Iron Man Stan Dishong

Posted on 28th January 2010 by Electra Glide In Blue in Drag Bikes, Old School, Panhead, Readers Ride - Tags: , , , ,

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Stan the Iron Man Dishong was a true motorcycle legend here on the West coast.

He bought his first Harley in 1944 at age 16. He first raced on the salt flats of Bonneville in 1951 setting a short lived land speed record of 156 mph. This was the first year the Southern California Timing Association invited motorcycles and Stan was one of only 10 riders asked to participate.

He originally opened Stan’s Cycle in Vallejo as a BSA dealership in 1953 but he worked more with Harleys and Indians. Stan and Jackie’s house was three doors down from the shop and at some point the street was officially renamed Dishong St.

It was during this period that Stan raced his reputedly undefeated 1937 Indian Scout drag bike.

One of his many innovations was the first racing slick on a drag bike. He had the Pope Tire co. vulcanize a flat strip of rubber onto the rear tire of his Indian in July 1953.

He was probably best known for the Panhead engine he converted to overhead cam in the late 50’s. He successfully raced this engine in a bike he called the “Hog”. Stan raced at Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach, Kingdon in Lodi and the Nationals at Vaca Valley raceway in Vacaville to name a few.

Here’s an early version of the Hog at Kingdon drag strip, Lodi, 1957

Here’s a more recent version of the Hog.

In addition to Stan’s Cycle, he operated Dishong Manufacturing, a facility that made after-market parts for motorcycles.

Stan’s Cycle was filled with rare motorcycles and related memorabilia. He not only displayed the racing bikes he had built and raced, he also had some extremely rare antique bikes, originals and restorations of many different makes and models.

One of Stan’s customers in Vallejo was another racing legend; Burt Munro from New Zealand whose record setting runs at Bonneville were made into the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian”.

In 1987 he closed Stan’s Cycle in Vallejo and moved to Port Orford Oregon where they bought a 13 acre ranch and, for the next 15 years, Stan and Jackie restored many of his antique motorcycles.

Jackie passed away in 2002 so, together with his daughter Jeanette, he sold the ranch and opened the Antique Motorcycle and Auto Museum in August 2003.

Along with a few antique cars, guns and early electronics, Stan displayed 33 motorcycles. The oldest was one of the first motorcycles ever built in the United States; a 1896 Marks, built in San Francisco with serial #1, originally purchased as a basket case for $100.
Another rare bike was his 1934 Harley Speedway. Only 20 were originally built and only three or four remain in existence today.
Also on display, in no particular order; a 1903 Indian, 1911 Pope, 1914 Indian 8 valve Board Track Racer,. 1920 Indian Hill Climber, 1926 Indian Prince, and a 1928 Harley Factory Hill Climber.
In June 2006 Stan closed the museum in Port Orford and, due to declining health, moved to a suburb of Boise Idaho to be near his family.
A motorcycle collector/investor bought Stan’s motorcycles and sold many of them at the annual Mid-America Vintage Motorcycle Auction in Las Vegas the following January.
Stan Dishong passed away in January 2008. He not only preserved motorcycle history, he made motorcycle history.

This has been a welcomed guest post by Perry from the West Coast. Perry’s 1957 Pan was a featured Readers Ride on this site back in November of 2009.

Thanks Perry!

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  1. Dear EGIB (Jeff):

    The minimalist design of the motorcycles pictured here qualifies them as mechanical works of art. Like the great bikes of yesterday, the great bikers are equally unique. This was a very interesting glimpse into motorcycle history.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

    Comment by Jack Riepe — January 28, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

  2. A wonderful read! Thanks for posting this….a meaningful and educational read with links taking us to further expand our knowledge…Good job

    Comment by Chessie — January 29, 2010 @ 5:03 am

  3. Jack,
    I think one could say, Iron Man Stan was one of the guy’s that kicked open the door to motorcycle drag racing. Pushing the motorcycle way beyond the design and having the balls to pilot the machine is truly unique.

    Comment by Electra Glide In Blue — January 29, 2010 @ 8:54 am

  4. Chessie,
    All thanks to Perry,
    When Perry told me he was doing a write-up for a local riders group news letter about Stan, he wondered if I would like to post it here on my site. I said hell ya!

