Perry And Scott’s “Stagefright” Triumph Dragbike

Checking in with one of the fastest drag racing motorcycles of the 1960s

A Triumph Cub front end was used along with a 4-inch Avon slick at the rear.Michael Lichter Photography

OG drag racing motorcycles were pretty crazy. Both minimal and maxed out in the extreme, iron dedicated for strip runs at pinned throttle doesn’t make for fun on the street but that’s a different kind of riding. Just take a look at this dual-mill classic built by both Sonny Scott and Max Kelly back in the day. So why the name? As Sonny recalled, “This bike has to always act up when people are around. When we come here ourselves, it’s fine. We’ll call it ‘Stagefright.’ ”

From a technical perspective, car and motorcycle racers aren’t all that different, especially when it comes to drag racing. You ramp up the horsepower as much as the rules allow (which sometimes means adding a second engine to the mix) while shedding weight like a supermodel (which usually means tiny oil tanks and seats that are little more than leather over the frame rails).

Built entirely for function, Stagefright means business, as you can see at the top end of the motors.Michael Lichter Photography

Stagefright was one of the first motorcycles to add a second powerplant to the pony equation. It paid off; during the mid-’60s it became the quickest in the world with a best time of 9.70 seconds, and one of the fastest, with a speed of 155 mph.

Originally built by aerospace engineer Max Kelly as a supercharged, double-engine gasser, the machine was later purchased by Sonny Scott: “We got it for $50 without the engines.” Sonny shortened the frame, saying, “It handled better after we did.” And ran it on fuel, which made it a lot more fun.

The engines were pre-unit Triumph 650s connected by means of Ariel Square Four timing gears.Michael Lichter Photography
With all the carburetors and hoses involved on Stagefright, rearset foot controls are a must—as they are on all dragbikes.Michael Lichter Photography
The frame was constructed of aluminum, which had a nasty tendency to crack at the front downtube.Michael Lichter Photography
And when we say “rear,” we mean it. The pegs are right under the rear axle.Michael Lichter Photography
No mirrors, no gauges, no nothing for the handlebar. Just a straight bit of tubing bracketed with handgrips and a clutch lever.Michael Lichter Photography
Tube tanks hold just enough gas to get to the finish. That’s as far as you’re going, so a conventional fuel tank just means extra weight.Michael Lichter Photography
In its previous life, this was probably an after-hours fuel tank for the pilot…Michael Lichter Photography