Brittney Olsen Wins First-Ever Sons of Speed Boardtrack Race

Brittney Olsen gives the double thumbs up after winning the first-ever Sons of Speed event.

Brittney Olsen gives the double thumbs up after winning the first-ever Sons of Speed event.

Brittney Olsen has etched her name in the record books as the first winner of the Sons of Speed boardtrack races. Riding her 1923 Harley “J” Model boardtracker, Olsen was fast all day on the banks of New Smyrna Speedway, the 20th Century Racing rider using her experience and finely tuned machine to rocket to the win.

“I just feel so proud and honored to be out here. It’s really awesome to be invited. I thought well, I race on dirt and that’s kind of a tricky surface but I’m really, really happy with my team and my mechanics back home. My team in the pits here, Doc Batzler, Doug, Mike Weasner, everybody who helped me get to this spot, thank you so much,” said Olsen from the podium.

Matt Harris of .40CalCustoms finished second, Harris also riding a Harley “J” Model. His boardtracker sang a wonderful song, a bold almost century-old note at full throttle. Harris showed fine form while winning his heat and carried that momentum into the Main to secure second place.

Matt Harris of .40CalCustoms was looking good on his 1924 "J" Model Harley boardtracker on his way to a second place finish.

Matt Harris of .40CalCustoms was looking good on his 1924 “J” Model Harley boardtracker on his way to a second place finish.

“Not too shabby for finishing the bike on Tuesday riding it for the first time Thursday and racing on Saturday!” wrote Harris on .40CalCustoms Instagram account.

Shelly Rossmeyer-Pepe captured the final podium position, piloting her 1915 Harley boardtracker to a third place finish. Rossmeyer-Pepe earned a spot in the Main after winning the Last Chance Qualifier and took advantage of the opportunity to fight for her spot on the podium.

Billy Lane rides the tight line at Sons of Speed.

Billy Lane rides the tight line at Sons of Speed.

During the first Heat race of the day, Team American iron’s Buzz Kanter rode the inside line and passed Billy Lane on the last lap, the pass bringing the crowd to their feet as Kanter earned his own spot in Sons of Speed history as the winner of the first-ever race. In the Main, the engine of his 1915 Harley didn’t run as smoothly as his heat race, Kanter still elated with his fourth place finish. Kanter said the Sons of Speed experience was “one of the highlights of his motorcycle life.”

The crowd was on their feet as Buzz Kanter captured the first-ever checkered flag at the Sons of Speed races.

The crowd was on their feet as Buzz Kanter captured the first-ever checkered flag at the Sons of Speed races.

Josh Owens of Moonshiners fame quickly became a fan favorite in his Heat race against Olsen. The two fought a spirited battle, Owens fearlessly attacking corners as he gave it his all trying to steal the victory from Olsen. In addition to winning over the crowd, Owens proved he’s got some serious racing skills as he directed Matt Walksler’s 1921 Harley around the track.

Josh Owens Sons of Speed 2017

Josh Owens showed he’s got some serious racing skills as he won the crowd over at the Sons of Speed races.

The stands were jam-packed at New Smyrna Speedway, the crowd treated to a racing spectacle the likes of hasn’t been seen in almost 100 years. Billy Lane and all those who made this event possible deserve a huge ovation for putting together possibly the best event of Daytona Beach Bike Week 2017.

Brittney Olsen and the Inaugural Spirit of Sturgis Festival

IMG_4609

Brittney Olsen hosts inaugural vintage moto racing festival in Sturgis

Brittney Olsen, 27 year old antique motorcycle racer and founder of 20th Century Racing, is among the fearlessly fast champions whose name graces the motorcycle racing history books, especially in Sturgis, South Dakota, where she claimed two of her victories on the Historical Half Mile at the Meade County Fairgrounds. After finding out the city’s plans to close down the old track for good, Brittney began to think of a way to revere the Sturgis half-mile and its glorious motorcycle racing history. Good friend and mentor Bruce Eide approached Brittney after the 75th Sturgis Rally with the idea of hosting a vintage motorcycle festival, thus the concept of The Spirit of Sturgis was conceived. Following months of planning, hard work and gaining the blessing from the city of Sturgis and the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce, Indian Motorcycle Sturgis and Brittney are set to host the first ever Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival on Friday, August 26 through Sunday, August 28 of this year.

The Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival is proud to announce guided gypsy tours through the Black Hills and two days of vintage motorcycle races, plus a swap meet and antique flea market for vendors, collectors and enthusiasts at the Meade County Fairgrounds located at 1802 Ballpark Road in Sturgis. Friday’s main event is the half-mile vintage motorcycle flat track races, with classes ranging from the early 1920s through 1980s, as well as a benefit party and vintage bike show following the races Friday night in the infield of the old track. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. Saturday’s main event features exciting pre-1970s “Run What You Brung” dirt drags. “From touring the Black Hills on an old bike, to watching the thrillingly fast vintage racers compete for the Spirit of Sturgis championship title, Sturgis was built upon a multifaceted weekend of motorcycle racing. Now it’s time to bring the grassroots racing back to Sturgis!”

IMG_4236-2

The world renown Oil & Ink Expo will have moto-inspired art by artists from around the globe on display with prints for purchase, and free motorcycle films will be playing at dusk at the Harley-Davidson Plaza Rally Point on both Friday and Saturday night. The all-ages affair includes a special kid zone with a Strider course for the tots, bouncy houses, bicycle field games for kids under 16 and motorcycle field games for those over 16 years old.

To purchase tickets and obtain more information about The Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival
please visit www.spiritofsturigs.com or contact Brittney Olsen via email at spiritofsturgis@gmail.com.

20th Century Racing Seeks to Save Historic Sturgis Half-Mile

It has a history said to stretch back 100 years. Once upon a time the thunder of horse’s hooves filled the air around the dirt oval as they barreled down its back straight full-tilt. It was born from pioneering spirit, an avenue for settlers from nearby Ft. Meade outpost to prove who was the best rider and had the fastest horse. About a quarter-century later, horsepower of another kind began to call the Sturgis Half-Mile home, brave riders on metal machines with no brakes testing their mettle on the dirt track. Thanks to local Indian Motorcycle dealer Pappy Hoel, the track helped spawn a little gathering in the Black Hills known as the Sturgis Rally. It is steeped in history, home to AMA nationals and over the years host to some of the best dirt track racers around. Brittney Olsen, co-owner of vintage motorcycle racing club 20th Century Racing, thinks the original Sturgis Half-Mile dirt track is the most significant motorcycle racing venue in South Dakota history.

It’s also in danger of falling victim to development. The old Meade County Fairgrounds where the track is located happens to be prime Sturgis real estate, and the city has tossed around the idea of using the property for residential development. According to Olsen, they’re planning on building a new, world-class facility in Sturgis, another nail in the coffin for the old dirt track. As Coe Meyer, owner of Sturgis’ Gypsy Vintage Cycle and White Plater member puts it, “the racetrack becomes a stepchild” to industrial development.

Brittney Olsen battles Jim Wall on the Sturgis Half-Mile at the Pappy Hoel Classic.

Brittney Olsen battles Jim Wall on the Sturgis Half-Mile at the 2014 Pappy Hoel Classic.

But organizations like Olsen’s 20th Century Racing and Meyer’s White Plate Flat Tracker’s Association aren’t ready to let the Sturgis Half-Mile go gently into that good night. With “preserving the magnificent history of early motorcycle racing” part of 20th Century Racing’s mission statement, Olsen is compelled to save the Sturgis Half-Mile.

“It’s the half-mile track that started the rally. It’s the biggest piece of motorcycle racing history our state has to offer. If I’m living up to my mission statement, the time is now because the city is planning on developing it and getting rid of it,” said Olsen.

Part of her plan is to hold the “Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival” at the track in late August. The idea spawned in a conversation between Olsen and Indian Motorcycle Sturgis owner Bruce Eide. After sponsoring Olsen’s racing efforts last year, Eide was so impressed with the job she did promoting vintage motorcycle racing on the 1938 “Spirit of Sturgis” Indian Sport Scout she raced, he approached her with the idea of promoting a vintage festival similar to Barber, and the seeds for a benefit to save the track were sewn.

The “Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival” is scheduled to take place August 25-28. It will be instilled with the spirit started by Pappy Hoel, from gypsy tours through the Black Hills to half-mile vintage motorcycle races on the historic track. There will be an old motorcycle exhibition, vendors, collectors, Oil & Ink Expo artwork, and a party on the infield post-race. The Hell on Wheels crew is coming out from California for some vintage motorcycle racing action. The festival will be an all-ages affair, with field games on bicycles for kids under 16 planned along with motorcycle field games for kids over 16. Olsen said they’ll also be teaching kids how to kickstart a vintage bike. The festival is scheduled to take place a few weeks after the rally, when there’s less craziness in town but the weather in South Dakota is still nice.

20th Century Racing's Brittney Olsen is taking on the task of saving the historic Sturgis Half-Mile dirt track.

Vintage motorcycle racer Brittney Olsen knows the historical significance of the Sturgis Half-Mile dirt track and is making it her mission to save the track from development. 