    Comment by Electra Glide In Blue — January 29, 2010 @ 9:12 am

  5. By no means do I pretend to be an expert on Stan Dishong and I hope that others with more first hand knowledge will use this venue to help educate us all.

    Comment by Perry — January 30, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  6. Looks like Perry did his homework ,Stan was way ahead of his time and I wonder where we would be today if Arlenn Ness was his neighbor ?

    Comment by George Alfonsin — January 30, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  7. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marilyn Elmore, Business Coaching and Alltop, Mahogany Ltd.. Mahogany Ltd. said: Iron Man Stan Dishong [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Electra Glide In Blue -- — January 30, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

  8. I used to buy hard to find motorcycle parts from Stan Dishong. Also, he would sometimes give me a break when I was down of my luck and needed a part to keep my motorcycle on the road. He was very friendly and knowlegable.

    Back in the day, I had a motorcycle with a famous Dishong Springer extended front end on it. It was a very much improved spinger front end. This was back when we had choppers that had long, extended front ends on them.

    Comment by Spacy Mike — January 31, 2010 @ 11:01 am

  9. Stan Dishong was like a second father to me, i lived in Vallejo and meet stan when i was 16 years old. I had bought a 1947 knuckle head from Hismith a man who worked for Stan in the Dishong after market sales.
    later i worked for Stan for several years helping him restore many of the old motorcycles which he displaied in his museum.
    The fires drag slick I ever ran, was an old Avon tire that Stan had made into a slick.
    I still remember the day I got the old 1937 Scout completed and fired it up for Stan. he had the biggest smile on his face, riding it around in front of the shop.
    I think the day he close and sold his Museum, was the saddest days of his life and broke his heart.
    I have a lot of memory’s of Stan Dishong.
    You can contact me through the admin of this site using:

    Comment by Stanley Lancaster — February 1, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  10. I also went to Stan’s shop back in the day,and everthing that is being said about this man is true. He was a self made mechincal genius,and alway’s helpful to me.I went to see him when he was closing the museum,and he let me have some treasures from there.The man deseves to be in the AMA Hall of Fame more than some that are there.After all be built a fuel injected,overhead cam ,single fire,96 in. panhead years before H-D even had a thought about a V-Rod. Thank Stan

    Comment by Ron — February 3, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

  11. I met Stan back in the early ’90’s, when I was doing the final restoration to my ‘46 knucklehead. We became good friends, and when he learned that I did custom paintwork for a living, we formed a deal where I’d trade parts from him, for me doing paintwork for him. I eventually got to paint, letter, and pinstripe many of the bikes he restored throughout the years in his collection.

    When Stan finally decided to put together a museum…I was thrilled. I always thought that it was a shame that the public wasn’t able to see the amazing bike collection Stan had built up, and had in his shop in the woods. I ended up painting the racetrack murals you can see behind his collection in the museum photos, plus I did all the signwork for it as well. It was a very sad day when Stan closed the museum. The locals knew they were losing a vast one-of-a-kind motorcycle collection, and a very important person in the history of motorcycling with the closing. And yes, Stan’s heart was broken to see it all go.

    Stan was a very soft spoken gentleman. He would politely follow folks around the collection, answering questions & comments they may have had. But once a person spotted something unique on a bike and pointed it out to Stan that they knew what they were looking at…well that was all it took! The floodgates would open, and Stan would go on and on about the details of this and that on all the bikes. He knew each and every one of them intimately, and could talk for hours about the history and significance of each and every one. It was pretty comical to watch sometimes.

    It’s nice to see Stan and his bike collection getting some recognition here on the web…but too bad Stan’s not with us anymore to enjoy the attention. I’m sure he’d have some funny comments, and corrections, to make about things said on here.

    One last thing…after the museum building was sold, the new owners gave me back the museum sign. I have it up for sale if anyone would like to buy it. (It’s too big for me to hang in my shop…4′ tall x 32′ long!) Please e-mail me if you’re interested at all. Thanx!

    Comment by Patrick — March 2, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

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