A handful of times every year, the Costa Mesa Speedway in Orange County, California, adds a roster of Harley-Davidson motorcycles to its normal billing of purpose-built speedway bikes and sidecars. While speedway races are nothing short of exhilarating to begin with, the eclectic lineup of road-going cruisers steal the show when unleashed upon the neatly prepped track. It's understandable why the "bulls in a china shop" idiom is thrown around so much, but keener observers will note that there are now more track-prepped Harleys lining the pits. It's evolved into something of a culture, and the serious demeanors are right along in tow—which is where we, as Bixby Moto, come in.
There’s nothing quite like threading through a field of V-twin engines, all simultaneously bleating their harsh timbre, on a diminutive, buzzy little single-cylinder Honda—sidecar and all. With it based around the frame of a 1978 Z50, we had to get creative at the gate and convince them it was really a ’70s Aermacchi X90, which was oddly easy to do once we got past the blank stares.
From that point on, our goal was in sight: Take down the tough-guy sentiment one high five at a time. We were the outsiders, bright Hawaiian shirts and Western-cut denim, complete with fringe and hand-painted motifs. After dancing our way through the pits, we unleashed our whimsical disco on the gathering crowd, occasionally catching a smile among the many firmly set jaws.
We snuck back to the paddock and finally convinced the safety workers to let us out on track. This drew a roaring wave of gestures (both good and bad) and encouraging guffaws from the crowd, and after dicing with bikes three times our size, we rolled the battered sidecar just outside the front gates but we were far from defeated. Attendees young and old lined up to get pictures with the comedically thrashed little cart, until the last of the last trickled out and the stadium lights were turned off. We may not have won any of our races, but it was never about that. We came, we conquered, we somehow avoided being thrown out, and danced off into the night, already planning our next foray.