Quail Motorcycle Gathering – Million Dollar Babies
Story and Photos by David Fetherston
The Quail Motorcycle Gathering may not be the highlight at the Pebble Beach Concours, but for fans of the world’s finest and most exceptional motorcycles it is. This event has seen some evolution over the past nine years under the careful governance of Gordon McCall and has truly flowered into a world-class event.
This year’s Gathering was held May 6th on the grassy verges of the Quail Lodge golf course just outside Carmel, where a stiff coastal breeze blew in all day. But that didn’t dampen the spirit of the nearly 3,000 spectators who gathered to admire the world’s rarest motorcycles, as well as to honor historic racers, bikes, builders or companies.
This year celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Norton Commando. The Legend of the Sport honoree was “King” Kenny Roberts, two-time AMA Flat Track Grand Champion and three-time World 500 Grand Prix Champion.
According to Event Director, Gordon McCall: Few figures in American motorcycle racing history have been more influential than Kenny Roberts. His incredible list of racing accomplishments and his success on the world stage stirred the hearts of American race fans and forever changed the way motorcycles were raced.
In many ways, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering caters to the whole family offering a kid’s play area set up by the Monterey Kids Museum, live music, free car parking, motorcycle valet parking, and a fine lunch with unlimited ice cream included in the $75 admission fee. The more hardcore could also wander to the clubhouse for drinks at the bar for a few extra dollars.
The Quail Lodge greens were covered with nearly 300 motorcycles; it’s a fully judged event for those entrants who chose to participate. Others simply had their collections on display.
The awards proceeded spectacularly, as there were some stupendous machines to admire. John Goldman won both Best in Show and the Competition on Road class with his faithful restoration of a 1957 Mondial 250 Grand Prix bike.
At the other end of the scale, Hugo Eccles of Untitled Motorcycles won the Design and Style award for his truly outrageous Supernaturale custom cycle, built from a 1975 Moto Guzzi 850T.
In the more classic classes, Kalle Hoffman from the San Francisco Motorcycle Club took home the American bike award with his 1937 Indian Chief and Virgil Elings of the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum collected the Significance in Racing award for the museum’s Britten V1000.
In the Custom/Modified-bike categories Brian Thompson and Richard Mitchell both won awards, Thompson for his 1958 Triumph Tiger, and Mitchell for his 1968 BSA Thunderbolt.
There are several ways to see and participate in this show. You can buy a $75 pass for the Saturday event, or you can choose the more expensive Participants ticket. This includes a Friday night dinner, a 100-mile CHP-chaperoned ride through Monterey County wine country with parade laps around Laguna Seca racetrack, and this year, a visit to Robert Talbott’s, MotoTalbott motorcycle collection in Carmel Valley.
We know it’s a cliché to say that the Quail Motorcycle Gathering is a not-to-be-missed event for anyone who loves motorcycles. It’s worth the journey there, worth the price of the ticket, and also worth your time to wander and talk about nothing but magnificent motorcycles.