Monthly Archives: November 2020


Cars We Love & Who We Are #12

I admit it. Every time I watch “Field of Dreams” and Ray Kinsella‘s father walks across the diamond as a young man, I tear up.

As relationships between fathers and sons evolve over time, they display a dynamic tension exhibiting powerful forces simultaneously binding them and pulling them apart.

If pressed, a son will admit that even if the father has passed away years ago, the son continues to learn more about the father  every day.

It is the very fortunate son who, in the present, experiences the lessons and appreciates their value during the arc of the father’s life.

The witness to such a story would be the 1937 Cord model 812 Phaeton acquired by father Joe Maletsky in 1961.

Vintage Cord binds father and son

Joe Maletsky in his Cord at Greenwich Concours d’Elegance with Bryan Maletsky at the wheel

It was 1941. The older brother of Joe Maletsky’s best friend pulled up in front of Joe’s high school driving a Cord Phaeton (an open touring car). In that moment, 14-year old high school sophomore Joe Maletsky knew he would own a similar car one day.

Fast forward to 1961, the man renting Joe’s mother’s garage could not pay the back rent. He offered the used car housed in the garage to square the debt. Lucky for Joe, in 1961, a 1937 Cord Phaeton qualified as a used car. Joe, at last, would have the Cord of his dreams.

Cord moves to Motorcraft facility

“How do you make God laugh?” goes the saying. “Tell God your plans,” goes the punch line. With the demands of supporting a family, restoration of the Cord would have to wait.

Never permitted to suffer under a dusty layer of indiscriminately discarded house debris, the 1937 Cord remained untouched but not unloved while it sat for years in the garage of Joe’s mother. Bryan recalls playing in and around the model 812 Cord Phaeton as a young child and says, “Nothing was ever placed on the car. I can remember that even the tires were always inflated properly. It never had a flat.” Joe’s phaeton would patiently wait. And patient it would need to be.

The year, 1966, witnessed the Cord’s patience rewarded as the restoration began with Joe embarking on the car’s complete disassembly. However, over the next decade progress on the Cord again lost out to the demands of raising a family and making a living.

Joe Maletsky’s three sons Paul, Ken and Bryan all inherited the Maletsky gene that carried a passion for performance automobiles accompanied by the skills to build them. However, the boy’s tastes initially did not include landmark classic cars of the 1930s. Bryan says, “My brothers and I were too much into the race cars, street cars and fast cars.” Bryan does acknowledge always having a respect for the car, but never really taking too much of an interest as a youth. With a self-deprecating smirk Bryan says, “We couldn’t do burnouts with a 1937 Cord.”

Racing legend Bryan Lister and Joe Maletsky at Jaguar Annual Meeting

In 1972 having been bitten badly by the vintage Jaguar bug Joe along with his sons opened Motorcraft, Ltd. Bryan, while continuing to attend high school, joined Joe in the family business. Together father and sons would build a nationally–respected Jaguar restoration shop.

Bryan, now a seasoned restoration specialist at Motorcraft whose work includes 100-point JCNA judged Jaguars, leaves no doubt as to the value of time shared with Joe.

A marine serving in WWII and schooled at the Teterboro School of Aeronautics, Joe approached every job with the same disciplined perspective required in rebuilding a plane to be airworthy. His machining and metallurgy skills were off the chart.

While the Cord moved from Mom’s garage to Motorcraft in the 1980s it did not move closer to completion. In the 1990s despite the continued heavy workload at Motorcraft Joe turned his attention to rewarding the Cord’s patience and moved ahead. Bryan says, “It needed a total restoration. Full mechanical, brakes, exhaust, engine, transmission.” Joe, like a seasoned athlete, stood at the top of his game and the top of his game would be required to bring the Cord to life.

Joe and Bryan

Joe’s expertise and “can do” attitude equipped him to view no problem as insurmountable. Faced with a challenge he would machine the part or machine the tool needed to make the part. Bryan says, “Nothing a car required was beyond reason to my father. He would say there’s nothing that can’t be done. One thing or another may take a little more time but it can be done.” Bryan leaves no doubt that he learned a great deal about machining and welding looking over his father’s shoulder. Regardless of the challenge, Joe would take it on and he would just stay at it until he got it right.

As a master welder few surpassed Joe. Bryan says, “He taught me how to heat metals up properly so you could start welding without causing damage. How to gently cool the metal at a very slow rate to prevent them from becoming distorted or brittle.”

To recreate a modification performed in the 1930s. Joe wanted to transform his Cord from a standard model to the iconic look of the exposed exhaust pipe design. He created all of the patterns and hand formed the grills where the exhaust pipes exited the body as well as the supercharged exhaust manifolds.

Bryan and Joe with Bryan’s vintage racing XK120

Cords front wheel drive design suffered from serious weaknesses in the CV joints.

To address that Joe re-machined and adapted the far superior half shafts from the front–wheel drive Oldsmobile Toronado to his Cord.

By the mid 1990’s Joe had the Cord’s bodywork completed. It went out for paint.

Three years later, by the late 1990’s the body had come back ready for assembly. During this period Joe and Bryan labored during “working hours” on the considerable amount of Jaguar mechanical and restoration work that came to Motorcraft. Available nights and weekends would find Joe focused on the Cord.

As the first decade of the new century progressed the Cord slowly, very slowly approached completion. During that time Joe began to make comments about how he wanted to be alive to see this glorious restoration that had spanned two centuries completed.

Father and son agreed to the need for a finish line. All agreed that Joe’s Cord would show at the 2008 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance.

Motorcraft Ltd. shut its doors to all business for a month. Then as if witnessing the explosive kick of a great runner nearing the finish line, father and son, as one, poured their hearts into making the Cord ready and perfect for Greenwich.

No longer master and intern but in the culminating act of a life of teacher and student Joe and Bryan, shoulder to shoulder, focused the power of two masters on resurrecting the car of young Joe Maletsky’s boyhood dreams.

June 2008 arrived and with it the prestigious Greenwich Concours d’Elegance.

Brilliantly black with the handcrafted brightwork gleaming in the sun, Joe Maletsky’s Cord Model 812 Phaeton took “Best Innovation” 1930’s Class.


Joe Maletsky’s granddaughter Allyson Maletsky Slaman wedding photo, 2018


Best wishes to all for a happy Thanksgiving with much for which to be thankful.

By |2020-11-25T12:30:53+00:00November 25th, 2020|2 Comments

Roads We Remember #6

Recently a scary event with my 1961 Corvette reminded me why some companies remain in business for decades while others do not.
So, a shout out to Hackensack Auto Spring & Wheel Alignment in Hackensack, NJ. Owned and operated since 1964 by three generations of the Zillitto family starting with founder grandfather Joe, then son Frank and now grandson Bryan, all have been called upon to service my Corvette going back to 1968.
Recently it was time for front end work. Victoria at Hackensack Spring answered my call for an appointment. I mentioned that I had always respected the work of Jimmy but that was decades ago. She responded, “Oh, Jimmy is still here.” Jimmy first worked on my Corvette in the 1970s. We booked it.
I arrive. Door rolls up. Grandson Bryan welcomes me as I pull in. I roll to a stop. Bryan looks at my car and yells, “Holy S*%t!” A puddle of gas is building under the front of my Corvette. We lift the hood to reveal gas pouring out from below the bowl of the front Carter WCFB like a high octane Mr. Coffee. Luckily puddling gas had not reached the hot exhaust manifold.
All owner Bryan said was, “Do you want to call AAA.” I told him I felt I couldn’t be in a better place than right where I was if it was okay with him. While his business focuses on suspension, Bryan made fire extinguishers available and without hesitation told his guys to take a look. Dave, a technician with extensive small block experience, pulled the front carburetor after draining the bowl. He found that a press fit rivet that sealed access to the bowl had popped out. Amazingly lucky for me, the rivet had remained on the top of the intake manifold where it had landed. Dave returned the sealing rivet to its rightful place. My Corvette would make it home where both carburetors would be removed and rebuilt.
Everyone had remained calm, professional and focused on the unexpected job at hand. Everyone accepted my problem as their problem. Disaster was averted for which I thank Hackensack Auto Spring.
…And speaking of Thanksgiving, it appears that for 2020 finding alternatives to large gatherings tops the menu.
A drive on New York Route 9D through the historic Hudson Valley offers a worthy consideration.

