At the 9th Annual Quail Motorcycle Gathering

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Come to Carmel, they said. It’ll be warm, they said. Well, maybe not so much. Last weekend’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering was a chilly affair with cloudy skies, blustery winds, and temperatures in the 50s.

The lines for ice cream were non-existent, while the line for the Espresso cart was 50 people deep. Though the weather wasn’t perfect, the event itself was awfully close.

As always, the Quail offered a great collection of vintage and custom motorcycles. This year’s show celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Norton Commando.

The marque was well represented with a large variety of Nortons on hand and also included a replica of the Norton display at the 1967 Earls Court Motorcycle Show in London.

The display included the, new at the time, Norton engine and frame, as well as a turntable with a white metallic fastback, displayed for all to see. Beautiful!

Another highlight of the show was the recognition of Kenny Roberts Sr. as a legend of the sport. Not only did the three-time 500cc Champion tell some great stories, but he was also joined on stage by fellow three-time 500cc Champion Wayne Rainey, and AMA Grand National Champion Mert Lawwill.

All three racer’s careers were interconnected, with Lawwill developing Roberts as a young racer and Roberts doing the same for Rainey. It was fascinating (and very funny at times) to hear their perspectives about racing’s past and future.

Of course, beyond the two showcase features, there was the usual expanse of amazing motorcycles on display, on what is usually the driving range of the golf course. The Quail offered something for everyone with American, European, and Japanese marques all receiving equal billing.

There were vintage bikes that were lovingly restored to their original luster, custom bikes that pushed the limits of engineering and design, and racing machines that brought back memories of great battles in the past.

As I walked around the show and took in the sights, I had the chance to meet lots of interesting characters, one of whom was Yuri Barrigan. Barrigan had two Yamaha supermotos on display.

As I looked around, neither bike looked particularly remarkable, but then he explained to me how they were the first supermotos not only to qualify, but to finish a race on the Isle of Man.

Barrigan had his finishing medals on display and talked proudly about how difficult it was to undertake such an effort as an American with little to no support and an odd type of motorcycle to boot. It was a very interesting and inspiring conversation.

Some of you reading this are probably aware that the Quail is not an inexpensive affair, with tickets costing $75, which includes a catered lunch.

Quail Motorsports Director Gordon McCall explained the pricing of the show, saying “our all inclusive ticket is very unique; there isn’t another show like it. Often we hear about the price of our ticket, but it seems like it’s only from people that haven’t been here.”

“We’re a resort, and I think the idea of having everyone here be treated as a VIP is not something the motorcycle world is always accustomed to. Here, you’re a welcomed guest and everyone here is a VIP in our book.”

McCall also talked about getting more youth involved in motorcycling as a whole and how the Quail helps that effort.

“The custom sector has clearly taken over the mainstream. There are some amazing, creative builds and that’s getting the attention of youth as well. I think all of us that ride owe it to try to pull up the next generation. A lot of these kids didn’t grow up riding motorcycles and we need to inspire them somehow.”

As a follow-up to my recent trip to the Handbuilt Show in Austin, I asked McCall about the Quail’s cross-marketing effort with the Handbuilt to which he replied, “Alan Stulberg has been so much fun to work with.”

“We’re all bikers; that’s the common thread there. You know, the Handbuilt Show is new, it’s Hipster, it’s a little edgier, it’s Austin. While Carmel Valley is a little more buttoned down, a little more proper”

“But in the end it’s about motorcycles and that’s what’s been incredible to link these two things together. It’s good for them to be involved with our group and it’s good for us to be involved in theirs, because again, it’s motorcycling.”

“As the expression says, the tide lifts all boats and we’re looking forward to a long-term relationship with them.”

As the day wound down, the award presentations began. Some of my favorite motorcycles were on stage including the Fuller Motus naked custom, an amazing Moto Guzzi 850T from Untitled Motorcycles, and a Britten V1000 racer, which was also a crowd favorite.

Though there were many fantastic motorcycles on display, one would rise to the top. This year’s Best of Show went to a pristine, dustbin faired 1957 Mondial owned by John Goldman. The paint and design were flawless and the motor sounded amazing!

Even with the less than optimal weather, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering was a great show. With over 350 motorcycles of all varieties, the Quail offered something for everyone.

The quality of the restorations, variety of bikes on display, and ambience of the show are matched by few other events. I can’t wait to see what the organizers do for the 10th anniversary.

Here’s a list of the winning motorcycles from this year’s event:

Best of Show
1957 Mondial 250 Grand Prix
John Goldman – California
Spirit of The Quail Award
1948 Triumph T100 Tiger
Jonnie Green – California
50th Anniversary of the Norton Commando
1968 Norton Fastback
Jeff McCoy – California
Industry Award
2015 Prototype Fuller Moto Motus Naked
John Bennet – California
Innovation Award
1991 BMW Alpha
Mark Atkinson – Utah
Design and Style Award
1957 Moto Guzzi 850T
Untitled Motorcycles – California
HVA Preservation Award
1942 Indian Pre-War Big Base Scout
Gary Landeen – South Dakota
The Cycle World Tour Award
1980 Suzuki GS1000S
Trevor Franklin – British Columbia
Significance in Racing Award
1995 Britten V1000 #10
Virgil Elings – California
Why We Ride Award
1978 Yamaha XS750
Fernando Cruz – California
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Heritage Award
1983 Honda Factory RS 750 Flat Tracker
Anthony Giammanco – California
Custom/Modified 1st Place
1958 Triumph Tiger
Bryan Thompson – California
Antique 1st Place
1918 BSA Model H
Bud Schwab – California
Competition Off Road 1st Place
1975 Husqvarna 360 Flat Tracker
Clyde Williams – California
American 1st Place
1937 Indian Chief
Kalle Hoffman – California
British 1st Place
1939 Brough Superior SS100
William E. “Chip” Connor – Hong Kong
Italian 1st Place
1959 Moto Parilla 99 Olimpia
Vincent Schardt – California
Japanese 1st Place
1976 Yamaha XT500C
Owen Bishop – California
Other European 1st Place
1976 Hercules W2000 Wankel
Stephan Haddad – California

Photos: © 2017 Andrew Kohn / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved

Andrew Kohn

Space industry professional full time. Motorcycle writer and photographer part time. Motorcycle rider all the time. Ducati and Honda owner. A&R’s own Captain Slow.