Meyer and the White Plate Flat Trackers Association have been doing their fair share of promoting the track as well by hosting the “Pappy Hoel Classic” at the Sturgis Half-Mile during the rally. The two-day event features both vintage motorcycle racing and an AMA All-Star pro level race. Meyer said last year a 90-year-old man was laying down hot laps in the vintage races and beat several racers half his age to the finish line. The 2016 Pappy Hoel Half-Mile Classic  will be held Monday, Aug. 8 and Tuesday, Aug. 9.  Like Olsen, The White Platers know roots of the Sturgis Rally are steeped in racing and want to ensure the future of the rally stays true to those roots. The White Plate Flat Track Association, a national organization comprised of current and retired motorcycle racers, were granted a three-year stewardship of the Sturgis Half-Mile in 2014 and have held races at the track the last two years to honor Pappy. Meyer said attendance doubled at last year’s “Pappy Hoel Classic.” Named for the white plate that denotes a professional racer, White Platers are “dedicated to the preservation of the names and history of the Professional Expert motorcycle flat track racers.”

Both Meyer and Olsen agree that the surface of the track is one of the things that makes it so special. Meyer calls it “meticulous,” while Olsen, who won her first-ever vintage motorcycle race there in 2014, calls it the “best track that I’ve ever seen, no divots and foot holes.” She was excited about the prospect of getting a “blue groove” and called racing there “glorious.” From the grandstands to lighting to parking, the track hasn’t changed much over the years, but that’s part of why it provides such an intimate experience for fans.

And while these two events will reignite the flames of glory to the Sturgis Half-Mile, saving the historic venue is still an uphill battle. The site hosts a local rodeo as well, but for most of the year, the dirt oval remains unused. Selling its worth based on historical value alone is a hard sale. But fighting to honor those who raced on its manicured dirt, those who have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears there, is something worth fighting for to people like Olsen and the White Platers. Sturgis is rooted in racing, and those roots run deep, deeper than grooves on old dirt track.

Spirit of Sturgis poster

2016 Spirit of Sturgis Vintage Motorcycle Festival (tentative schedule)

Aug. 25th Pre-Party Meet & Greet

Aug. 26th Gypsy Tour through the Hills
Half-Mile Vintage Motorcycle Races – 1920s to Mid-80s
Old Motorcycle exhibition and party on the infield following the races

Aug. 27th Gypsy Tour through the Hills
Hell on Wheels Vintage MX
Race at the Jackpine Gypsy Racing Compound
Trophies and Awards Banquet

Aug. 28th Gypsy Tour through the Hills

(Photos courtesy of Brittney Olsen/20th Century Racing)

Knights at the Roundtable: Allstate’s Bike Week Moto Masters

We were a motley crew. A spunky South Dakotan girl in knee-high boots and flared vintage riding pants standing next to a tie-dye shirt and Chuck Taylor wearing long-haired Texan. There was the steely-eyed Northern Californian with movie star looks, thick arms and a hat sitting backwards on his head chatting with an ultra-hip SoCal urbanite with close-cropped hair, tattoos of motorcycles on her arms and an ever-present smile. And then there was me, a denim-wearing, middle-aged Oregonian hiding behind black Oakleys and a Vans hat. Yup, we were a funky bunch.

Allstate's Moto Masters Roundtable Bike Week 2016

The motley crew of Allstate’s Moto Masters Roundtable (L-R) Zach Ness, Brittney Olsen, Alicia Elfving, Rick Fairless, and me, Bryan Harley.

Somehow, though, Allstate Insurance saw something of value in us. Why else would they invite us to be the five panelists on its Moto Masters Roundtable at Daytona Beach Bike Week? The Roundtable was a live-streaming event from Allstate’s Rider Protection Zone at Daytona International Speedway. The five Moto Masters were each asked questions in their particular area of expertise, the questions coming from Allstate’s Facebook page, the live audience, and pre-prepared ones from moderator Courtney Lambert. Topics ranged from safety tips to trends in the industry, favorite routes and favorite bikes. Live-streaming the event gave people who couldn’t attend the 75th anniversary of Bike Week a little taste of the rally thanks to Allstate. And Bike Week wasn’t the only one celebrating a big anniversary. Allstate was celebrating its 50th year of insuring motorcycles and wanted to do something big at Bike Week. Hence, the Moto Masters Roundtable was formed.

And though motley might we be, we brought a breadth of experience to the table. The spunky South Dakotan? That was Brittney Olsen, a girl wise beyond her years. Olsen is the co-owner of 20th Century Racing, proponents and torchbearers of antique motorcycle racing. She’s a fearless boardtrack racer who’s passionate about old motorcycles and can talk shop with the best of them. Being married to Knucklehead savant Matt Olsen doesn’t hurt any in fueling her passion.

Brittney Olsen Bike Week 2016

Beneath Brittney Olsen’s smile lies a fearless boardtrack racer. 

