Sons of Speed 2017
By Somer Hooker
Sons of Speed organizer Billy Lane on the track at New Smyrna Speedway.
Nostalgia racing is in. Look at such events as The Race of Gentlemen (TROG), AHRMA road racing, and the March 18, 2017, Sons of Speed, an event that hearkens back to the glory days of board track racing. Billy Lane of Choppers Inc. has long wanted to recreate this era of racing, except for this race he had to use an embanked asphalt speedway instead of a banked pine board track. To seed the race, he built several replica bikes and then invited others to participate. Frames could be built up new, but crankcases built after 1924 were not allowed, and 1924 was also the last year for direct-drive racers. The rules were simple: no brakes, no transmission – what could go wrong? Very little, actually. The only incidents involved a flat tire by Rhett “Rotten” of Wall of Death fame. After a crash his team rebuilt the bike overnight, and he was ready to race the next day in spite of a broken rib!
Starting a direct drive isn’t a simple matter of bump and go. Since the Speedway had a banked corner, riders would remove their spark plugs so they could push the bike up the embankment without fighting engine compression. Plugs back in, they would roll down the hill and try to start in an almost violent, bucking manner. Bikes would lunge and buck and then fire … hopefully.
Push, roll and hope it fires.
The plan was to run several elimination heats. Riders would follow a pace motorcycle until they were lined up. This became difficult, so after a couple of laps they typically “had at it.” The first heat became one of the tightest. Billy Lane ran against American Iron Magazine publisher Buzz Kanter, who was riding one of Billy’s creations! Billy, though leading, was slowly reeled in and passed on one of his own bikes.
Event winner Brittney Olsen shows her winning style as she rounds a corner with Matt Harris even up and Buzz Kanter pulling up the rear.
When it came time for the final race, Brittney Olsen on her 1924 Harley-Davidson took off and was followed by Matt Harris on his 1924 H-D, with Shelly Rossmeyer Pepe in third place, making this a race for sons AND daughters of speed!
Event winner Brittney Olsen’s 1924 Harley-Davidson. She was given the engine instead of an engagement ring by husband Matt!
Billy Lane’s mission for the event was to recreate the days when early American motorcycles met in fields or on board tracks: Simple rules, simple bikes, and a great show. Mission accomplished! The Sons of Speed race will be recreated at Sturgis in August and Biketoberfest in October back at New Smyrna Speedway.
Billy Lane suits up for his race. Look for the next Sons of Speed at Sturgis and then Biketoberfest.
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