The shrill screech of seagulls served as my wake-up call as the airborne seabirds hovered in the swirling winds outside my third floor balcony. I wondered why they wouldn’t leave, worried that I was destined to be the unwilling star in a remake of Hitchcock’s The Birds. I would find out later that some idiot two floors above me was feeding them bread scraps, inciting them to a frenzied feeding state. Begrudgingly I drug myself out of bed and made haste to the Daytona Beach Hilton for the annual breakfast held by the AMA and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.
The heart and soul of the motorcycle industry, pioneers who helped forge and mold our industry with their grit, guts and determination had congregated in a grand ballroom of the beachfront Hilton to share a couple hours of camaraderie. The list of AMA members and inductees assembled for the annual Motorcycle Hall of Fame fundraiser was long as motorcyclists came together to raise a little money to make sure the museum perseveres for posterities sake. The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum is in the process of an exhibit redesign to highlight its newest members. It is also working on a tribute to American Honda’s 30 years in Ohio and is planning a new exhibit to celebrate American flat trackers.
It was a trio of speed demons at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum’s annual Breakfast at Daytona as Denis Manning of BUB 7 fame joined the fastest woman on two wheels Leslie Porterfield and flat tracker extraordinaire Chris Carr as the guests of honor.
So it was only fitting that one of the fastest men on the flat track, Chris Carr, was one of the event’s guests-of-honor. Carr is also known as the fastest man on two wheels, a title he wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the help of one Denis Manning, the engineer and owner of the world record holding BUB 7 Streamliner and the event’s other special guest. A woman who knows a thing or two about going fast in her own right, the lovely Leslie Porterfield, who owns a handful of land speed records herself, was also on hand to moderate the candid conversation between the trio as they talked about running on the Salt Flats at Bonneville and what it takes to make and ride the ‘World’s Fastest Motorcycle.’
But a little glory this morning was stolen by the adorable Gloria Struck. Gloria is my new hero. At best, the spunky 84-year-old woman stands a tad over five feet tall and can’t weigh more than a buck five. When it came time to head down to Daytona this year, a snowstorm had dumped on the Eastern seaboard. But this 64-year-member of the AMA was not to be deterred and the plucky grandma went outside and shoveled about a block-long path from her garage door to the nearest plowed road so that she and her daughter cold make the ride to Bike Week from their New
Jersey home. Now that’s determination. Seeing Gloria in her white and blue Motor Maids Inc. jacket, you’d never guess that this diminutive 84-year-old woman had the heart of a lion. Of course, her neighbors thought she was a little crazy when they saw her out in the cold forging the path down the block a shovelful at a time. But, as Gloria said, “I don’t know how many more times I’ll be able to make that ride down to Daytona,” which made her even more determined than ever to make it down this year.
Gloria Struck is a real spitfire. This 84-years-young lady actually shoveled a path from her garage down the block of the circle she lives in so that she could ride her motorcycle to Bike Week from her home in New Jersey.
With a belly full of good grub and invigorated by Gloria’s story, we headed over to check out the action on Beach St. It was cool to see the orange and black flags of Harley-Davidson blowing in the strong winds above The Motor Company’s canopy as its 2010 models sat proudly on display right down the sidewalk from its long-time rival, the recently resurrected Indian Motorcycles with factory-custom manufacturer Big Dog Motorcycles sandwiched in between. The trio was circling the wagons on Beach St. as custom and cruiser sales continue to be one of the stronger demographics in a sagging economy. It was good to see that the manufacturers were supporting local stores as all three had dealerships right across the street from their displays. Without these diligent people who toil daily selling bikes, doing service and supplying aftermarket parts and who are the direct face of these companies, the manufacturers wouldn’t survive. Hopefully the arrangement translated to sales for some of the local Daytona dealerships. I know that while I was at Big Dog display talking to Rick one Big Dog owner came in looking for some new accessories for his bike and Rick promptly directed him across the street to the
Daytona Big Dog dealer to find what he was looking for. The traveling display only includes 2010 Big Dog Motorcycles.
It didn’t, however, include the new 2010 Big Dog Chopper. Even though Bike Week would have been the perfect platform to introduce BDM’s lowest priced offering to date, according to Rick the motorcycle is still in the production stages. This was confirmed in an e-mail we had received earlier that day from John Nasi which stated “With a slight break of winter weather, Big Dog Motorcycles is in sixth gear this month to exercise rigorous testing on the new 2010
Chopper. Gawking crowds were able to view the new Chopper as she was pounding the original brick roads from the end of the 19th century in downtown Wichita today. Initial ride responses on the Chopper reveal the remarkably agile ride characteristics for this new model.”
