Manicured fairways, pristine white canopy tents, and picket fences welcomed me as I rolled onto the Quail Lodge & Golf Course grounds. After 330 miles on the windswept highways of Central California, the glass-smooth service road and roadside parking lot were a welcome sight. It's no surprise that the groomed Carmel, California, resort looked even more luxurious through my bug-splattered helmet visor. Gas-stained jeans and beat-up boots only heightened the feeling that I was bringing the backcountry to the country club.
That apprehension quickly vanished after passing under the welcome arch, though. It was more of a swift blow than a receding wave. As soon as guests enter the 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering festival grounds, they’re greeted with relentless helpings of eye candy. From a 1917 Henderson Model G to a 1975 Norton 850 Commando MKIII Roadster to Steve McQueen’s Excelsior “Super X” Factory Racer, I bounced from one motorcycle marvel to another; letting my eye lead the way.
Only after that first blitz did I realize the section labels, conveniently distinguishing private collections from designated categories. With areas dedicated to British, Italian, European, Japanese, Competition On-Road, Competition Off-Road, Antique, Custom/Modified, and Choppers, it was nearly impossible to find something that didn’t tickle my fancy.
Gallery: 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering
In addition to the different classes and collections, the Quail presented special Harley-Davidson XR750 and BMW /5 Series exhibits. It’s one thing to hear that the XR750 28 of 37 American Flat Track championships from 1972 to 2008, but seeing the legendary flat tracker in person is an experience in itself. The XR was a versatile platform, however, and several XRTT road racers in attendance proved as much.
My earlier working-class apprehensions may have subsided after fawning over custom and restored builds with fellow gearheads, but the concessions stand quickly reminded me of the venue’s elite status. Looking for a bottle of water? That’ll be $5. Even a 12-ounce can of beer will run you $10. The $60 price of admission certainly communicates the show’s elevated status, but those looking for the full experience can also purchase the gourmet barbecue lunch with drinks provided by local wineries and breweries. I took the cheapskate route and grabbed a burger and fries from one of the three local food trucks on-site.
Later in the day, organizers took to the stage to celebrate Roland Sands with a retrospective look at the iconic custom motorcycle builder’s career. It wasn’t all talk, though, as several of Sands’ latest builds, including his 2022 Indian Chief project, crowded the area surrounding the stage. Following the retrospective interview, organizers honored the 2022 Quail Motorcycle Gathering class winners.
Terry Kaluza took home the Harley-Davidson XR750 prize for his 1972 example and Scott Wilmot claimed the BMW /5 Series award for his 1971 BMW R75/5. Matt Torrens’ 1986 Suzuki RG500 Gamma won the Two-Stroke “Braaaps” category and David Bookout’s 1971 Montessa Cota 25 topped the mini bikes | BIG FUN class. Chris Carter won the Spirit of The Quail Award for his 1984 Honda RS750, but Max Hazan’s 1951 Vincent Rapide was the highlight of the show, taking both Best of Show and the Design and Style Award.
“The success of this year’s The Quail Motorcycle Gathering was truly overwhelming,” admitted Peninsula Signature Events Director of Motorsports Gordon McCall. “From the immense support of our incredible sponsors to the amazing spectators and the diverse demonstration of remarkable motorcycles and classic cars, we are so proud to have come back stronger than ever and are excited to see what 2023 will bring.”
COVID-19 may have forced the cancellation of the Quail Motorcycle Gathering for the past two years, but the festival hit the ground running in 2022. After a fun-filled day spent appreciating some of the rarest motorcycles on the planet, I rolled off the Quail and Lodge & Golf Course grounds looking forward to the 2023 show.