This is the first of a collection of true stories and incidents that, when they occurred, set me to laughing. These tales are planned for a book with the above title. Motorcycle (M/C) business persons or other confirmed "MOTORCYCLE ADDICTS" call such stories, "Bench Racing". Most took place during the 1950's & 60's, on "Motorcycle Row".
CHAPTER ONE - INTRO & "MICKEY ON THE BRICKS"
First a little information as to local history of time and place with the neighborhood layout. In this way the anecdotes are not constantly interrupted with explanations such as: The slang vernacular for Race Bike is "scooter". A bike that "Whales" (a slang term for go fast) is "One Fast Motor Scooter". WFO, to use the Jesse Thomas definition from a Cycle Magazine article, means "Wide Full On"
M/C Row was several M/C shops on the 1400 to 1600 blocks of East Lancaster in Fort Worth, Texas. The building, at 1509, was built (by the late Pete & Pearl Dalio) expressly, to be a M/C shop in 1947. First known as "Dalio's Indian Sales" it became a Triumph Dealership in the '49-'50 time period. Jack Wilson moved up from Waco and ran the service department. He made the name of "Dalio's" synonymous with "Fast Triumphs" the same as he later did with "Big 'D' Cycle".. As a teenager, in the mid '50's, "Let's go to Dalio's", was a routine pronouncement.
Pete sold out and it became Dalio's Motor Sports (Triumph/Honda) in 1961, then Motor Sports (Triumph/Honda) in 1963, followed by Terry's Honda in 1964. Curtis Terry later added Kawasaki, Ossa, Bultaco, and Hodaka. Next door, to the east, was Carlton's BSA/Yamaha, later called Yamaha of Texas. The "Row" boasted from three shops in the 1950's, to as many as six in the M/C Boom of the '60's. The brands ranged from Triumph, Honda, BSA, Tohatsu, Yamaha, Norton, Marusho and Trail Blazer. Lancaster was the old Highway 80 and became "Business 80".
A WPA, red brick, surface, the road/street was by-passed by the Fort Worth/Dallas Turnpike in the early 1960's. The "row", on said ex-highway, was less than one half mile east of the "Downtown" Fort Worth and the T&P Railroad Terminal. It was lined with commercial buildings, some of which were merely converted from previous single and muliple family domiciles. The apartments (flop houses) on Lancaster and the back streets were for the most part populated by persons of Afro-American descent. A Grocery/Liquor store on the next corner fueled the substantial "Partakers of the Grape" population, affectionately termed, "Winos".
We had nicknames for most of the "Winos" on the street. Freckled "Frenchy" wore a beret. The General had a pronounced under bite with a jutting lower jaw. There was Jumpy, The Sad Sack, The Mayor, Smiley and about six others whose monikers are lost to my memory.
At this time, most of the M/C Shop owners and employees were... generaly ... on a friendly basis. They realized we were in the "Toy Business". Relatively expensive, but still "Toys". All involved were selling "FUN"! To sell "Fun", you need a "This is all for Grin's" atmosphere. Laughing, joking and practical jokes were our stock in trade. We would, in kidding, "Rag" each other and bad mouth the brand they represented.
A case in point: I was of the Triumph- Honda persuasion. Both of which were then, all four stroke engines. Carlton's (Williamson), next door, was a BSA/Yamaha Franchise. All Yamahas were two stroke engines in those days. My taunt was, "Two strokes are for cheap lawn mowers. A good lawn mower has a four stroke!" The Triumph Honda crowd derisively called the Yamahas, "Lawn Mowers" or "The Walt Kelly (Pogo) version", "Long Molars". For an example: "Carlton , I thank my 'Long Molar' has fouled a plug."
Come the end of the day, we would gather in the repair shop of one of the various Dealerships, or the adjacent watering hole, the "1619 Club". All gathered at this "Social Facility" to bench race, shoot pool and partake of a few Texas products branded, "Pearl" or "Lone Star". Political party differences aside, Lyndon Johnson and I drank "Pearl". I'll still take a long neck bottle of "Pearl Light" over one of those "Yankee" brands.
