The Antique Motorcycle Club of America Bi-monthly Newsletter
June Newsletter 2018
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L-R on Knuckleheads: Norbert Mattis, Peter Reeves and Olivier Blainville at the 2018 Raalte Netherlands AMCA National Meet
AMCA Chapter events are in full swing. The above photo was taken at National #6 on the 16 National Event calendar in Raalte, Netherlands. A pair of 1937 Harley-Davidson Knuckleheads with AMCA European Chapter Deputy Judge in the middle on a 1936. All three bikes are original paint.
Make sure to check out all the Local Chapter Events below and enjoy the summer.
Are you looking for a new AMCA Chapter in your area? If you don't see on one on the
AMCA Chapter Map, make sure to click on the "Read More" link below to see a list of all the new areas of the country in the process of starting a chapter.
After my own dad died, Fathers Day didn't mean too much to me. He was my role model for many things, but particularly for my getting into motorcycles; specifically, vintage motorcycles. You see, my father, Donald Barnes, was a motorcycle racer back in the late '40's, riding a twenty year old 1929 Indian 101 Scout. But since I wasn't even born until 1949, I didn't get to see any of that.
Don Barnes in 1947
It was only the stories he told about racing that I grew up with. I learned who all his competitors and friends were, what bike they rode, how and where they crashed, and where they won. But Dad never bragged about where and when he won. He never told me much about those times. It just wasn't his way. I only found how good a rider he was much later, thanks to my Mom's diligence in taking pictures and keeping a scrapbook of their journeys to dozens of racetracks around the Midwest.
Turns out he was a nationally ranked Expert TT rider. Dad, my Mom, my older brother Skip, and my Uncle Cliff, who was his tuner, went to the races about every weekend in the summer and worked at the Dad's small Indian
dealership in Wooster, OH during the week. Dad always gave high praise to my Uncle Cliff for making his 1929 Indian 101 Scout "run so good," and how he could always "keep up with thoseother guys and their new bikes."
Every time I get my new Antique Motorcycle magazine in the mail or the National Newsletter in my inbox I want to devour it in one reading, but instead I take small snippets and savor the articles. I especially enjoy the articles written by everyday club members and the "remember when" true life stories that they write.
Mick on his 1964 H-D Sportster
My motorcycle days started in about 1963, when I was 12 years old, if memory serves me. It was right about the time that (in my mind) any good use for a horse was over. I had seen a neighbor kid with a Honda 50 street model, the ones with the leg guards, and I wanted one so bad I could taste it.
I grew up on a ranch about 30 miles north of Lewistown in an area called Salt Creek. I had ridden to town with my dad in the truck one day when I asked if we could go into the Honda dealer to "just look" at the bikes. He didn't see any harm in just looking.
This section is a feature section for AMCA member motorcycles or stories. If you would like to have your bike featured, please submit up to four photos and information about your bike and yourself to AMCA Executive Director, Keith Kizer.
Want more information? Visit our website for more Chapter information or check out the Forum to see the latest discussions on topics that are pinpointed to your interest.
Eight AMCA Chapters are coming together to represent the 14th Annual Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park, October 5-7 in Birmingham, Alabama.
This year AMCA's Catawba, Deep South, Diamond, Dixie, Low Country,
Legends, Music City, and Smoky Mountain Chapter members will participate on the AMCA Field. As part of our commitment to Barbers, AMCA members will conduct a host of antique motorcycle activities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Lot A.
On Friday we start off with the AMCA Vintage Garage from 9am-5pm. At 12:45pm (during the quietness of the lunch break on the racetrack, AMCA will present the "Kickstart Roar" where all bikes on display will be fired up at one time.
On Saturday we will hold the AMCA Bike Show along with Youth Judging presented by Hagerty Insurance. AMCA will also oversee the "Century Parade" which will take place on Saturday.
For the final day of the event (Sunday), AMCA will hold the first ever "Field Games" to be conducted at BVF. A for sure crowd pleaser. AMCA will also participate in the "Parade Lap" where any vintage motorcycle in our display will be allowed to take a lap (or more) on the track. This will take place Sunday during the 11am-12pm lunch break.
