Considering the frigid weather endured by residents of the Midwest this Winter, “The Chill” was an appropriate name for the big motorcycle show that took place on February 27 and 28 at the Kansas Coliseum pavilion buildings north of Wichita, Kansas. With up to five awards presented in 38 classes and 72 vendors from as far away as Minnesota, it really was a big event. Editor Mike Schweder and I decided that it would be worth the six-hour round trip to attend the second and final day of the show. When we arrived at the facility, we were greeted by the show’s promoter, Richard Bartel of Bartel Productions. Knowing that Richard would have increasing demands on his time as the day progressed, I decided to see if he could spare a few minutes for an interview, and he agreed. While Richard and I talked, Mike started circulating and shooting photos.
CC: How many bikes do you have entered? Are most of them local Wichita bikes?
Richard: There are 263 entries in 38 classes with roughly 80% from the Wichita area. It’s an open show with all brands welcome. In addition to the class awards, there are awards for top three Best in Show and top three Best Display. We have special custom-made trophies made at Lakota Choppers out of bike parts. The first place winners will get personalized custom-made letterman style jackets with “The Chill” artwork. We’ll get the jackets ordered once we find out the names and sizes of the winners.
CC: It must take quite a team of judges with that many bikes.
Richard: There are 11. We were working until about 2:30 a.m. this morning.
CC: What’s the show schedule?
Richard: Set-up for the exhibitors and vendors was from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Friday. The show was open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday. Today, it’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. when the awards will be presented.
CC: What are the fees for admission and entries?
Richard: Tickets are only $10 with ages 12 and under free. Entry fees were $30 in advance and $40 on set-up day. We wanted to keep prices affordable. We think people will get here, see that it’s well worth the price of admission, and make cell-phone calls to tell their friends.
CC: How’s attendance so far?
Richard: We have had a good turnout, especially for a first-year show. There were about 4,000 people Saturday. We’re expecting roughly half that number today. We’re at the same time as Daytona, but lots of people who are there don’t go every year, so hopefully they will come to our show next year.
CC: Talk about the facility.
Richard: The pavilions have over 127,000 square feet of display space. The floor plan is laid out with a mixture of bike displays and vendor booths rather than keeping them separate. We think presentation is important, so vendor booths are pipe-and-draped in. Part of the floor is dirt because the facility is used for animal shows. We laid out carpet over all of the dirt areas to keep the dust down. The Kansas Coliseum managers worked with us and put new filters on the ventilation system. Getting an event on the schedule here isn’t easy. When the state wrestling tournament moved downtown, it opened the date, and we jumped on it. Now it’s established that we will have the facility for our show every year on the last weekend of February, right before the riding season. It’s a great time and a great location that helps us keep our prices reasonable. Park City has plenty of nearby hotels including our host hotel, The Comfort Inn.
CC: What about sponsors?
Richard: We didn’t want to have a headlining sponsor, although there are a number of sponsors listed on our event flyers. You’ll notice that our event T-shirts don’t have any sponsors listed on them. The T-shirts sell for $10 short sleeve and $18 long sleeve. They feature our event logo, and we are not attempting to make any profit selling them. We feel that they help us promote the event. Several local bike shops are involved with the show. They are allowed to sell motorcycles here if they are properly licensed by the state to do so. Since there were no concessions on Friday, Krispy Kreme provided free donuts, coffee, and tea for the exhibitors and vendors. Lakota Choppers built our unique Best in Show award for us. Budweiser helped with banners and printing flyers and posters. Other sponsors were listed on our flyers.
CC: Speaking of flyers, how did you promote “The Chill?”
Richard: We started distributing over 9,000 flyers in July. If you’re going to have a show, you have to get out there and beat the drum. I went to several shows from Tulsa to northern Kansas. I want people to know that they are welcome to hand out flyers here to promote their upcoming events, but I want them to return the favor. In addition to and e-mail blitz, we spent a fortune on hard-mailing. Starting two weeks prior to the show we began radio advertising on two stations and added two more a week in advance. We ran 282 commercials on multiple Cox Cable channels.
CC: What entertainment is featured?
Richard: We have Big Fat Fun, Rain, and Nick Gibson for music. Yesterday at 4:00 p.m. we had a fashion show presented by Beavers Den Leather. The Cowtown Cowboys are doing gunfight shows, and there are trials riding exhibitions by the Ark Valley Trials Association . People have the opportunity to pose for photos with the Bud Girls.
CC: What’s your background as a promoter?
Richard: This is my first motorcycle show. I’ve been involved with drag races and car shows for 14 years. My partner, Dancing Dave Dockens, got me started. He’s the track manager at Kansas International Dragway .
CC: Why did you decide to do a bike show and what do you see coming for future shows?
Richard: Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and needed a show dedicated exclusively to motorcycles. I think we have a good central location within easy driving distance of several large cities. The show has room to expand and will include a full-scale swap meet. I plan on making two changes to next year’s show by placing more bike exhibitors closer to the stage as opposed to booth venders. I will also bump the awards ceremony to 4:00 p.m. instead of 5:00 p.m. on Sunday to help speed things along. I expect to increase the number of bikes to 300 with 100 to 150 booth vendors due to the swap meet. I hope to increase the attendance to 7,500 plus.
CC: Thanks for your time. I know you’re really busy.
Richard: My pleasure. I’m glad you’re here and hope you’ll enjoy the show.
