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 www.youtube.com/carsonclassicmotors (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,
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team