AMCA will supply a large tent to display the Oldest of the old bikes. Barbers will furnish overnight security for our area.
Barbers is offering complimentary weekend passes to the first 75 AMCA members who will commitment to having at least one motorcycle on display for all three days. We have about 35 spots left or free passes, so contact Keith Kizer ASAP. If you are interested in two free weekend passes to have your bike on display on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, please contact AMCA Executive Director,
For those who are tent campers and purchase a camping pass, Barber's will mark off a special area in Lot B to keep our AMCA members together. If you are purchasing camping spaces and have already been confirmed to received free passes, let them know when you call to reserve your space. If you have free passes, you cannot purchase camping online.
Find a Chapter (Continued)
In our ongoing effort to add dots to the map, here is a list of Chapters trying to form.
South Alabama, North Arkansas Tucson, Arizona Bakersfield, California Fresno, California Northeast Canada
Hawaii Boise, Idaho
Indianapolis, Indiana Knoxville, Tennessee
If you live in one of these areas and would like to experience the Chapter life, please contact our Executive Director, Keith Kizer
Local Chapters are the ones who bring camaraderie to enjoying the sport you love. If you are not a member of your local chapter, please look them up and visit their next meeting or event. You can find them in the block above by clicking on the Chapter Link which takes you to the map. Click on the state of choice then on one or more of the bubbles in that state. Once you click on the bubble, scroll down to the information for that club. Most have a website link, but if not, click the email link and ask for details of their Chapter.
For those who dedicate their time as Chapter officers, directors or volunteers please send me your Chapter Events so I can include it in the next newsletter.
We will include your local events with links back to the "Chapter Event" pages of the main AMCA website. If you have Chapter logos, Upcoming Event logos, artwork, or photos, please include those too. We are here to help you promote your events to other members.
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If your company would like to offer a discount to the ever growing AMCA membership, please contact AMCA Executive Director, Keith Kizer. Your company logo will be added to future Newsletters and the AMCA website's Sponsor's Page.
AMCA Now Accepts PayPal for Membership and Merchandise!
If your company would like to offer a discount to the ever growing AMCA membership, please contact AMCA Executive Director, Keith Kizer. Your company logo will be added to future Newsletters and the AMCA website's Sponsor's Page.
But three things happened in the early 50's that made Dad hang up his steel shoe: First, I was born in '49. Mom had lost her first husband in WWII and now they had two boys to raise; followed by a set of twins in '52. Next, Indian went out of business and there were no more Chiefs to sell.
And finally, Dad received a letter (that I still have) from Indian's representative on the AMA's competition committee that ruled his 1929 Indian was too old to race in professional competition anymore. So he quit racing and "got a real job" in a factory.
When I got old enough to ride, then race a Honda, then a Yamaha, then a Bultaco, Dad always went with me and wistfully told me about what that 101 Scout could do if he still could enter it in a race. Dad was also a long-time All American Indian Club member and that's how I found out about the cool LaGrange Engine Show and AAIMC Indian Meet in Wellington, OH. Going there with him and I was hooked! He'd haul the 101 up there and take the Saturday morning ride with the other guys.
Sadly however, Dad got a brain tumor in early 1995. They gave him six months to live. My friend Steve Doyle and I took him to see our last motorcycle race together in Norwalk, Ohio. We pushed him around the pits in his wheelchair, since he could no longer walk much. He got to shake hands with George Roeder, Sr. who we always rooted for. (After Bobby Hill retired, of course.)
On the way home from Norwalk that day we saw a Bultaco Astro sitting alongside the road for sale. Without hesitation, we doubled back to check it out and I bought it. It was the very same model that I had raced back in the 70's. Steve and I went back a week later to pick it up. The Bultaco just went into storage, since I was dealing with Dad's illness. My Dad passed later in 1996, shortly after Fathers Day that year. I have to say that was the worst day of my life. He was my best friend AND my father.
