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Come to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum

By Bandit and Jackpot

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We just moved in the Truett & Osborn drag bikes. We set this one up below our new Rally Timeline.
We just moved in the Truett & Osborn drag bikes. We set this one up below our new Rally Timeline.

Editor’s Note: The Sturgis Museum and Hall of Fame curation committee recently received the opportunity to vote in and display this historic collection of bikes. They will be on exhibit in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum during the rally.

If you know of a bike or bikes that need to be considered for introduction into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Following is the Bonnie Truett story by Ken “Jackpot” Holloway.

Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Curation Committee

Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee 2014, Bonnie Truett was born in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Before the perfect storm of life set him down the yellow brick road in Wichita, Kansas, Truett went to work on the grimy AT&SF railroad. He couldn’t have everything.

He soon bought his first motorcycle, a 1957 Harley-Davidson Sportster. He immediately tore into the nimble platform to see what it was made of and how he could improve the power. His goal to make it faster than any Sportster in town. After modifications and working with some amazing area machinists, Bonnie, hell bent for leather, outran everyone.

Soon others came knocking, wanting the magic Bonnie could inject into their stock Harley-Davidson iron steeds. This turned into a full-blown business for him and his good friend Paul Osborn. They formed Truett & Osborn Cycles in Wichita in the late 1960s. Later they produced, what is now the longest running Motorcycle Drag Race in the United States which began in 1970.
Mr. Truett would prove his worth every weekend on drag strips all over the mid-west. He set himself apart from other racers in many ways, including being one of the earliest racers to blast nitro-methane into high-performance drag bike cylinders.

He built his first double-engine Sportster in 1968. Double Trouble, became one of the earliest Harley-Davidson double-engine drag bikes. The daunting engineering formula challenged builders. Dual Harley-Davidson motors fought each other and their drivelines tried to tear each other apart.

Bonnie learned that if you retard the timing just a little on one engine, you could have them skipping down the track together like two best friends. Truett campaigned this nitro-burning double around the United States racing and winning against some of the biggest names.

He traded the dual for a much lighter and faster single-engine drag bike. Others would go on to race Truett built double-engine monsters making a name for themselves. Through these years he learned a lot about nitro and drag bikes. He built several doubles, but someone would buy the newest version before he could test it on the track.

He soon started a side business, Truett Frame Works. This venture impowered him to build chromoly frames for major famous race industry names. Many commented, “Truett Frames helped make us successful.”

Names like the world’s fastest Knucklhead, Pete Hill, Elmer Trett, Dale Nungesser and his best protégé, Scott Truett ran his frames. Truett frames were straighter, lighter and held up to some of the biggest horsepower packages ever launched on a drag strip. Later he would revolutionize the slipper clutch, race cylinders and starters used to fire these untamed dragons looking to blaze down the ¼ mile gauntlet.
In 2000 Mr. Truett’s accomplishments were recognized by his friend Jim Wear when he was inducted into the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado alongside his friend and business partner Paul Osborn.
The magazine will feature the Bonnie Truett R.I.P. story. His drag race bikes are now featured in the Museum.
The magazine will feature the Bonnie Truett R.I.P. story. His drag race bikes are now featured in the Museum.

In 2014, Truett was inducted into the “Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame” for his accomplishments in the motorcycle community. He was nominated and introduced by his good friend and fellow drag racers Pete & Jacky Hill and Ken Holloway.
Mr. Truett, always a modest man from humble beginnings, wasn’t highly educated, but he sat with scholars where he amazed and taught them plenty about performance and tuning.
Mr. Truett was honored more than once, when his earliest creations were brought back to life and restored with his input, ensuring they were renovated correctly. They didn’t hit the strip again but showed a whole new generation old school innovation and how a man with simple upbringings built complex machines.
Truett drew on scraps of paper and built with handmade tools and fixtures. He did all of this because he had endless dreams and the confidence to never give up.
These old school iron machines are selectively displayed in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum in hopes of inspiring future generations. A promise was made to Mr. Truett before he left this earth. These machines would one day be on display at The “Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.” It was his dream to show riders what can be done with the best motorcycle brand in the world if you dream big enough.
Today that promise has been fulfilled. These beautiful bikes will be on display for all to enjoy the craftsmanship of the humble racing giant, Bonnie Truett.

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