Miss-Fires Gone Wild Wood

Easy wins at TROG  Photo: Amy Maxmen

Easy wins at TROG Photo: Amy Maxmen

I’m told The Miss-Fires are into cars, and not just bikes. But I don’t own a car and don’t know squat about them. Corinna, however, owns a beautiful blue ’62 Ford Ranchero, and when she offered to drive me down to The Race of Gentlemen, I couldn’t think of a decent reason not to join her.

Corinna with her Ranchero in Wildwood. Photo: Amy Maxmen

Corinna with her Ranchero in Wildwood. Photo: Amy Maxmen

In The Race of Gentlemen, hot rods race along the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey, just after the tide goes out, while the sand is still compact. I took a bunch of photos, and to figure out what I was looking at I called a friend of mine who edits the hot rod magazine Mag-neto, Tony Dowers. He designed the posters and pamphlets for the race, and everything he’s told me is in italics below.

Photo: Amy Maxmen

TROG 999. Photo: Amy Maxmen

Sketch is the guy who owns this ‘33 or ’34 Ford with a flathead V8 engine. It’s a really old racing car that’s been in this condition for a long time.

I have no idea why the guy lining up the cars is wearing a tuxedo. The Race of Gentlemen is kind of like an old-timey circus. When Mel [the event organizer] asked me to do the graphics, he sent me circus posters for inspiration. He tends to surround himself with characters.

Photo: Amy Maxmen

TROG 81. Photo: Amy Maxmen

“81” has some beautiful design features, like that little lip in the frame, stretching from under the “8” up towards the exhaust pipe. The car is a 1930 Ford Model A roadster on a deuce frame, which they made for just one year in 1932. In the late 1940s, this combination of a Model A body with a flathead V8 engine—an AV8—was really popular. That’s the time period when hot rods started getting really fast. People had been hot rodding as soon as cars were invented—they were hopping up their Model T’s as early as 1918—but their cars were still pretty slow until the late 40s.

TROG "Scratchy". Photo: Amy Maxmen

TROG “Scratchy”. Photo: Amy Maxmen

“Rolling Bones” is a hot rod group from upstate New York. Every year, they drive their cars to the Bonneville salt-flats in Utah. For some reason they named this car Scratchy. It’s is a 1932 Ford Tree Window Coupe, with an Italian flathead SCOT Blower engine. Basically, the carburetors sit on blowers, and the blowers spin around and force the gas and air into the engine at a much higher velocity than regular carburetors on their own.

He’s chopped the roof down to make the car more aerodynamic and to make it look more racy. Ford built these super tall roofs so that men could wear their tall hats while driving. No one wears hats like that anymore.

TROG 667. Photo: Amy Maxmen

TROG 667. Photo: Amy Maxmen

This guy’s such a bad ass. He usually drove around with a cigar hanging out of his mouth. And that number, “667,” is great. He’s got one up on the devil. He’s driving a 1930 Model A roadster with a flathead V8 engine. Henry Ford came out with that engine in 1932, and it was so versatile that everyone started modifying it to go faster. This driver added extra carburetors, to allow more fuel and air mixture into the engine. And then he had to modify the engine to use up all that extra mixture, like put straight pipes on it—which is why it’s super loud.

TROG Speedster. Photo: Amy Maxmen

TROG Speedster. Photo: Amy Maxmen

 That’s Corinna, she’s the Miss-Fire that convinced us to all come down to the race.

She’s watching a speedster race by. “Speedster” is just old-fashioned carnie slang. Or you call this car a gow job—an early term for hot rod. There are different theories on what that means, I like to think it means Go! Get Up and Go! This gow job looks like it’s from the 1920s.

TROG 167. Photo: Amy Maxmen

TROG 167. Photo: Amy Maxmen

I love this car. It’s one of my favorites. It’s a 1927 Model T with a 1951 flathead V8 engine. I like it because it’s the epitome of a 1950s racecar with punky black and white flames it. Flames were like this back then, before airbrushing allowed you to get so detailed and colorful. Once airbrushes hit the scene in the 60s, everything got candy colored. If this photo were in black and white, you’d have no idea you took it last week.

 

I couldn't resist.

I couldn’t resist.

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TROG 117. Photo: Amy Maxmen

“117” is a crazy modified 1927 Model T with an aerodynamic nose on the front. The driver looks so goofy way up in front because the engine is behind him. But it makes sense to put the engine in the rear because you can get more traction that way—since these are all rear-wheel drive cars. I’m not sure why more cars aren’t built with engines in the back. Chevy tried it in the 60s and it just flopped. Maybe Americans just like sticking with what they know.

