Every year, tens of thousands of riders converge on AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days to celebrate something very simple and surprisingly universal: old bikes.
The following was featured in the Sept. 2010 edition of American Motorcyclist... [Part 1 of 3]
By American Motorcyclist Staff
Every year, tens of thousands of riders converge on AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days to celebrate something very simple and surprisingly universal: old bikes. From the roadrace track to the off-road racing to the swap meet and the classic bike shows, to any one of dozens of attractions highlighted on the pages that follow, it’s clear that the vintage motorcycling scene is not only alive and well, but hard on the gas.
Malcolm Smith Legend, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days Grand Marshal, “On Any Sunday” Star
On his role in "On Any Sunday"
“Bruce Brown, who made ‘On Any Sunday,’ didn’t tell me that I was going to be one of the big guys in the film. I didn’t know it until I saw the premiere, and I was just in shock. It did change me. I realized that I couldn’t be as shy as I used to be. Bruce somehow brought out the fun and enjoyment of motorcycles in that movie. There was serious racing, and there were guys getting hurt, but a big part of it was the fun of the playriding, and the family and sporting side of it.”
On what motorcycling has meant to him
“I got to see the world, and race against people from around the world. And it’s given me so much joy. Even here, at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, I’m meeting so many people who are enjoying life and enjoying what they’re doing. And the thing we all have in common is that we all have something we really care about, and that’s motorcycles.”
On Husqvarna & AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days Marque of the Year
“Even back then, I was impressed by the dedication of the Husqvarna engineers. I remember going to Sweden and seeing the factory.
Back then Sweden was very socialist and at Husqvarna, the engineers were making about the same as the sweep-up guys, once you figured in the heavy taxes.
But even with that, they were there 10, 12, 15 hours a day. They were and are a dedicated bunch.”
1982 ISDE Team: Hard Work? Hard Riders.
Hard work builds character and teaches life lessons that pay dividends later on. That was the story for the 1982 International Six Days Enduro team, which rode to AMA Team USA’s best-ever finish at the storied international event, held that year in Czechoslovakia.
Of the 25 Americans entered, only 13 finished with just one, Ed Lojack, scoring a gold medal that year. Nevertheless, due to the incredibly tough conditions that emerged in the later days of the event, that performance earned the team a second-place finish in the premier class.
Photo by Open Image Studio
The other members of the Husqvarna-mounted World Trophy Team that year—Terry Cunningham, Scot Harden, Mark Hyde, Mike Melton and Wally Wilson—reunited at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days to remember the event. Lojack was unable to attend.
“We learned a lot that year,” Harden says, speaking at a panel of the attending team members.
“Adversity teaches you a lot and each one of us, in his own way, took something from the ISDE that year that made us better at what we went on to do in life,” he says.
Café Queen: Bill Becker Built a beauty
Sometimes, you just need to do what you want, and in the case of architect Bill Becker, building his dream bike only makes sense.
“I’ve had motorcycles all my life. One year when my kids were growing up, I had two weddings, and wrote checks and wrote checks and wrote checks.
And when I was all done, I said, ‘Now it’s my turn.’ I told my wife I was going to buy the bike I always wanted when I was younger, a Norton Commando. It was in really nice shape, and there was nothing to do on it except ride it and enjoy it. So I sold it and bought this bike, which was a basket case, and started building it into something I wanted it to be.”
Penton Pride: Keepers of the Flame
The heyday of Penton motorcycles came a few years before Stephen Markley, 40, was ready to ride himself, but that hasn’t kept the restorer of a 1973 Berkshire 100 (left) from developing an affection for the classic off-road motorcycles.
“Just having seen it and knowing that it had its start in America, and the recognition of what it took to make the bike what it is has really drawn me to it,” he says at the Penton Owners Group tent at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days.
That affection only grew as Markley got up close and personal with the Penton history.
Photo by Rob Hardin Photography
“In 2000, when Penton was the Marque of the Year here, I got a chance to speak with Mr. [John] Penton personally,” Markley says. “He was on his way to induct his son [Jack] into the Hall of Fame, but he still took the time to talk with me for 10 to 20 minutes.
“That camaraderie, which exists with this group on all levels, is just amazing.”
Two-Strokes Of History: It's a Rider
Glenn Rumbug has no interest in owning motorcycles “for display only.” For this Wooster, Ohio, resident, motorcycles are meant to be ridden, and that’s exactly what he’s doing with his 1964 Suzuki T-10 in the Ride ’Em Don’t Hide ’Em bike show at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days.
Photo by Rob Hardin Photography
Of course, Rumbug says that’s easier to accept when you start with a machine as ready to ride as his T-10.
“It’s all original. The paint’s all original. The chrome’s all original,” he says. “Then, for the parts I did need, there’s a local dealer who has been a Suzuki dealer since the early ’70s and he’s never thrown anything away. He had virtually all the parts it needed. I spent about two weekends on it and put about 500 miles on it since.”