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18th April 2006


The 2006 All British Weekend

'Can you send a scribe along to our event?' asked the BSA Owners' Club in Northern California. As it happens, Jim Algar fell conveniently to hand...

19th Annual Clubman's All British Weekend
Saturday, March 25, 2006, 8 am.
Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose, California
Admit One, Guest of RealClassic

That's how the ticket read, generously forwarded to me by Frank and Rowena, who no doubt could have made the quick trip to San Jose had their presence not been required at their own 'fabbo do' at Ardingly on the same weekend. Oh, a bit far for them, maybe, but San Jose is definitely in my neck of the woods. Well, it's 300 miles and five hours away, but here in the wild, wild West that's near enough to 'neck of the woods.'

More Rudges than you can bear a grudge at...

Since things would kick off early Saturday morning, I decided to take a half day off from work and drive up on Friday. I managed to get on the road at about 1pm and settled in for the drive north on Interstate 5.

Let me tell you about Interstate 5. Until the early 1960s, drivers heading north from Los Angeles had two choices of route; US Highway 101 or US Highway 99. 101 runs through the coastal ranges and valleys of California, and is quite a beautiful road, but slow, as it has to follow the topography of the area. 99 runs up the center of California's central San Joaquin Valley, serving all the towns and cities in the state's agricultural heartland, so it slows down a bit at every municipality.

Interstate 5 was built as the ultimate bypass; there isn't a town or city to speak of along the 300-mile section between Los Angeles and where one turns west off of it for San Jose. Running along the western edge of the San Joaquin, it's long, it's straight, it's flat…and it can be boring. You can drive 50 miles at a time without moving the steering wheel five degrees left or right of straight ahead. If ever there was a drive meant for cruise control and a good audio book on CD, Interstate 5 is it.

Spotted it yet?

So with the cruise control set at 75mph, and Michael Jayston reading Geoffrey Household's 'Rogue Male,' I headed north, arriving in San Jose at about 6pm. After checking into my palatial suite at a local hostelry, I found a coffee shop close to the fairgrounds for some dinner. A number of event attendees obviously had the same idea; you just had to read the T-shirts and sweatshirts. Marque loyalty was soon evident as the expected friendly insults began to be bandied about. 'BSA? Bastard Stopped Again?' Ha-ha.

Bright and early the next morning I was up and ready to join the queue waiting for the opening of the venue. Let me modify the 'bright' part of that just a bit; it was, in fact, rather gray and cold, with intermittent rain showers. What could be more suitable for a British bike show than British weather? (By which I mean to give no offense; my great-great-grandfather Henry Algar, Coast Guard boatman on the Isle of Wight in the 1840s, lives on in my DNA). But the show was held in an indoor pavilion at the fairgrounds, so while it might have held attendance down just a little, it didn't interfere with anyone's enjoyment of the show.

Drizzle and a queue were laid on for full effect...

And enjoyment there was a-plenty. This is the nineteenth year of the show, put on by the BSA Owners' Club of Northern California. The club was formed in 1985, has over 500 members, and produces a monthly newsletter, the Bulletin. You can check them out at www.bsaocnc.org.

Judging in progress; keep clear...

Of the 120 or so owners who had pre-entered their bikes, some 105 braved the weather and put in an appearance. Along with the 50 or so swap-meet vendors, there was plenty to see and do for the approximately 2000 folks who passed through the turnstiles. Various marques were well represented, both in terms of numbers of bikes present, and by well-done club stands. The Rudge Enthusiasts' Club was there to celebrate the centenary of the marque (yes, 1906-2006), joined by a half dozen members from the UK, and walked away with the trophy for Best Club Display. When was the last time that you saw 12 - yes, 12! - Rudge motorcycles in one place?

The Northern California Norton Owners' club had a display of some interesting models, including a Dominator 88 SS, high-piped Commando S models - both the usual two-pipes-on-the-left version and a much more rare single-high-pipe on each side example - and the ugly (my opinion) Commando Hi-Rider, expressly designed for the American market (which makes me embarrassed to be a Yank). Oh, and they had Mick Hemmings rebuilding a Commando engine, courtesy of the NOC DVD and a projection television.

Pay attention. There is a test later...
Dominator stuff on eBay.co.uk

Triumphs were, of course, everywhere. A beautiful maroon 1954 Speed Twin with sprung hub caught my eye (Hello, Graham!) as did a first-year Bonneville in its strangely attractive orange and gray color scheme. And the lone military example, a 1957 TRW. But the Triumphs were, for once, outnumbered by BSAs (hey, it's their show!) with particular emphasis this year on pre-unit models. Spitfire Scrambler, B44 Victor Special, Gold Star, Catalina Scrambler, B33, A10 Super Road Rocket, Rocket Gold Star, Lightning, Golden Flash…and of course, the raffle bike: a 1967 Spitfire Mk3. And no, I didn't win it. It was won, in fact, by a member of the BSAOCNC. Hmmmmm?

