It’s time once again for some fun in the sun as the motorcycle rally season kicks off this weekend with the 72nd annual Daytona Beach Bike Week.
It must have been quite the spectacle standing on the sand of Daytona Beach on January 24, 1937. Picture watching Harley Flatheads and Knuckles dice it out with Indian Fours and who knows, maybe a Crocker or two. Imagine the sound the big bikes made at full tilt barreling down the beach for a mile-and-a-half before sliding around the quarter-mile long sandy bank that served as a turn. Then it was on to the highway for the run south before hitting another big banked turn that spit racers back onto the sand for another run up the beach. When the roar of rumbling V-Twins finally faded, it was Ed Kretz on an Indian who etched his name in the record books as the first winner of the Daytona 200 and one of the world’s most prestigious motorcycle races was born.
Seeing as how an Indian Motorcycle won that initial Daytona 200, it’s only fitting the company has big plans for its return to Daytona International Speedway (DIS) during Bike Week this year. On Saturday, March 16, Indian Motorcycle will return to the fabled banks of DIS for the “Indian Motorcycle Spring Dash” where former 200 winner Don Emde will lead approximately 400 motorcyclists around the track. Indian is sponsoring the dash to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Floyd Emde’s dominant win of the Daytona 200 beach race and Don, Floyd’s son, will lead the charge on a tribute Big Base Scout he built to replicate the bike his father rode to victory on in 1948. And while this dash is only ceremonial, the real deal takes place later that day as the 72nd Daytona 200 goes down Saturday, March 16th at 1 p.m.
Because even though a motorcycle rally has sprouted up around the event, racing is still at the heart of Daytona Beach Bike Week. The AMA Supercross season is already going full-tilt and will start things off with a bang as the 11th round of the series takes place at DIS Saturday, March 9. Local phenom James Stewart sloshed his way to victory in the Daytona mud bog last year after heavy rains turned the Speedway’s infield into a muddy mess. This year, Davi Millsaps is having a season to remember and leads the Supercross field heading into this weekend’s event, but Ryan Villopoto has been riding strong and has trimmed the gap on first place to 12 points. Needless to say, there’s a lot on the line in this weekend’s race, so be prepared for some serious bar-banging action.
Motorcycle racing is still at the core of Bike Week. We can’t wait to hit up the AMA Pro Flat Track action at the Speedway.
This eagerness to win should translate to other motorcycle racing disciplines as well. GNCC kicks off its season the day after that at Moose Racing River Ranch while AMA Pro Flat Track holds its inaugural race of the 2013 season Thursday night, March 14, on Daytona’s quarter-mile limestone. Then the American road racing season kicks into high gear, starting with the first AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson XR1200 race Friday and ending with the Daytona 200 Saturday. In addition to all this, the fourth annual Ricky Carmicheal Daytona Amateur Supercross Championship will also be going down, giving amateur racers an opportunity to wring out their bikes on the same track as the pros. So yes, the core of Daytona Beach Bike Week still centers around motorcycle racing.
But much more has evolved in the form of the spectacle surrounding the race. These days, about a half million motorcyclists show up from around the globe to get their party on in Volusia County every spring. By this time, American riders have borne the wrath of winter and are itching to ride and Bike Week provides the perfect conduit to do this. The Florida coastline holds the promise of sunny days and a chance to ride, to feel warmth on skin again, to run your toes through fine sand. It arrives with the promise of longer riding days and the chance to hit the open road again. Daytona Beach Bike Week gives average Joes an opportunity to ride like a king down Main Street, to roast some tires on the plywood platform in front of the stage at the Broken Spoke Saloon, or to take a ride on the beach itself, a luxury that you don’t get many places here in the States.
Speaking of the Broken Spoke. If you’ve never visited the Spoke’s Ormond Beach location, get there this year. From the Spanish moss covered oaks to the choppers that dangle from these same trees, the Broken Spoke offers a biker-
Lady motorcyclists showed up in force last year for the fifth annual Harley-Davidson MDA Women’s Ride. The Official Blues Brothers Revue (below) had people dancing in the streets at Harley’s party on Beach Street.
friendly party atmosphere. This year the Spoke is hosting the “Editor’s Choice Bike Show” Tuesday, March 12, from noon to 6 p.m. Sponsored by Twisted Tea, the first annual Daytona Bike Week Editor’s Choice Bike Show will feature editors from 15 national motorcycle mags looking for bikes to feature in their publications. Each editor will pick a bike from the show, present them with a trophy from the magazine, then professional photographs will be taken of their motorcycle for a full-length feature in an upcoming issue of that magazine. Who doesn’t want their custom bike in a national publication? On Friday night, the Spoke switches gears a bit as Southern rockers Molly Hatchet take the stage. As you can see, there’s lots of good stuff going on at the Broken Spoke Saloon during Bike Week 2013.
