History is a tricky thing, because it isn’t always in the past—or, at least, the complete story may not be there. If you’re lucky, as time rolls along, you might find missing pieces to a puzzle that you weren’t sure would ever get solved.
If you enjoy motorcycle history, chances are good that you’re already familiar with Dale’s Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Even if you haven’t had the chance to visit in person yet, WTT has an unparalleled YouTube channel where Matt Walksler (extremely knowledgeable son of the Dale in the museum’s name) is utterly thrilled to share his knowledge and passion about motorcycling history with the world.
In this video, someone brings a rare bike to Walksler to see if it’s as special as they think it might be. They drove over eight hours to bring it to him, and they think that it could be one of the most famous American race bikes of the 1950s and ‘60s. But is it?
As it turns out, this may just be the kind of story that only WTT (and Matt Walksler) could tell. An important thing to know about the Walkslers is that putting this museum together was a lifelong passion—and one that Matt Walksler has lived and breathed since he was young.
He grew up with his dad archiving and putting together various pieces of multiple historical puzzles over the span of decades. From the intricacies of long-superseded mechanical parts and solutions to arcane bits of racing lore, just about every video shows you the sheer level of irreplaceable knowledge that’s in this man’s head.
Building upon the knowledge (and archival collections) that his dad first began to gather decades ago, Matt Walksler was successfully able to verify the true identity of this one-of-a-kind, truly legendary machine. After a hands-on mechanical comparison with archival photographs that have been sitting at WTT since 1990—and which haven’t been seen anywhere else—this bike was revealed to be the legendary 1949 Harley-Davidson panhead drag racer known as Big Bertha.
Even more amazingly, after having spent the past 50-plus years out of the public eye, the Puckett family decided to donate this one-of-a-kind piece of moto history to the Wheels Through Time Museum. It’s the kind of happy ending to a story that you hope for, and in this case, it came true.