Tom Reese, along with his brother Dennis, successfully took over their father's business, the Springfield Armory. Now Tom has turned his attention to another passion: vintage off-road motorcycles.
Reese Family Collecting, Restoring Vintage Off-Road Bikes
Story by Jim Witters
Photo by Halley Miller
Robert Reese pursued his passion for guns by taking over the Springfield Armory name and producing M14s, Springfield 1911s and M1 Garands, eventually turning over the highly prosperous Geneseo, Ill., business to his sons Dennis and Tom.
“We’ve been very blessed,” Tom said. “The business has been very successful.”
Now Tom is following his passion -- collecting, restoring and displaying vintage off-road motorcycles. And he hopes eventually to pass along that operation to his son, Tommy.
The Reeses are posing with a 1966 Husqvarna 250 -- the first year it was
imported into the United States. The bike is No. 257 of 300 built.
Tom sold his half of the Springfield Armory business to his brother. And he started buying vintage off-road motorcycles.
The goal is to open a 40,000-square-foot museum in East Moline, Ill. -- Moto Armory Vintage Off-Road Motorcycle Museum -- where they will display some of the great bikes from days past.
A soft opening is tentatively scheduled for January, and the museum will be open five or six days a week, Tom said.
“This will be a big, complete, historically significant museum,” Tom said. “We want the people who stop by to just say, ‘Wow!’
“The people I respect in the motorcycle business all love it.”
Moto Armory is sponsoring the off-road portion of the AMA Vintage Grand Championship. The AMA Vintage Grand Championship takes place during AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days and includes motocross, hare scrambles and trials -- as well as vintage road racing on Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course's road race course and vintage dirt track at the nearby Ashland County Fairgrounds.
Accumulation of motorcycles for the Moto Armory museum began about six years ago, when Tom bought the Greg Primm collection of 275 motocross bikes after Primm’s Las Vegas museum closed its doors.
Since then, he has built the Moto Armory collection to more than 600 motorcycles, each meticulously restored.
Tom raced during the 1970s, with a group of riders that called themselves the Fast Boys of Illinois, competing in enduros and other races.
“There were lots of really fast guys,” he said. “There was a rich assortment of competitions -- flat track, hill climbs. We were surrounded by it -- Peoria, Springfield, Du Quoin -- they were all right in our backyard.”