Seven Degrees of Inspiration
In this eclectic and motley world of motorcycling, much is often made of innovation and original ideas, but where do our local builders actually derive the concepts for their modern builds? In the case of the 1974 1000cc ironhead pictured here, it begins nearly sixty years ago at a 3,000-acre fresh water lake in Southern California.
Lake Elsinore, California, with its steep elevation changes and challenging topography played host to the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix, one of the most famous motocross races of the 1960s and 70s. The demanding course and the rugged participants, including none other than Steve McQueen, would then lay the inspirational foundation for documentary film director Bruce Brown. Academy Award nominated On Any Sunday would be released by Brown in 1971 as a powerful documentary parsing the world of motorcycle racing and vivid characters such as McQueen and Malcolm Smith in addition to scenes from the storied Lake Elsinore Grand Prix. Just as Brown’s film was making its initial impact, Honda was wrapping up its soon-to-be dominant two-stroke racing concept. The year of 1973 brought the venerable and world-changing Honda CR250M Elsinore, drawing inspiration from the popularity of the grand prix and documentary that preceded its debut.
The Elsinore and its magnanimous notoriety did not escape local resident Ben Derringer, who owned and rode a CR250M years before starting a family which among his two daughters, brought him a son, Josh. As Josh was celebrating his third birthday in 1992, Ben happened upon a 1976 Honda XR75, and as the father/son duo tells it, the rest is history. Josh, inspired by his father’s gift and love affair with motorcycles, went on to replace bike after bike. Although growing in skill and speed throughout his developmental years under the tutelage of his father, he never parted with the beloved XR.
Inspired by the recent work of childhood friend, Brian Petronchak of Revelry Custom Cycles (featured in issue Number 002) and his familial connection to the storied Elsinore, Josh formed a plan for combining chopper and motocross legend. Acquiring the numbers-matching hardtail ironhead in 2017, Josh proceeded to make mostly subtle, yet effective cosmetic touches, including his own Elsinore tribute paint work. A blend of clean chopper lines, a knobby 21-inch front tire, and a clever Corvette seat belt battery mount differentiate Josh’s build. The chopper is a graceful, aesthetically pleasing design and after a few kicks, sounds just as good as it looks.
Nearly 2,400 miles from the unassuming lake town that eventually inspired them, Ben and Josh still have an affinity for the historically significant Elsinore, but more so for the bond that motorcycling has cemented between father and son. Their enthusiasm and respect for two-wheeled creativity coupled with a strong family connection will ensure a never-ending stream of inspiration to future generations of motorcyclists.