Originally posted by Buck Lovell on Sunday, 13 May 2012 in Buck Lovell's - American Biker Blog
I REMEMBER CHUCK BAKER
If you were a San Jose resident and Harley-Davidson rider in or around the year 1980 you knew who Chuck Baker was. Building Choppers, and hot rod Harley-Davidson motors was his specialty. He was motorcycle drag racer, and did not limit his racing to the track. He was a wild and crazy guy. Soapstone Engineering was the name of his shop, and motor building facility. It was located on West San Carlos Street in San Jose. Sleepy's Tatto parlor was located right next door. I got my first and only tattoo at Sleepys (Indian script on my right arm) when Paul Hobbs was a resident tattoo artist there. This photo shows some of the more than 200 bikers who were preparing to ride in procession to Chucks funeral. He was killed in a motorcycle crash while on a weekend ride out near Calero Reservoir just South of San Jose. Recognizable in the photo is Bill McMenamy owner-operator of a shop named Antique and Modern Motorcycles, standing just under the "A" in the word Tattoo on the shop wall. Bill was killed about a year later, also in a motorcycle wreck. The San Jose Mercury News ran a photo of the more than 200 Chuck Baker funeral bikes as they were Westbound on Highway 280 enroute to the bone-orchard taken by me from an unfinished freeway overpass. Of the many American motorcycles to arrive at the cemetery, the single Japanese bike in attendance caught fire when a fuel line ruptured. The bike had an electric fuel pump, and literally burned to the ground at the funeral….a fitting and signal tribute to Chuck Baker who was exclusively a Harley-Davidson motor builder / mechanic /rider.