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Just came across this great thread via a link from Granddaddy Joe, and have really enjoyed reading though it. It is always nice to see different pictures of racers you remember from way back, and get to hear some more of their background. Especially enjoyed Frank's memories of his early encounters with Danny Johnson.

I met Danny a few times in the mid 70s, and I still have a small lump of one of his crankcases in my garage after he grenaded a motor at Santa Pod. He put on a good show on his visits, and made a lot of friends over here.

I will try and post a few pictures of him once I have mastered the system.
Look forward to reading more in this thread.

Regards,
Keith Lee
 

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Great to see some of the top racers from years ago together again Frank.
I have attached a picture of the first 8 second runner in Europe, which I shot back in 1975. Keith Parnell is shown left receiving the trophy for the first 8 from Santa Pod Raceway track manager Dave Watts, after Keith ran 8.9s on his 750 blown Triumph.

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The double Triumphs carried on competitively for a few more years over here, and Jeff Byne got down to 8.02s/178mph in 1979 on his blown 1500 double. He and John Hobbs double Weslake were so close to running a seven, but it was not to be.

To answer your question about the rocket bike Frank, I was not at Santa Pod to see it. Stunning time - and if you look at the video of it on the web it almost seems like a speeded up film because it is so unbelievably quick. Even more impressive when you think that he brushed the wall earlier on his fuel bike!

The rocket bike of my era was that of my good friend, the late Henk Vink from Holland, which ran 6.5s back in the mid 80s. I attach my picture of him below.
 

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Thanks for the continuing info on Danny Johnson's exploits Frank.
I went to a drag racing show last weekend, and raided the loft for a suitable T shirt, and found a Marion Owens shirt which still fitted after over 30 years!

Also in the bag was one of Danny's, which he gave to me on a visit to England. Took a quick snap to share.

Keith

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Folks, we just passed a milestone. When I started this topic just three months ago I did not know what kind of response it would get. Well, it has been one of the hottest topics on the Jockey Journal surpassing TEN THOUSAND visits. Thanks to all of you who have posted.... and to those who have something to say or pictures to post about the history of Fuel Bikes please join in.
Don't know if you have seen this, but on the excellent UKDRN site in England there are some films posted from the 1973 International meeting at Santa Pod. Mainly cars, but there are some bikes shown. Danny Johnson features at around the 7 minute mark on part one, and around 5 minutes on part 2, including a fire burnout sequence.
He had problems on both runs, but it is a good bit of film.

I have included the link below:

http://www.ukdrn.co.uk/forum/viewto...aggin+in&sid=7d8dabf94f33fde01e77b3684ab0a055

Regards,
Keith
 

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Thanks Keith for the Danny Johnson memorabilia. He wore a Johnson High Performance t-shirt throughout his long racing career. Those videos are great!! Do you remember which month in '73 he raced at Santa Pod?
Danny raced over three consecutive weekends during his visit in July 1973. Two were at Santa Pod, while the middle race was at a military base on the south coast, where the course was only 1000 feet due to the short shutoff area.

In 1975 Danny visited Santa Pod twice with Goliath 2, and you might be interested that a picture of him racing TC at Santa Pod is one of the front cover pictures on the book I am finalising on drag bike racing in britain in the early days.
 

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Keith,

I am glad to hear you are recording British Drag Bike racing history in the form of a book. The same thing is being done here on American Fuel Bike racers and is rumored to be printed later this year.
Frank,
My book is now in the editing stage, and includes the many American visitors who competed here up until the mid 1980s.
Do you know who is writing the book in America? It sounds very interesting.
 

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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.
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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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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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.
 

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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!:)
 

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Nice insights into the concerns when making the transition to a modern setup Frank.
By the way, it still staggers me the mileage you guys travel to go to an event in America. A thousand miles to go and watch the rain is a real bummer.
We lost a lot of racers over here as the older British engines became less competitive. To swap from what you know to an all-new combination is an expensive challenge - and one that many could not afford to make. It is like starting at the bottom all over again.
 

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It was a shame to see the passing of the double-engined bikes Frank, but I guess that is progress.
The first 7 second run came at the Supernationals in October 1975, when Russ Collins only just beat TC as the first rider under 8 seconds. TC had the last laugh though, as he ran more 7 second passes at the meeting - and won the event. Joe Smith so nearly made it three bikes in the sevens at that same meeting.
Unterestingly, the Carl Ahlfeldt Orange Crush double Kawasaki bike was bought by Dutch racer Henk Vink - and he clocked the first 7 second run by a European rider on it.
 

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I have just posted a clip on youtube that I filmed in 1981 of John Hobbs riding his twin-engined blown Weslake. John was the top British racer, but this was 2 years after he retired from riding the bike full time, and it was his first pass of the year. He did not look very rusty!

 

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I mentioned in an earlier post we will try to compile a list of all multi-engine Fuel Drag Bikes from the past. Let's start with the British manufacturers. I know I can't recall them all so the ones I have missed please add to this list. I will try to record the builder owner(s) rider(s) and the era built.

"Dubble Trubble" Triumph----Bud Hare/Bill Koch early 50s
"Two Timer" Triumph---Dick Rios Late 50s
"Perry & Scott" Triumph---Early 60s
"The Cannibal" Triumph---Bob Leppan Early 60s
"Boris Murray" Triumph---Late 60s
"Sonny Routt" Triumph---Larry Welch/Bob Mauriello Late 60s
"Bob Chantland" Triumph---Late 60s
"The Hogslayer" Norton---T.C. Christenson Late 60s
Carl Ahlfeldt BSA Late 60s

Some of these bikes are pictured on this thread. There are some pictured on this thread I can't identify.
One addition comes to mind Frank.

Don Hyland raced a double Triumph back in 1964. As a youngster in England when it visited, I remember the big STP sticker on the crankcase - and wondering what on earth that was for!
 

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Dusty,

The list I was refering to on post 297 is for multi-engine British Fuel Bikes. "The Deuce" has been added.
Hey Frank, I have a whole load of multi-engined British bikes to add to the list, but I suspect you are looking for American builds!
It the criteria is that they needed to race in the US, then Dennis Norman's double Triumph would qualify, as he came to Indy in 1970, where he qualified for the top eliminator.
 

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Hey Keith,

There were quite a few that came from the UK that year, I remember this one bike had a out board flywheel...I think this is it, I have so many pictures in my files plus photo bucket but I never tag anything, now I wish I had...I'm sure you recognize the name on the bike...



There were a lot of bikes that year qualifying for an eight bike field but I don't recall any of the UK bikes making the field, I could be wrong, long time ago...
Yes Granddaddy Joe, that is the Pegasus Vincent of good friends Ian Messenger, Derek Chinn and Mick Butler. They did not quite make the field, but Dennis Norman qualified his 1300 Triumph double with a 9.9, but lost out in the first round of elims.
 
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