Weems Motor Co.’s alcohol-fueled, fuel-injected, supercharged 1956 Triumph drag bike…
In 1950, drag racing pioneer C.J. “Pappy” Hart began renting an unused runway at the Orange County Airport for street racers to compete in a more organized (and legal) fashion, and one of the country’s first drag strips was born — the Santa Ana Drags. As legend has it, Pappy based the quarter-mile distance on quarter horse racing, and the sport soon exploded in popularity, on both two wheels and four.
Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, drag bikes were largely home-built affairs, with racers relying on blood, sweat, and experimentation to shave fractions from their E/T’s. Before the introduction of the Honda CB750 in 1969, British and American twins dominated, and before the advent of fairings, much of the builder’s hard work and ingenuity was on full display. Old-timers even say the stretched, slammed look of these mid-century drag bikes inspired the choppers of the Easy Rider era.
Today, we’re thrilled to present this ’56 Triumph drag bike from Jared Weems of Tampa’s Weems Motor Co. Jared says Triumph runs in his blood — in fact, the first motorcycle he ever touched was his father’s ’49 Triumph.
A few years ago, Jared was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and while struggling with the related seizures and uncertain future, he sold most of his bikes and moved away from motorcycles. However, when Mike Davis of Born Free Motorcycle Show reached out, telling him he was putting on a special Triumph-only show in 2020, Jared jumped at the opportunity.
He decided to build the Triumph bobber from a painting (“Dog Gone Dogs”) by legendary artist David Mann, who rarely included British bikes in his work. Not only did the ’52 Speed Twin David Mann replica lead Jared back to bike building, but he raffled it off to raise money for Forgotten Angels — a charity that benefits kids who’ve aged out of the foster care system.
Fast forward two years, and for Born Free Show 13, Jared decided to build a tribute to the man who first introduced him to Triumph motorcycles:
“The bike was inspired by my father who was a drag racer and was born in 1956.”
The frame is completely hand-built, stretched five inches with a 2.5-inch drop at the neck, and the engine is a highly modified work of art — a 1956 Triumph 650 twin with 750cc nikasil-lined aluminum cylinders, exposed rocker arms and pushrods, a windowed timing cover, and an AMR300 blower running 6 lbs of boost. Says Jared:
“I was inspired by factory cutaway engines and thought how cool would it be to build one that actually works.”
Indeed! And since alcohol runs much cooler than gasoline, Jared was able to shave the fins from the top end, too — altogether, he says the engine lost more than 35 pounds! Not surprisingly, the ’56 took home “Best Competition” at Born Free 13, and once the show season is over, Jared and his crew look forward to taking this blown beauty to the strip.
Below, we talk to Jared for the full story on the build, along with more stunning shots from photographer Erick Runyon (@gearsandglory | @choppergent).
Supercharged Triumph Drag Bike: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I was raised around motorcycles and the first bike I ever touched was my dad’s 1949 Triumph. Triumph is our brand and we feel the best motorcycle out there. I built everything from cafe racers to period-correct customs and everything in between. We build our custom motorcycles out of a two-car garage in Tampa, Florida.
• Tell us about the build
We built the bike over an eight-month period as we were selected as a Born Free 13 Invited Builder. At the show we took home Best Competition. The bike was inspired by my father who was a drag racer and was born in 1956. The bike is an alcohol-fueled, mechanically fuel-injected, supercharged, 1956 Triumph 750cc drag bike.
The frame is hand-built with 5-inch stretch and 2.5-inch drop at the neck. The backbone is the oil tank. The swingarm was split and two left-hand portions grafted together to create a wishbone for the large slick. It was then extended three inches and is supported by hidden adjustable heim joints.
The wheels are authentic Invaders with 17″ spool hub in the front and 16″ in the rear. The springer frontend is 4″ under and has modified front legs. The bars are custom-built with internal clutch and throttle.
The engine is highly modified with exposed rocker arms, pushrods, and a windowed timing cover to see the cam gears and oil pump working. I was inspired by factory cutaway engines and thought how cool would it be to build one that actually works.
The late-model Triumph 650cc head was modified by welding the exhaust ports closed and moving them inward to run parallel to allow a flange-mounted custom stainless exhaust to be bolted on. All the fins were removed from the top end to save weight as the alcohol fuel cools the engine during running.
The top end is set up with a total loss oiling system. The supercharger is an AMR300 setup with 1:1 ratio running at 6lbs boost. The mechanical fuel injector is a rare Wal Phillips unit from England. The cylinder is a modified M.A.P aluminum 750cc nikasil-lined big-bore kit. All together the engine lost 35.2 pounds during the modifications.
The bike was painted by Milkbone Kustoms from Orlando, FL. The paint itself from Aston Martin’s China Grey, from the 2022 DB11.
The entire build process can be viewed on our YouTube channel: Weems Motor Co.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
We have named the bike “56” in honor of the year of the engine and my father’s birth year.
• Any idea of power or weight numbers?
Currently we fired up the bike with a standard tune and have not put the bike on the dyno. With all of the extensive engine modifications we are hoping for HP numbers north of 100.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
We have only run the bike on rollers and are looking forward to getting it on the drag strip after the show season!
• Was there anything done during this build that you’re especially proud of?
The amount of machining and engine modifications were the most difficult part of the build. Every crazy modification we dreamed up or saw in old photographs of drag bikes from the 60’s and 70’s was thrown at this thing. The exposed rocker arms, pushrods, and windowed timing cover have to be my favorite part of the build.
Follow the Builder
Weems Motor Co.
YouTube: Weems Motor Co.
Paint: Milkbone Kustoms
Photography Credit: Erick Runyon (@gearsandglory | @choppergent)
Beautiful bike, I love the gray paint job. I read that the swing arm was adjusted by hidden heim joints, guess I will have to watch the video to figure that out. Also curious about the exposed rockers, isn’t that a concern for oil leakage?
October 1956, I won a trophy at Great Lakes Dragaway with my new Triumph TR6. The next Sunday I lost first round at the Orange County, CA Airport Drags. I met Bud Hare with his winning 125 MPH Triumph, “Double Trouble”. Bud sold me some factory speed parts and gave me a few tips. in 1957 I had the GLD Street Motorcycle track record of 105mph in 12:80. In 1961 I became a Norton Dealer. Norton told us to use Nomad 10.5 to 1 pistons and do some port work. The 650 Manxman was totaled in 1963 and TC Christenson put the engine in a 1951 Triumph rigid frame. 125 in 11:11. Next, we installed a Shaller cam and went 127 MPH in 10:95. on pump gas. In 1967 we built a 750 Atlas engine on Nitro and set a long-standing record of 151MPH in 9:95 sec. TC beat Leo Payne’s HD and named it the HogSlayer. This 750 Norton was at the 2021 Mama Tried Show in Milwaukee. I asked TC what happened to the 650 engine. “Well, it’s in my Norton chopper. Never been apart since 1963.” Glen Kerr brings the original 1955 Triumph “Double Trouble” to Shows and nostalgia races. He made a pass at Knoxville, Iowa last summer. Pete Hill, Bob Chantland and Mike Romine were there with Jody, me and other vintage racers. TC was ill. John Gregory Norton HogSlayer Race Team