The long-haired, tie-dye and Chuck Taylor-wearing Texan? None other than Rick Fairless, one of the hardest-working men in the industry. Fairless is a renaissance man, a master with paint, custom bike builder, writer, TV personality, entrepreneur, and big chief at one of the most popular biker bars in the country, Strokers Dallas. Fairless’ empire was once the fodder of a truTV series called “Ma’s Roadhouse.” His colorful style has become his signature as there’s no mistaking a Fairless custom.

Rick Fairless Bike Week 2016

Rick Fairless has no shortage of flair. 

The steely-eyed Northern Californian with the movie star looks and burly arms? Zach Ness, third-generation custom bike builder and part owner of Arlen Ness Enterprises. Yes, Arlen is his grandpa. And sure, Zach was born into this industry, but he doesn’t simply ride coattails. He’s paid his dues, sweeping the floor of the shop, picking up tools, listening and learning. Zach’s come into his own. Most recently Victory enlisted his services in creating a prototype to its new liquid-cooled cruiser called the Octane, Zach’s take an American muscle bike called the Combustion. He teamed up with the National Geographic Channel for a TV series called “Let it Ride” and proudly carries on the Ness bike building tradition of his grandfather and father.

Zach Ness at Bike Week 2016

Zach Ness having a little fun at Bike Week during Allstate’s Moto Masters Roundtable.

As for the uber-cool SoCal girl with the half-shaved head, cool tattoos and ever-present smile? Most know her as the MotoLady, Alicia Elfving. She’s a road warrior, loves to wrench, loves to ride. Elfving honed her skills on the mean streets in and around Portland, did a stint with MotoCorsa, customized a Ducati Monster 750 that was featured in BikeExif, then moved to sunny Southern California so she could ride year-round. Now she runs one of the hottest moto-sites for women riders, engages fans on her various social platforms, and inspires female motorcyclists by fully immersing herself in the lifestyle. She has energy and zeal that’s infectious, evident by her rising popularity in moto circles.

Bike Week 2016 The MotoLady Alicia Elfving

Alicia Elfving, aka The MotoLady, visited Bike Week for the very first time to be a member of Allstate’s Moto Masters Roundtable.

As for me. I’ve been lucky enough to be a motojournalist for almost the last ten years. I’ve ridden and reviewed more motorcycles than I can remember, crashed a few, and lived to tell the tale. I’ve earned my stripes by covering bike shows big and small, from the AMD World Championships to the Rat’s Hole. I make the rounds at motorcycle rallies around the country and call the Sturgis Buffalo Chip my home-away-from-home for 10 days every August. Now I’m American Iron’s Online Editor and a contributor to the magazine, a new role I’m beyond excited about.

Allstate’s Moto Masters Roundtable took place in the shadows of Daytona’s renovated International Speedway. I’m still in awe every time I visit the Speedway as I can sense the spirit of the racing history it has hosted. It was an honor to be a part of Allstate’s history, its first Bike Week Moto Masters Roundtable. Hopefully it will become an Allstate tradition at the rally.

Over the course of a live-streamed hour, our Roundtable fielded a gamut of questions. When asked what he anticipates will be the next trend in custom bikes, Fairless said he sees choppers making a comeback. Zach added that rallies and bike shows are a great way to see what’s coming next. Hailing from South Dakota, Olsen was the perfect person to talk about winterizing a motorcycle, from emptying fluids to putting batteries on trickle chargers. Elfving, a big proponent of “All The Gear, All the Time,” encouraged riders to wear a full-face helmet, listed some of her favorites (Icon, Shoei, Arai, AGV) and shared sources to research before buying. When questioned about helpful tips for riders, I emphasized the importance of a pre-ride check – tire pressure, blinkers, cables, leaks. When asked for tips that would help novice riders, I recited my mantra – ride like you’re invisible. Never assume when it comes to other drivers. If you can envision something happening, act on your intuition and do what it takes to make sure it doesn’t.

Allstate also used the event to unveil the grand prize for this year’s “Motorcycle Sweepstakes,” a 2016 Polaris Slingshot given the patriotic red, white and blue treatment by Fairless. The Slingshot is a blast to ride. It’ll lay down a pretty good patch of rubber in the first couple of gears, sticks to the road like glue but can still be drifted it when time comes to have some fun. Somebody’s going to take this rig home. Why not you? Click this link for a shot at winning. :https://www.allstatemotorcyclesweepstakes.com/

While we may have arrived at the Roundtable as casual acquaintances, we left as friends, the love of motorcycles and our industry a common bond that brought our panel of Moto Masters together. I’m honored to have sat at the Roundtable with each of them and look forward to when our paths cross again.