The Quail Motorcycle Gathering on May 6 included more than 350 drool-worthy vintage and custom motorcycles, from Italian tiddlers to full-on race bikes, arrayed on the green grasses of the Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, California. All this eye candy was fawned over by around 3,000 people – record attendance for the nine-year-old event. It was enough to warm the heart of any gearhead.
This year’s Quail centered around one of the most influential bikes in history: the Norton Commando of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Almost every model and color was there, causing a near state of weepiness on the part of riders of a certain generation.
Norton unveiled the Commando at the lavish ’67 Earls Court Show in London. It was an immediate hit thanks to its “Isolastic” frame system that softened the paint-shaker tendencies characteristic of old parallel-Twins. Over the next decade more than 50,000 were sold. And for many, the Norton Girls ad campaign was even more memorable than the bikes, with scantily clad models draped across the bikes.
The event also honored two-time AMA Grand National Champion and three-time World 500cc Grand Prix Champion Kenny Roberts as this year’s Legend of the Sport.
“Getting Kenny here was a personal coup,” says event director Gordon McCall, who also runs the Motorworks Revival and is a class judge at the Pebble Beach Concours. “He doesn’t really go for the grand master thing, so it’s cool that he accepted.
The Quail weekend began with the Quail Ride on Friday, including a stop at a local winery and a visit to the nearby Moto Talbott vintage motorcycle museum.
Saturday included a ride around the surrounding area as well as the lovely display of amazing motorcycles at the Quail Lodge. Some may carp about the $95 cost of entry for the show, but it does include a lot: a full lunch, live music, kids area, and parking. By the end of the day, you actually feel like you get a fair amount for your money.
Will this event – now considered one of the premier vintage shows in the country – continue to grow? Maybe not, but that’s by design. McCall says he’s happy with the size of the Quail just as it is. (The number of bikes on display actually went down, from 400 to 350.)
“We don’t need more bikes,” he says. “I want people to feel like they’re able to see everything.”
We tried. And we had fun doing it. Here are the category winners.
Best of Show, First Place Competition On-Road
1957 Mondial 250 Grand Prix Double Overhead Cam
John Goldman – California
1918 BSA Model H
Bud Schwab – California
1937 Indian Chief
Kalle Hoffman – California
1939 Brough Superior SS100
William E. “Chip” Connor – Hong Kong
1959 Moto Parilla 99 Olimpia
Vincent Schardt – California
1976 Yamaha XT500C
Owen Bishop – California
1976 Hercules W2000 Wankel
Stephan Haddad – California
Competition Off Road
1975 Husqvarna 360 Flat Tracker
Clyde Williams – California
1958 Triumph Tiger
Bryan Thompson – California
1971 NYPD Lambretta LI150 Special
Siobhan Ellis – California
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Heritage Award
1983 Honda Factory RS 750 Flat Tracker
Anthony Giammanco – California
Significance in Racing Award
1995 Britten V1000 #10
Virgil Elings – California
The Cycle World Tour Award
1980 Suzuki GS1000S
Trevor Franklin – British Columbia
Historic Vehicle Association Preservation Award
1942 Indian Pre-War Big Base Scout
Gary Landeen – South Dakota
Design and Style Award
1975 Moto Guzzi 850T
Untitled Motorcycles – California
1991 BMW Alpha
Mark Atkinson – Utah
2015 Prototype Fuller Moto Motus Naked
John Bennet – California
50th Anniversary of the Norton Commando
1968 Norton Fastback
Jeff McCoy – California
Spirit of The Quail Award
1948 Triumph T100 Tiger
Jonnie Green – California