Son Bobby Jr. was a natural on two wheels, riding in the dirt from age 6. In the early 1950s after father and son had spectated at one of the many dragstrips then popping up all over Southern California, 12-year-old Bobby decided he wanted to give this newfangled quarter-mile sprinting a try. What better bike than his old man's hotted-up 5T? The elder SirKegian took some convincing as his bob-job was so well turned out it was nicknamed "Pretty Boy," but soon he was fully into the endeavor, even balancing the bike from behind at the start line because he son was still too small to plant his feet flat on the ground!
Success was almost immediate for Bobby, capitalizing on his good reflexes and superior power-to-weight ratio. The bike did its part, too, thanks to ported-and-polished cylinder heads, a twin-carb/remote-float set-up, special crankshaft, high-compression 12:1 pistons (stock was 8.5:1!), and open-ended 4-inch megaphone exhausts. In 1953, running at the first-ever NHRA-sanctioned drag race in Pomona, SirKegian took the win. The kid was a national champion at age 13! He repeated the feat in '54. Running on gas, the 500cc Triumph posted a best trap speed of 110.40mph. It would be joined by two Triumph 650s, Pretty Boys II and III -- one running on gas, the other on fuel. Young Bobby and his bikes were featured in mainstream publications and even made it onto the nationally syndicated television show "You Asked For It."
Bobby's interests took him away from drag racing and to the rough-and-tumble of flat-track competition. He was good enough to rank in the AMA's national top 10, gunning BSA Gold Stars everywhere from the Ascot half-mile to the Daytona Beach course, but he always kept the Triumph drag bikes. In 2002, after years in storage, Pretty Boy I was treated to a full mechanical and cosmetic restoration by SirKegian. Since then, it has spent most of its time on display at the NHRA Museum in Pomona, not far from the spot where it first roared in the history books 57 years ago.
Here's a chance to own a milestone machine, restored by the man who made it famous. Offered with a Certificate of Title.
Catalogue on line
Offered in original condition the rare 1940 Tiger 100 is unusual on several counts, primarily because it was specially built by the factory, coupled with the fact it is a 1940 model, by when Britain had been at war for several months. The bike is accompanied by a clutch of 1940 correspondence between the Coventry factory and its first owner, the renowned Indiana racer Rody Rodenberg. In a letter dated March 30th the Export Department advised receipt of the order and on May 18th they confirm "the special Tiger 100 model" had been dispatched by boat. Later, and aware that the bike had safely arrived, the Export Dept – with typical British understatement – regretted that Rody's request for a spare pair of hand-made pistons "...could not be promised very promptly, owing to reduced facilities for manufacturing special parts at the present time!" The letters are remarkable for at least three reasons: i) the fact Triumph was still able to build a non-military machine, ii) that letters to and from USA were received, and iii) the machine safely survived its Atlantic crossing! (In fact, shortly after the last of these letters, Triumph's Coventry plant was destroyed in a bombing raid, eventually replaced by the famous green-field site at nearby Meriden.)
Having been specially made at the factory, the Tiger is in virtually the same spec in which it left Coventry. Quoting from the file we know it was fitted with a bronze 'head, special 8:1 pistons, a TT carburetor, a BTH racing magneto, large diameter megaphones, its foot-pegs were in the rear racing position, and the engine was specially tuned. Destined originally to contest either Class A or Class C Speed Records at Daytona, as well as the 1941 beach race, both projects were postponed. (On file is an earlier photo of the machine showing the girder forks, "taped" aerodynamically, per Rollie Free's 150 mph LSR Vincent at Bonneville!) Lowell Rettinger, however, rode the Triumph at Daytona in 1947, and went on to win the first national TT at Peoria the same year. The vendor also confirms that Rodenberg raced it at Daytona in 1948, and that Rettinger used the same machine to win a 5-mile national at Iowa City in 1951.
Today, authentically preserved, and running on gasoline, the Triumph has a purposeful image. The original, part-chromed fuel tank [in which the instruments are mounted] is missing some paint, but the black fenders and silver-lined rims are relatively unscathed. The un-silenced megaphones and the engine internals were of course all fitted to special factory order at Triumph in 1940. Given Turner's well-known aversion to most forms of competition – inasmuch he insisted such machines should be prepared away from the factory – this is an extraordinary story. According to its documentation the Triumph was assigned by Rodenberg in the mid-1980s, and has had just two owners since...a unique example of Triumph racing history!