NY Route 9D – A sure cure for Covid boredom


Anthony’s Nose

Prefaced by either a great warm-up cruise north on the Palisades Interstate Parkway or a meandering journey through Harriman State Forest, NY Route 9D launches into deep woodlands at “Anthony’s Nose,” the peak at the eastern foot of the Bear Mountain Bridge. Exactly the identity of “Anthony” and why his nose has been so honored since the 1690s has been lost to history.

A well paved two-lane, Route 9D provides a willing accomplice to whatever manner of driving pleasure you desire. It explores the highlands above the Hudson River while elsewhere it dips down to hug the eastern shore of the River.

Leaving behind the thickly wooded lands of Camp Smith military base at its origin, 9D rides a wave of rolling countryside featuring a decidedly rural character where structures of both historic and contemporary lineage coexist and dot the landscape. Offering over 25 miles of history, hiking, hangouts and tons of Hudson Valley culture, 9D delivers a memorable alternative should Grandma and her turkey be subject to a lockdown.

Taking a brief diversion from 9D by way of a winding road descending to the Hudson River delivers you to Phillipstown. Bearing a sense of time-gone-by, Phillipstown retains its historic character, though now transformed, with century old buildings housing galleries and the old train station a performing arts center. Looking east across from Phillipstown, the sprawling campus of West Point dominates the bank of the western shore. Returning to 9D, the road crosses another link to the past though this one remains unchanged. It is the Appalachian Trail.

Upon entering the village of Garrison, a glance up and to the right captures a sight reminiscent of the German countryside where castles built on the high ground peer down upon the surrounding fields and villages. High above Garrison the iconic gilded age mansion, Castle Rock, sits like a monarch on a throne majestically perched above the Hudson Valley and Route 9D.

Built in 1881 as a summer home for Railroad Magnate William H. Osborne, the 10,500 sq. ft. mansion resides 620 feet above the Hudson River. It is said to have served as an inspiration for the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz.

Castle Rock overlooking Hudson Valley

Today, most of the surrounding acreage whether through donation or purchase now belongs to the State of New York. A public hiking trail of roughly a mile will bring you onto the grounds of Castle Rock which remains privately owned. For a look inside the castle you can contact a local realtor as it has recently been listed for sale. Warning, it qualifies as a fixer upper.

1961 and 2019 Corvettes at Cold Spring Plaza

Continuing along 9D and about midway through the drive brings you to the village of Cold Spring. A vintage gem on the Hudson River it features small specialty shops, quaint eateries, a marina and a handsome waterfront plaza overlooking the Hudson.

While hiking trailheads abound along 9D, none possess a more foreboding and accurate name than Breakneck Ridge. As noted in the trail guide, “Generally considered to be the most strenuous hike in the East Hudson Highlands. It involves steep climbs over rock ledges that can be very slippery. Do not attempt in wet weather.”

After passing through the Breakneck Ridge Tunnel comes the only sketchy part of the drive. In this stretch be alert, danger lurks even if you are not hiking, especially on weekends. Wandering people and poorly parked cars seemingly with no particular place to go make 9D look like the escape route on one of those impending apocalypse movies.

