Meet the Cannonball Riders

cannonball 2014, vintage motorcycle race, pre 1937 cannonball endurance run

#3 Buck Carson, Carson Classic Motors, 2014 Cannonball

#3 Buck Carson

Alongside my father, I’ve been involved with the vintage motorcycle world for more than 15 years. At the age of 8 years old I was introduced to my first motorcycle restoration project: a cosmetic restoration of my late grandfather’s 1982 Harley Davidson FLHT. Over a little bit more than a decade my father and I have amassed a private museum collection of more than 80 vintage machines of all brands and marquees, which comprise a century of motorcycling. Our antique motorcycle collection is not a business, but rather a hobby. For me, the opportunity to be involved in old motorcycles has turned from a slight enjoyment to an addiction for which there is no cure. In 2012, I rode a 1927 BSA S27 from New York to California over 17 days in the second running of the Motorcycle Cannonball. Throughout the 3,900 mile run, my team and I faced countless trials and tribulations and coaxed my 85 year old single cylinder on a ride that it was never designed for.

My passion for antique motorcycles runs deep, and at every available opportunity I try to expand the sport in the younger generations. Many of my high school and college friends have spent countless nights in the museum with me as I demonstrate various aspects of restoring, building, and repairing old motorcycles of all brands. Furthermore, several have been taught how to ride their first motorcycle (kick start-only) at the Carson Classic Motors museum. Following my participation in the 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball, where I enthusiastically promoted old motorcycles to young men and women all over the United States, and a stint as an assistant Youth Coordinator in 2013, I recently was brought aboard as the Youth Program Director for the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. I hope to use this race as a great opportunity to promote my passion into other young men and women all over the world.

In the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball, I will be riding a 1929 BSA S29 Twin-Port Sloper, which I have named “Evelyn.” The “Sloper” models, given the name for the sloped position of the single cylinder motor in the frame, are rare birds. Only about 80,000 models were produced in England between 1928 and 1934, and many of these were scrapped during the 1940s for the war effort, making my machine a rare bird indeed. My BSA is powered by a single cylinder, 500cc OHV engine that creates a whopping 5 horsepower. The bike originally came with a three speed, hand-shift transmission, but I am retrofitting the optional four speed gearbox that was available in 1929 as an upgrade. Since “Evelyn” arrived in the museum in 2012, I have covered more than 1,000 miles on her with no issues. Together we have ridden through South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and numerous portions of Texas, and look forward to taking in some of the best roads that this nation has to offer in September 2014. Be on the lookout for Evelyn and I to come to a town near you.

#6 Steve Simpson, Carson Classic Motors, 2014 Cannonball

#6 Steve Simpson

#25 Scott Byrd, Carson Classic Motors, 2014 Cannonball

#25 Scott Byrd

I became interested in motorcycles at the ripe old age of 6.  A neighborhood friend had a mini-bike, and offered to let me ride it.  Upon telling my parents, I was immediately forbidden to ride it, or any other motorcycle, again “as long as I lived under their roof”.  I was married about a month before I bought my own motorcycle……

I bought my first Harley Davidson motorcycle through the PX while living overseas.  I was in heaven.  None of my other bikes even came close to the feeling I got when I rode it.  As I progressed through different bikes, I found myself becoming intrigued with “the older stuff”.  I eventually bought a 1929 D through ebay, and I was officially an antique motorcycle owner.  Little did I realize where that purchase would take me.

Through the 11 year restoration process on the 29, I met people like Bill Rodencal and Johnny Sells.  Because of them, I met countless others, and I was officially infected.  Hopelessly infected.  It really is a small world, and the world of antique motorcycles is no exception.  It’s a world like no other, and the people involved in it are priceless, as are their machines and their stories.

I became interested in the Cannonball in 2010 when Bill Rodencal announced that he was riding in it.  We were able to play a very small part in his journey, and I was thrilled.  The prospect of ever being able to be involved at another level was mind boggling to me.  When Lonnie announced that there would be a 2012 Cannonball, I briefly entertained the notion of entering on the 29.  Then reality set in, and I knew I couldn’t do it by myself.  I had to sit on the sidelines and watch.  It was that year that I met Buck Carson, and began following him.  Through a fortuitous set of events, Buck and I became good friends.

When Buck asked me to join his 2014 Cannonball team as a support crew member, there was little time spent on thought.  I immediately said yes, and preparations began.  I never considered that I might be a rider in it.  Once again, fate intervened, and the opportunity to be a rider was placed in my lap.  After a consultation with my wife (which lasted about 30 seconds), I accepted the rider position on the Carson Classic Motors team.  My opportunity of a lifetime was officially here, and I would be riding my 1931 V Bobber in the 2014 Cannonball.

My bike was built by John Cullere.  I purchased the bike from him in November 2012, never imagining that I would be riding it in the Cannonball.  I have named her Kimberly, after an older sister of mine that I never had the opportunity to meet.  Kimberly Ann Byrd only lived one day, and is buried in a small, rural cemetery in north central Arkansas.  I have often wondered how my life would have been different if Kimberly were here.  I felt that it was only fitting to name the bike after her, and see where she takes me.  This ride is for you Sis.