Five years went by quickly and I began to read about an organization called the "American Historic Motorcycle Racing Association" (AHRMA). They were racing old motorcycles not appropriate for AMA racing anymore. And they were sponsoring a race that summer in Ashland, Ohio, just a mere 30 miles from where I lived. And I just happened to have that Bultaco Astro sitting in the shop. I'm in!
I recruited a good friend of my father's, Marvin Zollars, who knew Bultaco motors inside and out. He helped me prep the Astro. Together with Marv, my dear Mother, and a group of friends, off we went to the Ashland Co. Fairgrounds half-mile. I don't remember how I did in the race, but I had started a "comeback" to racing in 1997, wearing my vintage Bates leathers.
My friend/tuner, Steve Benson and my wife Debbie always went with me (just like my Uncle Cliff and my Mom went with Dad back in the late 40's.) We went everywhere there was an AHRMA race, from Daytona to Peoria to Davenport, etc.
So there I was, doing what my Father did: racing an old motorcycle when modern bikes were the rule. He had raced a motorcycle 20 years past its prime, and now so was I. And when I think about it now, that makes my father, Donald W. Barnes, "The Father of Historic Motorcycle Racing doesn't it?" Well, at least it does to me. At the very least he was a "pioneer" in the vintage motorcycle racing sport that so many love today.
Unfortunately, I got hurt bad hitting the hay bales riding a Yamaha 650 in Cumberland, MD in early 2000. To add insult to injury, they cut my vintage Bates leathers off me with a pair of scissors in the emergency room. After a few days in the hospital, wife Deb drove us home. That Yamaha got sold and the Bultaco went back into storage. No more racing for me, I told myself. I'd certainly had ridden enough laps around a dirt track, I surmised.
But there was one thing I not had done that I always wanted to do: Race an Indian motorcycle. Like my Father did. I especially got to thinking about that after I met an older gentleman, Lloyd Washburn, from Pt. Clinton, Ohio. Lloyd had raced an Indian Sport Scout professionally in the late '50's. For a time he was the New York State flat track Champion. And Lloyd just happened to still have a 1940 Sport Scout sitting in his shop! After a year or so of begging, I convinced dear Lloyd to sell me his bike; on one condition: That he would help rebuild it and be there to watch me race.
Thanks to Lloyd and my friend/tuner, Steve Benson, we built a beautiful AHRMA-legal Indian Sport Scout race bike and I got to run it for a few years, accomplishing what I
always wanted to do: Race an Indian. Just like my Dad did 60 years before. Unfortunately, a bad street bike crash ended that second comeback in 2006 and I finally hung up my steel shoe. But hey, in my mind, I'd done everything I wanted to do; at least in motorcycle racing. I didn't become a professional "Expert,'" but I did get to race an Indian like my father.
Larry Barnes on a 1940 Indian Sport Scout
The following years went by swiftly, and I sometimes wondered if I was living more in the past than I was thinking about tomorrow. Racing is like a drug; when you stop, you'll always miss it. The buzz is irreplaceable. Or so I thought.
You've no doubt heard the phrase "life happens?" Well, my wife's daughter had a son she named "Rider" (not because of motor-cycles, but because of her own love of horses) and I became a grandfather. I never had kids of my own and now I was a grandfather. And not just your "usual" grandfather, I'm a full-time grandfather. To make a long story short, my wife and I have full custody, and I am the "father figure" in Rider's life. I'm 68 and he's six. I'll be 80 when he graduates from high school! That fact hit me hard this winter when my old bones wouldn't even let me help him build a snowman outside.
But I remind myself often "it is what it is, and it ain't all bad." I get to experience now what most of you other guys experienced many years ago: raising a son. With all the
good things and all the bad; and at his age, it seems we get a lot more bad than good. But there's no escaping this role in life for me. He calls me "Poppa" and my wife "Memaw." We get him in school, we take him to church, we teach him to read, and how to play baseball. And now he's taking karate lessons, for crying out loud. I'm learning
now what most of you learned years ago: There's no rest when you're a father.
However, last Sunday was a magnificent day for me in this ongoing saga. It started slowly enough, with me having coffee while sitting on the couch with Rider. He had gotten up earlier and had turned on the TV program "Paw Patrol." He soon moved over against me and laid his head on my shoulder as we watched together. My heart just filled with love. I never knew that watching TV could be that rewarding.
