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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Troy Corser hits the wet deck at Goodwood!

An unfortunate end to a tremendous start to the Barry Sheen Memorial Trophy at Goodwood this year.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Troy Corser at Goodwood September 2016

I couldn't stop watching this video!  Troy Corser of World Superbike fame on my friend Sebastian Gutsch's R5 racebike at Goodwood.  Troy is absolutely flogging the bike.  Unfortunately a mechanical problem ended his tremendous run.  Congratulations to Troy for a spectacular ride, and to my friend Sebastian for building such an amazing bike!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Villa d'Este - 2016

I recently had the opportunity to once again attend the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in Cernobbio, Italy.

The venue, weather and bikes were perfect!  Threats of rain in the forecast had me a bit worried, but alas the entire weekend was absolutely wonderful.  The Monday after the show was a different story with rain of biblical proportions coming down on my drive back to Munich (snow on the pass to Garmisch!).

Held in the picturesque town of Cernobbio on the southwestern shore of Lake Como, the Concorso is the premier vintage motorcycle event in Europe.  Sponsored by BMW, who do a fantastic job, the show runs the entire weekend.  Cars are shown at the Villa d'Este, while motorcycles are on display just down the street at Villa Erba.  The motorcycles are accessible to the public on Saturday, while the Saturday car event is invitation only (due to size restrictions).  On Sunday cars and motorcycles alike are on display at the Villa Erba with the afternoon capped off by a parade of cars and bikes being presented and awards handed out.

This is how Europeans enjoy a car and motorcycle show!  We have much to learn here in the states!!

The event is surprisingly affordable (if you don't include the cost of airfare and accommodations).  The Saturday motorcycle event is on the order of 8 euros entry fee, and the Sunday event 15 euros.  The Sunday event is more because both cars and bikes are on display, or at least that was the explanation I was given.  Food and beverages are available throughout the weekend at the event.  And of course fantastic Italian food is just across the street at the many local "Ristorante" and "Trattoria/Pizzeria."

The parade of cars on Sunday at the Villa Erba. 

Having travelled from the states to enjoy the show, I visit the grounds on both Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday is very nice as the show is much less crowded and it is easier to see and photograph the bikes.  On Sunday the venue is packed and with the addition of the cars most of the locals chose Sunday to attend the event.

BMW brain trust.  Sebastian Gutsch (left) and Stefan Knittel (right), two very knowledgeable fellows about vintage and historic BMW.

The appropriately named "Majestic" is an art deco masterpiece.  One of many rare and exotic machines on display.

As this year is the 100th anniversary of BMW, they had on hand a number of bikes.  Here is a nice cross section of post-war models.

Even though BMW is the main sponsor, they don't dominate or overwhelm the show, which is quite refreshing to see from a corporate sponsor.  Aside from the small display above, only one BMW owned machine was included in the "show", the rare ex-Frank Pratt R5SS.  Another private entry was a wonderful, un-restored R5 owned by Joachim Schreyer.

Wonderful, unrestored R5.  

Another fantastic machine at the venue was my friend Sebastian Gutsch's R5 racebike.  Sebastian can be found campaigning the machine around Europe in the "Grab the Flag" series.  I'm pretty sure he brought it along just to have some fun in the hills around Como!

Sebastian Gutsch and his R5 racer.
One of my favorites!  The ex-Frank Pratt R5SS. 

Contrary to some BMW enthusiasts beliefs, the marque from Munich was not the only one to employ a horizontally opposed boxer motor.  Note the above beautiful Gnome et Rhone, complete with sidecar.

One of the star attractions was the R5 Hommage bike.  (No R5's were harmed in the making of this bike!).  As you can see, it's a modern interpretation of the classic machine using an amalgamation of new and old BMWparts.  The rear looks ridgid at first glance, but is actually sprung.  And yes, that is a supercharger run from the flywheel!!

Friday, February 5, 2016

100th Anniversary of BMW

This year (2016) represents the 100th anniversary of BMW as a company.  However, curious to most is that BMW produced neither cars, nor motorcycles, during the companies infancy.  In fact, aircraft manufacturing is what brought together the companies Rapp Motorenwerke and Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFw) in 1916.  The marriage of the companies in turn resulted in a  name change to Bayerische Motorenwerke or BMW as we know it today. (1)

The highly recognizable roundel logo was registered as a trademark one year later.  Contrary to popular belief, the background of the roundel with its blue and white checkers is representative of the Bavarian flag, and not an aircraft propeller.  (Click here for blog post discussing the history of the roundel.) 

It wasn't until 1923 that BMW produced their first in-house motorcycle, the R32.  Designed by Max Friz, the R32 represents the first model completely designed and built by BMW.  However, the predecessor motor, the M2B15 can be found as the powerplant in several other motorcycles whereby the manufacturer of the chassis turned to BMW to supply the power.  Some examples include Victoria, Helios and Bison.  (Incidentally, examples of all of the these BMW powered machines can be seen at the Motorrad Museum Vorchdorf in Austria.)

In 1929, six years after the introduction of the R32 motorcycle, BMW acquired the Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach company.  And henceforth BMW became a car manufacturer as well.

So it is a little surprising today that a company so well known for its cars, did not start out in the auto manufacturing business.  Be that is it may, we will celebrate this year the 100th anniversary of the founding of the company. 

Car and motorcycle concours events around the world will showcase the marque.  As one might imagine, special events are planned in Germany.  Of course the BMW Motorrad Days in Garmisch-Partenkirken will be extra special, and will be celebrated July 1-3.  BMW Classic in Munich is also planning a special event September 9-11 that will be held across from BMW Welt at the Munich Olympia Park.  

Here in the states, car and motorcycle enthusiasts will congregate on the Monterey peninsula for the Pebble Beach Concours and a week of BMW centered festivities to follow (August 19-26).  

Check out for a list of events.  The site will continue to be updated as more events are planned. 

Finally, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering will also showcase classic BMW's as part of this years event.     I will be back once again to help judge, and I am quite looking forward to an excellent display of Bavarian machinery!