Usually on display in museums, private collections, or in Harley-Davidson dealerships, packs of antique motorcycles left their prestigious perches and hit the road. These vintage, pre-1916 motorcycles included a Pope, Sears, Flying Merkel, Excelsior, Henderson, Indian, Triumph, and the Harley-Davidsons Silent Grey Fellows set out on a great race across the USA.
It was a grueling coast-to-coast pursuit as their riders navigated the back roads and byways of our great nation. Each of the riders and their machines was pushed to the very limit as the procession rolled from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to Santa Monica, California, during the two-week odyssey. Mother Road Harley-Davidson in Kingman, Arizona along Historic Route 66 was one of the tour stops along the way.
Riders had dipped their tread in the salty waters of the East Coasts Atlantic Ocean as the officials wave the green flag, then came to rest some 3,294 miles later, at the shoreline of the Pacific Oceans West Coast. While each competitor in this unique event was obviously enamored with his or her motorcycle and the history contained therein, few had actually ridden a course of this magnitude, let alone on a 95-plus-year-old machine.
Contestants are from all walks of life and include museum owners, authors, and collectors as well as restorers, builders, mechanics, and an Iron Butt rider. Entrants come from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States.
The Motorcycle Cannonball, named after the famed Erwin Cannonball Baker, who set 143 driving records from 1910 through the 1930s, dares contestants to live up to the records set by men like Baker. Setting his first record on an Indian motorcycle in 1914, Cannonball made the coast-to-coast ride in 11 days. George Wyman was first to set a trans-continental record in 1903, taking 50 days to do so, and many other historical riders followed suit.