Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My buddy Butch, and the Harley giveaway....

I happened to be looking at the rideicon/Icon Moto Blog, and I ran across this. Icon got it from a blog in France, Ze Last Chance Garage. It's an ad that ran in most of the 1979 Peterson Publishing titles, like Hot Rod and Car Craft, and a bunch of the straight cycle publications. Harley-Davidson came up with the idea to give away a brand new Corvette and Sportster - both custom painted to match.

All you had to do to win them was to guess the combined value of both vehicles, including the custom paint and accessories that were added. It just so happens that the painter who did the killer kandy rootbeer over black pearl base on both giveaway vehicles back then is a long-time friend of mine, Butch Brinza. Also, in the early '80's, this color combo was even offered in the H-D line as an available custom color after the contest.

Even in '79, as stated in the H-D giveaway ad, Butch's reputation in the custom paint and pinstripe world was huge. Butch started out on his own in '58, and since that time has had more cars and motorcycles inside magazines, and on covers than you could count. Butch has been lifelong friends with the likes of Von Dutch, Larry Watson, Ed Roth, Jon Kosmoski, and Junior Conway, just to name a few. As a matter of fact, it was Junior Conway who told me he thought Butch was the best custom painter in the world.


Butch's work has graced Oakland Roadster Show winners, ISCA Champions, Bonneville racers, Indy Cars, and everything inbetween. Butch has done work on Hollywood star's cars, restorations for the greatest automotive museums out there, as well as friend Gary Gabelich's Blue Flame LSR car that set the Land Speed record of 630.388 MPH on Oct. 23, 1970 - that stood for 13 years (his KPH record stood for 27 years). Butch also painted both of friend Wink Eller's LSR bikes - Red October, and Blue Monday.

Butch's pinstriping and lettering can also be seen gracing the restored "#1" 1903 Harley-Davidson, in the Harley Museum in Milwaukee, WI., among other bikes there.
Here's Butch (2nd from the left), Willie G., and the winners of the contest at the press conference/vehicle keys presentation. Butch told me that he was underneath this car in the shop, when he got this call on a Friday afternoon, and Willie G. is on the line. Willie G. told him to get down to Juneau Ave. because they're awarding the car and bike to the winners, and he absolutely had to be in the press photos.


Butch said he cleaned up as best he could, and drove over there. They tossed a clean H-D Tshirt and jacket at him, and told him to put them on, and stand behind the winners for the publicity shots. Notice how they positioned Butch so they didn't shoot him from the waist down - his pants were really grubby. Too bad somebody didn't tell him to comb his hair, haha! Butch says he can't remember the names of the winners, or even if they ever told him, it was such a rush deal that afternoon.
Butch in the '60's, in typical pinstriper fashion, doing some last minute striping in the middle of a show, probably at one of the ISCA sanctioned one's. Check out the chopped Deuce shell, and the '36 Ford spare tire ring front fenders.

Back then, as was the case with Larry Watson and others, it wasn't uncommon for Butch to have 10-20 cars and bikes he painted and pinstriped on the floor of one show. And, Butch competed with Jon Kosmoski of House Of Kolor fame at almost every ISCA show back then for the "Best Paint" awards at the big shows in Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, etc. - one time Butch would take it, next time it would be Kosmoski's turn. Butch said "In a situation like that, you either become best friends, or you hate each other's guts. Fortunately, Jon and I became great friends, and are to this day".
Butch is the recipient of the ISCA "Lifetime Achievement Award", and is in the ISCA Hall Of Fame.
Grouchy ol' Butch and I attending the Rat Fink Reunion, when it was still held in the parking lot of Mooneyes, in Santa Fe Springs, CA, in 1999.

Butch at home in Goleta, CA, in March of 2000, a few years before the move to Payson, AZ. You can see some of Butch's fine art works displayed on the walls, including a beautiful etched glass panel suspended from the ceiling he did for his wife Liz.

I've ridden quite a few miles with Butch, including Sturgis, and trips to Harley's 85th, 90th, and 95th Anniversary Parties in Milwaukee (we both skipped the 100th). I gotta make the time to head down to Payson, and look he and Liz up. It's been too long. Think I'll call him, because he still does't like the internet.

From my old Homage blog - the brush box that Von Dutch gave Butch a long time ago. If you look between the paint splatters on the lid, you can make out Von Dutch's Goodie Box, in Dutch's typical lettering. Butch still has this box.

It seems Dutch was upset with Butch carrying his striping and lettering brushes around in a bundle, with a rubber band around them. Dutch thought that was a sacrilige to treat his brushes this way, so he gave Butch this box to store them in. Well, Dutch actually threw the box at him.......

I'm also fortunate to have photos that Butch had taken with Von Dutch about 4 weeks before Dutch died. Brucker called Butch, and told him Dutch didn't have a lot of time left, and if Butch wanted to see him, he needed to come up pretty soon. Butch said when he got to the Brucker Ranch in Santa Paula, Dutch didn't recognize him, but when he started talking, he knew who he was right away. Butch said Dutch would drift in and out while he was there, and agreed to have some photos taken of the two. They are for the most part in front of Dutch's orange/black VW Thing, parked next to Dutch's workshop at the Brucker's place. Dutch looks to be pretty bad off in those photos, and Butch looks pretty sad as well.

Butch had me promise I'd never post those photos anywhere on the internet, copy them for anybody, or use them in any articles I wrote. I've kept that promise to him thru the years. You'll just have to see them if you ever stop by my place.

2 comments:

Noot said...

I remember the giveaway - It was a big deal for the time - still would be now.

mind pill said...

thanks............