The seventh-annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering is in the books, with another record turnout. Although the Carmel Valley temps were cool and skies overcast, a couple thousand of the faithful eyeballed more than 350 machines on the golf course. The featured marques this year were Military Vehicles, Formula 750 roadracers and a variety of Choppers, believe it or don’t.
The guests of honor were former AMA Grand National Champions Mert Lawwill and Gene Romero, who mingled at large and sat for an interview with Quail guru Gordon McCall. A semi-esteemed panel of judges fanned out to scrutinize the variety of categories, which have become more tightly focused each year. Under the direction of headmaster and Chief Judge Somer Hooker, I shared the pleasant chore with fellow scrutineers Craig Vetter, Bryan Fuller and David Edwards in the Custom/Modified division. Glad to report that both craftsmanship and artistry are in bloom across the spectrum.
Master of Ceremonies, fashion maven and chopper book writer Paul d’Orleans honors the memory of Hunter Thompson on a BSA.
Best of Show: John Goldman’s Mondial 125, the bike ridden by Carlo Ubbiali to the World Championship in 1951. The bike was also first place in the Competition On-Road division.
The menu of amenities that Quailites have come to expect were all in place, including the Friday gourmet dinner, the Saturday morning ride, the best catered lunch west of Fresno, optional single-malt scotch, wine and tequila tasting, and free ice cream. Plus live and not-too-loud music. What’s not to like?
So, more or less chronologically, the next four bikes pictured below illustrates the depth of entries at this popular venue. The organizers succeeded in appealing to an expansive continuum of enthusiasts, while keeping the event a relaxed and friendly affair for the entrants, attendees and vendors. Of course the Quail Lodge golf course setting doesn’t hurt either.
A rare 1913 Rex-JAP Brampton Special owned by Douglas McKenzie.
The 1914 FN (Fabrique National) 244cc 2-speed Single from Belgium was on offer at $65,000 from Bator International.
There be giants here? No, it’s a 9/16-scale 1914 Indian racer built by Rick Creese, a partner with Gary Davis at Trackmaster. And yes, it runs.
The 1912 Pope Single, owned by George and Annabelle Pope (kept it in the family!) won both best Antique and the FIVA Preservation Award.
The moto-candy store that is The Quail soon puts first-timers into something of a daze. And even some veterans may often be seen staring at a motorcycle in bafflement, amusement, or some of both. It’s a bit like time travel in both directions.
The tribute to military machines attracted 22 entries. Harley-Davidson and Indian featured prominently, accented by examples from Nimbus, Moto Guzzi, Ducati, Excelsior, Cushman, Royal Enfield and Zundapp.
Linda Migliore’s 1939 BSA M20 is one of 136,000 produced in England before and during World War II.
Dennis Gill’s 750cc BMW-style XA Harley-Davidson is one of the thousands of military models built during the war. Lower production costs favored the V-Twin.
Military honors went to the 1942 BMW R75 Wehrmachtsgespann entered by Ziggy and Lisa Dee.
While some entries are long on novelty, most are nicely fettled examples of their genre, and some show the marks of serious riders who understand the dynamics of riding a motorcycle at its limit. And most builders are glad to answer questions.
The author’s nostalgic favorite (it was his first motorcycle) was Frank Rositani’s 1953 Ariel Square Four. Anything can be a bobber.
Our second favorite bobber was Gene Worth’s ’72 Bultaco Alpina, which demonstrates a fine sense of whimsy.
Jason Len’s Spondon-framed Honda CBX drew plenty of attention in the Custom/Modified class.
Martin Motorworks presented this lean café racer built from a Kawasaki Concours sport-touring rig.
The Confederate Hellcat was another object of curiosity.
And what show worth its salami would be complete without a Ducati chopper?
The subdued treatment is a nice touch on David Asman’s Ghezzi-Brian 1250 ProThunder Moto Guzzi.
Variety is obviously the keynote here. Chances of a boredom attack are mighty slim, in which case there’s the wine-tasting. While a day is just about enough time to take in the entire show, the diligent will find time to revisit the machines of special interest. The ones that draw us back.