#54 David Lloyd, Carson Classic Motors, 2014 Cannonball

#54 David Lloyd

When Lonnie Isam, Jr dreamed big and unveiled the 2010 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance run, I desperately wanted to be part of it. Several days into the 2010 event, a group of us enthusiasts followed the Cannonball riders when they arrived in Helena, Arkansas on their Pre-1916 motorcycles. Our group was on late model Harleys and we followed Dale Walksler (star of the television show “What’s in the Barn” on Velocity), Wayne Stanfield and David Kleptz for several days. Being the Coordinator for the Barber Vintage Festival’s “Race of the Century”, I already knew many riders in the first Motorcycle Cannonball Run. It was awesome to witness the event “up close,” and ever since then I have been mesmerized with the idea of participating.

In September of 2011 I signed up for the second running of the coast to coast race, set to be in 2012. I had a 1919 Harley Davidson F model that was under construction, and the deep desire to ride it from New York to San Francisco. I had no team, extra parts or even any idea how much time, money or resources it would require to actually make this dream a reality. It only took a short period of time to realize that I had “put the wagon in front of the horse”! My motorcycle was no way near ready to compete in an event like this, nor did I have the resources, parts, team or money to continue. All I had was the heart and deep desire to be part of this truly amazing event. With great regret, I withdrew my name just about as fast and I had entered it.

About a month later, I met Mike and Buck Carson from Carson Classic Motors at the Barber Vintage Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, where they raced their 1911 Triumph in the “Century Race” that I’m in charge of coordinating. Shortly after, I learned that Mike and Buck had entered the Cannonball that I had just withdrawn from, and that the 20 year old Buck would be on the saddle across country. Buck became my outlet to stay deeply involved with the second Cannonball event. He had the drive, the time available, the family willing to help him make a dream come true and the machines to do it. I watched him and his team start their precise planning and gathering of resources. Our local chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America also soon became one of Buck’s biggest fans.

Jumping ahead to 2013, everyone in the antique motorcycle world eagerly waited for Lonnie Isam, Jr. to announce if there was going to be a 2014 Cannonball Motorcycle Run.  I knew I wanted to try again and somehow become involved. On the day that Lonnie announced that there would be a third Cannonball event, I immediately called Mike and Buck Carson and expressed the desire to be part of the 2014 event. My dream was to ride a motorcycle in the event, but I was willing to be a tire/oil changing grunt just to be part of it. Mike and Buck allowed me to come on board to be one of the team riders, and I now have the awesome opportunity to be part of the 2014 Carson Classic Motors Motorcycle Cannonball team. I will be rider number 54 out of a field of more than 100 entries from 11 countries, and will be riding a 1919 Harley Davidson J model motorcycle. Our journey will begin on September 5, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida and finish in Tacoma, Washington 16 days later. As of now I have less than seven months to prepare my machine and body to participate in the ride of a lifetime!!

#73 Greg McFarland, Carson Classic Motors, 2014 Cannonball

#73 Greg McFarland

I’ve been involved with motorcycles since I was a teenager when I used to ride dirt bikes along the bayou in Houston, Texas.  I’ve acquired a handful of vintage bikes over the last 10 years and enjoy riding and working on them.  I first heard about the Cannonball in 2010 and decided this is something that I wanted to do.  The man and machine against the elements appeals me. The challenge of preparing and riding a vintage motorcycle on such trek is the ultimate challenge as a rider and as a mechanic.  I acquired a 1926 Harley Davidson J in early 2012 and began rebuilding it to run the Cannonball.  When the opportunity to participate in the 2014 Cannonball presented itself I jumped at it.  Being a petroleum geologist finding oil is what I do.  The sweetest oil I’ve ever found was under my old bike after a long satisfying ride.

#77 Brent Mayfield, Carson Classic Motors, 2014 Cannonball

#77 Brent Mayfield

I’m Brent Mayfield and I live in Centerville, Ohio which is a southern suburb of Dayton.
I bought my first bike when I was a senior in High School in 1967; it was a 1941 Harley Knucklehead basket case I bought from a buddy of mine for $80.00 who had won it in a card game. This purchase started me on an adventure that has lasted the last 46 years and I hope for many more years to come. I was a mechanic for our local Harley dealership in 1972/73, and had my own shop (Cycle LTD.) 1974/76 building choppers & customs. I now cringe at all the nice old knuckles & pans I took a torch to back then….Sold the shop in 76 and took a “normal” job as a mechanical design engineer. Since I now had a regular day job, bikes became my passionate hobby as they are today. I continued to build choppers and slowly got into doing more original restorations and bobber style bikes.

I have been a member of the American Motorcyclist Association for 22 years and a member of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America since 2003 (no specific chapter). I was one of the founding members of the Ohio Valley Vincent Owners Club in 1991 and was a member for 15 years. In 2006 I started a club in the Dayton area called “Vintage Iron Motorcycle Club” (VIMC) of which I am president.