TROG Amanda Miss-Fire. Photo: Amy Maxmen

Amanda at TROG. Photo: Amy Maxmen

This is Amanda Haase at the starting line of the race. Anything to see here?

Check out that ’32 Sedan with the white and black combination. Those were considered family cars back in the day.

TROG. Photo: Amy Maxmen

TROG. Photo: Amy Maxmen

Last year this speedster with a banger engine won the overall race. The driver comes all the way out from Washington state. He just nailed it last year, but this year I heard he had car problems. He had the engine splayed apart in the hotel parking lot Friday night.

TROG Miss-Fires. Photo: Amy Maxmen

Amanda and Corinna, with bunny ears, at TROG. Photo: Amy Maxmen

 

TROG Miss-Fires. Photo: Amy Maxmen

Amanda, Suzanne, Corinna at TROG. Photo: Amy Maxmen

Here are my girls, watching the races. We had a pretty memorable night. It involved moonshine, sand storms, the Ranchero, the Ranchero, the Ranchero, small-town cops, some dude with a cane. I woke up with sand in my ears and Twizzlers in my purse.

Why aren’t you all racing? Your club needs to get an early motorcycle and race it. 1948 is the cut off. I’ll put you in touch with the right people.

Truth. Photo: Amy Maxmen

Truth. Photo: Amy Maxmen

Never truer words. Miss-Fires + TROG combo does not disappoint.

— Amy Maxmen (posting through Val’s account. Thanks, Val!)

Stories of Bike

I’ve heard that either life happens to you or you happen to life. I often find myself bouncing between a healthy mix of the two. I thrive on new experiences yet love the surprise of things outside my control. I timidly joined the Miss-Fires crew earlier this year without knowing a single member, and I often reflect on and appreciate the special friendships I have made and the countless days of fun we have had together since. I continue to be amazed at how my life has taken a turn for the better.

Through this lovely group of ladies, I was informed of an opportunity to be part of a special project undertaken by the talented Cam Elkins, a filmmaker based in Sydney, Australia. He was coming to New York for the showing of two of his films in the Motorcycle Film Festival and wanted to shoot an episode for his web-based series, Stories of Bike, while in New York. I admittedly knew nothing about Cam’s project at the time, but the idea sounded like fun so I spontaneously put together an application and sent him some photos. To my surprise, he contacted me a few days later to say I’d been selected.

Photo by Hayley Reed

Photo by Hayley Reed

Wasn’t there someone with a more compelling story than mine? Wasn’t there a rider who’s father’s dying wish was that his son carry on the tradition to ride like they had spent their lives doing together? At first I was excited. Then nerves set in. I never thought of myself as a natural in front of cameras, and I doubted my ability to provide an interesting experience for Cam and his viewers. But there was no turning back so I disregarded my concerns, went with the flow and followed his lead. Then I called my best friend, Jill, who owns a salon and spa in Oklahoma to get her to fly to New York for moral support and beauty assistance.

Cam arrived a week later and wanted to have an informal dinner together before shooting began in order to get acquainted with each other so I took him to a local favorite in Wlliamsburg, where I live. He greeted me with a friendly hug, and I immediately found him incredibly easy to talk to. His down-to-earth vibe comforted me and peaked my interest in his life. Reversing the roles a bit, I inquired extensively about his life and experience with photography. At that point, I had finally watched one of his episodes, thinking I should probably educate myself on my upcoming adventure, and I found the show to be incredibly professional so was surprised to learn he had been working solo for a year and a half. This guy’s ambition and creativity impressed the hell out of me. The rest of the evening was absent of any awkward silences and full of laughs and story sharing. Any remaining nerves were completely shattered, and all I could anticipate was the fun that laid ahead.

Two days later, shooting began. A local cinematographer, Brian Stansfield, had contacted Cam to offer support to his project, and Cam agreed after recognizing some benefits. It would be the first time Cam collaborated with someone on Stories of Bike. Brian and Cam showed up at my apartment with loads of equipment at dusk after a rainy day, just when the clouds were beginning to clear. We b-lined it to my rooftop where the orange sun seeped through a cloud clearance over Manhattan creating a fiery halo over the city with multiple rainbows above. The timing could not have been more perfect for cityscape footage for the show.

