THE KING’S CHAM­PION

Indy Champ Paul Tracy’s Badass Road King

Baggers - - CONTENTS - WORDS: MARK MASKER PHO­TOS: DON KATES

Indy Champ Paul Tracy’s Badass Road King

Indy rac­ing cham­pion Paul Tracy’s his­tory with mo­tor­cy­cles is al­most as long as my his­tory with hair loss. The dif­fer­ence be­ing what gets poured over your head: One in­volves cham­pagne; the other in­volves mi­nox­i­dil. I’m pretty sure you can fig­ure out which one is which. His need for speed started as a kid rac­ing go-karts, grew in leaps and bounds, and led him into a very suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional auto-rac­ing ca­reer. Want to guess what his first big pur­chase was when pro rac­ing started to pay off? House? No. Vice fest with guns at a Ve­gas ho­tel? I for­got to ask, but no. Try a new 1990 Har­ley-David­son Sof­tail Cus­tom.

As soon as Paul started rid­ing it, he started mod­i­fy­ing it. PM Wheels, White Broth­ers Porker pipes, the full bit. Over the decades, Paul has owned lots of mo­tor­cy­cles, none of which stayed stock. Ron Simms built Paul a dozen of them over the years.

Right around the time Paul’s car-rac­ing ca­reer was in its twi­light, he had a bit of an epiphany. He asked him­self, “Why am I hav­ing other peo­ple build my bikes?” With re­tire­ment loom­ing, it was a good ques­tion. One in which lead to Paul mak­ing his own bags on his first bag­ger. He says: “We took a set of stock sad­dle­bags, mod­i­fied them, stretched them. I found a guy who could take a mold off what we made; he makes boats, so he did that so that the bags weren’t all scabbed when stretched.”

A good buddy saw them on Paul’s bike. He wanted his own set, then an­other, and even­tu­ally Paul opened his Black La­bel Baggers shop in Ari­zona. All of which brings us to the Road King trib­ute bike he built to com­mem­o­rate his 2003 Indy Cham­pi­onship sea­son. Paul won seven races that sea­son. Why wouldn’t he want to pay trib­ute to a great achieve­ment like that? Not only did he have it painted with flow­ing lines to match those of his race car, but he made this Road King a se­ri­ous power beast: “It’s got a pretty big mo­tor. My buddy Mike Po­rumb at CMP Mo­tor­cy­cles built it and put one of his turbo kits on it. It’s got about 170 horse­power.”

Ap­par­ently, Paul likes to have fun when he rides. Be­tween the in­verted forks and ra­dial-mount road­race brakes, the bike gets good clear­ance in cor­ners. The front end and the stance of the bike give it a racer look, mov­ing from a tour­ing bike to make it look more like a race­bike.

Don’t go think­ing Paul plans on mak­ing rac­ing iron though. He’s pretty happy cre­at­ing baggers. “I’m in a sit­u­a­tion where there’s a big mar­ket shift,” Paul says. “The bag­ger stuff was go­ing hot and heavy a few years ago. I’ve kept my shop small. There were all these big shops on TV shows, but now the bag­ger mar­ket has slowed down with the tran­si­tion to FXR wheelie bikes and flat-track, a lot of those guys who thought it was never gonna end are out of busi­ness now. The down­turn doesn’t af­fect me as much. We sell five to 10 sets of bags a week, which is great be­cause I can still go to races and do my TV stuff. We’ll make one-off stuff for peo­ple too.” Maybe you'll see Paul tap into the per­for­mance bag­ger game, which is still in its in­fancy and ready to ex­plode. Seems like a nat­u­ral fit for a race car driver turned bag­ger builder.

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