Thursday, February 16, 2012

Don Hawley

Don Hawley was a racer of note in So Cal in the 50's and early sixties. I never met Don but I heard a lot about him. My old late ,great buddy Ernie Pico, who was an Ascot fixture and famed Velo Tuner, used to laugh his ass off when he would tell me tales of Don's colorful exploits. Don was a fantastic mechanic and worked for Ernie at his downtown Los Angeles M/C Shop " Big City Sales" which was a parts house and repair and sold used machines. The shop was located on the corner of Florence and S. Normandie, exactly where Reginald Denny was brutally attacked by black thugs (live on TV by news helicopter) starting the L.A. Riots in '92. These guys were knows as the L.A. Four and danced around long enough to be identified and are still guests of the State to this day. I'm wandering. The bikes of the day suffered from poor to non existent air filtration, bad oil and hard use so rebuilds were common and that was Don's specialty. Ernie bragged about Don's work,he was really quick and the bikes never came back with problems. Don's attention span was short however and too often would wander down to the corner Tavern with customers and friends, never to be seen for the rest of the day. Ernie built a cyclone fence cage around Don's work area and let him in and out. Both agreed it was a great set-up and both made money with Don wrenching all day, every day. Von Dutch also worked there during this time as the painter ( Hence Don's Dutch painted Skid Lid).When Ernie closed his shop in the early sixties he had 200 bikes of all makes in his back lot. He said they were worth more as scrap metal than what the market at that time would bare. He scrapped the lot. Don was a hell of a racer and made a name for himself riding Shell Thuett's Indian Scout, but he did best on Triumph and Harleys. I happened across this first photo which is the best shot I've seen of the man himself.