Photo by Cam Elkins

Photo by Cam Elkins

Photo by Jill Johnson

Photo by Jill Johnson

Once the sun settled on the other side of New Jersey, we retreated back inside where setup began for the interview portion. They converted my living room into a temporary studio complete with professional lights, cameras and makeup. I sat with a camera in my face for three hours while getting drilled about my relationship with my Bonneville and how it has transformed my life in New York City.

Cam and Brian

Cam and Brian

To some questions, my answers came easily. To others, I found myself struggling to articulate sentiments that coincided with Cam’s vision of my story. Notwithstanding the speed bumps that littered the interview, my answer to Cam’s final question came out emotively and without hesitation. He showed his approval with a big smile and a thumb’s up. Once the camera stopped recording, he shouted a loud “Yeah!!”, which gave me a strong feeling of relief and accomplishment, and I stood up to give him an enthusiastic high five. Then I wiped off my makeup and we went for tacos.

The next phase of shooting was the “b-roll” (the alternate footage intercut with the interview, for those who need to google it like I did). We rented a minivan that Jill drove around with Cam and Brian shooting from the back with the trunk wide open.

Brian and his partner

Photo by Cam Elkins

Photo by Jill Johnson

Photo by Jill Johnson

Pausing for a photo op

Photo by Jill Johnson

I followed them around Williamsburg on a sunny and lively Saturday morning while pedestrians watched with curiosity. Then I had to head to band rehearsal, which Cam wanted to get footage of, so we swung by Susan’s place (the singer/songwriter of the band). The two of us straddled the bike with our guitars slung over our backs, followed the minivan and headed to our rehearsal space in Bushwick.

The next day, Cam suggested I get some friends to ride with me at the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride so I recruited some Triumph-riding girls to join me in dressing dapper for the occasion.

Photo by Cam Elkins

Photo by Cam Elkins

Photo by Cam Elkins

Photo by Cam Elkins

After getting some cool footage again riding behind the minivan on the way over to the meeting point in the West Village, we pulled up to join about 100 bikes just before departure time. I immediately noticed that we and a couple of other Miss-Fires who met us there were the only girls riding bikes. I spotted two other dapper girls daringly adorned in short dresses riding on the backs of others, but our gang definitely skewed the gender ratio.

Adriana in the front!

Adriana in the front!

Photo by Cam Elkins

Photo by Cam Elkins

We had a blast riding through the city streets garbed as we were. The highlight for me, surprisingly, was the route through Times Square where almost everyone stopped to watch and take pictures of remarkably well-dressed people overtaking the tourist haven on vintage-style bikes. I couldn’t help but take advantage of the attention to show off a little and do some tricks on my bike, such as standing up on the pegs (my bravery only goes so far). Unfortunately, Cam and Brian only got footage during the meeting points, so this scene will have to live on in the memories of those present and in this blog post. They did however, get the best shot of the group photo we took at Washington Square Park.

Photo by Brian Stansfield

Photo by Brian Stansfield

Cam had to depart New York a couple of days later and we didn’t get the chance to finish shooting, so I’ll be meeting with Brian soon to wrap that up. I’ll definitely be missing Cam’s presence though. We spent the days shooting so focused on the experience that we often forgot to feed ourselves. My mind was completely consumed by the fun I was having and the project we were working on. Between the work we did in making the episode, the time spent at the Motorcycle Film Festival and evening dinners and rides, the experience surpassed all my wildest expectations all because of the great new friend I had made. After seeing some still shots of the footage and hearing Cam’s excitement over it, I think the final product will be incredible. Stay tuned!

Photo by Brian Stansfield

Photo by Brian Stansfield

By Kristen Reed

Black Bear Bar Sunday!

MF black bear bar sundays IG

Bike curious? Want to meet the ladies of The Miss-Fires?

Well, we’ve got you covered. Scoot, hop of crawl on over to Black Bear Bar this and every first Sunday of the month for a cold beer, good country and more motorcycle talk than you ever knew you could handle. All or welcome.

See you there!

- The Miss-Fires

 

 

It Was All A Dream About Tennessee

Dragon Theener

I’ve had the bike I’m riding now, my 1983 Honda GL650, since August of 2010. Her name: My Only One True Love. Ever since my dad rebuilt her for me and I bought a one-way ticket to Illinois and rode her back to Staten Island, I’ve been wanting to get down to Tennessee and explore the epic riding there. A couple weeks ago, my plan came together and I finally got to do all that. I drove over 3000 miles, got wet a lot, had a wreck, ate BBQ at every opportunity, and I would do it all over again for sure. Here are the highlights.

