The Last Ride of 'Fast Eddie' Fisher

By Pamela Collins

"As long as I live, I hope I can ride," said David Edwin "Fast Eddie" Fisher.  He did. Godspeed, Fast Eddie.

'Fast Eddie' Fisher on his old racer, a 1950s Triumph Tiger 100R, in the 1990s. [Fisher Family Archive]
An oft-used phrase but appropriate right now for my friend, Fast Eddie Fisher, passed this year. When angels came to escort him to heaven, I'm certain he sneakily cracked the throttle, gunned the engine, and arrived at the pearly gates grinning before they knew what happened. Who needs wings when you have four cylinders? Fast Eddie raced motorcycles, and he raced them, well, fast. Faster than most. So fast, he received his lifelong nickname. So fast that twenty years ago, his racing career earned him a spot in the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame. While racing fever, and motorcycle fervor, often fade with age, Eddie bucked that trend. He competed until just a few years ago in vintage motorcycle races. And he continued to ride. At age 97, he continued to ride. He traded two wheels for a bright red three-wheeled Can-Am vehicle a few years ago, scooting the backroads (the only kind of roads, really) around his hometown hamlet of Shunk, Pennsylvania, his best companion, wife Suzi, riding pillion. But Eddie still rode.

'That guy from Shunk' with his factory-supplied Triumph flat track racer.  Note fine-pitch alloy T100 motor, 1 gallon racing oil tank, twin megaphone sidepipes, girder forks, no front brake, and nickel-plated chassis. A special machine. [Fisher Family Archive]
As a local motojournalist, I first heard of Eddie as "that old guy from Shunk" who won some races. When I finally met him twelve years ago, I learned the real truth about the real Fast Eddie. To compress a 97-year-long timeline: Born in Gap, PA, the eighth child of thirteen, he developed an early love for motorbikes when his brother bought one; at age 16, he bought his first, an Indian Scout Pony. He entered the Army during World War II at age 18, testing highly for mechanical skills. After receiving advanced motor mechanic training, he went to Europe as part of the 17th Airborne Division. He served in the garages and trenches there, experienced the Battle of the Bulge, assisted at the emancipation of the Dachau Concentration Camp, became part of General Eisenhower's honor guard in Berlin.

Eddie abroad, only 20 years old, serving in the 17th Airborne in Germany during WW2. A survivor. [Fisher Family Archive]
Returning home at age 21, he worked fixing motorcycles and began racing for independent teams on Indian Motorcycles. When that company folded, Triumph Motorcycles offered him sponsorship in 1952, starting a decades-long relationship. As Number 42, he raced against some of the greatest names of the era, lost some but won some, including the 1953 Laconia 100-mile endurance race, probably his greatest racing victory. He raced professionally until 1957, growing and prospering as a businessman and a family man with a son and daughter. First, a garage and gas station, then motorcycle sales (Triumph, of course, then others throughout the years), then automobile dealerships, then a move to rural, remote northern Pennsylvania. All the while racing and riding.

It wasn't always about fast: Eddie riding a trials course in the 1950s on a Triumph Tiger Cub. [Fisher Family Archive]
Eddie loved--no needed-- forward motion. In Shunk, he owned the former Fox garage building where he collected and repaired motorcycles, along with old cars, tractors, and just about anything with a motor. He enjoyed the frustrating challenges of making old things go and move as if to impart his vitality on the rusted, dirt, and oil-clogged machines. Vital—that's a good word to describe Eddie. He kept moving, whether chopping firewood or mowing fields or test riding motorcycles—he never stopped for long. Neither did his stories. Especially his race stories. From his 97-year-old filing cabinet of memories, he would recount a race in detail—his position in the pack, who was ahead or behind him, who wrecked, the time of day, the condition of the track—with colorful, stunning precision.

