The Barber Vintage Festival may have eclipsed Vintage Motorcycle Days as the largest vintage motorcycle event in the U.S., but don’t think that VMD’s lost its shine, because as this year’s July 6-8 show proved, it’s still a crown jewel in U.S. motorcycle royalty.
Truth be told, we hadn’t been to VMD for a number of years, and frankly wondered if it would still glow with the same incredible energy we remembered from years past. After experiencing yet another weekend of what we’ve always called the Woodstock of vintage motorcycle weekends, we’re happy to report that VMD is yet one of the greatest events on the vintage calendar.
The continued success of VMD is easy to understand. Organized in the mid-1990s by the American Motorcyclist Association as a benefit for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and held since the beginning at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, VMD is home to the largest motorcycle swap meet in the U.S. The swap meet alone — it covers an incredible 35 acres — is reason enough to take in the weekend. Throw in great motocross racing, road racing and multiple shows set up by clubs and other enthusiasts in the Old Bike Barn Crossroads in the infield and you have Motorcycle Mecca.
Motorcycle Classics hosted this year’s Ride & Show on Friday, with several dozen riders joining us for a leisurely 26-mile ramble on great two-lane roads carving through the surrounding countryside. Back at the MC tent after the ride we held a short awards ceremony, with special framed Daniel Peirce metallic prints going to participating riders in three categories.
Don Beatle took home our Best Restored award, making the ride with us on his 1939 BSA B21 Standard. Previously his father’s bike, the BSA had sat for years before Don restored it about 15 years ago. Ray Palmer took Best Rider for his fabulous 1957 Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide panhead, bought four years ago from a friend whose dad bought it new in 1957. Editors’ Choice went to Peter Howell, who showed up on his 1968 Norton Fastback, a bike he’s owned since 2006. We make no bones about our love for Norton’s venerable twins (I’ve had several and editor Hall recently got his first), and Peter’s was fantastic. No stranger to Norton ownership, Peter bought a ’68 way back in 1970, so his current Fastback brings him full circle.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Bike Show, presented by Old Bike Barn, draws an impressive selection of classic machines. An especially strong contingent of custom and stock vintage Japanese bikes were present at this year’s show, along with great machines from England, Italy, Germany and of course the U.S. Custom builders and other vendors lined the infield, along with live music, craft beer, the American Motor Drome Wall of Death and special technical seminars.
Vintage bikes rule at VMD, and owners young and old, male and female, blanket Mid-Ohio on their old rides. Original survivors seem to be favored at VMD, where a grassroots vibe dominates. For older riders it’s a trip back in time to simpler days when riding a motorcycle was all they dreamed about. And for newer riders just getting into the sport it’s an introduction to how it used to be and what inspired motorcycling’s explosive growth back in the day. The 2019 event happens in July; we’ll post event dates as soon as we have them. MC
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