There’s plenty of other opportunities for custom motorcycle owners to get their due, too, with several reputable shows going on throughout the week. Fans of The Motor Company will be treated to a wide array of wild rides on Wednesday, March 13, at the Harley-Davidson Ride-In Bike Show as creative fans show to what extremes production Harleys can be taken. The next day, rat rods, choppers, bobbers and garage builds will take center stage at Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Old School Chopper Show. Willie’s gig is always one of our favorites as the irascible Roadside Marty really knows how to work a crowd. Saturday is our favorite show of all though, the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show, going 41 years strong. What Big Daddy Rat started long ago is now heading into its third generation as Teddy Jr. is running the show. Last year we saw probably the strongest contingency yet of customs competing for top prizes, and builders have been working hard this past year and are eager to showcase their work. A world class competition run by a great group of people, if you’re a fan of custom motorcycles, be sure to get over to the Rat’s Hole Show at the Daytona Lagoon Saturday, March 16.
You’ll want to get out to the Speedway, too, even if you’re not going to the races. Just about every OEM sets up outside the gates of the stadium, bringing along the latest motorcycles on the market for people to see, sit-on, and in most cases, demo ride. And you get to do this with the ambience of superbikes screaming from the infield of the Speedway as they conduct practice and qualifying runs throughout the week. In addition to manufacturers, Thunder Alley and the Midway has rows and rows of vendors, food booths, and events like the annual Hooters Bikini Contest.
Amongst the madness of the Midway will be our sister site Motorcycle Superstore who is setting up shop at Bike Week for the very first time. They’ll have a huge tent sale going on with plenty of good stuff from Bell Helmets, Icon, River Road and more.
The Rat’s Hole, heading into its 41st year, is one of the most prestigious custom motorcycle shows around.
Better yet, they’re going to be giving away a Roland Sands Sportster 883, so be sure to stop by for a chance to win this rippin’ Sporty. Our friends at Mustang Seats will also be set up at the Speedway with a huge new rig. Besides displaying some of the highest quality motorcycle seats around made here in the good ol’ USA, Mustang will be giving away a free seat in a random drawing to somebody who signed up at their booth during Bike Week.
We highly recommend setting a day aside to visit Destination Daytona as well. And we do mean a full day, as there’s so much going at Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson empire that you’ll need a day to take it all in. Big name vendors surround the premise, the smell of meats grillin’ fills the air, and a continuous stream of shows like The Ives Bros. Ball of Steel Stunt Show fuel the commotion of the circus-like atmosphere. Michael and Angie from the Full Throttle Saloon will be there, and Saturday night, March 16, the festivities crescendo with a free concert by Shooter Jennings. While you’re at Destination Daytona, be sure to pop into J&P Cycles huge retail store. Walk through the doors and it’s a cornucopia of motorcycle aftermarket parts. It’s easy to get distracted in there with the rows of tantalizing bits for custom and project bikes, especially seeing as how they’ve got a dedicated crew at the ready to throw those new parts on for you on the spot.
And of course, making a trip or two down Main Street is a must. Yep, it’s going to be loud, elbow-to-elbow, gritty and even a little seedy, but damn there’s fun to be had. Whatever your vibe is, you can find it on Main Street, be it dancing at Froggy’s or catching some blues at the Boot Hill Saloon. Lots of events center around Main Street, from benefit rides like the Harley Women’s MDA ride to the revealing of the new Indian Motorcycle V-Twin at Dirty Harry’s. You never know who you’re going to bump into there but inevitably you always see someone you haven’t
seen in a long time. Just posting up and watching people and motorcycles roll by is a popular pastime. When it’s time to get your party on, Main Street Daytona Beach is the place.
Finally, there are plenty of rides to take in and around the area. If you’ve got time, a run down to the Kennedy Space Center about 70 miles to the south is a must. Thanks to Victory Motorcycles list of ’10 Rides to take on Your Victory During Daytona Bike Week,’ we learned a run in the other direction to St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, is another fun daytime adventure. Closer to the action is a ride down to the lighthouse at Ponce Inlet, and then of course there’s always The Loop just outside of Ormond Beach that makes you feel like you’re in the wilds of Florida even though you’re just on the outskirts of town.
Motorcycle USA is headed to the beach this week. We’ve got some great bikes lined up to ride, we’ll be bringing you coverage from all the race action, and will be doing daily reporting from the scene. So check in this weekend as we get this Bike Week 2013 party started with a bang!!