On the track at Langhorne in 1953 with a special road racing Triumph T100R. [Fisher Family Archive]
Eddie also collected friends, easily. Many a rider new and old, from near and far, made the pilgrimage to that garage at the 90-degree turn in Shunk to chat with Fast Eddie amidst his mish-mosh collection of motorcycles and memories. I once asked what advice he'd give new racers, and he surprisingly answered, "don't fall off." Surprising, I say, because that seemed, well, obvious to me. But he explained, as a new racer, he watched many others lose because they let go; they didn't fight to stay on when the going got rough. So, his pre-race internal pep talk consisted of "don't fall off, don't let go, stay on no matter what." And he did. Eddie exemplified that phrase for the rest of his life. He didn't fall off, even after an accident that nearly severed his ankles when he was younger,  a hip replacement when he was older, or a cancer scare in his mid-eighties. He most certainly stayed on when, at 77 years old, he married the 23-years younger Suzi, a motorcycle enthusiast and perfect partner who left Ohio to join him in Shunk. Eddie never let his grip go on that throttle of life and love. Even to his last ride.

Eddie and Suzi at a motorcycle event in 2021. [Fisher Family Archive]
I've ridden with Eddie and Suzi numerous times, staying far enough behind so I could watch his riding style…where he apexed turns, throttled, and braked…though he once told me going only 50 miles per hour on our curly country roads didn't really necessitate "choosing lines." Short and lithe, like a jockey, the veteran racer rode smoothly and confidently. On a tourism-bureau-perfect day this past July, husband Tim and I rode to meet Ed and Suzi, then traversed the wonderfully windy Route 154 to Canton, PA, for lunch, just four friends sharing our sport, enjoying the rural beauty, happy for the gift of those riding moments. But I sensed this particular ride, though over well-known roads, was somehow…more special. Different. The blues and greens seemed more saturated with color, the potholed and patched roads felt smoother, and my Triumph Street Twin felt even more fun. Eddie regaled us with more racing tales during the meal. I watched his eyes…not yellowed or dimmed by age…he had bright blue eyes, so bright I swear they sparkled. In those eyes I could see the racer, the winner, the glint of determination and a hint of mischievousness. After the meal we planned to accompany Eddie and Suzi back to Shunk, but Eddie had another idea. Blue eyes twinkling he stated, "I want to keep riding." I wasn't surprised. Upon our first meeting twelve years ago, I asked why, at age 85 then, he still rode, and he replied without missing a beat, "I just got the fever."

Streets ahead at the Laconia, NH, road course at Belknap Recreation Area in 1953. [Fisher Family Archive]
Off we rode 50 miles southward, Tim leading the way, me second, Eddie and Suzi riding shotgun to visit buddies Ray and Shirley Kinley, who live near Williamsport. Following Route 14 southward along Lycoming Creek's lazy curves, we detoured through tiny country roads to Ray's house. Eddie grinned and laughed at the good day gifted to us. We knew, and commented, that the day felt indescribably wonderful and intensely…perfect. A couple of hours later, we said farewell, appreciating the special camaraderie motorcyclists share. As the Fishers began riding away, I noticed Eddie's ball-cap-dressed head and thought he had forgotten his helmet. We stopped them to question the missing gear. "Nope," came the answer. He didn't forget; the 97-year-old racer didn't feel like wearing it. I chuckled. Suzi tells me they stopped for ice cream on the return 50-mile ride home, and she and Eddie labeled the day as wonderful. I'm so grateful that Fast Eddie had a wonderful last ride, and his wish came true…he rode as long as he lived.

Lineup of the winners at Laconia, Eddie's first National win. [Fisher Family Archive]
Three weeks later, Eddie's heart condition caught him on the straightaway, passed, and out-rode him to the finish line. Eddie died at home on August 4, 2022, joining the Heavenly all-star motorcycle racing club that includes his best buddy and former rival Dick Klamfoth. Inspiration manifests in many ways; sometimes, it beams forth from people we meet. Eddie radiated inspiration. For his racing career, sure, but that amounted to only one-tenth of a near-century of his life. Though a little man from Shunk, Eddie lived a big, colorful, non-stop, throttle-rolling, forward-reaching life for his entire 97 years. "I want to be like Eddie," I have heard many people say. Fast Eddie left us with his advice on how to achieve just that. It's simple. "Don't fall off."

Eddie with his last ride, a Can Am trike. [Fisher Family Archive]
Eddie in his heyday with his Triumph crew. [Fisher Family Archive]

Watch the 2019 film about Eddie Fisher's life - 'Fast Eddie' - here.



Pam Collins is a moto-journalist for over twenty years for  publications such as AAA Magazine, Backroads Motorcycle Tour and Travel Magazine, RoadBike Magazine,, Keystone Motorcycle Press