Documentary Review: The Spirit of America

The Spirit of America makes a car lovers heart beat faster just looking at it. Its narrow body and three wheels are definitely striking in appearance but what puts this beautiful ride in a category all its own is the turbojet engine. More than 50 years ago, this car’s ancestor was the first land vehicle ever to reach over 400 mph. Unfortunately, when it was built the Spirit didn’t meet Federation Internationale de Automobile (FIA) specs (they required 4 wheels on the ground) so the record was not officially recognized. Many people argued that it was the jet engine and not the fact it had only three tires.

However, Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) did class it as a motorcycle. FIA rules say a qualifying car must be “driven through its wheels,” and since many motorcycles do have 3 wheels FIM had no problems accepting it. Spirit went on to continue setting new records. At the end of a 500 mph run, she lost her parachute brakes and the 5 mile long stop ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest skid mark. That version of Spirit is now on exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

A new Spirit was born in 1964-1965 and was named Spirit of America Sonic I. This Spirit had a 4-wheel design and an even more powerful engine that came from an F-4 Phantom II aircraft. On November 15, 1965 this incarnation of Spirit topped over 600 mph and it would be five years before the record was broken by Blue Flame, a land speed rocket car. The Sonic I can be seen in person at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Car history has been made time and again by the Spirit and it’s well worth a trip to Indianapolis to visit the Hall of Fame.

In 1996 on October 28th a new Spirit was put to the test in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. At 675 mph it crashed, so who can say how fast she might have gone that day if not for that. Steve Fossett, holder of many records bought the Spirit of America Formula Shell LSRV and after rebuilding planned to test it in September 2007. However, he was killed in a plane crash while scouting out test routes and in 2010 the Spirit went on the market with a price tag of $ 3 million dollars. A very pricey car, but then, anyone lucky enough to own the Spirit also owns a piece of automotive history.


Great Motorcycle Rides

Best Motorcycle Rides (1)

There is no better feeling than experiencing the freedom of the open road, which is best felt on the seat of a motorcycle. A motorcycle puts you right within the elements of the environment you are traveling through making it a unparalleled feel. It is great (and fairly common) to hop on a motorcycle and ride wherever the road takes you with no destination in mind. But that should not stop you from planning a trip to some of the great roads within throughout the world. There are some amazing rides out there that feel as though they were built solely for a motorcycle and you should make it a point to check them out for yourselves.

Check out the collection of great motorcycle rides below for some ideas of where you and your bike should travel next. Each ride offers a unique experience that you will be sure to remember for years to come.

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Great North America Motorcycle Rides

Best Motorcycle Rides (1)

This is the perfect time of the year to hit the open road and experience the outdoors. We are in the thick of summer, with amazing weather, allowing for us to soak in the sun. Not to mention, autumn is fast approaching, when the colors begin to change and literally transform the nature that surrounds us.

Taking a roadtrip in a car is fun, but nothing can compare to the feeling of flying down the road on a motorcycle. A bike ride provides a great sense of freedom and places you within the surrounding landscape with no obstructions. If you are looking to plan your next ride, here are three awesome locations to consider in North America.


3) Needles Highway, Black Hills, South Dakota

Needles Highway leads to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which takes place every August. This ride was basically made for motorcycles. The landscape is amazing, providing for views difficult to find on any other road. The highway actually passes through two sheer granite wall tunnels (Iron Creek Tunnel and Needles Eye Tunnel). In addition to the landscape, you may even find yourself up close to some wildlife as well, including bison, deer, and antelope.



2) Route 50, The George Washington Highway, West Virginia

Motorcycles are made for twits and turns; they make for a truly exhilarating ride. On the George Washington Highway in West Virginia you will find just that. Not to mention the breathtaking mountains, rivers, and scenery. This ride is just north of the Monongahela National Forest and travels right past Cathedral State Park along the way.





1) Tail of the Dragon, Deal’s Gap, North Carolina

Similar to Route 50, Tail of the Dragon has an enormous number of turns providing for a fun bike ride as well. In fact, this route has 318 curves in 11 miles! The road borders the southeastern portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park providing spectacular views. The views have made it a fan favorite for featured films and television shows, with appearances in The Fugitive and Top Gear. If you are able to make it on this ride, make sure you check out the “Tree of Shame,” a monument to those who have crashed their bikes on the Trail of the Dragon. The unfortunate riders who have let this ride get the best of them have nailed bike parts to the tree and dangle them from the branches.


So get out there and experience the world around you… on a bike. Stay tuned for some more great locations to ride and let me know if you have any suggestions for great rides in your area!

The Heart of Harley-Davidson: Matt Levatich

What images conjure when thinking of Harley-Davidson? The open road, a roaring engine, and the iconic logo in all its glory come to mind immediately. But who is behind the throttle of this company? Matt Levatich, president and CEO of Harley-Davidson, has earned his stripes as both a seasoned rider, and driving forced behind one of the most recognizable companies on the globe.

From the tender age of eight, Matt loved to ride. On his 125 CC dirt bike, he tooled around his home of Ellis Hollow in Ithaca until he was old enough to get his driver’s license. Riding through fields and forests with the neighborhood kids, Matt became comfortable on two wheels long before he had four.

During his early years, Matt found joy in the little things. Enrolling in mechanical drawing and engineering classes sparked his love of machines, shifting his attention away from fixing and toward design. Drawn by the allure of mechanical engineering, Matt was intrigued by how things worked, what prevented them from working, and how to improve what was pre-existing. Coupled with an aptitude for math and physics, Matt had all the tools necessary to become an excellent engineer.

Starting his career at Harley as a manufacture project engineer, Matt found himself doing what he’d always loved to do as a boy. Change would come quickly, however, and soon Matt was working with Harley’s legal team while they navigated a particularly tricky situation in the European markets during the restructuring of their overseas business. Over the years, Matt had his hand in several of Harley’s projects. Assisting in the construction of the early Harley-Davidson museum, working in the product development center on new bikes for the company, and finally vice president of materials management in charge of running all of Harley-Davidson’s supply chains.

Four-and-a-half years in that position found Matt climbing higher in the company as VP of parts and accessories. In 2008, he was given the opportunity to run Harley’s Italian branch, and accepted it gladly. This would have been a long term position had a global financial crisis not affected the market so adversely. Choosing to bring a new CEO in 2009, the board of directors asked Matt to become the president of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, placing him in charge of everything Harley from manufacturing to marketing.

Matt would put in six years at this position, longer than any other he’d held with the company, ensuring that Harley kept moving with the strength of its world-renowned brand. This hard work would pay off May 1st, however, as Matt was named CEO of the company. After developing plans and strategizing with the former CEO, Matt’s hard work and determination awarded him the top position in the company. His mission moving forward is to make the brand more accessible to wider audiences while protecting the image Harley developed over its many years. Matt Levatich, avid Harley enthusiast and experienced rider, looks to lead the company down roads less traveled, and into a bright future.