Winter has been a cruel mistress for the Northeast. Just ask the good people of Boston. But there is a glimmer of hope for motorcyclists, a figurative pot of gold at the end of the rainbow called Daytona Beach Bike Week. The 74th gathering of bikers on the white sandy beaches of Daytona is right around the corner and the first major motorcycle rally of 2015 can’t get here quick enough for those itching to ride after a long and brutal winter.
By the time Sully Erna belts out “1000 HP” Saturday night at the Full Moon Saloon, visions of the dreary winter will have melted away. Godsmack is helping Victory Motorcycles kick off Bike Week 2015 with possibly the best party of the week. Victory will be debuting its newest boomin’ bagger, the X-1, March 7 at the Full Moon Saloon with a party that fires up at 9 p.m. The fact that Godsmack’s latest album is titled “1000 HP” makes them a perfect fit for a Bike Week bash.
The first weekend also serves as a springboard for the start of the American motorcycle racing season. After all, there would be no rally were it not for a band of brave souls like Ed Kretz bombin’ up and down the beach with reckless abandon back in the day during the first motorcycle races in Daytona. With a history steeped in racing tradition, the Daytona 200 still serves as the pinnacle of pride amongst American road racers. Of course, there was a bit of controversy surrounding this year’s competition. MotoAmerica, the new figurehead of American motorcycle road racing, was unable to reach a sanctioning agreement with Daytona International Speedway and the historic race was in jeopardy. Fortunately, the show will go on, this year’s battle featuring 600cc sportbikes of the American SportBike Racing Association (ASRA). The Daytona 200 will take place in its traditional time slot on the second weekend of the rally, March 14, at 1 p.m. In addition, the ASRA and Championship Cup Series (CCS) will hold a full slate of road races from Thursday, March 12 to Sunday, March 15.
This weekend though sees the start of the 2015 Grand National Cross Country Series. The Moose Racing Wild Boar GNCC in Palatka kicks off the 41st season of the off-road series March 7-8, the first race of a 13-round season. ATVs will tackle the rugged Florida terrain Saturday while motorcycles will take to the course Sunday in the first trials of man and machine against the elements and each other. Monster Energy AMA Supercross also rumbles into town this weekend to compete on a course designed by the GOAT himself, Ricky Carmichael. Ryan Dungey and the Red Bull KTM head to the beach with a boat-load of momentum as he seeks to add another Supercross title to his resume.
The 2015 AMA Pro Flat Track season also swings into motion during the rally. Riders will compete on Daytona’s ¼-mile limestone oval Friday and Saturday nights, March 12-13, in what promises to be another exciting flat track season. Defending GNCC title holder Jared Mees had his hands full against Bryan Smith and his Kawasaki last year, while Kenny Coolbeth, Jr. was also a strong competitor. If Brad Baker is healthy, look for “The Bullet” to be in the championship mix as well this year.
In addition to all the racing action going on at Daytona International Speedway, there’s quite a spectacle going on outside of the raceway as just about every motorcycle manufacturer sets up shop there with full demo fleets at the ready. It’s a great way to inspect the latest, greatest motorcycles on the market up close and personal with the added benefit of getting to ride the majority of them, so bring your gear if you’re itching to ride one. There’s also a slew of aftermarket companies and industry leaders like J&P Cycles, S&S, and Mustang Seats who set up shop on “Thunder Alley,” adding to the allure of DIS as a Bike Week attraction.
Another popular Bike Week attraction is Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona. Rossmeyer’s is the pinnacle of Harley-Davidson dealerships, its compound complete with its own hotel and restaurants. J&P Cycles also has a permanent store there. Pop into the shop, buy that new part you’ve been looking for, and J&P techs will install it on-the-spot. A plethora of industry leaders set-up shop around the premises, entities like Klock Werks Kustom Cycles and Performance Machine. It’s a carnival-like atmosphere with bands playing live music daily to go along with fun events like the “Arm Melter Arm Wrestling Tournament” and appearances by the Budweiser Clydesdales. Destination Daytona will also host several bike shows during the rally, including the “Baddest Bagger in Daytona” contest. Bruce Rossmeyer’s is also holding a head bangin’ bash the final weekend of the rally when Dokken and L.A. Guns play a free concert at the pavilion Saturday night at 6 p.m.
