Drag Champion Bobby Sirkegian's Triumph Thunderbird Bike on offer

Drag Champion Bobby Sirkegian's Triumph Thunderbird Bike on offer

1953 Triumph Thunderbird Drag Bike Raced and Sold by Drag Champion Bobby Sirkegian
Sold on a Bill of Sale, not for highway or public road use
Raced and sold by Drag Champion Bobby Sirkegian
Historic early nitro-burning drag bike
Raced and set fuel records in both 1952 and 1953
F25 percent nitro to 75 percent alcohol in 1952 and then 40 percent nitro to 60 percent alcohol in 1953
Just-completed mechanical and cosmetic restoration
Nitro TT Amal carburetors and floats
High compression 12 to 1 pistons, extra large valves and racing valve springs
Special grind camshafts and lifters, Branch flow metric cylinder head, electronic balanced crankshaft and special BTH magneto
Frame no. 38471
Engine no. 6T60137

At just 12 years old, Bobby Sirkegian was an unlikely drag-racing pioneer. He'd been born on two wheels, as his father had ridden factory board-trackers in the 1920s and ‘30s for the famous early American motorcycle manufacturers Indian, Harley-Davidson and Excelsior on the wooden speed bowls throughout the United States. After the war, Sirkegian Sr. opened a Los Angeles Triumph dealership that, for a time, was the company's biggest west of the Mississippi.

Bobby Jr. was a natural on a motorcycle, starting at just 6 years old on a converted Corgi paratrooper bike painted to look like one of the Triumphs sitting in his father's showroom. In the early 1950s, the father and son duo were spectating at one of the many Southern California dragstrips when 12-year-old Bobby decided he wanted to give this newfangled quarter-mile sprinting a try. Success was almost immediate for Bobby, who capitalized on his quick reflexes and superior power-to-weight ratio, even if at first his father had to balance the bike from behind at the start line because Bobby, not even 5 feet tall yet, was still too small to plant his feet flat on the ground. The elder Sirkegian also contributed his own motorcycle to the effort, a 500cc Triumph 5T bob-job nicknamed “Pretty Boy.”

Soon, Team Sirkegian got serious about speed when an early release 1953 Thunderbird 650 demo bike was pulled off the showroom floor and turned into the fuel dragster seen here, running one of the first M&H Racemaster slick rear tires. In 1952, burning a mix of 25% nitromethane and 75% alcohol, Bobby hit 110 MPH in the quarter-mile; the next year, with a potent 50/50 nitro-alky brew feeding into bored-out Amal TT carbs, he nearly hit 120 MPH.

Before quitting drag racing to concentrate on AMA flat-track competition, the teenage Bobby had set track records from California to Kansas City and amassed four national championships and more than 200 wins. Sirkegian and his bikes were featured in mainstream publications and even made it onto the nationally syndicated television show “You Asked For It.” Sirkegian's fueler got its performance from a virtual who’s who of California speed merchants. Jerry Branch installed the oversized valves and flowed the cylinder heads. Tim Witham of S&W fame ground the special camshafts. Luther Iskenderian worked out the ignition and cam timing. As many of those original parts as possible were used when Sirkegian himself restored the Triumph in late 2019. This is a rare chance to own a historically significant early California drag bike restored by the very man who rode it into the record books nearly 70 years ago.


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