by Gus Breiland

Fire Destroys National Motorcycle Museum in England
A fire ripped through the NationalMotorcycleMuseum in Birmingham, gutting most of the building and destroying hundreds of irreplaceable bikes on Tuesday night. The blaze was reported to the West Midlands Fire Service at 4:40 pm on Tuesday September 16 and eight fire engines were called to the scene. The smoke from the fire caused large delays on nearby roads, including the M42 and M6, making it difficult for the fire engines to get through. The fire started in a lift shaft in the Britannia suite conference rooms at the center and is thought to have been caused by a hot cigarette butt.

The museum houses almost 900 bikes. Staff managed to save less than 400 despite the help of delegates at a nearby conference. The museum’s collection included a 1916 Matchless V-twin works TT racer, a 1939 Velocette 500cc works bike and a 1950 championship winning Royal Enfield trials bike, one of the first trials bikes to use rear suspension. It also housed a collection of Ariel Square Fours dating from 1935, a 1950s Triumph Twins collection and a 1970s Triumph Racers collection. It is not yet clear which bikes were saved and which were destroyed in the blaze.

Over 250 of the exhibits in the museum were saved. Sadly, three of the museum’s five exhibit halls have been destroyed along with their exhibits, probably totaling around 500 machines.

Please note that the exhibition of Roy Barrett’s work, scheduled for 4, 5 and 6 October 2003, is going ahead as planned.

Many irreplaceable machines were damaged in the fire, but where possible, will be restored once again to their original showroom condition. To this end, we shall be appealing for many scarce components and parts which will be needed. Details will be posted to this web site shortly.

Indian Folds Again
Sept. 22–Just five years after re-launching the famous American marquee, the Indian Motorcycle Corporation of Gilroy, Calif., has shut its doors for good, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

The move came after the company failed to secure additional financing and leaves 380 employees in its assembly plant jobless. Indian was the third largest employer in Gilroy. Ironically, Indian recently reported that May of 2003 was the California firm’s best month ever, with total sales topping 560 units.

Today, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 new motorcycles remain unsold at Indian dealerships throughout the country.

The original Indian Motorcycle Company began production in 1901 in Springfield, Mass., and went bankrupt in 1953 after years of battling archrival Harley-Davidson. In successive years, the well-known brand went through a number of different owners who used it to sell a variety of imported motorcycles and mopeds.

The current firm acquired the rights to the name and began production of Indian-badged Harley clones in 1998. In 2001, the company secured $45 million in additional capital from a Boston firm and brought in a new management team. Last year, Indian unveiled a new engine design, the Powerplus, but mechanical problems and production delays plagued it from the start.

Congressman Bill Janklow Pleads Not Guilty in Death of Motorcyclist
Sept. 26–U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow (R-South Dakota) pleaded not guilty on Friday, September 26, to felony manslaughter and other charges related to the death of motorcyclist Randolph Scott.

A trial date has been set for December 1 in the MoodyCounty courthouse in South Dakota.

According to law enforcement officials, on August 16 Janklow was driving a Cadillac at least 71 mph on a county road in eastern South   Dakota in a 55 mph zone. He ran a stop sign and collided with the 55-year-old Scott, of Hardwick, Minnesota, who was operating a Harley-Davidson. Scott died at the scene.

After the crash, MoodyCountyState’s Attorney Bill Ellingson filed various charges against Janklow, including felony manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He also was charged with reckless driving, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Each charge of speeding and failure to stop at a stop sign could result in 30 days in jail and a $200 fine.

The charges represent the maximum Janklow, 64, could face under South Dakota law, which requires evidence of alcohol or drug use for a charge of vehicular homicide. If Janklow is convicted of manslaughter, he could lose his authority to vote in the U.S. House under terms of the House Ethics Rules. Janklow has a history of speeding, according to media reports, racking up a dozen speeding tickets between 1990 and 1994. In the past, he has acknowledged speeding, noting that he continued to speed because the cost of violating the law was so low.

“But if someone told me I was going to jail for two days for speeding, my driving habits would change,” then-Gov. Janklow said in a State of the State speech in 1999. “I can pay the ticket, but I don’t want to go to jail.”

Just days before entering his plea, Janklow held a news conference and told reporters he “couldn’t be sorrier” for the crash that killed Scott.

Janklow is a first-term congressman and former four-term South Dakota governor. Scott was a farmer, Vietnam veteran, volunteer firefighter and former American Legion post commander.

M.M.M.

 

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