2009 Rockerbox Motorcycle Show

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Attendees at the 2009 Rockerbox motorcycle show admire Mike Crane’s 1924 Sunbeam Model 5.
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One of the trophies, made of worn bike parts.
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Rockerbox organizers Scott Johnson and Shannon Palmer.
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The Fuel Café in the Riverwest neigborhood of Milwaukee.
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Ed Janeck’s sleek BMW R60/2 with a Hannigan fairing won the trophy for the Best European Stock bike.
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Royal Hansen won Best Café with his tasty BSA.
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An immaculate 1954 NSU Max TT.

Rockerbox is a Milwaukee neighborhood block party and motorcycle show that attracts every type of vintage scooter, motorcycle and rider from across the Midwest. This year featured 17 judged categories, and the show is noted for its fantastic handmade trophies for the winners. Best of all, it’s a family event, and the culture of Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood is wonderfully laid back.

The heart of the neighborhood is Scott Johnson and Leslie Montemurro’s creation, Fuel Café. One step inside Fuel and it all comes together. The walls are covered with photos of Scott’s motorcycle racing memorabilia, and creative concoctions fill the blackboard menus. Fuel is the real deal and fits the character of the neighborhood perfectly.

After meeting Scott, it’s easy to see where Rockerbox got its roots. He’s friendly and completely unassuming. And someone else deserving major credit for Rockerbox 2009’s smooth and seamless seventh year is Scott’s Rockerbox partner, Shannon Palmer. Shannon wears many hats and all of them well, even registering the bike show contestants herself, “up close and personal,” just like the rest of the event.

Topping the list of this year’s vintage iron was Mike Crane’s incredible 1924 Sunbeam Model 5. Mike won the well-deserved Best of Show and Fan Appreciation awards. I was lucky enough to be standing curbside when Mike parked his machine only a few feet away. It immediately attracted a crowd, and Mike graciously let the Sunbeam shine with the valve train occasionally puffing whiffs of oil smoke, running for a full five minutes before shutting the engine down.

Rockerbox embodies all of the elements of what a motorcycle show should be about. A neighborhood block party and show all rolled into one with great shops, food and brews. It’s also free.

For 2010, Rockerbox will be held Saturday, Aug. 7. Plans include more swap vendors, an even more eclectic bike show mix with new classes reflecting even more closely what is being built today and more. For more info, visit Rockerbox Motofest. MC

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