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Motorcycle Classics at Road America Vintage Motorcycle Classic: You should have been there!

by Richard Backus


Tags: Classic bike shows,

 Road America MCC show
Bikes start lining up for the Motorcycle Classics Ride & Show at the inaugural Road America Vintage Motorcycle Classic, June 12, 2010. 

The inaugural Road America Vintage Motorcycle Classic was held June 11-13. Organized by Classic Events and Road America, the new event was designed to capitalize on AHRMA vintage racing at Road America and the growing interest in classic motorcycle shows and swaps. And capitalize it did, with a great weekend of vintage motorcycling at one of the most storied race circuits in the U.S.

The track itself dates to 1955, but racing in the area goes back to 1950, when the racing took place on the streets and roads surrounding nearby Elkhart Lake, Wisc. Open road racing only lasted a few years, but its popularity led to the construction of the Road America circuit in 1955 and it’s been race city ever since. 

Last week’s Vintage Motorcycle Classic included rounds 8 and 9 in the 2010 AHRMA Michigan Engineering/RaceTech Historic Cup Roadrace Series. Racer attendance was extremely strong at almost 700 entries, with individuals and teams showing up from across the U.S., including well-known names and faces in the vintage race community like Dave Roper, Alex McLean, Wes Orloff and Karsten Illg.

Road America swap meet
From complete bikes to hard-to-find parts, there was lots of good stuff to be found in the swap meet. 

If you weren’t watching the races, you could spend time wandering around and checking out the bits and pieces – and entire bikes – for sale over in the swap meet area. An estimated 75 vendors set up for the weekend, a respectable showing for a first time event and a good indication of the interest in classic events like the Vintage Motorcycle Classic.

 Road America Suzuki Titan
Restorable Suzuki Titan was nestled between a line of dirt bikes in the swap area. 

Motorcycle Classics was there, hosting the Ride & Show featuring a beautiful ride through the surrounding Wisconsin countryside and a classic bike show with trophies awarded in seven categories. Thirty bikes headed out for the noon ride, and 30 bikes made it back to the track some 40 miles later, the only “breakdowns” a loose chain guard on one bike and running out of gas on another. For the record, I got lost when I got separated from the group. I’d lost my line of sight when a car came between myself and the bikes I was following, and then when the main group turned I went whizzing by. Turning around, I attempted to find the route and the group, but after about 10 minutes of fruitless searching it was painfully obvious I’d taken at least one wrong turn and lost the group for good. Fortunately, finding my way back to the track was fairly painless, and amazingly I ended up arriving exactly as the main group was pulling in!

Road America Ride and Show
Riders in the Motorcycle Classics Ride & Show pause mid-ride for a group photo. 

Road America Aermacchi Chimera
Burt Richmond took People's Choice honors for his beautiful 1957 Aermacchi Chimera. 

Bikes on hand for our show ranged from Burt Richmond’s absolutely stunning 1957 Aermacchi 175cc Chimera to Jimmy Stock’s fabulous 1966 Suzuki X-6 Hustler, a bike he personally customized in 1969 and that remains unchanged from that time. Beautiful.

Road America Suzuki Hustler
Jimmy Stock took Best Japanese for his 1966 Suzuki Hustler, still wearing its custom paint and mods from 1969! 

We also had our project Bonneville Build on display, the 2010 Triumph Bonneville we've been bobberizing with help from Dairyland Cycle Insurance and that we'll be giving away at the 6th Annual Barber Vintage Festival. Crowd response to our bobber Triumph was excellent, and arrogantly enough we think it should have been, as the bike is looking fantastic with its multitude of modifications including a custom exhaust from D&D, a lowered suspension with YSS shocks and fork springs, and a lovely coat of retro Triumph gold paint with gloss and flat black accents. Very cool, and it could be yours if you sign up now.

Road America Bonneville Build
The Motorcycle Classics/Dairyland Cycle Insurance Bonneville Build at Road America. 

Just to keep things interesting, I rode up to the show from the Kansas City area with pal Ken Tripkos, me on my 1983 Laverda RGS and he on his 1991 Honda ST1100. Okay, so they're not old-school classics, but the ride was excellent and I was glad to get some miles under my belt for a change, a total of 1,520 roundtrip in this case. Both bikes ran flawlessly, and despite a couple of hours riding in pouring rain never missed a beat. What a hoot.

Road America Siebkens
Ken Tripkos with his Honda and editor Backus' Laverda RGS parked in front of the famous Siebkens Inn at Elkhart Lake, Wisc. Racers have been staying here for 60 years. 

We’ll have more on the show and the Vintage Motorcycle Classic weekend in the September/October 2010 issue of Motorcycle Classics. Great racing, a great ride and a really fun show made for a spectacular weekend – we’re already looking forward to next year’s event! – Richard Backus