“It was a dark and stormy night”……..Some of you may know the “famous author”
I borrowed this beginning of a novel from. But unlike that writer, I may able to
progress a little further. I thought this would be an appropriate opening for a
report about the 2005 Vintage Motorcycle Days – VMD for short – at Mid-Ohio.
Because for the first time in ten years since the event is being held at the
track in Lexington, Ohio, it rained, at least somewhat, every day !
But let me tell you: It did not dampen our enthusiasm. We had a great time and I
am sure so did everybody who attended this spectacle.
Our own dkrager, Master Of Web-Sites and –as you have seen by now – Lensman No
1, arrived in Ohio from San Diego via Phoenix on Wednesday, July 13. Originally,
we had planned to spend the late afternoon at the local weekly bike meet at
Quaker, Steak & Lube, a watering hole original to Sharon, PA that has ventured
to neighboring Ohio with three locations over the last couple of years. They
have brought their “Bike Meeting” to these outposts and the one at the Polaris
Center in Columbus meanwhile holds the attendance record of over 7,000
motorcycles on one night. The other ones try to beat that record and there is
always a pretty number of bikes present at both the Valley View location on
Wednesdays as well as in Sheffield Lake on Thursdays. Alas, the weather did not
play nice and we decided to stay put and rather indulge in some bottled
Warsteiner and discuss the strategy for the next couple of days.
As we had received confirmation from the track that we would be able to access
the grounds any time after 8:00 a.m. the day before Friday, the first official
day, we had agreed to meet with dsz1 arriving from Kentucky at around 2:00 p.m.
on Thursday the 14th in a parking lot on the outskirts of Lexington, in order to
proceed to the track and our assigned location in an orderly manner. All I would
like to say here is, that we were there at 1:45 p.m. and the wait of 2 ½ hours
would have been a little more fun, if the rain would not have been caught up
with us. Anyway…..
We changed our original plans to ride the bikes back to the night base in light
of the ongoing precipitation and concluded Thursday in North Royalton over some
BBQ steak and seafood, complemented by Warsteiner Pilsener, Maker’s Mark & Coke,
Long Island Iced Tea and Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico , whatever the
preferred taste was.
After returning to the track on Friday morning we first set up our base camp for
the following days. The AMA this year picked up the motorhome parking fees for
the volunteers and assigned specific spots for them to park their vehicles. This
resulted in a move from our location of previous years by some 100 yards just to
the beginning of the service road alongside the “Carousel”, Turn 13. The way
Keith and Norma and their friend Lee had arranged the motorhomes made a very
nice set-up, though, and with the addition of a considerable number of E-Z-Ups,
an AMA and a CBXWorld banner, our camp had an almost professional appearance. As
far as a “private enthusiast” presence, it was second only to the VJMC display
in the infield.
Following setting up of the base, the next item on the agenda was a first trip
to the swap meet. There are no official numbers available as of this writing,
but I am sure another record was set as far as vendor attendance was concerned.
A conservative guess is well over 1,100!!! This event is just out of this world
and it is impossible to describe it. You just have to be there and see for
yourself. The most spectacular deals are being found at some huge close-out
booths, where they sell everything from brand new Öhlins shocks and forks for
$50.- to still-in-the-box mini-motorcycles for $250.- and less.
Several CBX-related points of interest where present. Among them Jim Zemanek
from Cincycycles who had a sample of the electronic ignition module that he is
offering for CBXes.
Several CBXes were available for sale. Some nice, some not so nice. At least 3
fairly decent looking CB1100Fs were offered and one awesome VF1000R, although
the latter not in the swap-meet but in the parking area.
We interrupted our tour for a couple of hours to return to our base and have
some lunch and retreat from the stifling heat. Nothing beats a cold beer and an
expertly grilled bratwurst during an open air event like this.The location at
the corner of the service road was quite nice and we had a lot of exposure. Our
two 79s and one 81 on display had caught quite some attention from passers-by
during the day and we were informed by the friends that had stayed behind, that
they could have sold them several times. Fortunately, they resisted. Money isn’t
everything! During the whole time through Sunday, many people made a stop and
chatted. It seemed we were doing a lot of advertising for the CBX!
After lunch, we finished our trip through the swapmeet to make sure we had a
brief look at everything at least once, and no outstanding deal was overlooked. We also stopped at the VJMC booth and renewed our memberships. Considering the
contribution to the preservation of Vintage Japanese bikes and the excellent
magazine, $25.- well worth spending. Besides, hardly a more pleasant bunch of
people to talk to than Jim Townsend and his crew. Because of the unpleasant weather forecast, we decided to skip the trip to the
flat track races in Ashland in the evening and rather proceed to the overnight
quarters a little earlier, where we silenced our growling stomachs with
Saturday, several gentlemen from th ICOA, who were set-up in the Honda Pavillon
stopped by and said hello, among them Jeff Davis and Tim McDowell and Ian
Billingham who was visiting with him from the U.K. Together we ventured over to
the paddock area to have a look at the two CBX racer entries. One, from Tom
Marquard, was there the year before and had his base at the same spot. He told
us about some improvements to the engine that he had made since, in form of
Wiseco pistons and Fallicon rods. The other, a bike built by Tim’s was found in
pit No 22 and carried race no 36. Quite a nice bike with some interesting
detail. The mechanic fired it up and we listened to the Six making an aggressive
howl through the 6-1. After a longer chat we moved on and when we left, your
CBXWorld editors were presented with some nice T-shirts with “The Pleasure Of
Six” on the back. Thanks Tim’s!
