On Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010, Wheels Through Time Museum curator and founder, Dale Walksler, headed to Pebble Beach, Calif., to compete in the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and came away with two out of three top honors in his class.
Now in its 60th year, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance annually attracts over 175 of the rarest and most significant automobiles and motorcycles throughout the world.
Held on what is often proclaimed as “the best finishing hole in golf” — the 18th Green at Pebble Beach, the Concours brings together collectors, celebrities, and enthusiasts for the most competitive event in the automotive world. During the one-day, invite-only show, cars and motorcycles are judged not for their speed, but for their excellence.
This year was the second year during which motorcycles were displayed at the Concours d’Elegance. This year’s focus was pre-World War II American motorcycles, with machines ranging from a beautifully restored 1908 Thor to original motorcycles dating to the late 1930s.
Wheels Through Time Museum curator, Dale Walksler, brought two of the rarest machines in the museum collection — the world’s only remaining 1909 Reading Standard board track racer and the one-of-a-kind 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR racer — both to compete in the Board Track Racing Class.
Dale Walksler says: “The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance has long been the most prestigious show for many of the rarest and most unique machines in the world. To be invited to Pebble Beach is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and an honor for myself and the entire museum staff.”
While at the Concours, Walksler’s machines caught the eye of not only the motorcycle judges and enthusiasts, but of one most famed celebrities in show business — Jay Leno. The avid car and motorcycle collector and host of NBC’s Tonight Show conducted a special 6 minute interview with Walksler, who gave in depth commentary on both his machines and the rarity of those displayed at Pebble Beach.
Walksler’s 1909 Reading Standard racer received particular attention at the show, as did the 1929 Harley-Davidson.
Walksler continues: “Each of these machines are survivors from a nearly forgotten era of motorcycling, and we are proud to display them as both engineering and stylistic marvels of their day.”
The 1909 Reading Standard, which is regarded as the world’s most intricate early American racing machine, is among the most historically significant motorcycles in existence.
Donated to the Henry Ford Museum in 1940, the machine was lost in their basement for over 50 years.
Walksler says: “In 1990, one of the staff members stumbled across the motorcycle after sitting idle for a half-century, and brought it to a director’s attention, upon which is was offered for sale in a silent auction. I had heard about the machine from another collector, and immediately called to place a bid. The rest is history.”
After a two year restoration process completed in 1993, the machine has been on display at Wheels Through Time since.
Walksler’s 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR racer is of equal caliber, however, is preserved in original condition just as it left the track more than 80 years ago. The machine is regarded as “the last Harley-Davidson board track racer”, and remains a nearly unknown and undocumented piece of American motorcycle history. Approximately 25 machines were built for motorcycle hillclimbing in the late 1920s and early ’30s, however Walksler’s machine is the only one ever produced in track racing trim.
Affectionately known as “The Orange Bike”, the machine is of unparalleled provenance in that it was never known to have existed, until early 2009 when Walksler found it hanging on a wall in a home in central Kansas.
When the award ceremonies were held during the afternoon of August 15th, in excess of 20,000 in attendance sat on pins and needles awaiting the announcement of the newest class of Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance winners.
For the American Board Track Racing class, both Walksler’s machines placed among the top– the 1909 Reading Standard receiving second place honors , and the 1929 Harley-Davidson DAR receiving third. The famous Burt Monroe Special, a highly modified 1920 Indian Scout made famous from the blockbuster hit “World’s Fastest Indian” starring Anthony Hopkins, took first place honors.
Walksler was the only participant at the entire Concours to take home awards home for two machines. “This has been an unforgettable experience from start for finish for us, and we’ve been so proud to share these machines with the rest of the automotive and motorcycle world,” exclaimed Walksler on the podium.
For more information on the Wheels Through Time Museum and the machines displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, visit their website at WheelsThroughTime.com or call (828) 926-6266. The museum is open Thursday-Monday, from 9a.m.-5p.m. and both machines are currently on display in the museum’s reception area, viewable free of charge.