Bannerman Castle

Not satisfied to offer one castle, 9D offers two. Filling tiny six-acre Pollepel island located a few hundred yards off the eastern shore of the Hudson River resides Bannerman Castle.

Francis Bannerman began a military surplus business after the Civil War. By the end of the 19th century no one in the world bought more military surplus. Having purchased most of the arms captured in the Spanish American War he had a huge facility in downtown Manhattan. City fathers rankled at the thought of a massive warehouse chock full of gun powder in the city center. They strongly urged Bannerman to relocate. In 1900 he bought Pollepel Island and began construction of his castle. Just as it neared completion in 1918, Bannerman died. In 1920 the powder house with 200 tons of powder and shells blew up taking a good portion of the castle with it. The subsequent decades witnessed a steady deterioration until the 1990s when a fundraising effort stemmed the decline.

Beacon, NY

With Bannerman’s Castle ruins in the rearview mirror, the bustling town of Beacon approaches. An energized metropolitan flavored upstate village, Beacon’s rebirth has blossomed with restaurants and attractions that have sought to integrate their hipness with the character of the community. It offers a great place to explore.

For those with a continued sense of adventure, 9D concludes in the small town of Wappinger’s Falls where it connects with the route leading to the spectacular Walkway over the Hudson State Park. But that would be a story for another day, though hopefully that day will not be Christmas and Covid will not slam the door on Santa.

By |2020-11-19T13:08:01+00:00November 19th, 2020|12 Comments

Conversations With People We Value #13

Last week my F100 pickup required a flatbed. Upon calling AAA I discovered that while a flatbed would be sent for my truck, I could not accompany my vehicle, AAA’s Covid policy. It would be up to me to get personal transportation.

AAA only tells you this when you call for assistance. Questions relating to proper delivery of the vehicle and disposition of the vehicle key remained unanswered. Be warned.

Luckily in my case, a friend nearby came to my rescue. We accompanied the flatbed to the repair shop.

In a classic lemons to lemonade story, while visiting the repair shop the following day, owner and good friend Bob Tasman shared a great story as retold below.


Confessions of a demolition derby survivor

High Anxiety

Bob Tasman epitomizes the hard core automobile driving enthusiast who grew up in the mid-twentieth century’s golden age of the automobile.

As a Drivin’ News reader, Bob while looking at my truck tossed out an offhand comment about a recent Drivin’ News story that described a teenager’s passion for driving in demolition derbies (“Crash course for an underage driver”).

Though a big time dirt track racer for many years, Bob said, “Reading that story gave me an instant flashback to my first involvement in demolition derbies.”

Since the 1970s Bob had been competing in dirt track racing, often at the Orange County, NY Fairgrounds. Like dirt track racing, demolition derby enjoyed a great following at the Fairgrounds with a highlight being the demolition derby held at the annual fair.


1982 saw Bob and a number of dirt track racing buddies decide demolition  derby looked like fun. To a man “Let’s all do it” rang out as the dirt track racers’ battle cry.

When asked if he had any trepidations about entering his first demolition derby and a very serious one at that, Bob says, “I was a race car driver. I pretty much figured I wouldn’t be seeing anything I hadn’t seen before. I mean I’ve crashed. I’ve been on fire.” Bob understood the prevailing mindset for anyone entering this land yacht battering ram version of a steel cage wrestling match saying, ”I think probably the best asset anybody can have in a situation like this would be the killer instinct.”

Clearly Bob knew it would not be for the faint of heart. It promised two-ton behemoths colliding at high speeds generating tremendous crashes. Saying, “It was exciting to me,” displays Bob’s eager attitude towards participating in the motor mayhem.

With the July demolition derby date fast approaching, job one demanded finding the right car. Basic vehicle specs for demolition derby survival consisted of massive four-door Detroit Iron with a big torquey V8.

Four-doors rated above two-doors because of their greater length. Additional length offered a larger cushion for withstanding damage before something terminal could happen.

