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  • Jim Palam - Motorsports Photojournalist

2024 QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING

Updated: Jun 8

Umbrellas and spirits were up and the ‘Rain Gods’ failed to dampen the fun and excitement at the 2024 QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING.

A CAR GUY CHRONICLES SPECIAL REPORT - Story & Photos by Jim Palam.


It’s not surprising that folks with a passion for motorcycles are a pretty rugged and optimistic breed. Sure, rain was predicted to start falling at around 10 AM on May 4th, the Saturday that the 14th annual 2024 QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING would kick-start in beautiful Carmel, CA – on the manicured lawns of The Quail Golf Club. And rain it did, throughout most of the day.

(The Seeley Polished Bike, right.)


But those rugged bikers and ardent fans still came – with their prepped and polished collector bikes, race bikes, art bikes, prototypes, and unbridled enthusiasm! Those who had them, erected space-frame show tents and invited those without shelter to pull their show bikes alongside theirs. Most of the 1,000+ attendees I saw were smiling while sharing stories, tech tips and hot beverages. I had arrived a day early to grab photos and insights during the early arrival’s setup hours – and early again on Saturday morning, show day. By the time the rain began to fall I already had about 6 hours exploring the show field.


Gordon McCall and his hard-working Peninsula Signature Events team had promoted a 14th Gathering that would showcase four featured classes, ten traditional classes, special anniversaries and marques in motorcycling – and ultimately have over 300 bikes on display. With the sketchy weather, that count dropped to around 200 and attendance no doubt took a hit as well. But the fun and enthusiasm were never dampened by the rain. People got wet, but they also got stoked about participating in “The Gathering.” I grabbed shots of some fantastic bikes – like the 500cc ’55 McSquid’s Red Special Velocette featured as our report opener. I also ran into old friends and motorcycling celebrities – and developed new friendships and many more reasons to look forward to the next Gathering. If you haven’t attended yet, make sure it’s on your bucket list. You won’t be disappointed!


David Mathison, Ph.D., M. Div. is a Professor Emeritus at Loyola Marymount University. He’s also a classic motorcycle enthusiast, dog lover, and a consummate gentleman. Our conversation about his beautifully restored ’49 Vincent-HRD Rapide was interrupted often by his faithful four-legged companion White Shadow – who after a few investigatory sniffs of my camera decided I should be lavished with kisses and a sentinel post by my feet!

It was early Saturday morning, as storm clouds began covering the few remaining patches of blue sky, when I spotted eccentric bike builder and assemblage artist Keith Young riding his impossibly long and low Rat Bike onto the show field. His brassy Steampunk creation sports an air suspension and is powered by a Honda 550 Four. Keith returned to The Quail where last year his audacious machine took the Arlen Ness Memorial Award.


In 1969 Honda brought 4 pre-production CB750s to America. That same year 7,414 “Sandcast” CB750s were produced. In 1970 Honda built 650,000 “Diecast” CB750s. But it was 1968 when this bike, the very first CB750 Prototype was shipped to America for three reasons: to excite the U.S. and world market, to conduct a two-day test in the no-speed-limit Nevada desert, and to allow just one motorcycle magazine, Cycle World, to do an in-depth road test feature. And in 2024, Vic World of World Motorcycles completed his authentic to every component and detail restoration of this historic bike… and it took Best of Show at The Quail!


The beating heart within this fabulous metal craft masterpiece is a ’73 Norton 750 with a custom monocoque chassis. This polished metal head-turner is the ’73 Vintage Seeley Racing Chassis Custom and it took The Spirit of The Quail Award at The Gathering. It was fabricated by Evan Wilcox Metal Crafts and is owned by director, bike lover and TV personality Barry Weiss. Some of you may remember Barry from his flamboyant appearances on the hit TV series, Storage Wars.

After studying the details of this low and stretched ’47 Harley Davidson Knucklehead Chopper I believe I have uncovered the design influence for the controversial Tesla Cybertruck’s pyramid profile design. Check out the gas tank! I photographed this Chopper Class Award winner on Friday, before the rains came and while the yellow polishing clothes were still stuffed into the velocity stacks. This wicked chopper is owned by Richard Best.

Jason Mamoa is one of Hollywood’s go-to blockbuster actors. Better-known for his long hair and ripped Superhero body, he is less-known to the general public as an avid motorcycle rider and collector. His patina-rich ‘29 Brough Superior SS680 looks like it may have been used as a submerged prop in Jason’s movie, Aquaman. It was prepared and displayed at The Quail by acclaimed bike builder Max Hazan of Hazan Motoworks who also brought two more of Jason’s ‘Hazan’ bikes to the 14th Gathering. Jason’s ‘38 Hazan Motorworks JAP 1000 (JTOS) took 2nd Place in the Custom/Modified Class.

