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#3 Buck Carson

Livingston, TX

1927 Harley-Davidson JD

Hello Cannonball Nation,
My name is Buck Carson, and I hail from a small town about an hour north of Houston,
Texas. I’m an antique motorcycle enthusiast with a serious addiction to the Motorcycle
Cannonball. Since 2012, I have been fortunate enough to be able to participate in four events
alongside my father Mike Carson (#15), with 2020 making my fifth time (his fourth). We are a
father-son team of collectors, and together we have amassed more than 120 antique
motorcycles dating back to 1903. There is truly something special about this event; although
the machines competing are always fascinating, it is the individuals and groups of people
behind them that make the Motorcycle Cannonball such a world-class event. Over the years the
memories and relationships formed from the Cannonball have truly shaped and changed my
life, for which I will always be proud of.
In 2012, I participated in the pre-1929 event from Newburgh, New York to San
Francisco, California aboard a 1927 English-made BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) S27
motorcycle. This 500cc single cylinder, three speed transmission machine was a great bike,
although admittedly with its fair share of problems, and together “Elizabeth” and I covered
more than 2,500 miles across this great country. This was one of the most memorable
Cannonball events for me, as I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 21st birthday and become
the youngest (at that time) rider to ever compete in the event. Throughout the 2012 event,
Elizabeth’s motor was rebuilt twice (once with a top end, and once with a complete crankcase
and flywheel splitting). Sadly on the day before the grand finale, Elizabeth’s heart gave up the
ghost and I had no further parts to be able to rebuild the engine for a third time. One of the
greatest memories in my life will forever be pushing my battered machine the nearly two miles
across the Golden Gate Bridge with the help of my team and family as fellow Cannonballers
rode across the bridge.
Moving forward to 2014, again I was humbled to be a part of the pre-1937 Motorcycle
Cannonball from Daytona Beach, Florida to Tacoma, Washington astride a 1936 Harley
Davidson R Model. “Dot”, a 750cc (45ci) v-twin, was named after Dot Robinson (one of the
founding members of the historic Motor Maids) and performed very well in the event. Our
team in 2014 was one of the largest and most successful in Cannonball history, with eight riders
calling our 28’ rolling machine shop trailer home. Unfortunately my machine did suffer some
mechanical issues, with a final catastrophic motor failure that prevented me from being able to
ride across the finish line. Regardless, Dot was a wonderful machine to have in the event and
provided me with some fantastic memories. After my motorcycle suffered the final failure, I
was honored to be able to assist my fellow riders as a volunteer member of the official
Motorcycle sweep truck.
Again in 2016 I was very happy to be able to participate in the pre-1916 Cannonball
from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Carlsbad, California. My entry for this event was another
English-made BSA motorcycle, this time a Concours-Restored 1916 Model K (550cc single
cylinder, three speed transmission with belt final drive), dubbed “Maggie”. Maggie had lived in
our collection for many years and had never seen the road, but with the assistance of Revival
Cycles in Austin, Texas, that soon changed. Funny enough, “Maggie” seemed to want to live up
to her name with continuous problems from the magneto that provided the spark. After only a
few days of riding, with the continuous mechanical issues and seeing how hard of a physical toll
it was taking on such a rare and unique motorcycle I made the decision to not destroy the bike.
Making that choice was very difficult for me, as it feels unbecoming of the honor to be a
“Cannonballer”, but I also knew that it just was not worth it to me or Maggie to run that
beautiful machine into the ground.
Thinking that 2016 would be my final entry into the event, and somewhat disappointed
in myself for not finishing, I had no intention of signing up for the 2018, pre-1929 rendition of
the MCR. After several late nights (and a few too many bourbons), my father and I both made
the decision that we would return to the traveling circus that is the Cannonball. For this
Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon ride we would travel side-by-side aboard a pair of J-model
Harley Davidsons, he on a 1917 model built by our good friend Brent Mayfield, and myself on a
1924 model (also built by Brent) which competed in the 2012 event with Brent piloting and was
ridden to a perfect score by Mike on the 2014 Cannonball. The 2018 event for us was
interesting to say the least, with the two of us involved in a serious accident three days into the
event which left Mike with a broken shoulder and broken ribs and myself with a broken front
end and fairly scraped up. With all of that unhappy mess out of the way, we continued on (Mike
actually getting back on his ’17 a few days later and riding, broken bones and all) until the
motor on Mike’s 1917 had a rather nasty failure a few days before the end. Even with the
unpleasantness of the accident, the 2018 event was probably our favorite as it provided the
two of us with some fantastic father-son memories which will never be forgotten. For me it
marked a milestone, as it was the first time I managed to make a perfect mileage score in the
event (even with riding on a snapped front end after our accident).
Finally this brings us to the next chapter in the wonderful adventure that is Motorcycle
Cannonball: the pre-1929 Sault St. Marie, Michigan to South Padre Island, Texas event. For my
5th running of the MCR, I am very excited to again see the Great American Landscape from the
saddle of a 1928 Harley Davidson JD, nicknamed “QuaranTina”. This machine was a fairly
correct, 1200cc (74ci) v-twin example of what Milwaukee turned out in 1928 but has been kept
in the “as found” condition with a full mechanical restoration and the addition of some cool
period accessories, all which has been completed during quarantine throughout the COVID-19
pandemic of 2020.. My vision for ‘Tina is that she will be a reliable, powerful bike that is the
essence of the word “sleeper”. Joining me for this amazing adventure will be Ms. Nikki Hancock
of Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Nikki is a big fan of antique motorcycling, as she is an essential
component that keeps the world famous “Dale’s Wheels Through Time Museum” running
smoothly. She and I will be riding “two up” on QuaranTina for what is sure to be a fabulous
adventure. Join with team Carson Classic Motors as we once again hit the best backroads that
America has to offer in honor of our two-wheeled past.