1964 Chrysler Imperial before High Anxiety makeover

Right out of the gate, for the less than princely sum of $75, Bob scored the perfect car, a four-door 1964 Chrysler Imperial.

Bob’s Imperial measured an impressive 19 feet in length with long overhangs measuring a robust impact withstanding 6 1/2 feet wide. It weighed in at roughly 2.5 tons with a 0-60 time of 7.7 seconds courtesy of a 413 cu. in. Chrysler V8 delivering 470 lb.-ft. of torque at around 2500 rpm. But wait there’s more. Imperials of that year had welds not bolts anchor the front fenders to a beefy chassis for a quieter ride of little interest for demolition derbies. However, welded front fenders also translated into greater strength for surviving brutal impacts.

Interestingly, mid-60s Chrysler Imperials enjoyed such a reputation for being notoriously tough that they frequently suffered banishment from the derby circuit.

It is interesting to note that this sturdy unyielding construction effectively reduced the damage to the car resulting from a collision. Unlike modern cars it transferred the energy of the impact to the occupants inside. Modern cars enjoy impact absorbing crumple zones that dissipate and redirect the energy of a collision away from the occupants. Thus, modern car designs are bad for demolition derbies but good for modern drivers.

Not satisfied with having acquired an Imperial that would gain a feared reputation as the Cleopatra’s barge of demolition derby destruction, Bob set out to upgrade its defenses.

A first step not so much to add lightness in the spirit of Colin Chapman but to increase driver safety required removing all glass and ripping out all interior components except the front seat.

Welding trunk of High Anxiety

Bob as a racer, an innovator and a fabricator had only just begun.

Cutting off the exhaust system eliminated the threat of it wrapping around the axel or drive shaft.

Removal of the radiator, an easy target for knocking a car out of competition followed. By running the upper and lower radiator hoses through a small pressure tank, Bob could simply remove the radiator and eliminate a major liability.

Since it is best to keep a car from squatting down when hitting someone, the shock absorbers were removed. A piece of angle iron was cut to match the distance between the upper and lower shock mounts when fully extended. Welding it in place ensured that the Imperial aligned with other vehicles to do maximum damage.

Anticipating brutal collisions that would surely break the motor mounts. This called for the engine to be chained to the chassis so it would remain in place and not jamb the throttle.

Batteries would be repositioned in a milk crate on the passenger side front seat. Tire pressure pumped up to 60 psi significantly reduced flexibility and susceptibility to puncture.

Two inspired finishing touches dealt with a second major vulnerability, the gas tank. Bob cut a hole in the floor of the trunk and another through the top of the gas tank, He filled the tank with wet sand.

For a replacement tank impervious to destruction, a bulk head added behind the back seat area concealed a much smaller but adequate gas tank from a Volkswagen. To make the whole rear-end assembly one piece simply required welding the trunk shut and the bumper to the chassis.

Killer instinct in action

Finally the finishing touch of chaining the front and rear doors together made everything ready for paint. A brush would do. Christened High Anxiety, the ’64 Imperial had its game face on when it lined up for the heat.

Unlike readying the cars, driver preparation called for little more than a helmet and a lap belt. Other than that, jeans and a t-shirt met with full approval.

Bob admits to a little apprehension as the two dozen competitors divided into two rows and positioned facing the opposing line back end to back end separated by about 200 feet. Bob says, “I saw all these cars and I knew they were all there for one reason.” However, once the flag dropped, for Bob, the fun just started.

Even in reverse, speeds of the rearward charging Detroit Iron battering rams easily reached 40 mph. Bob says, Your head had to be on a constant swivel. If you see it coming you can prepare yourself.

So how did Bob make out. He says, “It came down to me and one other car.” Bob was confident. High Anxiety continued to run strong though a fuel line had started leaking. Bob positioned himself secure in his ability to close out the last competitor. He does point out that there was the issue of the fire.

