Motorcycle Classics

Amelia Island Concours 2015: Legends of the High Bank

Reader Contribution by Somer Hooker

Butler & Smith campaigned this BMW R75/5 F750 at Daytona in 1972 and 1973.

2015 celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on Amelia Island, Florida. For almost as many years, they have included a motorcycle class on the show field. This year’s theme was “Legends of the High Bank,” featuring motorcycles raced at the Daytona Speedway. Motorcycles have been racing at Daytona since the early 1960s, when they evolved off of the beach and onto the speedway.

The concours field provided a good cross section of bikes from the early speedway days to contemporary racers, including a few surprises. Other bikes once pushed by the likes of Reg Pridmore, Cal Rayburn and Dick Mann completed the displayed continuum of the history of Daytona road racers. Roger Riemann’s Harley-Davidson KR was one of the earliest entries from that era. Did you know that The United States Motorcycle Club (USMC) originally ran a speedway series, the USGP, which predated AMA races? In the early 1960s, the USMC set records at the Daytona Speedway. Ed LaBelle’s 1952 Vincent Black Shadow Special established a record of 128mph for the V-twin 1,000CC class. The Labelle Vincent was on display and won an Amelia award.

Motorcycle Hall of Famer Roger Reiman raced this Harley-Davidson KR, a bike that shows the early transition from beach racer to road racer.

Jarno Saarinen’s Yamaha was presented in as raced condition. Tragically, Jarno “The Flying Finn” was later killed in a race in Italy. John Britten, another tragic figure, left us with a brilliant legacy, the Britten motorcycle. The Britten owned by the Barber Museum won the cherished Amelia Corporate Award. Jim Dillard Jr. brought both a Parilla 250 and a Ducati 750SS that had run at Daytona. He also took home several Amelia Awards. All bikes are expected to ride to the podium to receive their trophies. Needless to say, with all of the straight pipes, the audience got an ear full!

Next year’s Amelia Island Concours will be March 13, 2016. The theme has not been selected.

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum brought Jarno Saarinen’s 350 Yamaha.

Jim Dillard Jr. brought Ian Gunn’s old Ducati 750SS racer.

All photos by Somer Hooker

  • Published on Apr 3, 2015
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