1. I got my shit together and left. That’s no mean feat. I always feel a little barfy the morning I leave on a big ride, and this was going to be the biggest one that I had done so farBike leaving Continue reading

My Cool Motorcycle

photo by Geoff Barrenger Last October, UK author Chris Haddon invited me to be included in his newest book ‘My Cool Motorcycle: An Inspirational Guide to Motorcycles and Biking Culture‘ with my pretty rad (if I do say so myself) 1968-ish BSA 650 hot rod bike. I was honored to be included, and thrilled to be able to bring on talented photographer and friend Geoff Barrenger to take the photographs. Geoff captures motorcyclists in motion in a way that truly conveys what it is to be at peace, alone on the open road. His work can be seen at Whiteline Motorcycle Photographs. ‘My Cool Motorcycle’ which was finally released in July is a great collection of stories from all over the world, and is now on the Amazon best seller list. I am only one of a few women included and the only American. Get your copy on AMAZON today!

Corinna Mantlo, proud Miss-Fire.

1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1968 BSA 650, 1962 Ford Ranchero, 1971 BSA Victor 250 desert sled race bike.

9781909108912

my cool motorcycle is a window on the world of motorcycles: ‘cool’ iconic motorcycles, much-loved underdogs, stylish owners, amazing journeys, custom builds, and historical andpresent-day motorcycle culture. Looking back across the 100 years or so of the motorcycle, this book focusses on iconic makes and sought-after classics, and illustrates an invention that has changed the landscape of transport and counter-culture.

Chris Haddon and photographer Lyndon McNeil over six months, travelled far and wide capturing the inspirational, fascinating and moving stories of owners’ lives: from the Isle of Man, a mecca in the world of motorcycling; to the far corners of England and Wales, including to the beaches of Pending Sands, the home of land-speed record breakers since the early 1900s; plus midnight-to-dawn photo-shoots in Paris.

We read about cherished motorcycles handed down from father to son; a Triumph that played an instrumental part in a couple’s relationship. The story of an owner looking to make her first motorcycle acquisition and taking pity on and rehoming a forlorn underdog. And how a Vincent Rapider that, when selling was never an option, took up residence within the owner’s home for decades before once again taking to the road.

Also featuring motorcycling cultures in Japan, India and New York, my cool motorcycle celebrates a love affair with motorcycles and who knows…maybe it will inspire new or wannabe owners.

Chris Haddon is the author of the My Cool… series, and together with my cool motorcycle photographer Lyndon McNeil travelled across the UK to capture the motorcycles showcased in this book. He has a great passion for all things retro, and runs a design agency from the back of his converted 1960’s Airstream caravan.

my cool motorcycle is published by Pavilion Books

IBSN 9781909108912

RRP £14.99

“The car doesn’t know if I’m a man or a woman and it doesn’t care” – LeanIn

This story was originally published on leanin.org. Professional photography by George Baier IV.

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I pulled up my fire suit, strapped on my helmet, closed my visor and hit the gas. It was the first time I leaned in. I was 10 years old.

Go-karting always made sense to me and being at the track always thrilled me. I immediately started winning and was having the time of my life, when two years later I read about a 12 year-old boy who had moved into racecars. I decided if he could do it, I could do it. At the age of 13, I raced in my first car race and at age 14 I became the first woman to win a Skip Barber Racing Series championship. I made history!

At age 12, I realized that this was more than just a hobby I did for fun. I wanted to become a professional racer. There aren’t many high-profile female drivers. But the car doesn’t know if I’m a man or a woman and it doesn’t care.

There were always the folks who told me “no.” Sometimes it was explicit: I spent weeks preparing a pitch for a company for sponsorship, and before I could finish they said, “No, we’re just not interested.” The meeting was over. Sometimes, the “no” was implicit. I noticed that my coaches were often more friendly to my brother, who also drove, than they were to me.

While it could be disheartening, I realized that the nay-sayers simply did not understand my dream. I learned to embrace life’s uncertainty, which exists both on and off the track. Did we set the car up well enough to win the race? Will I be crashed out? As I watched my friends secure jobs for after graduation, I knew I was tackling a path that had a chance of not working out. However, the excitement and possibility of succeeding completely destroys the fear I have of failing.

So why racing? I love feeling the machine come to life under my touch and control. I love going fast. And I love winning.

My dreams don’t have to make sense to everyone. I’m chasing this the same way I approach everything: foot on the pedal, full speed ahead.

Sonoma wins 6:15-16

You can check out Julia on her website, Twitter and Facebook to see more!