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

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