Board track racing was an era never to be repeated. When motor cars had a top speed of 30 mph, these racers were literally "flying" around the board tracks, often at over 100 mph. It was noisy, dangerous, and very exciting. The public loved it, and the championship races often had 25,000 spectators cheering on their heroes.
Here is a chance to own one of the most powerful and awesome racers of its day -- the 1919 OHC Excelsior. Each bike takes about one year to build, and is the culmination of all the skills I have aquired over many years of designing and building. Correct in every detail and fabricated to exacting standards, it truly is a labour of love. Only ten of these collectibles will be built, so now is the time to contact me and place your order...
Excelsior #004 is now being offered at $129,000 USD.
Excelsior #001 (pictured above) was purchased by Pete Gagan in July '07. Pete got a very special price, probably because he committed very early on, and because I didn't know the true cost at that time. When he saw me designing the cylinder heads was when "he knew I could do it". Sorry, I'm embarrased to tell you how much he paid.
Anyhow, we loaded Excelsior #001 into his van and headed to Davenport for the Antique Motorcycle Swap Meet. I thought we were just taking the bike to show people and including the occasional startup, but Pete had other ideas.... He'd been talking to Larry Barnes, an experienced flat-tracker, and Larry was keen to have a ride on the track and enter the Friday night board-tracker races! I didn't like the idea. It's one thing to assemble a bike for show, and something entirely different to setup a bike for the track.
With borrowed tools I did my best to be a factory mechanic. Larry got on the track, and three of us pushed him to get the motor started. Remember, direct drive... no clutch. The Excelsior did run, rather slowly. We discovered it was only running on one cylinder. Pete had really wanted to use these superbly old Splitdorf racing plugs, and one of them insisted on fouling. I put in more modern plugs, and even though the "reach" was much shorter, they seemed to work fine.
However, Larry still couldn't go fast, even with more power, because of the engine vibration. His glasses would rattle around inside his helmet, and he had a hard time seeing. I would learn to balance the motor in the months to come. I loctited a LOT of nuts and bolts at the track.
Larry still wanted to race, though. (...he really is a TRUE racer!) We pushed him to start the race, but it was not to be, as the engine sprocket came loose on the shaft. If it had happened earlier, we could have torqued it back down, but the race was on and there was no time.
Here is Excelsior #001 in the pits at Davenport. We put some padding on the top of the tank, and that's what the duct tape is holding down. I started making Schebler carbs later, and this carb is one Pete provided. Until I copied it, I didn't realize how worn out it really was! It still worked, though...
Here's Larry doing some laps in the afternoon sunshine >