After a bit, I got him his breakfast and dressed him for church. Both tasks are always a struggle, but we made it to the church on time. Watching him run ahead of me up the sidewalk to the church entrance always fills my heart with love for some reason. Everybody there knows him there and he makes it a point to shake hands with each of that Sunday's door greeters.
After church we came home and Debbie had prepared a delicious breakfast for us all, just like in the movies. Afterward I took a quick nap while she connected with Rider for awhile. Then, because the sun was shining brightly, we got ambitious. So Rider and I got our winter coats on and headed down to my workshop. There, mostly due to Rider's urging, I pulled out and began to work on the battery powered Razor mini bike that I had bought at a yard sale last summer. It took me about an hour to install the new throttle assembly I had gotten months ago. But when I tested it, I only heard a "click" and couldn't figure out why the 24-volt motor wouldn't spin the rear wheel?
Frustrated, I announced my failure to Rider, who came over from whatever he was busy tearing apart, and he stared at it for a moment. He calmly told me to "take the plug out of the wall and try it." Sure enough, that worked! Here I was; ready to give up and go back up to the house, but instead I slapped high five with Rider and praised him for the insight far beyond his years. "Where'd he learn that, I wondered?"
After I oiled the chain and took the bike off the lift, he was excited to try and ride. But I insisted we go up to the house where he could change out of his good clothes and put on a helmet and gloves, which are mandatory to me. With the excuse of doing a "safety check" I rode the little thing up to the house. With me on board it hardly went as fast as a walk. And with no suspension at all, it bothered my back the whole way.
Meanwhile, Rider had run up to the house and announced his intentions to his grand-mother, who found him proper clothes and an old coat to wear. Back outside I assisted him in putting on his helmet, including fastening those pesky D-rings. "Rider, you'll need to practice doing this yourself," I say, as he totally ignores me. He just wants to ride.
Debbie came outside with her camera as Rider climbed on the little bike and took off down the driveway like a shot, not even putting his feet on the pegs or my telling him where the brake was. After a few screams from De
Rider Breneman_ age 6_ on his first dirt bike
b and I, he circled back and we gave him frantic instructions, none of which he heard or cared about, of course. Then he sped off again, took the sharp turn by the wire fence that goes down to the shop and never slowed down.
After a few moments, he rode back up with the biggest grin on his face you can imagine inside his helmet. He told us he had "only crashed three or four times, but it didn't hurt."
And I'm standing there all choked up with happiness. Here's my six-year old grandson doing laps of our property on his mini dirt bike; putting his foot down to "save it" and circling around trees like he's been doing it for years. He'd only ridden this thing briefly once before, when the throttle cable broke. The riding skills he had learned by riding his little knobby-tired bicycle worked very well on this new motorized toy. The kid seems a natural, slows by instinct and rarely uses his brakes. No Fear.
Dear wife Deb looks at me and says "look what you've created" and I almost burst into tears. We love this kid. With all the crap he went through before we got him, with all the crap he continually puts us through now, and all the crap that we're going go th
Proud _Papa_ and his Rider
ough in the years to come, we love this kid!
Now I realize most of you have gone though the same kind of magnificent experience with your own children. If not with a motorcycle, it was basketball, or music, or fishing, or something else that's significant to you. But to me, this was a first. I never had kids of my own. And now I've got one. And he rides a dirt bike! (Not to mention that he also wants to be an electrician and then a brain surgeon too). But he rides a dirt bike! I'm a grandpa who's now become a father. Life is full again. And I can celebrate that feeling on this Fathers Day. Like I've never done before....
When I saw the brand new Honda 55 Trail model that sold for about $265 my mind just seemed to go into overdrive. I told my dad that if he would have to pay a hired man for summers wages, it would cost more than 265 dollars, and that I had been doing the job of a hired man for several years now. I would be glad to get the bike for summer's wages. My argument held water. I had actually run a Caterpillar tractor since I was eight years old, and at twelve had spent quite a few days on one plowing summer fallow.
