\\ 60th ANNIVERSARY HD SPORTSTER "DIRTQUAKE" TRACKER BUILD
This 2017 Harley Davison Flat track racer started life as a stock HD 1200 Sporty Roadster. The commission came in while I was filming our TV series Goblin Works Garage and to be fair came in a just the right time.
Nik Elwood the International PR Manager for Harley Davidson had asked me to build and race a flat track bike for the Motor Co. at Dirtquake based on the Sportster for its 60th anniversary. At the same time Discovery had asked me if it were possible for me to build 1 more bike for the TV series? In not wanting to let anyone down client or employer, I said yes to both and killed 2 birds with one build so to speak.
The Problem was that Nik needed the the bike in 10 days and Discovery channel told me that I had a budget of absolutely 0!!!! So the project quickly turned into my own personal bike and ended up building the bike for all 3 of us, Harley, Discovery and I.
Now with 10 days to do so and still filming a TV series and working of 4 other projects at the same time this build was near on impossible without help.
So I employed my good friend down at Redmax Speedshop and more or less did all the ordering and project managed this build. I would order and buy all the parts we needed in-between takes and builds going on at work on the show and the other free time I had Id shoot down to another friends shop in Swindon, Rocket Bobs and see my great friend Pete Pearson and between us came up with an idea for the new pipes and we over the weekend fabbed up the pipes and a few other bits for the build.
Apart from the handmade pipes, flat track wheels and tires, stripping the front brake system and finding the right tank and tail combo I wanted to have that old school sportster look too. So I called up another favour from yet another favour and called my buddy Nico from EMD Killer parts and ordered up the last bits to give it that XR750 look. Nico sent me his XV replica primary cover, and XR rocker box covers too.
Within a few days I had all the handmade parts and all my ordered parts all delivered to Steve’s place. The bike got there a couple days earlier and he did me the favour of chopping the rear fender struts and test fitted the tank and tail section.
A few days later the phone rang, and my Painter Tom from Image Design Customs told me that my parts were ready and have been sent to Redmax. I had a couple days of filming still to do in Cambridge and then the plan was to get in the van and get down to Steve’s and help do the final assembly as soon as possible, we now had a few days to get the bike done and dusted and tested ready for Dirtquake all while still having to film the entire thing. Now if anyone has ever done anything on film, well if it takes 1 day to do in “normal” life then it will take 3 days in TV life!!!
I finally got down to Redmax which is a 6 hour drive across the country from Cambridge where we filmed the show in our shop at Goblin Works Garage. So literally got there early in the morning the day before Dirtquake and started final assemble with Steve and a camera crew. I not only had to film the assembly but we had to film a whole bunch of stuff we never got to film earlier so a pretty much had a massive long day ahead!
We ended up working our nuts off all day getting the bike done and dusted but with no time to spare what so ever. I had a 6 hour drive back to Kings Lynn to Dirtquake and it was now past 8:30pm so we loaded the bike and all my gear in the van filmed my last interview for the TV show and got my ass in the van and headed to the race!
I arrived at around 3 am to the campsite and had to sign in for the race at 9 am so I found the boys at the campsite had a beer or two or three and hit the sac. With not much sleep we got up to find the battery of the bike was dead, the fuel pump was running all night and so I spent the next 2 hours not eating breakfast and getting ready for a race Id never done before and searched for a set of cables to jump the bike.
By the grace of god, I found a set and got the bike running just in time to sign in and get to the track for my practice laps. Without trying the bike or even riding the bike down the street I got on and did four of the sketchiest laps around a dirt track i think I could have even done!! I was so unbelievably tired, complete stiff from a 13 hour van ride and mentally exhausted from the 18 hour days back to back Id been doing to get all the other 3 cars and bikes I was building for the TV series finished! Lets just say I should definitely not been racing a motorcycle let alone riding one!!
My 4 first ever laps around a proper dirt track left me feeling less than comfortable, but that inner voice in my head was saying ‘cmon don’t be a pussy you can go plenty faster than that!’ So after a quick 30 mins break in between the other warm up laps for the other classes I tried to relax and focus on the task at hand GO FAST, TURN LEFT! Then I heard the call it was time to suit up and get your bikes to the edge of the track.
The gate opened and off we went once around the track and line up on the grid. So I end up lined up first row along side Carl Foggerty and a couple other Pro racers, and here I was thinking this was all about a lil fun racing friends!! What a load of shit that was!! Haha I looked both sides and offered a fist bump and a good luck to the pros I was next to only to get a more or less Go FUCK YOURSELF from Foggy and and head nob from the those to the right of me.
The flag dropped and immediately I was at the middle of the pack and dropping quick, I struggled to keep the bike upright as the suspension was rock solid and the bike was clearly way too tall for me to get some good control. Ive been riding my whole life but I rode around that track and felt like i’d never been on a bike in my life, it was by far the dodgiest ride of my life, Ive had 180mph tank slappers that didn’t sketch me out nearly as much as that first lap!! So I head into my second lap and it felt no different the bike just felt like it did not wanna turn the corner what so ever. Not only that but the whole entire world seemed to slow down like I was on some sort of drug, I felt like I was Will Ferrel in the movie Old School after he just got shot in the neck by a horse tranquilliser!!
I hit the first left of lap 2 and in super slow mo I felt the bike wasn’t going to turn and as it seemed like I was moving at 5 mph I thought ok “im not gonna make the corner so what i’ll do is just slowly go wide and stack it softly into the air bag” its soft and at this speed I wont trash the bike of myself.
Turns out I wasn’t going that slow and I hit the wall and rode straight up the wall and nearly over it! Luckily, I kept the bars pointed somewhat left and what goes up must come down n so I then flew over the bars and landed in a mess of twisted metal, just in time to look up and see my other good mate Ben Bowers from the Movember foundation had followed me straight into the wall and did the exact same as me.
Lucky for Ben he got out a little luckier than me with a small wound on the shin, as for me not so lucky! Besides having to fix my bike as it was my own I got carted of in the back of an ambulance high on Morphine to the hospital with a broken shoulder and a wounded ego!!
So, where this build lacks photos I suppose it makes up for it in story! Also, as I was racing for our TV series Goblin Works so you will all get to see the epic crash on your TV from the comfort of your sofas. My pain will be pleasure please as soon as the episode airs.
Ill update this page as soon as I finish the bike off as I’m still rebuilding it to be my daily road bike and will at some point be a bolt on street tracker kit and for sale here on my site for you at home with a injection model HD sportster.