Thanks to the unexpected rain, the dirt at Glen Helen Raceway actually had plenty of traction for the annual run-what-you-brung Halloween Hill Climb put on by Hell on Wheels. I went this year strictly to spectate, after the disastrous time I had last year with two bikes that refused to run properly, but I'll be ready for 2017.
As usual there were classes for everything from pull-start Minibikes, Trikes, to classic Desert Sleds, to Scooters, and of course the V-Twin Hooligan class. I'm not sure if Roland Sands himself was there (I didn't see him) but a ton of bikes that typically race with his IV League Flat Track Club were, and the Indians and Sportsters dominated. You wouldn't think a low cruiser type bike would be successful, what with the short, sandy motocross course that leads to the big hill, but there is no arguing the results. Those torque rich Twins put down plenty of power, and had enough traction, even set up as flat track bikes with just a knobbie tire swapped to the rear.
The caveman on the Sportster in the near lane managed to get to the top of the hill no matter what he was riding, and he rode everything; Harley, scooter, trike, vintage, etc. The team on the new Indian Scouts were all in orange jump suits, and all the bikes were similar, so I am not sure if that is eventual class winner Jordan Graham or not. The American Flat Track series should be interesting this year, if the speed of these stock based Indians is any indication.
One of the most interesting entries was Dark Helmet, from Rusty Butcher, who rode a "Club Style" Harley Dyna based bike; the only big Twin there. The races were run drag race elimination style, with everyone getting at least two runs up the hill. Then the winners of the first runs were matched-up against each other to crown a final, overall winner, based on who got to the top of the hill first in the subsequent head-to-head battles.
Occasionally, to simplify things, and make it much more interesting, they ran the bikes three at a time. Yes, that is a KTM Adventure bike, and yes, it did embarrass the cruiser based Twins. In order to make things even, the KTM rider handicapped himself by riding 2-up every time after this. Unfortunately, I did not get the name of either of the madmen on that bike.
Go Takamine, inventor of Bratsyle, was there on a very nice flathead Indian with a scary clown for a headlight (pictured below). In fact there were quite a few bikes in the Handshift Class, on what would be considered priceless museum pieces by many riders. I love the fact that these guys are taking their antiques out and riding them in anger once in a while, after all, bikes of that era were made to be fixed again and again and never have to be thrown away.
Fairly certain this is a Shuttleworth Snap, though much of the bodywork is missing.
Perhaps the most unexpected run what you brung bike that showed up, was a Honda Passport based machine. The stock 70cc 5-hp motor, with its three speed transmission and automatic clutch has been swapped for a Lifan 140cc replacement. Now it features triple the power, plus four speeds and a real clutch. An aftermarket aluminum swingarm and shocks were added, direct from Southeast Asia where customizing these is a big thing. Out front the leading link fork was kept, meaning it had about 4" of travel at both ends. It did amazingly well, and the builder races it in all of the different Hell on Wheels events.
As far as I am concerned, and after owning and commuting on a Honda C70 for a while, I think Honda Step Thru should be a class at every type of club racing event. These bikes are cheap and tough and the parts for making them way too fast are just as inexpensive. Plus they are easy to work on and unintimidating to ride.
The next Hell on Wheels event is a Flat Track and TT double header in conjunction with the Red Bull Day in the Dirt on Thanksgiving weekend at Glen Helen. If you want to come out and play then quit monkeying around. Start shopping for an old bike on Craigslist and join the fun!
I took many more pictures that I want to stuff into this post, but the whole Hell on Wheels Hillclimb Gallery can be seen on my WordPress site. I'm also always looking for new events to spectate, report on, and take part in, so drop us a line if you have a suggestion.