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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blind rider sets a record at Bonneville Salt Flats

Dan Parker's blindness didn't prevent a record run at Bonneville. 
The Royal Enfield Continental GT set a record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in August, overcoming a hectic last-minute blitz of electronic/mechanical bugs and inclement weather.

The hustle didn't stop Team Royal Enfield member Kevin Mahoney, president of Classic Motorworks, from checking out the other racers. He posted a neat Facebook gallery of photos of unusual Bonneville race bikes.

In one case, though, his attention was attracted by the rider, not the bike.

Dan Parker, who was blinded in a drag-racing accident in 2012, rode a three-wheeled motorcycle he constructed himself, to a world record in the 51-85cc two-stroke cycle-car class.

Dan Parker, with his racer, on the salt at Bonneville.
Parker walks with the white cane, visible in the photos, but he rode with the aid of a GPS system that gave him audible cues in order to help him maintain a straight course. The GPS system was designed and built by engineer Patrick Johnson.

"I was quite puzzled when I saw that guy in line for tech. He did pretty well all things considered. Had some (guts)," Kevin wrote.

According to a press release from The National Federation of the Blind, one of his sponsors, Parker completed a two-way run, reaching an officially recorded top speed of 64.8 mph on one pass and an average top speed of 62.05 over both passes, thereby setting a class world record, pending ratification.

A look inside the machine. (All photos by Rick Head)
Rick Head, of Exile Turbo Systems, was at Bonneville with Parker, and provided the photos you see here.

Parker wore leathers with the logos of the National Federation of the Blind and its Blind Driver Challenge. That's a program that encourages innovative non-visual solutions that empower the blind — even to drive.

“Last year I was thrilled to witness Dan Parker’s run on the Bonneville Salt Flats, the first ever by a blind person," Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, said in the press release.

"This year, Dan has not only proven once again that blindness is no barrier to living the life you want, but has set a world speed record in the process."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Aftermarket exhaust for Royal Enfield Continental GT

New  muffler looks great and sounds great on the Royal Enfield Continental GT.
Clever "Before" and "After" videos show what an aftermarket exhaust can do for the look and sound of Royal Enfield's new Continental GT.

Carpy's Cafe Racers in Anaheim, Calif. posted the two videos to show off its new stainless steel exhaust system for the Continental GT.

Of course the small print specifies that this system is "not for use on public roads." Ahem. So, remember, that, OK? I know. It's so easy to forget!

Especially when you click on these two videos. The difference is dramatic.
Carpy is a Southern California customizer who loves cafe racers but, for the sake of price and parts availability, works with modern "metric" motorcycles rather than costly vintage British bikes. Not that he doesn't love the old Brits:

"But my bread and butter has been the good old CB750 Honda," he writes. "I know to some purist it’s not their cup of tea, and I totally understand this, but what I do with the stock bike is give it a slight British styling that Honda should of brought out back in the day.

"We enjoy designing many parts and now I am getting into the Brit stuff once more and the Royal Enfield is a fun and affordable bike to have these days."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Royal Enfield salutes dispatch riders at Goodwood Revival

Tickets are long sold out, so I will just have to imagine how perfect it would be to see Royal Enfield motorcycles among the swells at the Goodwood Revival 2014 this weekend in Chichester, West Sussex.

The event, Sept. 12-14, pays tribute to the past, with rare and bespoke automobiles, famous racers piloting the cars they once drove to glory, and patrons dressed in fashions to match the cars and motorcycles of yore.

But Goodwood has a wartime history, too. As RAF Westhampnett, it was a Battle of Britain airbase. In 1948 the perimeter road around the aerodrome became a motor racing circuit. Motor racing ended in 1966, but motorcycles and cars — and even wartime aircraft — returned for the first Revival Festival in 1998.

So it's appropriate that Royal Enfield chose Goodwood to honor World War II motorcycle dispatch riders. The famous "Don Rs," as they were called in the British Army, are invited to be Royal Enfield's guests of honor at this year’s Goodwood Revival.

At Goodwood Royal Enfield will preview a line of apparel inspired by the dispatch riders, with the real life Don Rs helping "bring the history that inspired the garments to life."

“Our new apparel range, inspired by the Don Rs goes beyond just biking gear. It also includes everyday fashion items; the collection brings to life core elements from the Despatch Riding era and is a tribute to these inspirational war heroes,” said Samrat Som, heal of apparel and accessories at Royal Enfield.

If you know a dispatch rider you'd like to nominate, email

It's such a good idea that it inspires me to include a favorite snippet of Don Rs in action from the 1943 movie "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp."


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