Very tasty Spitfire was raffled

As usual at shows like this, once I'd seen all the Triumphs and BSAs - lovely though they are, they're everywhere - I started to seek out anything different, less common marques and specials, and was not disappointed. There were only two Royal Enfields, but they were both Interceptors, which works for me (love 'em.) There was also a couple of Ariel Red Hunters, 1952 and 1956, and a 1956 Square Four, a lone Sunbeam 1937 Series 1 LSS, two Matchless examples - 1966 G12CSR and 1967 G80CS - a Velocette or two, a 1959 Triumph Tigress scooter (the Mods are coming!) and, of course, the aforementioned Rudges. The off-road crowd was well represented; in addition to a number of BSA scrambler types, there was a very nice Greeves and a couple of Rickman Metisse models.

Look away now...

There were a couple of Norvins, with the ever-impressive Vincent V-twin shoehorned into Featherbed frames; some nice Vincent bikes, including one done up rather nicely as a café racer (purists, look away!),

At every show I attend, I seem to be attracted to a single bike that becomes my favorite of the day. This time it was a Triton - but one with a difference. Most Triton are, almost by definition, done up as café racers. This was a 1963 Featherbed Norton that looked so 'factory' you almost walked on by, until the high pipes brought you back and finally made you notice that the engine was, in fact, a Triumph. But everything else said 'Dominator'. No rearsets, no racing seat, no custom petrol tank, and the color scheme of green and cream was all Norton. You might ask, 'why do a Triton if you're not going to make it a café racer?' I can't answer the question; I can only say that I likes this bike. (Yes, I know, I'm becoming the resident RC Dommi freak…so pity me).

Yes, it is a Triton...

Bikes were judged in 11 classes: Street 1900-45, 46-62-63-7-, 71-83; Modified/Café 1946-62, 63-70, 71-83; Military 1900-83; Speedway/Flattrack/TT 1900-83; Scrambles/Trials 1900-83 and Roadrace 1900-83. Each class was broken into two groups: Concours (or 'Show') and Ridden. This, I thought, was a good idea, keeping the 'garage queens' in a class of their own, competing against each other, so that those who preferred to ride their bikes could compete on a more level playing field. In addition there were Honorable Mention awards, Club trophies, and People's Choice. Helping to hand out the trophies was the Guest of Honor, Kenny Eggers, a flattrack racer of the 1950s who raced in California and at Daytona on a succession of thundering BSAs.

1954, Kenny Eggers with Dick Mann on BSAs

Details about the 2007 All British Weekend will be posted on the Events page in plenty of time for folk to book cheap trans-Atlantic tickets to attend…

Full Results For The Keen Reader!

A CLASS, CONCOURS/SHOW

  • Scrambles/Trials 1900-Present Don Harrell 1960 BSA Spitfire Scrambler
  • Speedway/Flat track/TT 1900-Present Rod Wheeler 1965 Triumph T120C
  • Roadrace 1900-Present Paul Adams 1952 Norton Daytona Manx
  • Street lightweight to 499cc 1946-1962 Tom Voss 1952 Ariel Red Hunter NH
  • Street lightweight to 499cc 1963-1970 Gary Edwards 1970 BSB44 Victor Special
  • Street Middleweight 500cc-620cc 1900-45 Bo Mitchell 1936 Rudge Ulster
  • Street Middleweight 500-620cc 1946-1962 John Niesley 1947 Triumph Speed Twin
  • Street Middleweight 500-620cc 1963-1970 Timothy Ryan 1963 BSA Gold Star
  • Street Middleweight 500-620cc 1971-1983 Timothy Ryan 1971 BSA B50SS Gold Star
  • Street heavyweight 620cc-up 1946-1962 Jim Gundelach 1959 Triumph T120 Bonneville
  • Street heavyweight 620cc-up 1963-1970 Mike Crick 1963 Triumph T120 Bonneville
  • Street heavyweight 620cc-up 1971-1983 Tim Ocho 1973 Norton 850 Commando

