Motorcycle Festival at America’s Car Museum

Reader Contribution by Richard Backus
1 / 8
2 / 8
3 / 8
4 / 8
5 / 8
6 / 8
7 / 8
8 / 8

Dean Nissen’s 1962 Norton ES2 took top honors in Vintage Norton.

After last year’s The Meet Vintage Motorcycle Festival at America’s Car Museum (ACM), event chairman Burt Richmond queried the eight judges who examined the 314 vintage motorcycles spread across 17 classes whether the next show would benefit from fewer classes and judges. The response was unanimous: fewer. The result? At the 3rd Annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival, held August 23-24, 2014, there were 14 judges viewing some 350 bikes in 20 classes! Kudos to Richmond for not listening, because the latest show was the best yet, as the broadened class structure made judging better, narrowing the field within classes.

Vintage bikes mix perfectly with the ACM’s incredible collection of vintage and special interest cars, and the museum’s Haub Family Field was literally made just for such occasions, providing the perfect setting for the 350-odd vintage motorcycles on hand for this year’s show.

There was no featured marque for 2014 (2013 celebrated BMW’s 90th anniversary manufacturing motorcycles), but the variety of vintage bikes on hand was predictably breathtaking. Japanese and offroad bikes were particularly well represented this year, as were British bikes, with strong presence in the Triumph and Norton camps. The latter was bolstered by the Southern California Norton Owners Club, which gathered for a “keep the water on the right” ride along the Pacific Coast to California.

Sunday’s 80-mile ride was punctuated by the departure of the Norton club members, who turned south while the rest of us ran east. Lovely bikes, great people, an amazing museum and beautiful riding make this one of the great events of the year — don’t miss it in 2015. MC 

It may be a 4-wheeler, but this 1958 Berkeley SE325 is powered by a 328cc Excelsior 2-stroke twin.


The owner of this 1974 Norton Commando 850 didn’t let a missing side cover stop him from displaying the bike.

Jim El’s lovely 1978 Moto Guzzi LeMans took the judges’ Best Red Racer Guzzi award.

James Iwase’s stunning 1969 BMW R69S with Steib sidecar took Haggerty Best of Show honors.

Canadian George Docking’s 1973 Ducati 750GT took first place in Vintage Italian. Docking built the Ducati to be a regular rider, not a show bike, with minor deviations from stock.

Motorcycle Classics editor Richard Backus made the Sunday ride on the latest sidecar rig from Russia’s Ural Motorcycles.

Norton Club members including former Cycle World editor, and chief judge David Edwards lined up in front of the museum before heading off to California for a “keep the water to the right” ride.

Photos by Richard Backus

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine Featuring the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!