The interview with Richard concluded just in time for me to take in one of the two Sunday trials riding demonstrations. There wasn’t a lot of space available, but there several obstacles set up for the riders to climb including a couple of large cable spools, a horizontal pole, several vertical and horizontal logs, and a junk car. In spite of limited space and a very slick concrete floor to launch from, several members of the Ark Valley Trials Association put on an impressive show. I’m convinced that these guys could ride right up the walls of the pavilion if there were no ceiling. Between performances, I had opportunity to visit briefly with two of the riders.
CC: What’s your name and age?
Josh: I’m Josh Nutsch, and I’m 16.
CC: How long have you been a trials rider?
Josh: I started riding motorcycles when I was three. My dad got me a PW50 when I was six. I’ve been riding trials ever since.
CC: Of all of the competitive motorcycle sports, why did you choose trials?
Josh: I gave arenacross a try and found out that jumping just wasn’t my thing. Rocks and logs get my adrenaline going. It’s the kind of riding I love to do.
CC: Tell me about your club.
Josh: The Ark Valley Trials Association has been around for years. Some of the old times who started the club are still riding with us. We’re one of the dominant clubs in the Midwest. We have a lot of talented riders.
CC: You can learn a lot from the veteran riders.
Josh: Yeah. They love to give hints and dog on you if you mess up.
CC: You do competitive trials riding.
Josh: Last year I took fourth place in the nationals as a junior. This year I’m going to start riding the high school line, the next notch up.
CC: Where will the competitive events be held?
Josh: There are national events at Tishomingo, Oklahoma; Turkey Creek, Colorado; and Donner Ski Ranch, California. Trials events are all across America. You just have to look for it.
CC: Thanks for the visit, Josh, and good luck in this year’s competition.
Next, I talked to one of the advanced riders.
CC: What’s your name and what’s your background in the sport of trials?
Dustin: I’m Dustin Land, and I’ve been riding trials since I was about eight. I’m 30 now. I’ve pretty much hit my peak as a competitive rider. I’m in the Kansas Air National Guard, and deployments keep me away from home sometimes for months at a time. It’s hard to stay sharp when I’m away so much. I still do demos and some competitions. I won the 2006 A.M.A. national championship in the expert sportsman line. I spent the next two years riding the expert line, just below pro. I’m taking this year off from national competition and riding a few select cup events in Colorado and Oklahoma. I plan to regroup and shoot for another expert sportsman title next year.
CC: I see you have a very young son riding here today.
Dustin: Dalton is one of my three children. He’s been riding an electric bike since he was two and is five now. He rides small stuff in rookie classes and has learned a lot. He wants to move up and ride against the big bikes as soon as possible.
CC: Motorcycle sports often span generations in families. Was that the case with your family?
Dustin: Yes, my father got started in trials when the sport first took off in America in the early-to-mid 70’s. He was a top ten national contender. Getting the kids involved is the key to keeping the sport alive.
CC: Has the down economy taken a toll on the sport?
Dustin: Mainly it cuts down on travel. People ride closer to home unless they are into heavy competiton.
CC: Your club has access to a nearby place to ride.
Dustin: The club leases an inactive rock quary near Douglass, Kansas. Your readers can learn more about our club and its events on our website.
CC: These trials bikes are a breed of their own. How much do they weigh?
Dustin: My Gas Gas 360 weighs only about 145 to 150 pounds.
CC: Do you have sponsors?
Dustin: Dale Malasek at Gas Gas U.S.A. helps me out a lot with the bikes. Another company that helps me with my gear is Lewisport U.S.A. . They both help keep me going with bikes, parts, and gear.
CC: Thanks for the interview, Dustin, and for a very impressive demo.
Next, I witnessed a gun battle staged by the Cowtown Cowboys who normally perform at Wichita’s Old Cowtown Museum and other venues upon request. Watching the gunfight reminded me of my years in Dodge City where I saw the Boot Hill Show numerous times. I really miss Miss Kitty.
As the smoke from the gunfight cleared, I moved on to rejoin Mike and tour the show. Both Mike and I were impressed by the size of the event and the great variety of entries, especially for the first time out. We ran into our friends Todd and Summer at a booth where they were promoting the Grand River Summer Rally coming up in June near Urich, Missouri. We also spent some time visiting with Doug Jones who had entered his Rain Maker bobber in the show, Larry Moore who was displaying his Bad Influence bike, and Roger Attebury whose display featured a classic Triumph 'Street Tracker' racing bike in street-legal trim and poster-size photos of some vintage racing action.
Mike and I were enjoying the show but were lamenting the prospect of sitting through a long awards ceremony and getting a late start on our three-hour drive back to Kansas City. Fortunately we noticed that Richard had a photographer working the event for him, and we decided to see if he would be willing to share some of his awards presentation photos with our readers. Frank Winter of Land of Winter Designs Photography very graciously agreed to e-mail some photos for us to use. After taking in the final trials demonstration of the day, we hit the road. We later learned that the top award winners were as follows: Third Best in Show - Brad Spaich’s 2005 Shovelhead M&M Chopper, Second Best in Show - Tony Ingram’s 2008 Full Custom Pro Street, and Best in Show - Doug Jones’ 2010 Moore Customs Indian Bobber. Doug's unique trophy was a marble top table combined with an entire custom motorcycle front end. We congratulate all of the winners and look forward to attending “The Chill” again next year.
Article by Stripe
Photos by Stripe, Mike Schweder, and Frank Winter