2013 Daytona Bike Week Review

March 23, 2013
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
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Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

Mike Wolfe had the honor of firing up Thunder Stroke 111  Indian Motorcycles striking new V-Twin  at its public debut at Bike Week 2013.
American Picker Mike Wolfe had the honor of firing up Thunder Stroke 111, Indian Motorcycles’ striking new V-Twin, at its public debut during Bike Week 2013.

We’re still twitching in our sleep from V-Twins rumbling in our heads after ten days at Bike Week 2013, but life is slowly returning to normalcy. It was a whirlwind tour, with motorcycles like Harley’s new Breakout to ride, innovations like the debut of Indian Motorcycle’s new Thunder Stroke 111 V-Twin to see and technological breakthroughs to witness in the form of Darkside Scientific’s Lumilor electroluminescent paint. All this and tons of motorcycle racing too as Motorcycle USA made the rounds from Main Street to the Speedway and beyond during the 72nd annual gathering of bikers on the beach. ( Read more in our 2013 Daytona Bike Week First Report )

For the most part, the vibe was mellow and it was a peaceful affair. But don’t tell that to Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood, who was involved in an altercation on Main Street with a man who was later reported to be anti-establishment and bipolar. Though the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported Chitwood suffered a broken hand and a deep bite wound to his finger, the police chief is in good spirits as he heals from his injuries.

Otherwise, police reports of major offenses were minimal. Motorcycle thefts, a common occurrence at gatherings such as Bike Week, were down from last year, with 19 thefts reported in 2013 compared to 35 last year. Of those 19, 12

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stolen motorcycles were recovered, granted some of those were motorcycles stolen elsewhere and discovered at Bike Week.

It was relatively quiet on the motorcycle fatality front as well. Though one motorcyclist lost is too many, affairs like Bike Week seldom come away untainted. This year three fatal motorcycle accidents were reported, the first coming mid-week when a motorcyclist from Fort Myers crashed in wet conditions exiting Interstate 95 near International Speedway Boulevard. A Jacksonville man also died from injuries sustained when he collided with a car that pulled in front of him. The final incident occurred late Sunday in the waning hours of Bike Week when a rider tried to elude police over the Main Street Bridge at over 100 mph and crashed on the other side. A ticket or a little jail time is better than the latter result this rider suffered, but regardless, news like this always puts a damper on what should be a joyous occasion.

Because there was lots of fun to be had, especially at light-hearted affairs like the annual coleslaw wrestling competition at the Cabbage Patch. It was a sunny day at Sopotnicks as 12 competitors battled it out in the oil-slicked slaw for a chance to win the $500 cash prize. With emcee Radical Randy and local DJ Magic Mike working the crowd, 4000 pounds of cabbage, twice as much as last year, was shredded into the tarp-covered mound used as a ring.
Laura Lee, a challenger from Detroit, Michigan, said that she had never done anything like this before.

Stirring the slaw at the Cabbage Patch before the wrestling begins.
Competitors stir up the slaw at the Cabbage Patch before the wrestling matches begin.
Pouring his heart into his music at the Iron Horse Saloon.
Jared Blake and his band played some rockin’ country tunes before the Baker Smoke-Down Showdown at the Iron Horse in Ormond Beach.
Having fun at the Cabbage Patch during Bike Week 2013.
Having fun is what it’s all about at Bike Week 2013.

“I’m 45 and probably gonna lose, but I’m gonna have fun doing it.” Lee was actually pretty scrappy and represented The Motor City well in her bouts.

The silly contest, worthy of a Jeff Foxworthy punchline, has grown into a Bike Week staple, but don’t tell the ladies wrestling for the $500 first prize it was a silly competition. When it was time to get it on, the girls were all business in the ring, none more serious than six-time defending champion “Texas.” From the strength in this girl’s thighs, she must have some MMA training, especially the way she gave her first opponent a judo hip throw on her way to a quick pin. In the double elimination tournament, competitor Lori Skidplate, who won the first match, had red marks covering her body after the match from wrestling so hard.

