In 2010, a good friend of mine, Cris Sommer-Simmons was doing a vintage motorcycle race across the country on a 1915 Harley. I didn’t know much about it then, but thought it sounded like an incredible adventure. In 2012, my husband, Scott Jacobs decided to do the race himself, and I figured I would ride along on my new Harley. Not only had I never ridden a foot clutch or tank shift bike before, I had never ridden any bike 4000 miles at one time. When I saw and felt the bond between the riders, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it next time. We started looking for bikes that met the criteria for 2014, and found not one, but two 1936 HD VLH bikes. I chose the 3 speed instead of the 4 speed, and after having it completely restored, I learned how to ride it. That was the easy part.
Day 1 - Seized my pistons! Day 2 - Replaced the pistons with over 70’s in an 80 bore, and managed to finish that day! Day 3 - Seized my pistons!!! Yes, really. Thankfully, because we had the other ’36, we stripped the top end, and overnighted it to the hotel. My mechanics changed everything out within 3 hours. Unfortunately, I had lost two full days because we had to wait until Monday to ship, so although I was out of contention, I wanted to finish what I started. I crossed the finish line after 17 days, (the last 12 days with a perfect score) and not only was it a physical accomplishment, but also an emotional and personal victory! When Lonnie announced the 2016 Century Race, I started looking for the next machine to conquer this feat. Watch me in 2016 where I’ll be riding a 1915 Harley-Davidson F11 with my wonderful and supportive Cannonball Family. Can’t wait!!!
I have two creeds: “life is good” and “ If you can dream it, you can do it!” Motorcycle Cannonball fits both of these creeds as this is an exceptionally way to feel that “life is good” riding and living with friends and family through beautiful America. Freedom is the most important thing we can have and people did grow their freedom by building and riding motorcycles and cars. It was the freedom of travelling whenever and wherever you want. The Harleys, Davidsons and Fords had a dream and did it! I realized a lot of my dreams in the past 50 years and now it is time for one more dream come true: Cannonball 2016.
Do you have a reliable pre-1917 automobile capable of traveling coast-to-coast? Do you and your friends have the grit, never say die attitude and abilities to pull it off? If so then you need to sign-up soon for The Race of The Century that will be leaving Atlantic City, NJ in a little over 16-months. Doing so will let you join in on the early car adventure of a lifetime as it travels 3400-miles cross-country to San Diego, CA.
The Motorcycle Cannonball named in honor of Cannonball Bakerwas first run in 2010 and followed successfully by the 2012 and 2014 editions of the popular event. Since then it has been fully subscribed yearly by a dedicated group of 100-collectors, tourers, and enthusiasts from around the world, who would not miss it for anything.
While it is called a race, in reality it is a contest to see who can cover all of the 3400-mile route over 17-days (with one rest day) without any penalties. To decide the winner of the event, this group is further narrowed down to the oldest car that finishes the complete distance. Next the different classes the cars are in is also used as a factor to determine the overall winner.
The organizer of the run Lonnie Isam recently announced that the event will now be expanded to include about 45-pre-1917 automobiles that will join in the next running of the endurance contest. Since that time the eight vehicles seen above have already been entered, and include a 1907 Model “K” Ford, a 1909 Delage “AB” Racer, a 1912 Speedwell, four Model “T” Fords and a 1916 Dodge Brothers. A number of enthusiasts are also set to sign up soon, along with others just as soon as they find the right car.
To learn more about the event spend a few minutes to view the three videos (below) from past runs that will give you an idea of what the event is about. You can learn more at The Race Of The Centuryand the Motorcycle Cannonball.The Old Motor has been chosen as the official media outlet for news leading up to the event along with coverage of the Race as it unfolds.
Thank you to TheOldMotor.com for allowing us to use this article. Please visit their website for more entertaining and informative vintage automobile articles.
My name is Paul-Emile BESSADE, I’m a 59 Frenchmen, but living in Uruguay (South America) were I own a Farm growing cows for meat purpose only. We live there with my wife and my youngest son since 2004. Uruguay it’s a very small but nice country where life is quiet and sweet.
