2008 Bonneville Vintage GP

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Nira Johnson showed up with this incredible circa-1959 Triumph drag bike.

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Vintage racing was the order of the day at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, as classic bikes took to the track for American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) action during the 2008 Bonneville Vintage GP, presented by Motorcycle Classics Sept. 6-7. We also hosted the Motorcycle Classics Bike Show West, where Nira Johnson showed up with this incredible circa-1959 Triumph drag bike. Nira campaigned the Triumph regularly from 1963 to 1969, including an exhibition run in England in 1965 where he hit 119mph and a 127mph run at Bonneville in 1967. The bike, recently purchased from Nira by old family friend Rodd Lighthouse, is exactly as it was when he put it away in 1969 following a job move from California to Pennsylvania.

Beautifully original down to its period rear slick, the Triumph’s pre-unit engine has a later two-piece crankshaft and factory 12:1 compression pistons. The frame was stretched 4 inches for drag work.

Rodd plans a sympathetic restoration, returning the Triumph to running condition but preserving its time-honored patina. MC