Artist revved up for Motorcycle CannonballWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | email@example.com
Painting an old motorcycle takes time. Ask Scott Jacobs.
“If you think about a new bike, most of the wires and tubes, so many things are encapsulated now inside the engine so they look cleaner,” said the officially licensed Harley-Davidson artist.
“On an old bike, everything is showing, all the wires are hanging out, and there’s tubes, and there’s all kinds of things that are exposed. There’s so much more to paint.”
He puts it all on canvas, producing picture-perfect works.
“The thing I needed to accumulate over the years was the patience to do that kind of work, because there’s a lot of artists out there in the world that are very talented that are capable of doing very detailed paintings, but they’re not patient enough,” Jacobs said.
“It’s hard to start a painting and maybe finish it two or three months later; a lot of people need satisfaction a little quicker than that.”
The longtime biker will ease off the throttle this month for the Motorcycle Cannonball 2012 Endurance Run and ride 3,950 miles across the country on a 1926 Harley-Davidson J.
First, Jacobs had to brush up on the foot clutch and tank shift.
“I trained on this [bike] for 150 miles so far, and I stalled it five times in the first half-hour. And after that, I really got comfortable on it,” he said.
There’s no getting too comfortable.
“[The seat] looks like what would be on an old tractor, and it’s got very, very little cushioning on it, just some leather stretched over it,” Jacobs said with a laugh.
He became obsessed with the old-timey run in 2011.
“I went for three days as a spectator and followed the bikes and photographed them for paintings. And the whole time I was there, I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, if I ever have the opportunity to do this, I would love to,’ ” Jacobs said.
A friend found the antique machine online, and Jacobs was on his way as this year’s race features bikes from 1930 or earlier.
“I bought this junky old bike and I had a restorer work on it; he just finished it — took him 10 months,” he said. “Most everything on the race should be in a museum. I paid a fortune having mine restored, and it should be in a museum.
“Some people are thinking I’m crazy to ride this brand-new, restored bike and putting 4,000 miles on it across the country, but that’s what they were made for; they’re made to enjoy.”
Most will appreciate seeing more than 70 vintage bikes winding across the United States. Riders leave Newburgh, N.Y., on Sept. 7 and will motor through the plains, the Badlands and the Rocky Mountains before hitting the Pacific Coast Highway and zooming over the Golden Gate Bridge to cross the finish line in San Francisco on Sept. 23.
Jacobs and the racers will roll along the coast of Lake Erie and stop Sept. 8 at the Comfort Inn, 5909 Milan Road in Sandusky. Riders are expected between 5 and 5:30 p.m.
“You’re going to see some of the rarest bikes in the world,” Jacobs said during a call from a Harley-Davidson convention in Milwaukee.
The interview was punctuated with Jacobs greeting well-wishers.
“We just did that ‘Secret Millionaire’ show, so many dealers are coming over saying, ‘Hi, I saw your show.’ I’m spending more time talking about the show instead of trying to sell artwork,” he said.
“[The show is] emotional. I break down quite a few times because there are so many of us that are so blessed in our lives and in success and the lifestyle that we lead, and then to go and meet these people who are living on the streets and hear their stories — it’s so tough.”
Copies of his book, “The Art of Scott Jacobs — The Complete Works,” will be for sale during the race, and proceeds will go to the charities he donated to on “Secret Millionaire”: G.I. Go Fund, GlassRoots and International Youth Organization for Newark, N.J.