In 2016 I will try to do my third Cannonball, I was there in 2012, and 2014 with a 1929 4 Cylinders Henderson, achieving with all the miles only in 2014, in 2012 we broke all the valves on by one until it’s runs clear. This time I decided to buy a Harley Davidson 1915 3 speeds just for the purpose of the rally. A very nice man L. I. found the bike in Seattle and I just bought it trusting my friend in his choice. But this time the challenge will be far more much difficult, and for me the goal is: just do it, do as much as you can, try to arrive as far as you can, and ENJOY EVERY SECOND YOU DRIVE, there will be perhaps no second opportunity to do this in your life. I’m very excited by this event and just want to add that I came very late to the motorcycles beginning in 2004 with a 1961 BMW R 69 S, and then falling in love with pre 1945 bikes.
Jared and I are very excited for the opportunity to compete in the 2016 Motorcycle Cannonball. We are identical twin brothers who grew up around Indian Motorcycles. At a young age, we developed a passion for antique motorcycles while helping our Dad and Granddad (Buck’s Indian) work on the old bikes. We traveled with our Dad and Granddad all over the country finding and buying the old motorcycles and attending various AMCA swap meets. At fifteen years of age, we helped our Dad restore a pair of 741 Indian Scouts. We then learned how to ride them and obtained our motorcycle licenses with these Scouts. Jared and I enjoyed taking these bikes out on rides together, while occasionally riding them to high school. Then, a couple years after graduating college, we each restored an Indian Chief. From 2009-10, Jared and I restored a 1947 and a 1948 Chief while living and working in same town (Canton, OH).
We have always been Indian motorcycle enthusiasts who not only enjoyed working on the old bikes, but also riding them. For example, Jared and I took our Chiefs and competed in the 2011 Great Race in Yosemite, CA. This was the first “Great Race” in the United States. We have always been up for adventures on the amazing Indian motorcycles, and this is why we are extremely excited to participate in the 2016 Motorcycle Cannonball. This will be our first time participating in the Motorcycle Cannonball, and we intend to complete this race as a team. We will be taking turns riding the same machine on alternating days. Jared and I will be riding a 1916 Indian Powerplus that we will once again build with our Dad. We are extremely excited to share this adventure with our Dad and Granddad, and look forward to the journey that begins in Atlantic City in 2016.
With our inaugural event in 2010 a small band of riders proved that antique motorcycles could indeed be put to the ultimate test. A test that would pit rider and machine against the North American continent. Following in the tracks of our forefathers these brave riders followed a tradition that was over a century in the making. They made history.
Now after three successful events, the Cannonball has become an American institution. Bringing in riders, and collectors from all over the world. Restorations have taken on a new meaning as skilled engine builders have had to reevaluate what it takes to put a 100 year old motorcycle coast to coast. Aside from using their machines for the purposes they were originally intended for, riders are also learning the meaning of the word endurance. Mainly that it pertains to them as much as it does their motorcycle. Nearly 300 miles per day is not easy.
In 2016 we are planning something very special. A true Century Race. In order to qualify for this next event riders will be required to have a 100 year old motorcycle. Only 1916 and earlier machines will be allowed to run in the 2016 Cannonball. As in the years past, a very limited number of entrants will be allowed. Only 100 riders will be chosen to participate in this historic endeavor.
Although each particular stop has yet to be confirmed, we have planned out a route that is both scenic and challenging while still being doable for our smallest single speed motorcycles. On Thursday, 8 September, 2016 100 riders will depart Atlantic City, New Jersey and travel 3400 miles across America to end up in San Diego, California on Saturday, 24 September. Sixteen days on the road with one day off. Most of the route will be on two-lane back roads with less than 100 miles on interstate highways. An ambitious ride to say the least, averaging around 300 miles per day this will be a true endurance run.
I have created 3-galleries, a "Selects" gallery as a quick event overview, a "See More" gallery of 750 images, which is a larger but still edited gallery and then the "See All" gallery, which includes all of the images from the shoot and great if you want to find someone in particular.
If you are interested in ordering any prints, Panoramas from Daytona Beach and Bonneville (& past MCR's) or DVD's, just click here to see the price list.
Let me know if you have any questions about Cannonball I, II or III and I hope you enjoy the show.
(If interested in any prints, just write me back with the file number & size of what interests you to
and we will write back with the total cost and instructions on how to pay securely on-line.