Bob says, “Granted the front of High Anxiety was on fire, flames leaped out from around the hood and fanned out through the front wheel wells. But my adrenaline was pumping. I thought, hey, the car’s running. I’m still going and I’m after this guy.” Bob recalls thinking that he was a race car driver and had been through all sorts of situations and didn’t feel unsafe. Derby officials did not agree. Bob got the signal to shut it down. Figuratively he was toast.

In the minds of the officials, that was literally what they wanted to avoid.

Bob Tasman with the last remaining piece of High Anxiety, the hood ornament



By |2020-11-12T11:38:06+00:00November 12th, 2020|4 Comments

Conversations With People We Value #12

Featuring expensive suits, slicked back hair, martinis and land yacht lifestyles; HBO’s “Mad Men” portrayed the man’s world of  Madison Avenue with a decidedly mid-20th century Gentleman’s Quarterly persona.

Far afield of HBO’s take on advertising’s Mad Men resided an accomplished, respected and loosely affiliated band of Madison Avenue road warriors. Self-assured, self-deprecating and self-named they were the “Sons of Danger.”

Sons of Danger – Mad Men on wheels

Sons Of Danger enroute to Laconia, NH Motorcycle Week 1984

“Sons of Danger” as a group could only have been born in the halcyon days of the later 20th century when automobile accounts pumped excitement and money into advertising agencies and magazines. Populated with automobile and motorcycle racing champions, automotive industry leaders, creative minds from advertising and publishing and gifted free spirits, the “Sons of Danger” roster boasted a selective coast to coast who’s who of fun loving motorheads. Those who belonged included cultural icons such as Malcolm Forbes; Paul Newman; Olympian Bart Conner; writers Brock Yates, P. J. O’Rourke and David E. Davis; champion drivers Dan Gurney, Kenny Bernstein, Don Garlits, Tom Sneva, Sam Hanks and Steve “Yogi” Behr; and Corvette designer Larry Shinoda. The list goes on. Membership could not be requested. It could only be offered.

Milt Gravatt on a Malcolm Forbes ride

A mid-1970s brainchild that sprang from the fertile minds of Volvo Advertising Manager Milt Gravatt, Petersen Publishing Account Executive Charlie Alexander and Chuck Riley of Young & Rubicam, “Sons of Danger” was envisioned as a loose affiliation of men of similar character sharing a common interest in all motorized vehicles that moved fast. It also afforded a relatively anonymous and spirited way to bleed off the stress accompanying the demands of leadership, creativity on demand and/or celebrity.

Other than unscheduled, informal and randomly attended gatherings at Brews, an East Side NYC pub, now long gone, members solely assembled when personally drawn by the magnetic pull of a motoring event of interest. Events spanned a wide spectrum from the down and dirty to the simply splendid.


Malcolm Forbes ride participants at Forbes Building

As a billionaire, “good guy” and “Sons of Danger” member, Malcolm Forbes would stage an annual motorcycle ride. “Sons of Danger” members and others would be invited to Forbes’ New Jersey estate. There, over 40 or more immaculate and gassed-up motorcycles, mostly Harleys, sat in a stable ready for anyone without a ride to use. Along the way to NYC and the Forbes Building the group of maybe 70 riders would stop for lunch and to refuel with Forbes picking up the whole tab. Accompanying the riders, Forbes’ man in charge of motorcycles would pay the Holland Tunnel toll in advance for everyone. Aside from basic driving safety only one rule held sway at a Forbes event. If you used it as an opportunity to pitch a business deal you were never invited back.

Motorcycle events always exerted a powerful draw with Laconia Motorcycle Week being a favorite. With the “Sons of Danger” ranks brimming with accomplished riders, the spectacle and competition of the Laconia races proved irresistible. Laconia rides also afforded a possible window into the underlying wisdom of creating the “Sons of Danger” as a personal bonding vehicle for members of companies, agencies and publications with significant and interrelated budgets.