More fun was to be had at the Suzuki After Dark Party outside the Hilton. While Suzuki owners were throwing down on the beachside deck, hanging out with Suzuki reps and snagging free schwag, we checked out the 2013 Boulevard C90T B.O.S.S. before talking with our buddy Nick Anglada, who recently customized a Suzuki C109R benefit bike for the Florida Hospital Foundation. With Spring Training in full swing and the start of Major League Baseball right around the corner, this collectible custom is going to be a prized possession. The baseball-themed C109R has been designed to showcase autographed baseballs from major league legends who are in the 600-plus home run club, including “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron, Willie mays, and Babe Ruth. The bike itself has been signed by Ken Griffey, Jr. But don’t overlook the work Anglada has done on it. He widened the back and front so it rolls 21-inches up front and 280m on the rear. It has Tricky-Air air ride suspension and a Beringer superbike braking system. So even though this bike is worthy of being a museum piece, don’t think for a second it won’t get-up-and-go.

We used the second half of the week to hit up some of our favorite custom bike shows. Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Old School Chopper Show is like no other, a grass-roots event featuring some of the best from garage builders and small shops from around the country. Builders who show up at Willie’s are the types that don’t buy parts from catalogs, they take pride in reinventing parts from junkyard finds or old hot rod parts. Old School is right, from patch-wearing one-percenters to twisted frame choppers with king and queen saddles, a good time is guaranteed at one of the true holdouts against the commercialism that is prevalent elsewhere at Bike Week.

Motorcycles and people squeeze in on just about every inch of Willies lot for the Old School Chopper Show.
Motorcycles and bikers squeezed in on just about every inch of Willie’s lot for the Old School Chopper Show.
Joe Hensley built The Knockout Cancer Bike to honor the people around him and others who have lost the battle with the horific disease.
Joe Hensley built ‘The Knockout Cancer Bike’ to honor the people around him and others who have lost the battle with the horrible disease.
As always  the Rats Hole Custom Bike Show drew a great crowd to the Daytona Lagoon.
As always, the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show drew a great crowd to the Daytona Lagoon.
We were fortunate enough to catch a beautiful sunset over Daytona International Speedway.
While the sun has set on another rendition of Bike Week, we’re already making our plan of attack for next year.

On Saturday it was time for the 41st annual Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show, one of the most prestigious contests around. We got a peek at the prized handmade trophies earlier in the week when we caught up with current Big Daddy Rat, Ted Smith. When the weekend rolled around, custom motorcycles of all ilk, from stretched and slammed super radicals to rat bikes, once again filled the grounds of the Daytona Lagoon. Baggers, one of the most popular segments these days, took center stage for the Bagger Showdown that included one built by Joe Hensley and Back Yard Baggers with fantastic custom bodywork. The fact that it was created to honor those who have battled cancer makes it even more special. Ted and Pam Smith know how to throw a great show and the Rat’s Hole was once again a world-class event.

We finished the week appropriately by taking in some racing, from the kick-off of the AMA Pro Flat Track to the granddaddy of them all, the Daytona 200. Youth was served at this year’s races, with plenty of fresh faces filling the podiums. It started with Mikey Rush, who broke his back last year and missed much of the season but returned with a vengeance this year to register his first-ever pro victory in Thursday night’s flat track race. Brandon Robinson would duplicate the feat the following night after winning his first GNC Expert Singles race. In the Daytona 200, Cameron Beaubier put on a clinic as he comfortably rode to victory, finishing 22 seconds ahead of the nearest competitor. Almost as impressive was the fact that the average age of the riders on this year’s Daytona 200 podium is 20-years-old. Our buddy Steve Rapp, the old dog of the bunch, showed he’s still got the skills to compete at the highest level when he placed sixth after grabbing a last-second seat. The ladies were also representing as both Elena Myers and Melissa Paris snagged top-ten positions, crossing the line in ninth and tenth respectively. We hung out a bit with Motorcycle Superstore’s sponsored rider, Devon McDonough, at the Superstore Pit Zone prior to the race, then had fun watching him compete in the AMA SuperSport race later that day.

Daytona Beach once again served as a gracious host for the annual biker blowout. Wherever we went, hospitality abounded, whether we were at the Hidden Treasure on Ponce Inlet our partying out at the Iron Horse Saloon. We got our fill of live music that spilled out of just about every venue and immersed ourselves in everything from burn-out contests to bike shows. I only heard Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird 142 times in my nine days at Bike Week and am still singing the song in my sleep, but when Daytona Beach once again becomes the center of the biker universe for ten days in March, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but in the thick of the action.