It’s no secret that Will Spencer is always game for the chance to hunt down valuable memorabilia for the Winston Cup Museum. That’s part of his job, in fact, as museum owner to make sure every guest inside the museum has a chance to see firsthand some truly authentic Winston Cup era history. But for Will, our new motorcycle collection exhibit is just a bit different. It’s personal in a way few things can be.
Remembering a legend
Many in Winston-Salem know the Reynolds family history well. Will is no different, having grown up idolizing the grandson of R.J. Reynolds. Zach Reynolds, or “Dr. Zach” as he was known carried the persona every young boy hoped to achieve in the 1960’s and 70’s.
With nearly 50 motorcycles gathered inside his personal collection, Zach was the kind of cool Will said he admired from a very early age.
“My first impression of Zach, I was like 3 years old,” Will said recently, reflecting on the annual Easter Egg hunt Zach would host at his home. “I can still remember him standing on the back porch with a megaphone to get it started.”
As Will grew, so too did his affinity for not only Zach’s bike collection but his way of life in general. An avid drag racer and stunt flyer, Zach was a young boy in a man’s body and Will did everything he could to just to be around him.
“I used to get $2 to wash a car, $3 to vacuum it out or $1 to wash a motorcycle,” Will said of working for Zach. “It was a great gig.”
So of course, the tragic 1979 airplane accident that claimed the life of Zach and three others weighed heavily on Will. Now almost 40 years later, Will hopes to keep Zach’s memory alive on the museum floor with a collection of some of Zach’s most treasured bikes.
“It’s really important,” Will said. “Hell, it was part of my life. You’re so impressionable when you’re a kid. My whole life until they got killed it was always fun, there was always something to do.”
Through a series of internet searches and blog site research, Will has embarked on a “grown-up Easter Egg hunt” in search of Zach’s once treasured collection.
The bikes on display
Today, nine of the bikes sit inside the motorcycle exhibit, some in their original state and some fully restored through a year or more’s work for Will at JKS Motorsports in Welcome.
Among them is a 1965 Harley Davidson 55: XLCH # 1899 with a strocker kit to 65 inches. The MC Street Racer “Black Ace Two” is complete with KR road race shocks, oil tank and fairing. The bike was custom built for Zach and remains in its original condition as sold at a 1985 auction.
The exhibit also features a 1967 Harley Davidson – XLCH – called “little Mama.” The bike was in a fire along with Zach’s other bike “Big Daddy” that was not able to be saved. You can still see the damage from the heat from the fire on “little Mama.” This bike is in its original condition other than the seat.
For Will, the most valuable bikes on display are those that have been “Zachified” or custom-made to his liking, showing off both his ability and his personality.
Will’s 1970 Harley Davidson stock is a perfect example. The bike was “Zachified” with skull on tank and packs of Winston and Salem cigarettes on rear fender.
And in the case of the 1969 Harley Davidson – XLCH Street Legal Dragster “Sporty” – named “Hog Two,” Will resorted to historic photos to bring it back to life. The bike features custom paint and artwork: Red and Black with Flying Hog on Tank and Zach’s Cycle Garden on Fairings designed to mimic its original “Zachified” state.
And nothing on the floor is more well-tested than Zach’s 1973 Honda CB 750, a bike specially made in just five days for Zach by Paul Dunstall in England. Zach rode the bike during the infamous “Isle of Man,” an annual race around the namesake island just off the coast of England. The race is known for both incredible speeds and incredible dangers.
For Will, the exhibit is a testament to just that—the no-fear attitude Zach faced life with every day. And in the process of searching and restoring the bikes on display, Will said he has been able to satisfy “the bug” that is his passion for hands-on mechanical work.
Our motorcycle collection exhibit will be on display at the Winston Cup Museum at 1355 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive from January 26th through June 10th.
[RELATED: More photos of the exhibit and a spotlight article from Winston-Salem Monthly Magazine]
Want to see how we got the cars out and the bikes in? Check out move-in day for the exhibit!