Deszo Molnar accepts the Innovation award from Craig Vetter for his own creation, the Molnar G2. A flying motorcycle, and object of the day’s most-asked question, “What the hell is that?” The training wheels retract.
What could be under there? Owner Gregory Beck says it’s a 2009 KTM 690 EX-R.
For another take on the big KTM single, this is Darrell Schneider’s 2013 690 Duke.
Schneider also offered this interpretation of an ’04 Honda CRF250R.
Jim Carducci points out a detail on his Sportster-based SC3 Adventure model.
A nicely formed Ducati Monster as street tracker from A. Earle.
Judges Craig Vetter (right) and David Edwards discuss Jesse Basset’s 1950 Norton Dominator.
The tidy Norton bobber (which sounded great) from The Gasbox in Lakewood, Ohio, took second in Custom/Modified.
Karlee Cobb of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles rides an Indian Scout and lists her job titles as Admin/Customer Service/Racer.
The Quail has evolved to become a stylish showcase that both honors past achievements in the sport and acknowledges the best in contemporary moto-creativity, engineering, craftsmanship and artistry. And to thus encourage its continued development. It does a geezer’s heart good to see some of the work these young folks are turning out. By cracky.
Why wouldn’t these men be smiling? Racer Thad Wolff (left) and prosthesis engineer (and famed dirt-tracker) Mert Lawwill.
The 1951 Vincent Black Shadow owned by Michael Begley. Another Shadow, owned by car racer of some repute Danny Sullivan, won first place British.
Say, is that a Suzuki X6 Hustler dirt tracker? ‘Tis indeed.
First place in the German class was the 1969 Munch Mammoth, owned by Mitch Talcove.
Top of the chops award went to Dave Shaw’s 1966 Harley FLH.
First place in Custom/Modified was the lovely 1951 Indian Scout by Tony Prust of Analog Motorcycles in Illinois.
Revival Motorcycles of Texas took the Industry Award with their 1997 Ducati Custom J63.
The Quail Motorcycle Gathering has in a few years become the pre-eminent spring meet on California’s central coast, and its future appears to be in capable hands. While the program may not rival similar events in terms of scale, the logistics imposed by limited space and crowd size have worked to ensure that the casual vibe and comfortable atmosphere remain in place.
Neighborhood constraints will likely keep The Quail from becoming a Goodwood West or stateside Motogiro d’Italia, but more corollary features are in the wind. There is talk of a companion event next year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, just over the hill. Superbike racing more or less originated and was fine-tuned here 40 years ago, so the time may be at hand to salute that mark and maybe do a little racing. Could make a classy complement to the Quail Gathering, don’cha think?
Download the complete results here and check out the dozens more pictures with captions.
John Handy’s Moto Guzzi/Ford flathead hybrid was entered in the Custom/Modified class, inspected here by judge Clay Murphy.
A 1975 Bultaco Frontera 250 owned by Chris Miller took top honors in the Other European class.
Rotax/Harley-Davidson military bikes were conceived by off-road expert and current high-mileage diesel builder Fred Hayes.
Robbie Cadwallader’s 1974 Bultaco Metralla was second place winner in Other European.
This tasty 2002 Suzuki TL1000R was entered by Nick O’Kane.
John S. Stein’s 1959 Triumph double-twin dragster.
Significance in Racing award went to Jeff Palhegyi’s 1979 Yamaha TZ750.
Douglas McKenzie showed a 1936 Royal Enfield Lady’s Model.
This 1927 Indian factory bike was raced by Cliff “Slippery” Hill of Spokane, Wash. The overhead-valve racers were produced in 350cc and 500cc versions.
Richard Varner’s R1-powered MotoAmerica theme bike by Mule man Richard Pollock.
A 1918 BSA Model H was entered for display by Budd Schwab.
Chris Carter’s 1929 Henderson Four took second place in the Antique class.
Originally owned by a sheep rancher in Australia, the 1936 BSA sat by a shed for 64 years. The restoration won Brent Lenehan second-place British bike.