The oldest motorcycle entered in the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball Run was piloted for 3,719-miles across America by its owner, California resident Victor Boocock. The 1914 H-D was also entered in each of the prior MCRs, though neither of the first two runs proved to be successful for the British born rider.
Victor came to America from England in 1964. He and his wife of over 44-years, also an England native, had always planned to return to their homeland after retirement but that doesn’t seem to have worked out.
“We’ve had such a great time here we just keep putting it off and putting it off,” the cheerful Boocock chuckled, but in 2008 he decided it was time to return home and started making plans to ride a Cannonball Baker route as his “Farewell to America.” It was to be a personal, introspective journey spent quietly making his way across the land he’d come to love.
In the spring of 2010, the seasoned rider set off from New York aboard his trusty old motorcycle. He pointed his front wheel west and headed towards San Francisco alone, with no publicity or support. As a matter of fact, his wife was the only one who knew where he was and that was only through calls from the road when cell service would allow. The trip took its toll on both man and beast, but the pair arrived on the West coast intact.
Victor was already registered to ride in the Cannonball that fall, but by the time he’d made the personal cross-country trip, the geriatric motorcycle was exhausted.
“It was just wore out,” he said. “I couldn’t get it ready in time for the Cannonball, it was only a few months away and I’d beat it up pretty badly so I just had to tell Lonnie I couldn’t make it.” Instead he got busy getting his antique road worthy again. By the time the MCR riders took the green flag from New York in the fall of 2012, Victor and his faithful friend were ready to make the miles across the continent once more. And then disaster struck.
For over 30-years Victor says he had ridden the 1914 H-D with clincher tires and on the second day of the Cannonball, the new rubber simply rolled off the rim and wrapped itself like a snake around the frame. He says they had to cut it off with a saw.
“I didn’t really get hurt from crashing so much as I did from just fighting to keep the bike from sending me over the handlebars. I wrenched those bars so hard it ripped all the tendons off my bicep. I did eventually slide and got some road rash. It was really scary. When those tires come off, they come off right now,” Victor explained. He woke up the next morning with the bed sheets covered in blood and laughed at what the hotel staff must have thought after he left. He flew home that day.
The bike ended up on fellow California rider Dave Kafton’s trailer. “After a week I got to feeling better. I mean, it still hurt and all but I talked Dave into changing the tire for me and I thought, “What the heck, I want to ride,” so I flew out to Klamath Falls, Oregon and met them all and rode the rest of the way in.” Victor rode across the iconic and foggy Golden Gate Bridge to a hero’s welcome with the rest of the 2012 Cannonball riders.
Last month, for the 2014 MCR, bike #56 arrived on Daytona Beach with a new set of rims and tires. No more clinchers, yet on the first day of the run there were two flat tires within the first 60-miles. After the second flat, the bike had to be trailered but over all he enjoyed the ride and his machine performed well. During the first week of the run, Victor celebrated his 72nd birthday with fellow Cannonballers.
“It’s a kind of Zen to set off like that,” he shared. “I can’t explain it, but there is nowhere else in the world that you can travel for 3,000-miles and see such different scenery. The Rockies, the Salt Flats and the rivers, even the desert through Nevada is beautiful. I enjoyed it all and got to meet so many interesting people. I’ve just never had a bad experience on the road. I’m bit of a loner, I’m perfectly happy by myself, but there are so many wonderful stories I can tell from riding the Cannonball, like when I lost my wallet along the road and a farmer found it, or the little 84-year old lady with her walking stick I met who came out just to see the motorcycles. It’s all very touching. Simply amazing.
You know, after my father passed away in England I brought a bit of his ashes back to be scattered across the United States because he enjoyed it here as much as we did. Each time I’ve gotten so caught up in the adventure that I’ve forgotten to scatter him so this time I tucked him into my saddlebags and swore I wouldn’t forget. I got back home and there the ashes were, still in the bags. So, I guess I’ll just have to do the Cannonball again so I can remember to scatter him next time, eh?”
We at the Motorcycle Cannonball Run would like to offer our sincere congratulations to the 24-riders who achieved perfect scores for riding all 3,938-miles of the 2014 MCR. They are shown below in order of their ranking. We are proud of the work and commitment it took for each of these men to achieve their scores.
Photos by Felicia Morgan and Michael Lichter. Special thanks to Michael Lichter for allowing us to use some of his pictures.