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Return of the Cafe Racers - 1951 Triumph Thunderbird drag bike

1951 Triumph Thunderbird drag bike

The year is 1954 and 15 year old drag racer Bobby Sirkegian positions his '51 Triumph Thunderbird alongside a souped-up, barebones hot rod. Art Barker host of the hit TV show "You Asked For It" drops the flag and the two high powered machines launch off down the Pomona, California drag strip. The race…

The year is 1954 and 15 year old drag racer Bobby Sirkegian positions his ’51 Triumph Thunderbird alongside a souped-up, barebones hot rod. Art Barker host of the hit TV show “You Asked For It” drops the flag and the two high powered machines launch off down the Pomona, California drag strip. The race appears to be neck and neck but as the two cross the finish line Bobby is a full bike length in front. It’s a defining moment in automotive television history and a huge boost for Triumph motorcycle popularity in the United States. Now almost 60 years later the “Baby Mine” Triumph Thunderbird is as stunning as ever and has just changed hands after being in Bobbies possession since he retired from drag racing in 1956.

Bobby and his father were approached by “You Asked For It” after a young female viewer asked to see the race take place. Bobby was popular in the drag scene due to his age and the fact that he had plenty of wins under his belt so his drag strip exploits were frequently in the media. Sirkegian Senior owned a Los Angeles dealership which funded Bobbies drag racing career and was also responsible for the impressive tuning of the Thunderbird.

“Baby Mine” ran a 650cc engine with high compression pistons and a ported and polished head; a balanced crankshaft, custom ground camshafts and lifters, S&W racing valve springs, lightened cam gears and a custom dual carb set up with remote floatbowls. It was with this set up that Boddy won the 650cc class of the NHRA Nationals two years running and put that hot rod in it’s place (if you’re not in first place, you’re last!).

Along with the awesome performance upgrades “Baby Mine” also had its fair share of aesthetic mods. All the non-essential gear such as lights was stripped away leaving the bike clean and bare. A smaller p-nut Wassel style tank replaced Triumphs original heavy steel unit and the front brake was dropped. The tank and fork sleeves were then was finished in the same vibrant red you see on the bike here along with the hand rendered Triumph logo and “Baby Mine” script.



At 17 years old Bobby retired from drag racing to pursue a career in AMA flat-track and road racing. Since 1957 “Baby Mine” stayed in Bobbies possession undergoing a full frame up restoration in recent years. The bike went up for auction earlier this year with a sale price of around $48,000USD and it came complete with a script from the episode of “You Asked For It” singed by Bobby Sirkegian himself. Check out the video below for a snippet of automotive television history that’s sure to bring a smile to any motorcycle riders face.

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