~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Another Indian Movie In The Works

Less in this post about the Indian bikes this time and more about the men that made great bikes great. A motorcycle is a machine, an assemblage of parts, perhaps beautiful, but often it does not become a legend without a living, breathing, wizard of a motorcycle rider to push them beyond what was expected.

At the Del Mar Concours back about 1990-something they did a "Gathering of the Legends" with Dave Dispain as host. Out amongst the old bikes there was just a basic platform, a few flags, a mic, and some of the greatest racers of all time gathered around. I'd come to see bikes and while I hold profressional racers in the highest regard I've not been much into hero worship or autograph collecting. When I was young and skinny and had all my hair the nearest I came to having a hero or two was multi-time motocross racer, Belgium's Joel Robert. In my heart of nineteen year old weekend racer hearts I knew I could be as good as Joel was...all I lacked was the factory ride and superhuman riding talent.

At Del Mar that year I was stunned to see so very many great and even legendary riders from so many different types of racing. Part way through the introductions and interviews with Despain, three old geezers got up and Despain introduced Ernie Beckman, Bill Tuman, and Bobby Hill. I looked at my brother and said "Holy cow! That's the Indian Wrecking Crew!!! Dad used to talk about seeing them race and that no one could beat them, especially not the Harley guys." My brother, much younger than I and never really into racing bike history just shrugged and saw three old geezers who used to race motorcycles. I forgave my bro his ignorance, he wasn't even born until well after the Wrecking Crew had won their last races. I was barely born when they were racing but somehow the stories I heard later on resonated with me.

I was enthralled to see living legends. As is often the case, we might know all about someone famous, think they are grand, have opinions about them, but never really expect to cross paths with them. For you young road racer types, it would be akin to bumping into Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, and Casey Stoner at a weekend bike meet long after their careers wound down. You'd be older too and still as awed as if you meet them now, maybe more.

The Indian Wrecking Crew besides being some of the great dirt track racers America ever produced, represent the last heroic gasps of the real Indian Motorcycle Company. Indian was all but dead by 1950 - 51 and yet three guys on Indians whomped on the best that H-D or anyone else had to offer and judging by the old movie footage, made it look easy.

I grabbed a Del Mar event poster and sought out Hill, Tuman, and Beckman out for autographs after the interview. Like I said, I'm not much of an autograph guy, I'm has happy to shake a person's hand and say "honored to meet you" but that was too golden an opportunity to shake hands with three of the best American dirt track racers ever and take away a still treasured memento. All three were gracious, smiling, and seemed slightly surprised that fifty years on after their racing careers were over, that they were still known to many and people would gather around to shake their hands and ask for autographs just as if it was 1950 all over again.

Now the best news: A production company is in the process of making a movie about the Indian Wrecking Crew. Lots of interviews have been made, historical footage rounded up, and Jay Leno secured to handle the narration. The premier date is still over one year away but I'm excited already. You can visit the movie website here. Mark your calendars, get ready to order the DVD or whatever, and learn a little more about when men were men and nice guys finest first.

And a tip '0 the helmet to Ed Youngblood over at MotoHistory.net for the link to the movie site.


Ronman said...

WOW! Thank you so much for another history lesson. I can't wait to see this movie. I think it's awsome that there are folks still around like these three men who are walking treasures.


Stephen said...

This reminds me of a thought that I had a while back after reading an article in a magazine about the editors "Two up" session with Freddie Spencer during one of his High performance riding schools at Miller Motorsports park. I don't think of myself really as a "Hero worshipper" however, as a kid, I had Fast Freddie's pictures cut out from various magazines and taped all over my bedroom walls. He was "The Man" in my book. Now if the possibility ever existed that I would get a chance to take a few tutorial laps with Fast Freddie, I wonder how much information I would actually retain afterwards.

redlegsrides said...

Very nice posting, I really liked the movie "The Fastest Indian" and now got another movie to look forward to watching.

Big Daddy said...

I can't wait for this to produced. Thank for telling us about it. I would love to see more movies like the worlds fastest indian. I can't belive no one ever saw the potential for a exciting movie on the old board trackers, no brakes,bubble tires, lousy track ,spectators sticking their heads up between the track boards to see the race. these wre men with a lotta lead in thier shorts.

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