John Penton’s record breaking BMW ride

Reader Contribution by Landon Hall

Story by Conrad Pfeifer


John Penton, 1959. Note his brother’s white tank on John’s black bike.
Photo courtesy Ed Youngblood

Why did you want to do this ride?
In 1958 I was a mixed-up guy. My wife had just died; I was left with three boys. I was kind of confused. My sister took in one son, and my brothers each took one. My brother Ted told me to just go ride, so I went on a 12,000 mile ride ending up in Mexico. When it was time to come home to Amherst [Ohio] I rode straight through from Mexico. When I got home my brother said that since I did that ride I should go for the coast to coast record [Then held by Cannonball Baker].

What did you do for verification and record keeping?
Checked in at Western Union NYC, kept a letterhead that I had stamped then at each toll booth or tunnel I asked them to stamp it. They looked at it and wondered what I was doing, then stuck it in their machine. I didn’t care if it was upside down or backwards, just so it was there


John Penton and Floyd Clymer at end of the ride.
Photo courtesy of Ed Youngblood

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