Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Long and Winding Road...

   Before writing this, I was flipping through the radio when on came one of my favorite Beatles songs: "The Long and Winding Road." Listening to the lyrics, I began thinking of the road that awaits me before I can begin the journey of a lifetime. In just a few months time, the 2012 Cannonball Run will begin again in Newburgh, New York. Actually it's a bit longer than a few months, but I know that the time will fly by. There are so many things to do in preparation for the race. It may seem like a simple thing- find a bike, fix it up, and go....right? Wrong. In actuality, the bike itself plays only a small role in the preparation for the Cannonball. What else, may you ask, needs to be done? Well my friends, let's delve in to the stressfull world that my team and I find ourselves in on the quest to make history...

   First of all, I suppose I should retract my earlier statement that the bike plays a small role. Preparing an 84 year old (about to be 85- Happy Birthday, BSA) motorcycle to ride across a continent in 16 days, which it probably wasn't meant to do when new, is no easy task. Especially given the case of this cycle. As of today (December 22, 2011), my cross-country partner is sitting in Burton-Upon-Trent, England. The process to send a letter overseas is easy. A motorcycle- not so much. Last January, we purchased a 1911 Triumph Roadster from the same partnership ( In April 2011, I was able to pick the machine up in Houston. The time difference was the biggest challenge in getting the machine crated, shipped, and passed through customs. My customs agent was in California, and my shipper was in the UK. Coordinating communication was a challenge, to say the least. That whole process will soon be repeated for the Cannonball machine.

   Once the machine arrives here in Texas, I can begin the process of getting the bike street-legal and insured. In order to do this, at least in Texas, the BSA will be required to have a lighting system and horn, as well as some other small legalities. Luckily, the old bulb-style horn on the handlebars will suffice, but the lighting system will have to be retrofitted with LEDs. After going through the legal hoops, then the fun begins. Our friends at Vintage and Veteran in the UK have already graciously offered to undertake some of the updates and "cannonball-izations", so when the machine gets here, it simply begins a process of what I deem to be "ride and examine." Since the BSA will take me across the continent, a good amount of training and break in is needed. Before the Cannonball, the machine will have new control cables, tyres, innertubes, brake pads, new lighting, as well as updated bearings throughout the engine and gearbox. All mechanical and electrical parts will be examined and re-examined. Depending on the comfort of the ride, an updated seat may be added. Additionally, I will be looking to add leather saddlebags (no hard panniers) to carry tools and supplies for the ride. All in all, several months of work ahead on the bike itself to ready it for the journey of a lifetime.

   The next item to be addressed in preparations for the MC Cannonball is that of my support crew and  vehicles. Luckily the Carson Classic Motors race team is already on board. Accompanying me across the nation will be my father, Michael Carson, my best friend, Shawn Paul McGarry II, and hopefully his father, Shawn Paul McGarry I, as well as a close family friend from the UK, Steve Norton. Sharing our team vehicles will be our friends from England- Ken Ashton (#26) and Mike Wild (#25) of the Roaring Rudges race team and their wives. Our teams plan to utilize a 37-40 foot (11-12 metre) diesel motorcoach towing a 25 foot (7 metre) enclosed trailer. The trailer will need to be converted into a complete rolling cycle repair shop. Currently, we plan to build workbenches on the sides and front end of the trailer. On those workbenches will be vices, grinders, drill presses, toolboxes, and anything else needed. Florescent lighting will keep things bright, all powered by a 5,500 watt generator. On the floor will be a chock-style loading system bolted through, as well as a cycle lift. That covers the inside of the trailer...the outside is where the next set of preparations come in.

   While the inside of our support trailer will be dedicated to the repair of our racing machines, the outside will feature our sponsors. Sponsorships are a huge part of the Cannonball preparations. While this is a once-in-a-lifetime, history making event, it still costs money. As I stated in previous posts, my goal is to attract the attention and gain the interest of younger folks into the vintage cycling world. These machines need to be preserved and cared for- after all, they are our history. By getting younger people interested in the art of the motorcycle and the care/maintanence it takes to keep these vintage machinery running, I hope to preserve this important part of our culture for future generations to appreciate. With such a goal, my team and I hope that local, national, and even international businesses will be interested in helping to sponsor such a cause.

   For these businesses, it will be an opportunity for them to get their names out there. As I'm registered as the youngest rider in the Cannonball, I think this would probably provide a great opportunity for media exposure. Hopefully the "oddity" of the race would attract the attention of various media sources. While these publicity items would be huge opportunities for my team and I in the sponsorship drive, we press on no matter what. Our goal is to host a couple fundraiser benefits in the spring to coincide with the opening of our new shop expansion. At these fundraisers, we plan to park our new race trailer in the drive and offer select sponsorship advertising spots on the sides of the rig.