    B CLASS, RIDDEN All military models 1900-Present Bill Smith 1957 Triumph TRW

  • Scrambles/Trials 1900-Present Larry Madrigal 1962 BSA Catalina Scrambler
  • Speedway/Flat track/TT 1900-Present Jerry Kennedy 1965 Triumph Flattracker
  • Roadrace 1900-Present Hugh Rose 1930 Rudge Grand Prix Ulster
  • Street Lightweight to 499cc 1900-1945 Bo Mitchell 1937 Rudge Sports
  • Street lightweight to 499cc 1946-1962 Daniel Grove 1959 Triumph Tigress TW2
  • Street lightweight to 499cc 1963-1970 I. & A. Bozzi 1963 Triumph Tiger Cub
  • Street Middleweight 500cc-620cc 1900-45 Mark Frost 1937 Sunbeam Series 1 LSS
  • Street middleweight 500-620cc 1946-1962 John Niesley 1959 BSA B33
  • Street middleweight 500-620cc 1963-1970 Phil Davis 1970 Triumph T100
  • Street heavyweight 620cc-up 1946-1962 Larry Farro 1960 BSA A10 Super Road Rocket
  • Street heavyweight 620cc-up 1963-1970 Paul Allen 1966 Matchless G12CSR
  • Street heavyweight 620cc-up 1971-1983 John Bernard 1973 Norton Commando Interstate
  • Modified/Cafe 1946-1962 Gary Roper 1959 BSA Spitfire Scrambler
  • Modified/Cafe 1963-1970 Brock Sorensen 1968 Norton Commando Fastback
  • Modified/Cafe 1971-1983 George Kraus 1971 Norton Commando Fastback LR

    HONO(u)RABLE MENTION

  • Street h/weight 620cc-up 1963-70, show John Batchler 1963 BSA Rocket Gold Star
  • Street h/weight 620cc-up 1963-70, ridden Rick King 1966 BSA Lightning
  • Street m/weight 500-620cc 1946-62, ridden Steve Seely 1956 Ariel Red Hunter
  • Modified/Cafe 1963-1970, ridden Scott Barnes 1963 Norton/Triumph Triton
  • Modified/Cafe 1971-1983, ridden David Dix 1971 Triumph T150 Trident
  • Scrambles/Trials 1900-Present, show Blair Beck 1968 Rickman Bultaco Metisse
  • Scrambles/Trials 1900-Present, show Blair Beck 1972 Rickman R250
  • Roadrace 1900-Present, ridden Chris Quinn 1958 Triumph T110 Dragster

    CLUB AWARDS

  • AHRMA-MX Competition MX Blair Beck 1968 Rickman Bultaco Metisse
  • AHRMA-FLTTRK Competition Flattrack Jerry Kennedy 1965 Triumph Flattracker
  • AHRMA-RR Competition Roadrace David Calloway 1970 Triumph T100 Road Racer
  • AJS/MATCHLESS Best AJS/Matchless Paul Allen 1967 Matchless G80CS
  • ARIEL Best Ariel Motors Stirling Rose 1956 Ariel Square Four
  • EARLY BSA Best Pre-Unit BSA Don Harrell 1960 BSA Spitfire Scrambler
  • LATE BSA Best Unit BSA Gary Edwards 1970 BSA B44 Victor Special
  • EARLY NORTON Best Early Norton Paul Adams 1952 Norton Daytona Manx
  • LATE NORTON Best Late Norton John Bernard 1973 Norton Commando Interstate
  • RECOG NORTON Special Recognition David O'Connell 1971 Norton Commando
  • NORTON Best Norton Tom Dabel 1951 Norton International
  • ROYAL ENFIELD Best Royal Enfield Bruce Williams 1970 Royal Enfield Interceptor
  • RUDGE Best Rudge Bo Mitchell 1936 Rudge Ulster
  • LATE TRIUMPH Best Unit Triumph Jim Gundelach 1959 Triumph T120 Bonneville
  • HINCKLEY Best Contemporary Triumph Tad Meadows 2006 Triumph Daytona 675
  • COOLEST TRIUMPH Coolest Triumph Daniel Grove 1959 Triumph Tigress TW2
  • BADDEST RAT Baddest Rat Triumph Chris Quinn 1958 Triumph T110 Dragster
  • VELOCETTE Best Velocette Paul Zell 1959 Velocette Venom Special
  • VINCENT Best Vincent Larry Horn 1950 Norvin Norvin
  • ROLAND PIKE Best BSA Gold Star Larry Madrigal 1962 BSCatalina Scrambler
  • OLDEST Oldest Bike Hugh Rose 1930 Rudge Grand Prix Ulster
  • DISTANCE Longest Distance Steve Seely 1956 BSB33
  • PEOPLES People's Choice Mickey Peters 1963 BSRocket Gold Star


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