Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Hill Climber's History - The Trophy

Pic from the Oct 1952 Motorcycle BUZZZZ Magazine

Larry Sr. wins two National Titles in one day!

Pic from American Motorcycling Sept 1952

Jerry with a death grip on Dad's trophy

The cat that ate the canary....

For 20 years I had been staring at the picture of Larry Franz Sr. holding those two National Championship Trophy's that he won riding my white framed 45 inch Hill Climber and wondering what had become of them. Turns out that upon his passing, Larry Sr.'s wife gave one trophy to each of her sons...Larry Jr. and Jerry.

Jerry Franz, who spent many years traveling and hill climbing with his dad held on to this prized possession. Larry Jr. (now deceased) who I got to know over the years, was an interesting character to say the least. He traveled the country in his old van which was covered with the signatures of the people he met. Behind the van on an old opened trailer was his dad's Excelsior Hill Climber. Since Larry Jr.'s death a few years ago the twin trophy to the one pictured above has been missing in action...maybe someday...hhhhmmmm...the search continues...

While at Jerry's house I inquired about the object of my obsession for two decades...Jerry was teetering on throwing it in to cinch the deal. He finally and reluctantly said that he would! I was soooo close...and then, I heard the words come out of my mouth..."No Jerry, that was your dad's...you keep it"...did I really say that? Yup...Jerry smiled and promised that someday he would entrust it to me, so that I could reunite it with the bike that had put his dad into the history books.

I asked him if I could at least see it...he said of course! We both posed with it and snapped these pictures.

Notice the Franz Dairy sign on the wall. Jerry's grandfather had a dairy in the "old days", Larry Sr. worked there as a young man and they had some great pictures from the teens and earlier.

What a day!


  1. These write ups have been great! Very cool history lesson!

  2. I had a nice conversation with Larry Jr. a few years before he died, interesting guy. Whatever happened to the Excelsior hilclimber he always had on that open trailer?

  3. Lonnie, How you feelin'?
    That bike ended up with John P. of J&P cycles

  4. Doing okay, Jeff, getting a 3-month hiatus from these old bikes while I heal up, too freakin' hot to ride anyway. Thanks for asking.