After finishing off some inventory of bratwurst and leftover pizza for lunch, we
made a trip to the infield in the afternoon to see what was available at the
Manufacturer’s Midway, checked out the merchandise at all the vendors and
obtained the obligatory “event” T-shirt. Cindy tried on a Nolan flip-up and
liked it so much, she bought it. Thumbs up! We walked across the club parking
area to the auction tent and stopped at Y.T.Bui’s “NAKTC” Kawasaki Triple Club.
He was desolate, because all his display stuff, including the bikes, was locked
up in a trailer and the keys were with a guy who had been called on a job
related trip out of town. Bummer.
The auction tent had some interesting bikes set up awaiting the 5:00 p.m. event.
A 1991 BMW K1, a BMW RT Final Edition, a HD XR750, a clean early CB750K and
several other nice specimen of classic late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s motorcycles.
From there, we walked through the bike show field, which on Saturday featured
American and European bikes. On the other end of the show field, this year’s Featured Marque, Ducati, had
their museum display, aptly named “From 0 to 999”. And what a display that was.
Any true enthusiast’s pulse had to race looking at the 750 and 900 towershaft
SSes, Vintage Singles and full spec racers from a Supermono to the Testastretta
and the Moto GP Desmosedici. Bikes that you just don’t get an opportunity to see
Saturday culminated as every year in the - by now traditional - BBQ feast with
the AMA volunteers and field reps. The set-up this year provided comfortable
space and even ample protection from potentially inclement weather, which,
however, did not occur.
The party was a great one again. A delegation of the Vintage Gold Wing Club
showed up to top off the crowd, and both the Hamburger and Hot Dog grills were
sizzling to keep up with the demand. It always amazes me, how one single
interest can bring people of so many different walks of life together to enjoy
themselves and have so much in common.
Then, as always, Sunday was there much too fast. Number one priority for the
morning was, to get dsz1’s 79 CBX into the bike show. We had to hustle a little
as registration ended at 10:00 a.m. and the bike had to be there soon after. As
the bike show area was, as always is, in the infield it involved riding out with
three men on three bikes and returning on only two. I don’t know about everybody
else, but for me, the sight of two grown men riding on one bike is always a
strange one. It didn’t help that there was a lot of finger pointing at the 81
CBX with the two guys. I prefer to think, however, it was because of the
six-cylinder, not because of the passengers. Sunday’s show featured Japanese and
British bikes in a variety of classes. Dsz1 placed his nicely accessorized CBX
in the “Custom” class of the appropiate period, next to an “over-restored” CL77
Scrambler and an extended swingarm, fairing-equipped KZ650. Another 79 CBX with
only 8,000 original miles was entered in the “Stock” class.
The bike show awards were scheduled for 3:00 p.m., so we had ample of time to
wrap up some “last minute” things. On the track, classic sidecar racers were
dishing it out. From our spot on the outside of the “Carousel”, that was an
exciting thing to watch. Especially considering the difference in technique
between left and right side mounted sidecars in that right hand sweeper. It took
me back some 30 years and I was starting to getting that itch. Maybe I should
reconsider my choice of classic machines that I own. (I hope, Cindy doesn’t read
Another short tour through the swap meet yielded a set of adjustable Tarozzi
rear-sets, finally some money could be spend there. In the early afternoon, at
the base, people started to pack for the trip home. The most depressing activity
of the whole weekend to watch, of course. We began to do the same as the only
item left on the agenda was the return to the bike show for the awards ceremony.
Steve Passwater, a long-time VJMC member and also proud owner of an impeccable
CB400F that he owns since new, took first prize for his 1979 CBX in the stock
class - well deserved. This may have been the actual reason why dsz1’s CBX was
left without official recognition behind the CL and the KZ650. Maybe the judges
didn’t want to honor two CBXes. While the 60’s and early 70’s Hondas may have a
special place in the heart of many judges and this could have tipped the scale
in the favor of the CL, none of us could see anything in the KZ that would have
made it more worthy of an award than the CBX. A fact that was definitely
confirmed by the public interest. Expressed both in the amount of pictures taken
and conversations had. And a close-up picture of the 6-1 header even made it on
the official AMA page with the show report. Check this:
On a side-note, that is why I have stopped entering any of my bikes in shows.
For me, bike show judges are in the same category as golf course starters. You
give them a responsibility and their head swells.They become so full of
themselves that they forget what their real task and responsibility is. I rather
spare myself that frustration. I wonder what any of them would have picked, if
they could have taken one of the three bikes home.
Anyway, we still made the best out of it and spend at least another hour talking
to people chatting about the CBX.
The show area being right next to the start and finish line of the track, we
were able to take in one last race which turned out to be an hommage to a great
all-around racer of the last 15 years: Jay Springsteen. “Springer” fielded a
XR750TT with his famous “No.9”. He started from the third place on the grid, but
virtually exploded past two opponents at the wave of the green flag and dove
first into turn 1. By the time he came around for the first time, he already had
a comfortable lead, never to give it up. I would hate to be on a modern racer
and be left in the dust by Jay on this old “Sportster”. You may call these
things “air compressors”, but Springsteen sure knows how to make them fly.
After that, it was time to load the last bikes and say Good Bye. Thanks to the
AMA for putting out just another outstanding weekend. Thanks to Dave Krager and
Dennis Sherry for making it out again and joining us. Thanks to Keith and Norma
Fletcher and the other AMA field reps for sharing a nice “home” at the track.
Thanks to everybody who stopped and shared our enthusiasm for the CBX. See you
all next year, hopefully! And those of you, who, once again, did not make it,
YOU HAVE TO COME!