Save The Date!
Central Coast Classic Motorcycle Show
September 25th, 2021
Show Bikes, Vendors and Swap Meet
entries time: 7 AM
General Admission Entry: 9 AM
Awards Presentaion: 2 PM
Show Bike Entry Form and rules
to be published later
Tribute to Don Harrell
James Donald “Don” Harrell
Don Harrell passed away Jan. 30th, 2021. He was born December 2, 1934 to Maxey and Clara (Copeland) Harrell in Tulare, CA. He grew up on the Visalia City Farm, which his dad managed, until graduating from Visalia Senior High in 1952. He worked for two years before enlisting in the US Army, stationed in Boston. He enrolled in the Building Trades program at COS and went on to obtain his contractor’s license. He married Genevieve Janelli in 1957 and together they raised their five children. They celebrated 63 years to life on October 5 of last year.
Don was a precision craftsman in many ways. He was a general contractor for over 40 years, with cabinetry as his specialty. He hand selected the materials for each home to bring out the beauty of the wood in the many custom homes he built in the area. He also built commercial properties including just about every Circle K from here to Timbuktu.
In the early 70’s Don raced dirt track motorcycles throughout the valley. His sons all inherited his love for motorcycles and continue to ride to this day. When Don quit racing, he continued to support the boys as a spectator and sponsor. The love for riding has passed on to his grandsons.
In the late ‘70s Don started collecting vintage British Motorcycles. This hobby transformed into a second business in retirement. He eventually started restoring bikes himself, taking a box of rusted parts, and breathing new life into them. His restorations are highly sought after due to his attention to detail and maintaining the integrity of the original bike. He has been featured in many news and magazine articles for his craftsmanship and knowledge of BSA’s, Triumphs and other British models. He has won countless awards for his entries in motorcycle shows throughput the state. He drew a crowd and record prices at the annual Mid-America and Mecum Motorcycle auctions in Las Vegas for over 25 years. He eventually built his own paint booth and machined parts while he restored at least five bikes every year for the event. Coming together in Vegas in January became a family tradition.
Another well-known tradition was his British Motorcycle Works Annual Open House ‘out at the shop’. It all started with about 10 friends, some hot dogs, chips and beer the night before the Hanford Swap Meet. The Open House grew each year and by the 25th Anniversary, there were over 400 people in attendance to check out the 50+ restorations and partake of the deep pit beef, Gen’s chili beans and potato salad, and Texas Sheet cake. And, beer. The highlight of the night was when Don would fire up a bike or two. Nothing brought a smile to his face like a one-kick start. Don was happiest when he was around his bikes and those who shared the same love for them. Don was a no-nonsense, to the point dad. He taught his kids to put in an honest day’s work, keep their word, and show gratitude. He was proud of his ‘rugrats’ and how they eventually all turned out. He was happy to see they all made it past 30 considering some of the hair-raising escapades and mischief that occurred along the way. He used to say, “I don’t care what they say about you, you’re alright.” His quick wit was also picked up by the kids. Don had a nickname for just about everyone he knew. You may know his family as Aunt Jim, Blue, Gordo, Ynot, Donnie Brook, and Red. Ask the boys what yours is. Don had interests other than motorcycles. In 1965 he attained 1st KYU certification in Judo. He loved animals, especially dogs and had several border collies through the years that went to work with him each day. He treated his grand dog, Penny, to peanuts every time she visited him at the shop.
He was a lifelong learner and stayed informed. He read the newspaper front to back every day, studied motorcycle manuals and read many books related to history. He also went back to COS at the age of 76 to take a machining class so he could make his own parts. Don worked 7 days a week all his life. You could always find him at the shop building something and taking time to shoot the breeze with friends who dropped by for a beer. Recently his illness took away his energy and his time at the shop was limited. His desire to be active never left, and he fought to the end. He passed quickly and comfortably at home on the morning of January 30, 2021. Don is survived by his wife, Genevieve (Janelli), children Dana (Cindy) Harrell of Colorado Springs, CO, Becky (Gary) Turner of Boise, ID, Tony (Cecile) Harrell, Donnie Harrell and Charise (Danny) Brichta all of Visalia. He leaves eight grandchildren, Andrew, Matthew, Michael, Genna, Dawn, Haley, Jonah and Keenan, eight great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Maxey and Clara (Copeland) Harrell and siblings Clarise Ansell and Maxey Jr.
The Harrell family would like to thank the many family and friends who have looked in on Don and Gen these past few years. He was always grateful for the faithful friends who helped load bikes and sell parts throughout the years. He had a special place in his heart for the gentle care of his oncology nurse, Chastity, at Sequoia Regional.
Be ready to join us for one last “Open House” in late spring to celebrate Don’s life his way.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to your favorite animal shelter.