Down the sidewalk from Harley-Davidson we run into V-Force Customs‘ Cody Connelly and Vinnie DiMartino. They had a handful of their bikes on display and were signing autographs from fans. You gotta give the guys props for having the foresight to get off the OCC bandwagon and to establish their own identity when it would have been easy to ride on the Teutul’s coattails ‘till the end. But that’s not how V-Force rolls. The guys are now able to showcase their talent in their own shop. They’ve even launched their own TV show called Throttle Junkies. We interviewed Vinnie and Cody during last year’s rally so we popped in to chat with the guys and to check out their latest builds.
We also stopped by the Indian Motorcycles’ display to visit our friend Mark Pomerantz and to check out the 2010 line. We had the pleasure of riding one of the new Indians at Sturgis and are licking our chops at getting another chance to sample the new breed of Indian Motorcycles. No word about when we might see the Scout back in production, but a
moderately-priced, nimble handling bike could generate instant sales because a lot of people want to see the marque return to its former prominence. We’re hoping to arrange another ride on the new Indians in the near future for a potential travel feature in our MotoUSA magazine. We did see a wicked Indian trike conversion while we were there that carried the beautiful, classic lines the company is known for and was the first we’ve seen using the new models.
By this time the sun was going down, which meant that right down the road on Beach St., the party hosted by Motorcycle USA and bikerpic.org was kicking into gear at the Blue Grotto. While beautiful spokesmodels struck poses on monstrous Vanquish V8 motorcycles, the Dan Lawson Band laid down some smooth Stevie Ray Vaughn licks. The Blue Grotto was a gracious host, with bars both indoors and out. Multi-million dollar yachts were docked next to the wooden deck outside while inside the smells coming out of the kitchen had our mouths watering. We fixed that with an order of lobster pasta, an incredibly scrumptious dish that was heaped with loads of the delectable sea creature.
Two bikes in, one bike out. It was a tire-smoking good time at the Broken Spoke Saloon for the Baker Burnouts. Wes McLain won, at the expense of one pair of leather chaps.
We ended the night over at Jay Allen’s Broken Spoke Saloon. Talk about a guy who knows how to throw a party, Allen’s made a career out of it. The venue was packed as Houses of the Holy had the crowd singing along with their favorite Led Zeppelin tunes while a fire-breathing bartender entertained between sets. And the bartender’s weren’t the only ones that were smokin’ hot. After Houses of the Holy finished playing, the area in front of the stage was cleared for the Baker Buronut contest. It was two men in, one man out as V-Twin mounted gladiators locked front wheels, dumped clutches, and sent back tires spinning wildly behind them. The energy was intoxicating as the smell of spent rubber and clouds of billowing smoke incited raucous cheers from the crowd. When it was all said and done, mohawk wearing Wes McLain of Wes’ Customs rode away with the title on a hopped-up Harley with custom flames streaking down its tank. Wes used a unique approach, one hand on his high apes as he kept the throttle pinned and punched his foot shifter with his other hand. Whatever works, he reached fifth gear first and burned a hole in his chaps from the searing pipes in the meantime. As Bert Baker would say, it was all “Just good stupid fun.”
After the burnout contest, Broken Spoke employees started covering the stage with giant tarps in honor of the closing act. The tarps could only mean one thing – it was time for the return of the Sledge-O-Matic and the comedian Gallagher. His bawdy brand of comedy was a perfect fit for the biker crowd who could appreciate his rude, crude act.
Gallagher can take it as well as he dishes it out. His show at Jay Allen’s Broken Spoke Saloon was a riot.
Even when it came time to let the hammer fly, there was no shortage of volunteers willing to get on stage knowing they were about to get splatted in the face with food and condiments. One young blonde girl was the biggest trooper of all as she diligently placed slice after slice of watermelon on the stool as Gallagher pounded away. She got the full tar-and-feather act when after she was covered with sticky watermelon juice, the comedian hit her with a face-full of flour. She laughed the entire time and actually appeared to enjoy her moments in the spotlight. I woke up the next day with sore ribs from laughing so hard.