One member recalls a specific event when the flood of bikes enroute to Laconia stopped for a lunchtime refueling. A white panel truck that had been trailing the riders pulled up and set up tables just like the lunchtime craft services trucks that feed the crew on a movie set. “Want a soda, a beer, a tasty sandwich,” the caterer inquired? Great, thought the hungry and thankful rider. Curious, he asked one of those arranging the ride, “Who’s paying for this?” A response, both succinct and blunt shot back, “That’s a question you never ask. Never ask where did this come from or who’s paying for this. Got it?” Just eat up and shut up.”

Early on, one of the ride leaders had researched a newly built condominium near downtown Laconia overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. It would become ground zero for the “Sons of Danger” on all subsequent Laconia trips. Returning from town for supper, riders found a steak fry and corn roast sponsored by Petersen Publishing. Word got out and Petersen’s fed a group ranging from Hell’s Angels to the cops patrolling the town. A tradition was born.

Lime Rock Park also drew “Sons of Danger” members in significant numbers. Contributing to its drawing power was having the manager of Lime Rock a member of the group. So, in addition to offering a great motorsports venue, Lime Rock had a beautiful chateau right at the top of the hill by Big Bend. Funded by Petersen Publishing it catered to the group. On any race day one might find Paul Newman, a great driver, and wife Joanne Woodward resting peacefully and undisturbed on the grassy hill. Inside would be any number and array of “Sons of Danger” members either watching or taking a break from racing.

Motoball in action

When it came to down and dirty, nothing surpassed the Motoball competition hosted by the Muddy Boot Gang of Orange County, NY in the 1980s. Conceived and run by Peter Hewitt a respected automotive industry technical expert, it called for playing soccer with dirt bikes. “Sons of Danger” and Muddy Boot Gang member Galen Royer, the National Technical Training Manager for Volvo, had no trouble finding riders to put a “Sons of Danger” stamp on the event. While some outsiders may view Motoball as a cry for help, participants to a man considered it enormous fun.

As the new millennium approached, the “Sons of Danger” as an active body began to leak vigor and steadily dissipated into gone-ness. Charlie Alexander passed away around 1999. Milt had retired from Volvo years back. People no longer attended events. Guys who had been boaters went back to their boats. Lingering members awoke to the strains of an Allman Brothers song, “Nobody left to run with anymore.”

Mitch Duncan with Sons of Danger members Galen Royer and Gary Mahannah on road to Laconia Motorcycle Week

Though gone, for some, “Sons of Danger” clearly was not forgotten. Around 2017 Mitch Duncan a retired Volvo lifer and a serious car guy and competitive motorcycle rider was dying of cancer. He knew his time fast approached. In speaking with his wife Diane he confessed that in his life he had but one regret. Though he had often ridden with the “Sons of Danger,” he had never been inducted as a member. While the ranks of living members had dwindled, Diane reached out to “Sons of Danger” member and still active rider Galen Royer. Was it possible, she asked, for Galen to do anything to address her husband’s sole regret? Galen could not believe such a deserving candidate had been overlooked.

Galen reached out to remaining “Sons of Danger” members Bruce Olds and Ron Morgan. Together they committed to assembling a membership package worthy of the moment. They succeeded. Galen inducted Mitch on his deathbed. Mitch was gone in a week. Diane had Mitch laid out in his Harley clothes and leather vest with his “Sons of Danger” member shirt close by.


In researching this article I met with Galen Royer and his son-in-law Joe Lopane at Galen’s home. Joe Lopane stands as the last active “Sons of Danger” member to be inducted. Joe had brought his two sons over to see my restored 1961 Corvette and to talk with Galen, their grandfather, about cars and dirt biking. Doors shut. Doors open. Old “Sons” fade. New “Sons” are born.


By |2020-11-05T12:32:53+00:00November 5th, 2020|9 Comments