I have won numerous 1st place awards for bikes I’ve built and restored, from several Concours De’ Elegance events to Easy Riders invitational shows. Several of my bikes have been centerfold bikes in national magazines. My 1953 Vincent Black Shadow I restored and sold to the AMA was their raffle bike in 2004. I have sold bikes to customers in France, Australia and Japan as well as many in the US.

I currently have a total of 16 motorcycles which all but 1 are vintage per the AMCA rule.
I have 2 UL basket cases, 2 Knuckles, 3 Pans (2 are baskets), 2 K-models, 1 Sprint, 2 Indians, 1 little Honda, 1 R69S BMW, 1 Road King and soon a 1925/35 VJ (in the works for 2014 C/B). Most of my interest had been in the 1936 to 1966 range of bikes but when I read about the 2010 Cannonball I felt the first stirring for something older (probably just indigestion).

When I heard there was going to be a 2012 C/B for pre 1930 bikes I was hooked. I built a 1924/25 J model (24 motor & 25/27 chassis) and entered the race as #77. 4 days before we were to head to NY, my support crew member Bob Huffman was in the hospital having surgery for a blocked carotid artery and was going to be out of service for at least 1-2 weeks. I decided to go to NY by myself and hoped I could find someone with an extra crew member that could drive my rig until hopefully Bob could meet up with me, which is when Mike and his crew came into my life.

Mike saw my J (which he now owns) and fell in love with it. When he heard about my problem he offered to have one of his crew members, Shawn McGarry, drive my rig as long as I needed. What a bunch of great guys that I feel proud to be associated with. They really helped me out in my time of need.

Bob was waiting on me when I reached Sandusky. We worked late into the night getting ready for the Milwaukee ride. In Milwaukee we got ready for the Anamosa run but I decided to drop out at that point, which was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make and one that my family and close friends could not believe I made, as I always finish what I start. There were several factors that contributed to my decision to drop out, none of which were the condition of the bike or myself.

I still have regrets on not finishing the 2012 C/B so when I heard there was to be a 2014, I started making plans. I’m in the process of locating parts to build my 2014 C/B ride which will be a hybrid combining a Harley Davidson V series motor in a J series chassis. You may ask why would I want to do this, and my answer is mainly because these are the parts I have, it’s a challenge and I think it would be cool. So far I have a 1925/27 J model frame, fork & transmission and a 1935 VD motor and various bits and pieces but still missing a lot of stuff.
It’s going to be a long build but I’m looking forward to it. Sept 2014 will be here before you know it.

#90 Mike Carson, Carson Classic Motors, 2014 Cannonball

#90 Mike Carson

I am 64 years old, and I started racing motocross when I was 13, so I suppose that makes me 51 years on two wheels into the wind. My first road motorcycle was a 1968 BSA Thunderbolt purchased fifth or sixth hand when I was in the United States Navy in 1968. In 1976 I finally quit racing motorcycles and have been riding on the road ever since. My son and I started collecting antique motorcycles many years ago and currently have a collection of more than 90 machines in East Texas where everything runs and rides. I personally have many favorites in our collection, but I particularly love my 1924 Harley Davidson JE hot rod bobber that was custom built by Brent Mayfield, and also, a custom 1959 Harley Davidson FLH Panhead that we call the “Tripple B”. “Bad Bumblebee Bobber”. In 2012, Carson Classic Motors ran an international team in the Motorcycle Cannonball and did quite well. I drove the mobile machine shop, worked as mechanic, financed the adventure, and generally had a wonderful time while the CCM International Team rode across the United States. In the 2014 Cannonball, I will be riding and will be proud to associated with some of the best people in the antique motorcycle world. Look for the Black Angel and I to be coming to a town near you.

#99 Jon Neuman, Carson Classic Motors, 2014 Cannonball

#99 Jon Neuman

Jon Neuman was raised in Texas and began motorcycling as a boy, buying his first one with his own money at age 13. Cycling and building bikes was always part of his life, even as he pursued a career, married and raised kids and started his own business. In 2007, Jon began Sagebrush Cycles with the plan to specialize in antique motorcycle parts supply, specifically the Harley Davidson 1916 to 1936 era. To-date he is the sole full-time employee. Though the era of bikes has remained the same, Sagebrush has not only been responsible for supplying parts, but also for rebuilding, refurbishing and even, when necessary, fabricating them.

From the sidelines, Jon supported several teams and riders of the 2010 and 2012 Motorcycle Cannonballs with verbal technical support by phone, loaned parts and shipped-to-site parts. Jon is eagerly looking forward to riding in the 2014 Cannonball during which he will be on a 1928 Harley Davidson JD, JDs being his un-official specialty. Jon is the third owner of the bike which was purchased 4-5 years ago from the second owner, a South Carolina towing company family. That family owned the bike for 50 years after rescuing it from the scrap heap planned by the original dealer/owner.

Riding in the Cannonball with all of the people, friends both old and new, is like a dream come true for him.

#99 Jon Newman