Said "1619" was a reference to it's street address. It was a converted house. The rest rooms still had wall paper on them. This surface begged for fine point, black, felt tip pen, "Rhyming Motorcycle Graffiti" such as:
I had a Yamaha and it sure would whale, till it puked it's guts and cost me out the tail. Now, Ole Carlton's buying beer and laughing out his ass, and I'm cranking up my Yamaha and out a' cutten grass. It goes right through Saint Augustine and slices Bermuda quick. But when I run those Hondas, it sure makes me look sick. or "Ka was' ski, the Polish Hot Link."... Just to name a couple.
When a Sunday Road Race was immanent, the Saturday afternoon before was a frantic activity of "Race Bike" preparation . After the wrenching was done, potential racers would make a couple of high speed runs up and down the street for a "Horse Power Check". It was a rather dangerous activity as some "Dip-Shit", in his '39 Dodge "pick-um-up" truck", was apt to make a left turn in front of you. The winos on the corner of Brandon's corner Grocery/Liquor store really got excited over the free show. The "Drill" was: Make a couple of "Ricky Racer" passes down the boulevard. Duck through the back overhead door to the repair shop. Pull down the door. Peel off the jacket and helmet. Calmly walk out to the front and innocently stare down the street... Cause: "HERE COME THE COPS" !!!
The title "East Lancaster Dyno" originated from the following incident: Glen Patton, a Speed Tuning Guru and good friend, along with Jack Wilson was one of my mentors. One sunny Saturday afternoon, before a race, I was down the block at Glen's Norton-Ducatti- Marusho Dealership. I was consulting with him about my carburation or something. On the street, "Scooter Horse Power Check" was in full swing". My brother Ray and others were performing drag races, up and down the way, open megaphones blaring.
After a high decible pass, in a brief period of relative quiet, Glen said to me, "Better get out there and check out your scooter. They're using up all the Dyno Time". I broke out laughing; that just cracked me up. At the next days race in San Angelo, I repeated these words of wit to all and sundry. I again, repeated it at the Tuesday "Bench Racing" session at the "1619 Club". From then, we all called the street "East Lancaster Dyno". Late one Saturday afternoon at dusk, though there was no race the next day, my brother and I were on the street, crouched over our racers to "Check 'um Out". At the stop light facing west, we leaned forward to the "clip-on" handle bars. Un- be known to us, "Micky"... having consumed a couple "over his limit", was sneaking up from the rear. He had come out of the 1619 Club and mounted his Yamaha. Spotting us at the light, Micky pulled out and timed it so, he would be "wound out" and shifting to second gear as the light changed and he passed us on the right side. The light changed - We dropped the clutch - He came by... on his back wheel. Out of the corner o' my eye, I saw his front wheel... straight up. Then it came back over. As his Yamaha "Back Flip" continued, instinct overcoming his Budwiser Bravado, Micky's sense of self-preservation kicked in and he stepped off the back in desperation. His first giant, leaping step was insufficient in length, causing him to flip, followed by a summersault - now he's sliding. In the darkening dusk, sparks from the rear fender tip proceeded red plastic shards from the tail light lense, splintering down the bricks. Multitudes of other sparks added to the performance as the bike went down and other steel projections contacted the bricks. Remnants of lever ends and other brittle components accompanied "Ole Mick", as he skittered along behind the skidding hulk. To coin a colloquial expression, "He fell for 30 minutes". Looking back over the side of the tank, doubled over with laughter, we held the throttles WFO and blasted up the street. Our "Check Out" complete, we circled back to razz Mickey. Bet this was not to be; He had hurriedly mounted up and fled the opposite direction.
Copyright © 2000 NTNOA All rights reserved.
Revised: January 29, 2008 .