Steve Olds “Savage Speedway”

Many genres have inspired custom builds: the chopper, the cafe racer, the brat, tracker, street scrambler, and on and on. Fine custom examples can be found for each.

One of the lesser mined genres is Speedway.

Speedway involves between four and six riders racing over four laps of an oval track on a surface of dirt, loosely packed shale, or crushed rock, on single gear machines with no brakes, power sliding sideways into bends, often reaching seventy miles an hour. What could go wrong?

Steve Olds, 63, teamed up with his old friend Terry Heydt on their second collaboration build with the goal to create their own Speedway inspired custom.

Steve paints cars and motorcycles as a hobby. “I love to show motorcycles around the country, and got the bug after our first build. I finish up the details.”

Terry is @speedmachinemc and his mantra is “Builder, fabricator, maker of things that interest me.” A man cut from the same cloth as us here at Revival.

Steve describes Terry as “truly one of the finest fabricators I’ve ever met. He is OCD and sort of stubborn. He made three tanks before he was satisfied. He is one of those rare fabricators that can imagine an idea and complete all the work himself. This bike is completely hand-fabricated.”

Terry fabricates as a hobby in his two-car garage. He had never fabricated with flat aluminum before this project, so he MADE an English wheel and a planishing hammer and got to work.

We asked Steve, why speedway? With a wry smile, Steve told us, “Speedway was an offshoot of board track racing, and since I built a board track racer, it was a natural progression into speedway. Plus, I'm intrigued by the fact that after a hundred years, the bikes are still virtually identical to speedway from the 1920s: 500cc, 148 lbs, no brakes, methanol-engined buzz bombs.”

So Steve bought a 1997 motor from the much unloved Suzuki Savage 650.

They started the project with no set budget in August 2018, and "finished" the build in March 2020 when they ran out of money. They intended to bring it to the Handbuilt Show this year, but like the rest, they were robbed of the opportunity by that bastard coronavirus.

Terry completely handbuilt the frame, forks, handlebars, aluminum gas tank, and jackshaft arrangement. The pipe is the stock header with a hand-formed extension pipe. The rather stunning velocity stack was Terry's first and only attempt, getting just right on the first try. The screen insert is actually a modified dish strainer from the hardware store.

Steve stripped, cleaned and rebuilt the engine, reviving the powerplant after twenty years of unreasonable abuse. The compression release was changed from electric to manual. He fitted dual petcocks from a 50's Jawa speedway racer from England.

The rear wheel is a front twin-leading shoe hub from a Honda CB360, modified to accept a sprocket, and the 23" front wheel is from an XR650. An ancient car turn signal, unearthed in a junkyard, was cleaned up and repurposed as an LED headlight. Steve fitted a fat tire bicycle rear fender. The fender brace is a shelf-support, bent to fit.

Steve ran internal throttle and clutch cables using parts entirely designed and fabricated by Terry. Micro switches were fitted for a start/kill switch, creating super clean bars. Steve justifies the leather hand-grips by stating simply, “I like the way they look.” Not that we needed a justification, because we like the way they look too.

Steve researched the "brightest red" on Google and came up with Chrysler Viper Red, so that was it. The only work that was outsourced was the nickel plating.

Steve was disappointed he couldn’t make the planned supercharger work, but this was eclipsed by the successful completion of the front forks, which are "an exact copy of a 1934 Crocker speedway racer. We got pictures and measurements from a museum in England. There are only a few Crockers left in the world.” This was the highpoint for Steve and Terry.

Steve is happy “beyond all my wildest expectations. Terry did such fabulous fabrication that my job of finishing the bike was sort of uneventful.” He’s being modest.

They’re itching to show the bike, so once the coronavirus has finally been defeated, Steve and Terry will be taking the bike out on the show circuit, and we hope they choose to debut the bike at the 2021 Handbuilt Show, because we can't wait to set our eyes on this beauty.