If I could use only one word to describe the Quail event, it would be “friendly.” This is not one of those high-zoot, highly competitive “Concours d’Elegance” affairs, but rather a showcase for a lot of good-looking (mostly) motorcycles parked on the immaculate grass of the Quail Lodge Golf Club. Last May, some 150 motorcycles were signed up for judging, with another 100 or more just sitting there looking pretty. Including several dozen MV Agustas that will go on the auction block in August.
The show takes place on a Saturday, but the real enthusiasts sign up for the Quail Ride on Friday—which will set the old bank balance back by $295…but is well worth it. Around 8 a.m. the motorcycles, old and new, were gathered in front of the Quail Lodge, with gallons of coffee and piles of doughnuts. There were American machines from the ’50s, Brit bikes from the ’60s, Italian jobs from the ’70s, and on to the present day—a Ducati Diavel was the most recent. Ninety-six riders, including a few passengers, signed up. The older, and slower, machines leave at 8:30 a.m., heading for the Talbott Winery 66 miles away. The day began dampish, so care was taken heading out Carmel Valley Road. At nine o’clock the rest went off, and we all met up at the winery, where water, apple juice and soft drinks were handed out. Wine connoisseurs were advised to buy bottles, have them shipped to and do the tasting in the comfort of their own home.
The next 21 miles was “en masse,” ending up at the Laguna Seca Raceway, where we all did two parade laps—led by two CHP officers who were quite glad not to have to observe any posted speed limits. Half a dozen riders had signed up for the Vetter Economy Run, which included 80-90 mph laps at Laguna. The winner was Fred Hayes on his KLR-based diesel, at 109 mpg.
Back to the Quail Lodge for lunch. That evening chef Julio Ramirez, who rode with us in the morning on his own bike, laid out a five-course dinner—delicious. During the dinner, several presentations were made including one by filmmaker (Take It to the Limit) Peter Starr. Many of you have seen the Taiwanese ad featuring a bunch of 80-year-old motorcyclists out to reclaim their youth. Starr, though not yet an octogenarian, flew over there last year and rode with them and had good tales to tell.
Over the years, the general theme at The Quail’s Saturday show has been the evolution of motorcycles, and something pleasantly unusual is always on view. The Quail head-counter said some 1,500 people showed up to take in the sights.
This year there were two advertised features. One was Marty Dickerson’s Blue Bike, a Vincent/HRD Series B Rapide on which he set a number of records at Bonneville beginning in 1953 and ending in 1995. We should add that Marty garnered his most recent record back in 2009, on another Vincent, at the tender age of 82. The event’s Master of Ceremonies, Paul d’Orleans, interviewed him by the Blue Bike, and he was having a grand time talking about his times on the salt flats.
The second was a quartet of Dan Gurney’s low-slung Alligator bikes, including his very latest, the V-Gator, powered by a whopping great S&S motor. They went along on the Friday ride, and the S&S had to be the loudest engine out there.
A special event was the unveiling of Giovanni Magni’s latest creation. The Magni name has been well-known in racing circles ever since Giovanni’s father, Arturo, began tuning Gilera Grand Prix bikes in 1947, moving over to MV Agusta in 1950. MV pulled out of racing in 1976, and Arturo decided to go into the business of making Moto Guzzi V-twins go faster, using his own chassis. In 2010, Giovanni was commissioned to put a 1971 BSA Rocket III triple in a Magni chassis, and he has turned out a very handsome bike—Molto Italiano.
The judges had been busy all day, and at 2:30 p.m. the awards of Tiffany silver plates were given out in eight classes, as well as eight special awards. Too many to list here, but Best of Show went to a 1974 MV Agusta 750S and 1st place in the Custom/Modified class went to another ’74 MV 750S—looking very different.