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Tuesday 18 July 2023

Biltwell 100

"Good times, Not Lap Times"

Biltwell co-founder Bill Bryant on this year's third annual Biltwell 100 desert duel

Held in Ridgecrest, CA this spring, the Biltwell 100 was yet another "filthy success" for the brand. Over 300 racers entered on motorcycles ranging from contemporary 450s to late 1920s Harley-Davidson flat heads and pull-start mini-bikes from Cal Mart. 

Fast riders in the modern classes started first and enjoyed the mostly new 25-mile course that snaked its way through sand washes, rocky hill climbs and several railroad tunnels. Faster classes did four laps each and the older and slower the classes got, the less laps they were required to do. 

Mike Davis, Co-Founder of the world-famous motorcycle event Born Free said: "Regardless of the trials, tribulations, aches, and pains, it was unanimous that we all can't wait to do it again next year." Mike nearly made the whole 25 miles required for the eponymously named "Mike Davis Early Iron Class" (1960 and earlier American motorcycles) before soft-seizing the engine and calling it a day. Out of the 17 who started in this very demanding class, 15 made it successfully across the finish line with Go Takamine on a heavily modified Indian Scout taking home the gold for first place. 

The Biltwell crew started this race just for fun three years ago, and with their casual attitude have made the 100 an inclusive event where everyone can have fun and get a taste for Southern California's home-grown style of desert racing. "Some of us rode dirt bikes long before we got into custom motorcycles, so this race was a natural fit," says Events Guru, Otto Deutsch. 

Even with the oddball classes and low-key attitudes, Biltwell threw a bunch of serious logistics at the race in the name of rider safety and comfort. Recovery crews were dispatched throughout the course in a half dozen 4x4s, ready to help downed riders. Controlled by a single dispatcher, retired Marine and Biltwell Ops Manager, Josh Gilbow, managed to triage each rider who needed help so anyone with a serious issue was helped first and those with simple mechanical problems were handled next. 

Sponsors like Modelo Beer, Metzeler tires and Harley-Davidson know a good time when they see it, and being a part of a motorcycle-love fest like this was a natural fit. Saturday night ended with an awards presentation that often bordered on a stand-up comic routine as Otto talked smack from the mic and Josh used his marksmanship skills to fire t-shirts with deadly accuracy from the air cannon into the dusty, exhausted and not entirely sober crowd. As they say … 'Good Times, Not Lap Times'!