Scott VanLeuwen's Motorized Pit Bike

Parting Shots

Parting Shots

Scott and the trike, circa 1972.

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Back in 1970, Scott VanLeuwen worked and raced at US 131 Dragway (now the Knoll Gas Motorsports Park at US 131) in Martin, Mich., and he decided he needed a pit bike. So he went down to a bicycle shop to look for a frame.

"When I told the owner what I had in mind, he went upstairs and came down with a brand new tricycle. He said ‘Give me $5, and bring back the parts you don’t use. Anybody who is stupid enough to put a motor on a tricycle deserves to start with a brand new frame.’"

Since Scott was living at home with his parents at the time and had no machine tools, welder, or cutting torches, each morning he’d discuss the project with his father, who was a mechanic, draw something out on a napkin, and hand him some steel. Dad would take the materials off to the police and fire department garage where he worked and come home with the finished components. After the initial construction proved unreliable, Dad took the finished tricycle down to the shop and brazed every joint, much to the delight of the firemen, who made Scott ride it around their parking lot just to show it worked.

The trike "was actually clocked at the dragstrip at 47mph with the original hopped-up motor. The first time I tried to see what it would do, the ambulance ran along beside me down the strip before the races, the driver shouting the speed out the window as we went. I guess they figured if I crashed, they could throw the whole bundle into the ambulance and head for the hospital," Scott says.

The tricycle has a lot of miles on it, and has taken Scott around Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio and has served as a pitbike at several other race courses and events. In 2001, Scott restored the trike, giving it new paint, new tires, a new seat, and a new motor, and it now appears as you see it here. As Scott says, it just goes to prove that you can restore a motorcycle, but can’t do a thing for the rider.

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e-mail: lhall@motorcycleclassics.com