This page is to view the pictures taken
at the 50th anniversary party for the Tote Gote held in Payson,
Utah on June 1, 2008.
The older gentleman in the white cap
is Ralph Bonham.He truly seemed
to be amazed and slightly embarrassed by all the fuss.
After a hitting his stride, he did
a verbal history of the development of the bike.I
think he had a lot of fun.
The black and red Trail Blazers are
The Tote Gote Reunion of 2008
by dik trotter
On June 1, 2008, a small group of dedicated
fans met to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Tote Gote sold.
In 1958, Ralph Bonham offered his small machine for sale to the public.
He had developed it because " I liked to hunt and fish, but I was tired
of walking". The Tote Gote was the 'first off-highway cycle ever
produced for sale' according to a 1961 article in ' The Saturday Evening
Post'. The first factory was in Provo, Utah.
Many familys in the area were introduce to
the 'Great Outdoors' aboard the Tote Gote. We were among these lucky
sportsmen, and decided to pass this on to the next generation. After
looking for years, we found a few Gotes worth rebuilding. Young Mose
really took to the idea and soon had a running model 600.
This last winter, while working on tote gotes
for fun, we realized this would be the 50th anniversary. Not finding
any events planed to recognize this, Mose started planning one.
There were no places in Provo where we could
ride, so we started looking for the next closest. Payson dump was
the chosen site. This area used to be a moto-cross track and is next
to West Mountain where there is ample riding. There are talks with
the BLM to make this a moto-cross track again.
In preparation, Mose had some 50th Anniversary
T-shirts made and the Tote Gote clocks were made to be awards for the best
machines. We made a crude flier to circulate to advertise the event.
When we sent a flier to Don Edge, the Gotemaster at Totegoteland, he refined
it and posted the new flier on his web site. To get more exposure,
we entered a model 'B' Tote Gote in the states largest car show, The UVSC
Auto Expo. We got a lot of smiles.
We tried to contact Ralph Bonham only to find
out he was " up north panning for gold '. We didn't have much hope
until he e-mail Mose asking for details. We still didn't know if
he would come because the event was on a sunday.
The day of the reunion, I loaded up five Tote
Gotes. The model 750, model 665 and 670 Nova all ran and were near
complete. My brother, Dennis had trusted me to work on his Model
'B' and it also was complete and running. I took another model 600
frame to offer for sale.
Keith ( also known as Slomoe ), brought as
many including a Model 610, a model 300 and other interesting models.
Mose brought his 600 and Chris had his 414
freshly ' rino-lined'.
Two of the nicest looking Nova's showed up,
one with a honda 6 house and another blue 780 as a work in progress.
They left too early, should have won the restoration award.
More than Tote Gotes showed up. Although
Blazers were only made for two years, they were well represented.
Chump 101 and Gote Girl had two of the nicest Blazers I've ever seen.
They both had Briggs Intek motors and ran as good as they looked.
Other blazers included Popeye's ratrod with the red 'Bithday cake' seat.
No air cleaner prevented him from running it.
Paul wasn't sure what his machine was, but
he knew it wasn't a Hodaka like the seat said. We later decided it
was probably a Twister. It sure was a good runner.
Brian had to lengthen the frame of his John
Deer colored model 665 to get the Briggs Intek motor in it. That
sure didn't hamper It's performance. It also got the award for the
During all the activity, no one noticed the
tall slender man in the ginham plaid shirt. He slipped into the crowd
and stood there watching us. When we realized he was Ralph Bonham,
the meet was complete.
Ralph stayed for more than three hours and
told us all about building the Tote Gote. He looked at each and every
machine and pointed out details and features.. The could tell us who designed
each part and how they were made. When we ran out of questions, he would
continue with stories of testing Tote Gotes in the jungle and testing special
tires that only the government had. He told us how they tried to
get Briggs and Stratton to make a special motor/carburator combination
Ralph was very gracious in signing T-shirts,
fliers and everything else we ask him to sign. I really think he
enjoyed the afternoon. Near the end, we ask Ralph to be the judge
for the few awards we wanted to give.
The "oldest Tote Gote' award was easy.
It was given to Rick's model 'B' with the lowest serial number.
Number 66 had a newer motor and front forks but still was the oldest.
Ralph said the unusual front forks were probably off a racing model.
The' Best Original/Unaltered went to Dennis'
Model B. This is the same one that had been in the UVSC Auto Expo.
We think it has the original motor and tires but it has been painted and
a new seat made by Diane ( maker of the ' birthday cake' seat, too ).
The 'Best Restoration' award was given to
Mose for his model 600, even though it was black. The 'Von-Stuucker'
exhaust and diamond tuck-n-roll seats helped make it a winner.
Mose already had the first Tote Gote Clock
we made, so he presented the award to Ralph for helping out. I don't
know which one of them was happier.
All in all, it was a pretty good event.
When we do it again would we change anything? Yes! Between
the people who work on saturday and the people who have meetings on sunday,
its hard to plan. Maybe we should alternate each year or have two
separate events ( the more, the merrier). This year we were only
thinking Tote Gote. Our thinking was wrong. The Blazers and
twisters and cushmans and tules all count. Years ago, these machines
were ruled out of off road racing by the 'solid wheel'. Only spoke-
wheeled machines were allowed to race. Maybe vintage 'solid-wheel'
machines deserve our recognition.