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Lot 356: Triumph Thunderbird 650 Baby Mine Dragbike

Quail Lodge Sale, Bonhams (16 August 2012)

As a teenager competing with adults in early drag racing  and often winning  young Bobby Sirkegian was used to getting attention. Often times magazine and newspaper reporters showed up to ask questions and take photos. Then one day in 1954, television came calling. Format for the nationally syndicated program "You Asked For It" was that viewers wrote in asking to see some human interest story or another. A 14-year-old New Jersey girl had read a magazine story about Bobby, also 14, racing his Triumph motorcycle against cars and wanted to see more. Host Art Baker showed up with a film crew at the Pomona, California dragstrip to record Sirkegian beating a souped-up hot rod across the line. It was the only time in the show's 1950-59 run that a motorcycle was featured. It certainly wasn't Sirkegian's first, or last, win. Riding tuned Triumphs sponsored by his father's Los Angeles dealership, he was a top competitor on the many quarter-mile dragstrips popping up in Southern California in the 1950s. In 1953, running at the first-ever sanctioned drag race championships in Pomona  what would become the NHRA Nationals  Sirkegian, then 13, took wins in both the 500 and 650cc classes. He repeated the double in '54. Drag bikes and cars almost always had nicknames and "Baby Mine" was Sirkegian Sr.'s subtle dig at Triumph West Coast distributor Bill Johnson, who was notoriously frugal with sponsorship dollars. When Johnson found out about the TV show appearance, though, money somehow materialized, which is why "Triumph" was hand-lettered across the gas tank top. Sirkegian's race bikes were always impeccably turned out and Baby Mine backed up its good looks with blazing performance. Its 650cc engine ran a balanced crankshaft, high-compression pistons, a ported and polished cylinder head, S&W racing valve springs, specially ground camshafts and lifters by Iskendarian, lightened cam gears and a custom dual-carb manifold with remote floatbowls. Sirkegian retired from drag racing in 1957 at the ripe old age of 17 to concentrate of AMA flat-track and roadracing. Baby Mine, in his possession all these years, was just treated to a full mechanical and cosmetic restoration by Sirkegian himself. Here's a historical race bike that got mainstream exposure back in the day, brought back to new condition by the very man who originally rode it. Included in the sale is a copy of the original "You Asked For It" television script and a copy of the Johnson Motors press release announcing Bobby's appearance, both items autographed by Mr. Sirkegian.

Lot Details
Auction Quail Lodge Sale
Bonhams, Carmel, California, USA
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number356
Estimate$44000-$48000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1951
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number6T 4928NA
Engine number6T 4928NA
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors