Motorsports Hall of Famer Tim Banks has been racing on motorcycles since he was about 10 years old and has raced Motorcross his entire life. He will tell you that he and Chris Roberts were some of the first from Owensboro to race in the 70s.
“I’m one of the few people that’s raced Motorcross, a road race bike and a road race car [at 24 hours in Daytona],” Banks said. “I’ve been around motorsports my whole life — I’ve been all over the country racing.”
The man that has spent the majority of his life racing and building bikes, is about to cover new territory on a bike designed to resemble the Billy Bike chopper from the movie “Easy Rider.”
“The end of July is the 50th anniversary of the movie ‘Easy Rider,’” Banks said. “Me and some guys from Florida are going to duplicate the ride from Needles, California to New Orleans. We have all the maps of what it was originally — we’re going to ride all two-lane roads all the way to California.”
Banks said there are also going to be about five riders from Owensboro going out to California in September to take the 2,300-mile journey on “old-style 60s bikes.”
“We’re going to be riding hardtails, which are bikes in the 60s with no shocks — it was the birth of the American Chopper,” Banks said. “I will be riding the Billy Bike — it’s red with flames and metal. Everything on it is old school — there is nothing new or exciting about it.”
As rewarding as it was to create the infamous Easy Rider Billy Bike custom chopper that Dennis Hopper rode in the film, according to Banks, it was equally as challenging to find the necessary parts for the bike, including original head and tail lights.
Banks said the crew will not partake in any luxuries during the trip, including coffee runs and hotel stays, but will instead be “camping and hanging out with the bikes.” The hope is to embark on a probable 2-week journey without schedules in order to create a documentary showcasing what it was like to ride cross country in 1969 versus what it looks like in 2019.
“We’re bringing back a 50-year-old theory about riding across the United States,” Banks said. “We’re going to see if you can actually still do it — and not have to worry about where we get our coffee. Just to ride cross country, sleep under the stars — ride at night — it’s a pretty big deal. We’ll be riding back to some of the parts of the country that haven’t seen a gas station in 50 years.”
According to Banks, there will be two bikes that will have trackers on them during the trip so people can follow their ride online.