Sonny Angel Motorcycles
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Eventually, Max started building streamliners powered by not one but two supercharged Vincent engines, and he chose Don Angel, Sonny’s little brother, as his pilot. Don’s first trip to Bonneville was less than successful, ending up with one wadded up bike and one bruised ego. To hear Sonny tell it, “Don got into the soft stuff and the chute swung it off the wheels.” As the bike started to tumble, Don remembered thinking, “Max is going to be mad at me.” Don got to relive the experience over and over as footage of the crash was shown repeatedly on SpeedTV.
Don has, however, redeemed himself. On Sept. 8, 2005, Don piloted Lambky’s Liner to a one-way top speed of 212.91mph in the new S/VPBF (Streamline/Vintage Pushrod Blown Fuel) class. They raced again in 2006, but, as Sonny puts it, “it ran crappy, although it still hit 176mph.” Not content, Max, Sonny and Don are heading back to Bonneville next Labor Day to try and grab the class record with a two-way run (For updates on their progress go to www.vincentstreamliner.com).
For all the motion in Sonny’s life, there have been a couple constants, the most important being his wife of 46 years, Christine. The most obvious constant of course is Sonny Angel Motorcycles. Walk into the shop and you will be overcome with nostalgia: This is how motorcycle shops used to look and smell. When you enter you’ll probably be greeted by Christine, and Don is usually in the back of the shop working, while Sonny might be doing any one of a thousand tasks. There are new and old motorcycles scattered about, and motorcycle artifacts everywhere you look. And on the parts counter are the personal coffee mugs of Sonny’s regular customers. The experience is so complete that Sonny has even retained the original phone number (GRidley7-8120). Costco this isn’t.
At 81 years young, Sonny’s still going strong. His passion for life and motorcycles seems endless (he celebrated New Year’s with a 130-mile ride on a new Guzzi Breva), and he sees himself as a lucky man. As he says it, “Just being here, doing pretty much the same things in my life is all I could ask for.” MC
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