Cannonball Run's Shake, Rattle and Roll

Motorcycles Built Before 1937 Compete in Grueling Cross-Country Run

Courtesy Cannonball Run

It was a 90-year-old Indian Scout that won the Cannonball Run after a cross-country trek spanning 4,000 miles over 16 days — a feat that would test any rider on even an modern machine.

Considering the age of the machines, breakdowns are both expected and common.

Repairs are allowed and organizers go to great lengths to encourage riders to bring spares, spares and more spares. And duct tape, wire and epoxy putty.

Many riders will tell you about complete motor tear-downs and repairs to keep them going. They arrived from the four corners of the planet for the pleasure of doing so.

On the final day of the competition, Sept. 21, 16 riders and machines did not start, another three broke down and one rider was penalized for arriving too late.

Hans Coertse of South Africa and his 1924 Indian Scout earned the winner’s trophyCourtesy Cannonball Run

In the end, it was Hans Coertse of South Africa and his 1924 Indian Scout that took the winner’s trophy, a bronze statue hand-crafted by fellow Cannonball rider Jeff Decker.

Second place was taken by Norm Nelson a BMW R52; third went to Giuseppe Savoretti on a Moto Guzzi Sport, and fourth was taken by Kevin Waters on Sunbeam M9.

A Harley-Davidson JS ridden by Dean Bordigioni, a JE ridden by Mike Carson and J ridden by Scott Jacobs took fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.

Follow the blue lineCourtesy Cannonball Run

The rules of play for the Cannonball Run are fairly straightforward: The machine must have been built before 1937 and be largely based on the factory original. Modifications are allowed to carbs, for instance, but the basic carb has to be an original.

Riders are also encouraged to upgrade their brakes, since stopping was not a high priority for some of those early machines. Anything that adds to the safety of the ride is considered a good thing.

Courtesy Cannonball Run

Rider and machine have to reach pre-determined checkpoints along the route. Those checkpoints are located at dealerships and museums and other venues of interest to motorcycling types.

And while there’s generally food and grog and activities for participants, many of them pass those rest-stop hours upside down with tools and grease in the garage prepping their machines for the next day’s run.

There’s an unfortunate side-note to this year’s Cannonball Run: a trailer of parts and four vintage bikes was stolen from a Tacoma hotel parking lot after the race ended. The trailer and machines were recovered, though some parts and motors are still missing. The dickwicks who did the stealing are still free.

Courtesy Cannonball Run

Got an old motorcycle that’s itching to cross the country? Sign up now for next year’s event. The link’s below.