Mick's older sister on his first bike, 55cc Honda Trail
That night I finally got a sleeping bag and went out into the shop and slept with my shiny new motorcycle. I'm sure there were a few times when dad had regrets about giving me this much freedom, but over all it has made an indelible impression on my life. There were literally hundreds of miles of back gravel roads to travel and explore. Even without a driver's license, that far away from town, one could make short runs on the highway without fear of getting arrested. Pretty heady stuff!!
A couple of years later we traded the '55 for a new black Honda S90. This was a real motorcycle by comparison. It had a four speed transmission with a hand clutch, and was very fast. On a big hill if you lay down on the seat, pointed your toes and made yourself real small, the bike would do 65 mph, according to the speedometer anyway. I never used to say much about that because people thought you were crazy for doing it on a gravel road...with those itty-bitty tires and all.
A neighbor kid had an S90 like mine and we rode together sometimes. I was up to their place one day when some guy came out from Lewistown on about a 1959 or 1960 XLCH Harley Sportster. He wanted to go look at the fishing pond and asked me if he could take my bike off road as he thought his was too heavy. I figured he could handle it so I said sure. Then (and I didn't think he would let me, being only 14 years old) I asked him if I could take the Harley out on the gravel road. Sure, he says, and started it up for me. He said, be careful, they shift on the wrong side. No problem... I hoped.
I clicked the monster into gear and let the clutch out. I gave it a bit of throttle and hit second gear. I opened it up a bit and what happened next has changed me for all time. That day I went from 90 cc's to 900 and really never got over it. I witnessed my first rooster tail from the rear tire as I went through 40 mph and clicked it into third. I eased back on the gas, put it into fourth and rode gently a few miles down the road. I turned around and rode back into the yard. The whole time I waited for them to return I wished that I had taken the bike for a longer ride. I was afraid my 90 pounds would not be enough to get the bike started again, and there were those who told stories of people getting kicked back and going over the handle bars.
Mick and his younger sister with his 1965 BMW R50
I have ridden an assortment of bikes over the years. I had a small but neat collection during the mid 70'swhile living in Billings. In 1979 I "went bad". I began to fly hang gliders and sold off most of my bikes to support my new habit. I traveled around the country living in a 1954 Chevrolet station wagon and flying at various locations. Since I was not working I sold a 1932 30:50 Indian, a very perfect 1969 Triumph Bonneville, a very nice 1965 BMW R50/2, a very trouble ridden 1975 Harley Sportster (that deserved to be parted out) and various Triumph basket goodies and a couple of dirt bikes (Honda Elsinore 250 and Suzuki RM 250). I kept the 1975 BMW R90/6 because it was the best transportation and I still cherish it to this day.
Mick doing some stunts on his '69 Triumph Bonneville
In the 20 years or so that I flew hang gliders I have had many experiences that would be hard to trade. I've seen the world from 14,000 feet and have witnessed things that most people only dream of. My flying days lasted well into my parenting years when priorities dictated a change. I never felt that I would die from it (well, maybe a couple of times), mostly it was the time needed. We had spent a lot of time chasing the wind and now I needed to spend time with my girls. I have no regrets.
I dated my wife in 1988 on a 1976 TT500 Yamaha, and my ol' Beemer. I took her through Yellowstone Park. I told her that no matter how many times a person had been through in a car...they really have never seen the park. I think that all people who ride motorcycles know that to be true.
I have a few bikes in my collection again. Most of them are old. They all have some sort of special appreciation. Most of them take me back to an earlier time. Among others I have a restored 1969 Honda CL90 and an unmolested 1964 Harley XLH 900, both very similar to my earlier experiences so many years ago. There is such an incredible nostalgia about vintage motorcycles.
I thought years ago that I could make a fairly good biker, but that was never to really happen. These days when I meet people who are actually motorcycle enthusiasts, I know that I have returned to my first love. I am still just an old farm kid with a motorcycle.
Thank you to all the AMCA members who contribute to this newsletter. If you would like to contribute to the "Member's Ride" section, please contact AMCA Executive Director, Keith Kizer.