he had got up and walked over to the wreckage and was actually kicking it as he was having a conversation with it. I believe it was his last spill.

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?

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Old 07-06-2010, 07:19 PM   #180
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This is definately one of my favorite threads, I wish I was alive back in the good old days. You guys are truely great. Thanks for the history lesson.
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