"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

The years have come and gone, but the boyhood thrill of racing pulsates on

By on February 26, 2019 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
The stripped down, naked rolling chassis of Steve Wellman’s design for what he calls The Supercar of Motorcycles.

By Steve Wellman

What does it take for a dream to become a reality? You might say, “The blink of an eye.” 

In a real way, that is correct, but it takes a certain elasticity of the mind for it to happen. 

The picture of my naked motorcycle is the actual depiction of the dream I had as a six-year-old boy in Portland. 

That year would be 1956 and I had taken a walk by myself in the neighborhood where I lived. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the trees were green, the air was still… it was a dream world and I felt fantastic. 

As I walked I began to notice all the places where I spent time playing with my brothers and friends. But I was alone this time and it felt as if I was the only person in my world. I was very happy. My walking took me on the road through what we referred to as “The Woods” where our tree forts and the creek with the crawdads lived. It was a magical place where we imagined every kind of fantastical thing took place. 

I strolled onward up the hill we used so many times to test our wooden coasters. We called them go-karts, but they had no engines and we made them ourselves of scrap lumber we scavenged from local home construction sites. 

The previous year my father had asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I replied, “A steel axle and two wheels.” He said, OK and I used them to complete my latest go-kart design. 

I had tested it often on that hill and endured what I later learned was synonymous with racing… crashing. There were lots of scabs to be picked later. 

When I got to the top of the hill my eyes were taken by a sight I had never seen before: A racing car was in the driveway of a house about two doors down from where I was.

It was the naked rolling chassis of a race car, the body parts had been removed. It was low, fierce, and just pure structure with everything showing. I walked towards it like a moth to a flame. 

Steve Wellman

Soon I stood before it in a trance of excitement, my mind spinning. A father-son team was working on it and the father came and stood next to me and said, pointing at the engine, “That’s an Offenhauser engine, it’s used in cars that race at the Indianapolis 500.” 

He went on to describe all the various other parts of the car but I wasn’t listening anymore, my hearing had gone away and it was just me and that naked race car left in the world. 

Shortly, I turned and walked down the driveway absolutely convinced some day I too would have a vehicle just like it.

What happened after that? Did I start working on it immediately and at the age of 12 did I have my first prototype? Well, in a way, yes. 

Although on the outside I had a “normal” upbringing — suburban home, mom and dad, brothers and sister, school and summer vacation and the like — but I lived in a constant, guided dreamlike trip that started with model cars and wound its way through my first motorcycle, my Triumph TR3, my ’57 Chev station wagon, two different universities, getting married, having a son, my first job teaching… and then? A lot of people describe what happened as “Life.”

There were times when my dream guided me, and there were times when it felt like it had left me high and dry.

At the best of times I felt, again, like I was on a tour of vehicle design: cars, motorcycles, trucks — many, varied, some dull, some massively interesting. I still have a Saab 900 Turbo. I don’t drive it in the winter any more because they put salt on the roads these days. So I drive my diesel GMC pickup. 

I had a Porsche 356B, a Chevy SSR, and then there were the motorcycles. My first was a Yamaha 100 twin; owning it was like starting a love affair with freedom. 

Next was a Yamaha 650 and then, after a long pause, my first custom bike based on a Honda Hurricane. That bike quickly blossomed into my first race bike: a Suzuki GSXR 600. 

Some people say I lost my mind to racing, but I say I found my heart’s desire and at the age of 60 I earned my first Road Racing License at Portland International Raceway. 

Steve McQueen said, “Racing is life, everything that happens before and after is just waiting.” 

The wisdom in those words has not been lost on me. 

I’ve been fortunate to have raced on Washington, Oregon and Utah racetracks and have won the only trophies I have ever gotten in my life. 

Now I want to go to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah and go over 200 mph on my own creation. I’ve been planning and building it for over five years. It’s at a stage where I’m proud to show it to the world. 

It started life as the dream of a six-year-old boy, 63 years later I have it. 

Though it is a motorcycle and not a car, it is the culmination of a lifetime of dreaming… and it feels like the blink of an eye.

Steve Wellman is a retired high school teacher who lives in Wenatchee and is building the race version of what he calls The Supercar of Motorcycles for the street. He is taking it to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah in August for testing at over 200 mph. His team is creating a crowdfunding campaign for a feature length documentary and can be accessed at: GetWellmanToBonneville.com.

Steve has a dream vision of going over 200 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.

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