Riverfront Park is also establishing itself as a popular place to hang out during Bike Week. This year’s “Builder’s Row” features Len Edmonson’s Azzkikr, Kendall Johnson, Black Label Cycles, Misfit, Bill Dodge’s Blings Cycles and others. Michelle Smith of “American Thunder” fame, who has also graced the pages of Playboy, will be at Riverfront daily meeting fans for photo ops ad autographs. The new Indian Motorcycle dealership is on Beach Street, which is definitely worth a visit. Live music and acts like the Fireball Girls will add to Riverfront’s festive vibe.
This vibe will undoubtedly resonate in Bike Week’s bar scene. From Froggy’s to the Boot Hill Saloon, Main Street will once again be the epicenter of biker debauchery. But a venture out to Ormond Beach is definitely worth the ride, with the world famous Iron Horse Saloon on one side of the road and the Broken Spoke on the other. Rally favorites Jasmine Cain and Jared Blake will light up the Iron Horse stage throughout the week, along with a full slate of musical acts, including Bad Company’s Brian Howe who is scheduled to play two gigs, Friday and Saturday nights, March 13-14. The Broken Spoke Saloon has its own noteworthy list of headliners, with Hairball practically serving as house band with performances almost nightly. Warrant will rock the Spoke Thursday, March 12, followed by Uncle Kracker Friday night. Plenty of the usual shenanigans will be taking place daily as well, from burn-out pits to loud pipe contests.
The venues will also be hosting bike shows, something there’s no shortage of at Bike Week. The most prestigious of the lot continues to be the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show, which will be hosting its 43rd annual Daytona contest Saturday, March 14. Traditionally held at the Daytona Lagoon across the street from the Ocean Center, this year’s Rat’s Hole will be held at the new Indian dealership at 290 N. Beach Street. A new wrinkle to the bike show scene this year will be the Perewitz Custom Paint Show. Dave and Jody will be holding their first-ever Bike Week show with a primary focus on custom paint jobs, one of Dave’s fortes. First place will receive a $500 cash prize along with a trophy painted by Perewitz himself. The show will be held at Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Pavilion Wednesday, March 11. Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Chopper Show is another Bike Week tradition that always ranks as one of the best gatherings around.
Having Jody P in town is only fitting as she is rapidly earning her place among the most respected women in the industry. As a record-setting member of the 200 miles-per-hour club and in her role of torch bearer for the Perewitz legacy, Jody serves as a positive role model in the burgeoning women rider’s demographic. The Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau has also recognized the ever-increasing amount of women riders on the road and recently launched a marketing campaign and advertisements geared toward lady riders. Harley-Davidson has been onboard the movement for years and will hold its annual MDA Women’s Ride Tuesday, March 10.
Even with so much to see and do during Bike Week 2015, sometimes a break in the action is much needed. Fortunately, there’s plenty of fun day trips close by. Just outside Ormond Beach is the ever-popular stretch known as “The Loop,” an approximately 22-mile ride through a cathedral of Spanish moss covered oaks and manatee-filled waterways that provides a glimpse of Florida’s natural beauty. A little over an hour south is the Kennedy Space Center, a must-see for fans of NASA and space exploration. Head north about the same distance and you’re in St. Augustine, the oldest settlement in the U.S. With old Spanish forts and the historic St. George District to explore, the hands of time roll back as you venture down the city’s rustic streets.
The 74th annual Daytona Beach Bike Week takes place March 6 -15. This is by no means a comprehensive list of events, but hopefully provides a general guideline of places to go and things to do. The official Bike Week page the Daytona Beach Chamber puts together is a very useful source as well. Feel free to add anything we overlooked at the bottom of this page in the Comments section, ride safe, and enjoy some fun in the sun.