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Gotta Get One of Them There Gunners

By John “Gunner” Gunnell

I told Victory Motorcycles’ external relations manager Kyle Clack that it just wasn’t fair that his company was bringing out a new bobber bike called the Gunner. It’s like forced advertising or something along those lines. After all, I’ve been using the nickname “Gunner” since I started writing about bikes in 1972. So, Victory must have known they were going to enjoy at least one sale of their newest model. Let’s face it, can I not buy a bike they named after me?

The worst thing was that Kyle wouldn’t even let me peek at my namesake. That’s right, I couldn’t even see the bike I’d be buying. The introductory 2015 Gunner was in a big lock box in Victory USA’s booth at the Progressive International Motorcycle show in Rosemont, Ill., on Friday Feb. 6. “Gunner Reveal Sat 12P” was lettered large on the side of the crate. Unfortunately, I was going to be at the motorcycle show only on Friday; I wasn’t going to see the bike (so I asked Clack if I could at least have the box when they were done with it.) 

After scraping up info on the 2015 Gunner, I found out they really didn’t name it after me. Actor R. Lee Ermey of “Full Metal Jacket” fame is Victory USA’s spokesperson. Ermey served in the Marines for 11 years, rose to Staff Sergeant, and later was given the honorary rank Gunnery Sergeant. When injuries forced his retirement, he went into acting, won a role in Francis Ford Coppola's “Apocalypse Now” and later played Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick's “Full Metal Jacket.” This won him a Golden Globe Award nomination, the nickname we share and the honor of having a bike named for him.

Ermey’s tough demeanor reflects his years in the military and helped him win more roles in war movies and jobs as a technical advisor on combat films. His drill-instructor-like, no BS attitude also earned the respect of bikers he rode with at rallies such as Sturgis. With Victory pushing itself as the alternative “Made in USA” motorcycle manufacturer, the actor had a tough guy image that fit the product well. And the new 2015 Gunner bobber lives up to that image.

Pre-reveal teaser photos of the Gunner showed its horn cover mounted between the jugs of the Freedom 106 V-Twin engine. Victory bought proprietary rights to the 1731cc power plant sitting in the bare-bones bike. Those big jugs should add up to a ride that’ll give a drill sergeant some of his own medicine.

I’m looking forward to having some fun with this whole thing, too. A few years ago, Jack Roush told a funny story about a teen-ager challenging the Roush Mustang he was driving when they stopped side-by-side at several traffic lights. Jack teased the boy right into his company HQs. When the lad said, “Mr. What do you have in that thing?” Roush acted dumb and said, “Gee, I don’t know kid!” Then, he opened the hood and said, “Look at that; they put my name on it!”

Pretty soon I’ll be able to play those kinds of tricks with my 2015 Gunner.

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