When Editor Mike and I visited Shawnee Cycle Plaza to attend the unveiling of the Victory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour motorcycle, we had the pleasure of visiting with Rick Fortner, president of the Great Plains Victory Riders Chapter.
CC: Rick, please talk about your chapter’s affiliation.
Rick: We’re a chapter of the Victory Motorcycle Club that began in 1998 with a group of Victory owners who got together as a Yahoo online chat group. Back then, there were only about 500 Victory motorcycles on the road. Now it’s an international club with 50 chapters.
CC: Is the club associated with the Victory factory?
Rick: No, we’re autonomous. The club is an independent, not-for-profit organization.
CC: How long have you been a member?
Rick: I joined in 2003. I’m a former national vice-president. Now I’m just an officer with the local group. That’s a lot more fun.
CC: How much are the membership dues?
Rick: The national dues are $8 a year, and chapter dues are $25. National membership is required to join the chapter. We collect local dues during January through March only. It gives new Victory owners during the year a chance to try us on for size without having to pay the local dues.
CC: Is Victory motorcycle ownership a requirement?
Rick: Yes, for a full membership. Associate members don’t have to own motorcycles.
CC: When was the local chapter formed, and how many members are there?
Rick: The chapter began in 2004. We currently have about 25 members. The count fluctuates some.
CC: How often and where do you have meetings?
Rick: We normally meet on the second Saturday of each month, and the location rotates among the local Victory dealerships. Shawnee Cycle Plaza, Topeka, and St. Joe all host meetings. Of course we consider the dealerships our friends, but we are independent of them.
CC: Do you have a chapter website?
Rick: We just use the national website. They have a forum setup that works well for us.
CC: What about chapter rides and events?
Rick: We usually have at least a half-dozen rides every year. A couple of weeks ago, we had our annual wrenching party. Wagner’s Classic Cars in Bonner Springs donates the use of their shop to us so we can get in out of the weather and work. We generally go to lunch as a group after our monthly meetings. In December, we have a Christmas dinner in lieu of a business meeting, and we invite the staffs of the dealerships to be our guests. Our big event is Victory in the Ozarks held every year during the weekend before Memorial Day. We’ve been having it at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for the past 9 years. Victory riders come from all over the central region—Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri. It’s like a big family reunion.
CC: Do you sponsor any charity rides?
Rick: Members often recommend charity events for us to attend. Last year, one of our members was killed at the Ozarks event. We raised money for his family including two kids. The national club raised about $4,000 for them. Our chapter normally has funds left over at the end of the year that we use for charity support. Last year we made a donation to Ron’s family. He was a very good friend to many of us.
CC: We’re sorry about your loss. It’s good to hear that you were able to come through with assistance for that family.
CC: I’m sure you’d like to talk about your own experience with the Victory brand. What’s your current ride?
Rick: I have a 2011 Cross Roads now. My first was a 2003 Classic Cruiser that unfortunately got totaled near Platte City. Then I got a 2002 Touring Cruiser. You don’t see a lot of those around anymore. Then I traded for the Cross Roads. My wife and I really enjoy sharing the riding experience. If I mention riding, she’ll have her gear on before I’m ready to go. We’ve been back to Georgia four times on the motorcycle. We’ve been to Montana. I really like the dependability of the Victory and the fact that it’s built in the U.S.A. I’ve made a lot of great friends in the chapter. Last August one of them went with me for a ride to Maine for lobster rolls. It was a 5-day, 3,200-mile trip to get lobster rolls. My previous job involved a lot of travel. I met a lot of Victory owners from Eastern Long Island to San Francisco. They’re great people!
CC: What’s been your impression of tonight’s event?
Rick: Barry and Doris really went to a lot of trouble for this event. They have really welcomed our chapter with open arms. They are really enthusiastic about Victory motorcycles.
CC: Rick, thanks for the information. It’s about time to go check out that new Victory. We’ll look forward to shooting a group photo after the program if you can get the chapter members rounded up.
Rick: Will do.
More information about the national organization is available on their website , and Rick can be contacted by e-mail for local info.
Interview by Mike Schweder
Photos by Stripe