Zach Reynolds’ drag­bike re­stored

Street Chopper - - Contents - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: JESSE KISER

Leg­ends are al­ways more en­ter­tain­ing than the truth. Zach Reynolds was born in 1938 as the heir to the RJ Reynolds tobacco for­tune.

His wealth, dare­devil-at­ti­tude, and lust for speed made Zach, or Dr. Zach as the locals called him, into a pseudo- celebrity. In 1974, Cy­cle mag­a­zine named him the owner of the world’s largest mo­tor­cy­cle col­lec­tion. He built a rock­et­pow­ered 1964 Ford Gal­axy, nick­named the Tobacco King (no joke, just Google it), which ter­ror­ized empty Win­ston-salem, North Carolina, high­ways late at night. An avid stunt pi­lot, he flew movie stars in his planes out of an in­ter­na­tional air­port named af­ter his fam­ily. He drag raced cars on the street and chased naked women through his man­sion.

You won’t find Zach’s name on the Walk of Fame, and, hon­estly, you prob­a­bly haven’t heard it be­fore un­less you’re from North Carolina tobacco coun­try. More than any­thing, Zach was a home­town hero. He was the young, charm­ing, cool guy who shared sto­ries with the neigh­bor­hood kids.

Zach’s lo­cal hero sta­tus touched many lives, in­clud­ing Will Spencer, owner of JKS In­cor­po­rated in Win­ston-salem. He knew Zach as the grown-up kid who lived down the block and paid him ev­ery sum­mer to wash his mo­tor­cy­cles. Here, he fell in love with mo­tor­cy­cles and idol­ized Zach. One bike, which stood out from the rest, was this Iron­head drag­bike, nick­named Hog 2. It was a 1960 XLCH built as a street-le­gal drag­bike, which, af­ter Zach’s death, was sold at a 1984 es­tate auc­tion, along­side 50 other bikes. Af­ter that, it was passed around the coun­try, los­ing most of its orig­i­nal­ity. That was, un­til Will found it and re­stored it to its for­mer “Zachi­fied” glory. Zach nick­named most all of his bikes and added his own per­sonal flair, coin­ing the term “Zachi­fied” and stamp­ing all of his bikes with “Zach’s Cy­cle Gar­den.”

Hog 2, pic­tured, was found in an Iowa mo­tor­cy­cle mu­seum in 2012. The bike was bare with­out a fair­ing and had been “de-zachi­fied,” as Will says, but more im­por­tantly, it was mostly whole. Will owns a to­tal of 12 bikes from Zach’s col­lec­tion, cur­rently on dis­play at the Win­ston-salem Mo­tor­sports Mu­seum, but this one has been the only one to re­ceive spe­cial treat­ment in the form of a com­plete restora­tion where many parts were put back to ex­actly how Zach had raced it or at least made pe­riod- cor­rect.

“By hav­ing the orig­i­nal fair­ing to Hog 2 and some of the other bikes I had pur­chased prior, plus in­ter­net pic­tures of Zach racing this bike, and, of course, my own ado­les­cent mem­ory of Zach, I put the bike back to as orig­i­nal as I could,” Will said. “Very for­tu­nately, I have a team of paint ex­perts and hand let­ter­ers who work for my pri­mary busi­ness, JKS In­cor­po­rated. I used their skills to bring the bike back to ‘Zachi­fied’ life.”

Sadly, all those orig­i­nal Zach mark­ings and stamp­ings had been re­moved, ground, and pol­ished off of Hog 2. The bike had been semi-re­stored with a sub­par paint job, which, cu­ri­ously enough, fea­tured four aces of clubs— a com­mon paint job for Zach’s bikes—to the top of the gas tank, but it wasn’t orig­i­nal.

An air shifter and the fac­tory drum brake front wheel were on the bike when found, so a free wheel hub was relaced and a Speed Mas­ter Mark II tire was put back dur­ing Will’s restora­tion. The front forks ap­pear to be from a Harley-david­son Hum­mer— com­mon drag­bike forks for the era. Luck­ily they were in good con­di­tion and eas­ily re­stored.

When Will added Hog 2 to his col­lec­tion, the rear fen­der had been re­placed with a home­made fen­der, so a fac­tory fen­der was trimmed 6 inches to match Zach’s drag racing pho­tos. The rear fen­der struts were not the orig­i­nal to the bike but were fac­tory cor­rect nonethe­less. The seat was the one Zach had used, so it was left un­touched.

Not much is known about the in­ter­nals of the en­gine, other than the ob­vi­ous stro­ker plates seen at the bot­tom of the jugs. The en­gine was orig­i­nally built by famed drag racer and en­gine builder Danny John­son and then fresh­ened up by Will’s team. It fea­tures a kick pedal now, but in the day, it was started only by an ex­ter­nal starter, which Will also found and re­stored. The cus­tom ex­haust and S&S L Se­ries car­bu­re­tor Zach had in­stalled were still on the bike when Will pur­chased it, so those were left alone as well.

“Zach drag raced this bike on the strip and the street,” Will said. “At one time, it had head­lights and tail­lights. Zach raced this bike the most though, and that’s what makes it spe­cial to me. I re­mem­ber it sit­ting in his garage and wash­ing it when I was a kid.” SC

Zach Reynolds’ builds from the past.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.