Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Vintage Motorcycle Days: Where the Past Lives On – Lexington, Ohio

Written by  October 1, 2012

New motorcycles roll in and old ones are put out to pasture, usually rusting in some salvage yard. But some few of them refuse to die, finding shelter and loving care from one of the growing number of fans of old bikes. And then every year, some few of those get to relive their glory days at Vintage Motorcycle Days (VMD). At VMD, old bikes never die; they just grow richer in mystique.

Vintage Motorcycle Days is put on each year by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) as the primary fundraiser for the AMA’s Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Based at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, outside Lexington, Ohio, this year’s event ran July 20-22.

Racing is a central part of the event, but VMD is much more than just racing. One large field south of the racetrack was given over to what the AMA bills as “the country's largest motorcycle swap meet,” with parts available for countless old bikes as well as whole bikes, either fully restored or awaiting someone’s time and elbow grease.

A broad scope of road racers were on hand, filling out 37 different classes, ranging from Original Superbike Heavyweight to Class C Hand Shift to Sidecar. In addition to road racing, there was a motocross track with a lot of action going on, and elsewhere on the around the complex you could find trials, dirt-biking, and hare scrambles. This year, Kawasaki, Kymco, and Can-Am brought truckloads of new bikes in for demo riding, and over in the woodsier section, KTM was set up to offer real-world test rides of their bikes.

Of course there were also vendors set up selling new gear as well.

As a fundraiser for the Hall of Fame, it was only appropriate that there was a display of some of the choice motorcycles from the displays. Set out on the grass, they were there for everyone to examine and photograph up close.

For the second year, renowned fairing designer Craig Vetter was on hand hosting the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge. This year’s grand marshal as well, Vetter gave a two part presentation on his long and diverse career in motorcycle design and a separate discussion of the intent and purposes of the Fuel Economy Challenge.

Simply put, Vetter is disturbed that we in this country buy so much foreign oil and in doing so, shovel tons of money to countries where they hate us and wish us harm. He made up his mind to design a comfortable, roomy two-wheeled vehicle that can realistically take the place of a car, and burn far less fuel in the process. Then, to get other people’s creative juices flowing, he created the Challenge to encourage others to do the same.

This year’s challengers included diesel-, gasoline-, and electric-powered bikes, and the best of them ran the course getting well over 100 miles per gallon of gas or gas-equivalent. To make them legitimate substitutes for cars, they had to be able to travel at highway speeds and had to have room to carry four bags of groceries.

There was more as well, but what the weekend was really all about was motorcycles, in all their glory. The Mid-Ohio grounds swarmed constantly with people of all ages on bikes of every sort imaginable. People talked motorcycles, rode motorcycles, admired motorcycles; bought parts for motorcycles . . . it was all about motorcycles, and a heap of fun.

By Ken Bingenheimer