   Yet another area to attack is that of publicity. I hope to gain great amounts of national and international attention to the historical journey that awaits us antique motorcycle enthusiasts. Over the next few months, I plan to contact local, state, national, and international media outlets to explain our role in the story and attract global attention.

   As I said, while there are several months ahead till the meeting in Newburgh, they are sure to be fast months. A long road awaits, but the rewards will be life-changing. For sponsorship information, please contact me through email at  Also, please check out the Cannonball website and voice your support to my fellow Cannonballers. And, as always, take a look at our YouTube page and "like" our page on Facebook. More to come soon..

Best regards,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Cannonball BSA

1927 BSA S27 Sports Sidevalve

  Here is the 1927 BSA that I will be riding across the northern United States in September 2012. This machine is a 500 cc side-valve model with a hand shift gearbox.. Notice the small front brake- I intend to replace all brake pads, as well as obtain several more as spares. I will also probably obtain a spare set of rims, tyres, and inner tubes. Additionally, it is my goal to find enough parts to build a complete spare engine and gearbox. Another project that will need to be completed is retrofitting a set of LED lamps into the functioning acetlyene lighting system to serve as running lights and brake lights. It is my goal to keep the acetylene lamps in functioning condition so that they may be used following the Cannonball. More pictures.    Any suggestions for a name?

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Journey of a Lifetime

   For motorcyclists, a trans-continental journey is the ultimate way to hit the road and experience life behind the handlebars. In 2010, as a tribute to E.G. “Cannonball” Baker’s numerous auto and motorcycle records, Lonnie Isam, Jr. organized what was to become a ride for the history books. Lonnie set up the first annual Motorcycle Cannonball -an endurance run across the United States from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to Santa Monica, California. The kicker? Entrants had to be riding pre-1916 machines.     

 The 2010 Cannonball sparked the interest amongst riders, history buffs, museums, and various media around the world. Out of the 45 riders who began in Kitty Hawk, NC, a surprisingly large number of these historic machines successfully made the 3,300 mile trek to finish at the Santa Monica Pier. What the Cannonball proved is just how reliable vintage machines really can be. The great success of the event left many riders asking for more, and in 2011, Lonnie set his sights on another event.

 In September 2012, the Motorcycle Cannonball will make a comeback. This event has been expanded to include motorcycles built before 1930. While some may view these machines as “too modern,” the new route should remove any doubts as to the difficulty. Where the 2010 event encompassed 3,300 miles across the southern portion of the United States, the 2012 Cannonball takes a route through the northern half of the country and will cover more than 3,800 miles. Additionally, riders will cross through the northern Rockies over three mountain passes that range from 8,000-9,000 feet above sea level. Such terrain and riding conditions prove to be no easy feat for pre-1930 machines.

  So far, the field of competitors is dominated by American motorcycles- Harley Davidson, Indian, Henderson, etc. Only a few riders will be competing with foreign machines, which is where I come in. My name is Buck Carson, and I am registered as rider number three on the 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball. I’m 20 years old and hail from the great state of Texas, where I’ve been involved with the restoration and preservation of antique motorcycles for a number of years. For me, antique motorcycling has become an addition to say the least.  Due to a collection consisting of mostly vintage British motorcycles, I have decided to enter a 1927 BSA single.

   As I am the youngest rider in history to attempt a trans-continental journey such as this, I also figured what better way to set myself apart from the other riders than to challenge the American-made machines that dominate the field. This ride will be the experience of a life time, as well as a journey of self discovery for myself. A trans-continental race aboard a motorcycle that is more than 60 years older than I am is the ultimate test of man and machine. Another reason I chose to take on this challenge is to help attract interest in the vintage motoring world. Not many people my age are interested in the preservation of our mechanical history, nor know the great satisfaction that comes from firing up and riding off aboard a vintage machine. I hope by completing this journey that more interest from younger generations will be generated.

   I know that this will not be an easy journey- and there are definitely times when I doubt my sanity, however I am committed to the ride of a lifetime. After sending in my entry form, things began to snowball in the form of good outcomes. It is hard for me to wrap my head around everything happening at once, but I am very humbled by the support from friends, family, and fellow riders who have swamped my team and I. The road to the Cannonball and the race itself will be long and arduous, but I know it can be conquered. My purpose in writing this blog is to document the life-changing journey I am preparing to undertake, as well as my preparations beforehand.

   As this is my first blog, I do not want to let all of my thoughts out at once, so I will end here. I hope to update this blog at least once a week with news, photos, and videos of my progress, so stay tuned. Please check out the Cannonball website for more information about the race, as well as my team’s Facebook page- “Carson Classic Motors.” Additionally, take a look at the promotional video my team and I shot recently at (If you choose to comment, please be kind. This video is an amateur attempt at filmography, and we definitely are not experts.)
 In closing, I am reminded of something a friend recently told me: “It is not the man who makes the journey, but the journey who makes the man.”

Until next time,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team