As the rain continued to saturate the grass at The Quail Golf Club, I continued to explore the display tents. That’s where I met restoration artist Greg Saule from San Diego who was displaying his beautiful ‘26 Moto Guzzi C2V racer. He described how he had intentionally left the crankcase and petrol tank empty for this show, having just finished his restoration. He apparently didn’t account for the combustive power of WD40 and when the judges asked him to crank the motor it fired-up, albeit just for a few seconds. Seems this surprise was enough to fire-up the judges, who awarded the Moto Guzzi the Antique 2nd Place Award.

There’s no doubt that The Quail Motorcycle Gathering is a big deal to bike enthusiasts, but the structure of its stature comes in all sizes. Take Josh Rogers’ ‘46 Vespa V98 for instance. This leaning scooter is The First Vespa! It is powered by a 98cc engine that delivers a whopping 3.2 horsepower at 4,500 rpm. It was produced for two years and yes, it did not have a kick or center stand. On the outer edges and underside of the floor pan a half-oval shaped bumper provided the separation of the scooter from the road. Apparently, the accepted parking technique of the time was to simply lean the scooter against a curb. Josh’s fabulous motor scooter won the VespaDecades of Scooter Fun! Award.

Malanca was an Italian moped and small motorcycle manufacturer that was founded in 1956 by Mario Malanca, who started his company building motorcycle parts. This sleek 1971 model is the Competizione that featured a small 50cc motor and the rear-positioned foot pegs that would later be found on the more successful Testa Rossa models. Malanca made its racing debut in 1968 winning six championships in the 50cc and 60cc classes. Mario’s son Marco took over the company in 1978, changed the company name to Malanca Motors SpA and focused production on the 125cc models. The company later struggled in the larger-engined bike market and eventually closed down in 1986.

Since we’re on the topic of small bikes, how about a really small, really cool Indian? I met big Robert Johnson early Saturday morning when a good portion of the show field was still empty. He had just finished placing his very small and very cool ‘69 Indian Mini Bambino in the center of a wide swath of manicured grass. Robert went on to tell me how his very first bike was exactly the same as this 49cc kid’s bike. When he found this one, he just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make it his.

For me, much of the joy I get from covering motorsports events like The Quail is the time I get to interact with the owners, drivers, mechanics, fabricators and custodians of these marvelous machines. Case in point is good-natured Tom Dressler, who trailered his beautiful ‘92 bimota DB2 all the way from Virginia. This effort was as much an homage to the bike’s previous owner, a close friend of Tom’s, as it is the DB2 itself. This iconic bike sports serial number 00100, a carbureted, 900cc, 4-stroke, 2-valves-per-cylinder 86 horsepower engine, and a full fairing.

Inevitably, transformation happens. If you love Triumph motorcycle engines but you’re seeking a change in your bike’s appearance and performance, you might set your sights and dreams to Tamarit Motorcycles in Spain. Boasting the best team of engine and bike ‘transformers’ on the planet, Tamarit promises to make what you’ve always dreamed of a reality. At the 2024 QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING, I grabbed this close-up of their ‘05 Tamarit Thruxton’s motor. Might this be the ultimate in motorcycle Eye Candy?

One of the sponsor displays at the 2024 QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING this year was Indian Motorcycle. I captured this shot of six shiny Indians lined-up alongside Indian’s merchandise and information tent. Perhaps like me, you’re drawn to the ‘Wall of Death’ Indian Scout. I’d absolutely love to ride this bike – along a scenic canyon road or coastal Highway 1. That ‘Wall of Death’ ride will have to wait!

If there’s a photo in this report that could convey the spirit of this year’s Gathering, it’s this candid shot of three happy participants checking in and getting ready to ride their vintage Bultaco TSS Racers on to the show field. I shot this fairly early on Saturday. The rain was still in the clouds and the enthusiasm was just revving up.

Not to be outdone by the guys, artist, bike fabricator and reluctant motorcycle model Lily Key didn’t just ride her art bike out of a trailer, but left Los Angeles in the wee hours and rode her two-wheeled draconic beast over 350 miles in the damp and dark cold to be a part of the 2024 QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING in Carmel.

I encourage you to discover how much a true biker Lily is by checking out https://www.lkmotoart.com/



And I encourage everyone to get out to the shows and on the road as often as you can. Thanks for riding along with us on this special CarGuyChronicles report!

Words & Photos ©Jim Palam


For more information about The Quail Motorcycle Gathering and The Peninsula Signature Events, please visit https://www.peninsula.com/en/signature-events

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Jun 04
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Another great car guy 2024 QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING in Carmel.

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