Mike and Margaret Wilson (and my dad)
Yesterday (Sun. June 24th), me and my dad (the original Noot) met with Mike and Margaret Wilson of the famed Wilson's Harley-Davidson(and Honda) dealership of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They are the pair that the legendary Leo Payne adopted as his parents (he adopted them) - and the stories just rolled for about 2 hours. Mike is very knowledgeable and sharp to all the racing history of Payne. Margaret is a Golden Life Member of the Motor-Maids. She was voted most popular member in 1958 by all AMA clubs. Mike sold Leo the very same bikes on display that went on to legendary status. He has since restored them and donated the machines for everyone to enjoy.
Countless times we went to leave, (the museum was closing) and Mike would pull us back in to show us carbs, pipes and other trick things they had done to the bikes. He was very proud in the fact that Leo's motorcycles always looked stock, or as a motorcycle should - but, they were the fastest bikes in the room.
He told us how he would tell Leo, "No, you made that part too light, too flimsy - it has to be light, but, safe."
There was a time in 1967 when Noot was in Cedar Rapids and his '62 XLCH had a leakin' head gasket. He went to Wilson's dealership - and Mike gave him this special head-bolt wrench and instructed him to "Tighten it down, don't lug the motor, and you should make it home." That was the first they met (this was the 2nd).
Mike showed me on Leo's street dragger how to feeler gauge the throttle disc for more torque - which I never knew - and I'm eager to try it on my '61.
Mike told me of the time he went 110-120mph on his Gold-Wing . . . racing a semi through the mountains of Washington. He looked back and Margaret's front wheel of her FXR was right on his rear fender the entire race.
It was awesome to talk with them - and all the way home - I couldn't keep thinking about it. Their enthusiasm towards the sport of motorcycling makes some of the things I do seem - "not like much." The golden days of motorcycling will never be again. And when you talk with these legends of the sport - it gives you a slight feeling of what it was really like to live through and be a part of it.
Just as we were about to leave - it happened again. Mike dragged us over to show us this new hard-cover book of Motorcycle Drag Racing by John Stein. It was covered in plastic, so we had to rip it open (we bought the copy), but only after Mike and Margaret signed the edition for us. (way cool dudes !) This book looks awesome. Very well done . . . and of coarse Mike's name is in it !
Thank you to the Wilsons for sharing this with us and we hope to see you again real soon ! Crazy !
Posted by Noot