Former Daytona Racer Don Emde To Ride The 1914 Trek Of Erwin George “Cannon Ball” Baker

donemde1One century ago, in 1914, 32-year old Erwin George “Cannon Ball” Baker (March 12, 1882 – May 10, 1960) made history riding an Indian motorcycle for a 3.379-mile trek from San Diego to New York in 11 1/2 days.

Don Emde, 63, the legendary former Daytona 200 race winner and member of the Motorcycle Hall Of Fame, believes that he reconstructed the exact route Baker followed and intends to ride it, leaving and arriving at the same time his inspiration did. Emde will depart San Diego this May 3rd and, if all goes well will arrive in New York City on May 14.

cannonballbaker1“The reason I am trying to do this is to try to help people understand and show what it was like to ride a motorcycle then and what’s going on now to see the differences.”

Although Emde owns an original 1913 Indian motorcycle, he will ride the Cannon Ball’s trail on a Yamaha Super Ténéré dual sport that can traverse the ride’s first 250 miles on dirt and the remaining 3,000- on pavement.

The ride from San Diego to New York was just one of 143 records Baker set riding motorcycles and driving cars in the early 20th century, mostly as promotional events for the manufacturers (including Indian) that sponsored him to break records.

In 1972, Don Emde won the most famous motorcycle race in the U.S., the Daytona 200 riding a Yamaha 350 two stroke. His father, Floyd Emde, had won the same race 24 years before, in 1948. To date, they remain the only father and son to have won the Daytona 200.

27 Responses to “Former Daytona Racer Don Emde To Ride The 1914 Trek Of Erwin George “Cannon Ball” Baker”

  1. 1 Mar 28th, 2014 at 10:46 am

    A Dago lad off to seek adventure. Sounds like the only sensible thing to do.

  2. 2 Mar 28th, 2014 at 11:04 am

    That is a very cool challenge. Best of luck!

  3. 3 Rod Mar 28th, 2014 at 11:51 am

    He should ride it on a modern Polaris Indian. Riding on an S10 in 11 days is not even a challenge. Yawn

  4. 4 James just another crazy Kiwi Mar 28th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Baker became friends with Rollie free who later became friends with Burt Monroe.

    Like minded people often forge friendships, especially in a limited clique such as theirs.

    Those old Indian guys certainly were crazy Bastards

  5. 5 Mar 28th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Rod,Riders use whatever bike is best for the job of the era.C-B Baker would usa Busa.He would not ride old junk that belongs in pool room or museum.If you asked C-B to,he’d just laugh at you.

  6. 6 richard Mar 28th, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    What’s with the remark by kirk perry? Is that what I think it is? Terribly offensive if it is. Any explanation?

  7. 7 Mar 28th, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Proud to say I’m joining him.

    Robert Pandya
    Indian Motorcycle

  8. 8 Mar 28th, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Robert Pandya,joining him riding on a Chief?

  9. 9 Mar 29th, 2014 at 7:54 am

    I would rather see both on an Indian, makes more sense!

  10. 10 Mar 29th, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Colliding worlds! 🙂
    “A Dago lad off to seek adventure.”
    Dago is “swabbie” for San Diego and locals:

  11. 11 chicagojohn Mar 29th, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Robert Pandya, try to make a chief available to Don, and leave the Yamaha at home.

  12. 12 Rod Mar 29th, 2014 at 9:27 am

    It is slightly over 300 miles a day. That is not a challenge. Unless they are on a petal bike. If they were doing it in 3 days, different. As this stands, Yawn


  13. 13 Mar 29th, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I like Chicago John’s idea.. put some 50/50 tires on that Indian and keep it All American! Don’s such a good rider he could do this on a Whizzer!

  14. 14 Robert Pandya Mar 29th, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I’m riding a project bike. (Revealed later). Yamaha grabbed the sponsorship of Don’s event. In fact a very cool move by them. Yes I wish it was us, but we are sponsoring other cool stuff (like AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days in July). Don has such a respect and sense of history. He has helped Indian a lot. In fact he was asked to be one if the first to ride the new Chief onto the reveal platform in Sturgis.

    I hope you all follow along. I will send Cyril a shot of my chosen bike later.

    Have a good weekend all.

    Robert Pandya
    Indian Motorcycle

  15. 15 Pat Simmons Mar 29th, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Good luck Don! Be safe out there. I hope we hear from you as you make the trip. Is there a website we can go to to find out your progress?

  16. 16 Mar 29th, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Good luck Don. It’s taken a lot of research & man hours to put this trip together. Have a great time on your adventure!

  17. 17 Mar 29th, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Have you ever ridden on average 300 miles/day for 11 consecutive days across this varied distance? It sounds easy, but until you do it…

    I thought an old bike was going to be used before reading through to the end, but the realization a modern bike is being used just amplifies George Baker’s original accomplishment; doesn’t change the entire adventure to a “yawn”

  18. 18 Cris Sommer Simmons Mar 29th, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Don is an old friend and lives and breathes motorcycles more than most. I think it’s a great idea and Mr, Baker would be proud, no matter what bike he’s riding. It’s all about the ride.

  19. 19 Mar 29th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    ~ This fellow wrote a book on Daytona – supposedly contained everybody’s name that ever rode the sands. Highly suspect, since Blake raced but failed to place. However, lo and behold his name was in there, under “crash and burns”. He bought a copy.

  20. 20 richard Mar 29th, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    TO Kirk Perry…I’m an old guy and jumped to a conclusion on the “colliding words”. Apparently not a derogatory word in San Diego parlance…Thanks for clearing it up…sorry!

  21. 21 chicagojohn Mar 29th, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Cool, I hope you guys have a great trip!

  22. 22 Mar 29th, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    “Thanks for clearing it up…sorry!”
    No sorry compadre. I thought it was a “drop” for comment. It was and I did. 🙂

  23. 23 Mar 31st, 2014 at 9:53 am

    If one truly wanted to commemorate/replicate the difficulty of Cannonball Baker’s ride, one would ride the Trans America Trail (TAT) on a 1914 Indian!
    All else is homage. Even the Motorcycle Cannonball, which I’ve ridden, and was tough, but what Baker did was something else altogether…

  24. 24 Sluggo Mar 31st, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I wanna go…

  25. 25 Barry Brown Apr 1st, 2014 at 6:52 am

    I agree with Paul . Yamaha !! Don’t forget the Geritol.

  26. 26 BCinSoCal Apr 8th, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Rod, post here when you get back from doing it! Don’t forget to do the first 250 miles on dirt. Living in San Diego, I can tell you in this case, Dago is not the derogatory name used for Italians (I am one) it’s just slang for this city. Can’t wait to hear from Rod upon his return….

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