Every year the American Motorcycle Association, of which I am a proud member, celebrates a three-day weekend of vintage motorcycles with the Vintage Motorcycle Days at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. There are bikes to see, races to watch, and death-defying feats to witness.
The Wall of Death
First up, American Motor Drome brought their Wall of Death which features antique Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the cast of characters who ride them.
Wall of Death attractions, also known as motordromes and silodromes, started at the carnivals and fairs all across America in the early 1900s. The attraction reached peak popularity in the 1930s when there were as many as 100 touring companies. Today, the American Motor Drome Company keeps history alive by traveling all over the United States performing the show.
“Reckless Reda” was kind enough to let me snap a photo of her after her show.
Bikes and builders
Walking over a bridge from the infield to the paddock area, the AMA has set up a display area for fine examples of vintage bikes. All makes and models are represented, and many came from the AMA Hall of Fame located in nearby Pickerington, OH.
Vendors, featured clubs, and bike builders set up shop here, too. I was impressed by Federal Moto‘s custom bikes. I found it odd that the Cincinnati Cafe Racer Club didn’t feature a single cafe racer, except for a showroom-new Thruxton.
The swap meet is a huge draw for many of the spectators. In addition to the numerous parts and project bikes, there were some fine examples of restored bikes for sale. If I had brought a trailer and still lived on the east coast, I think I would have been in trouble.
The main event, without question, is the racing event. Between breaks, the “Lap of History” allowed spectators who rode in to take their vintage motorcycle for a lap around the race track.
In addition to road racing, there are enduro challenges, trial exhibitions, hare scrambles, and vintage motocross.
A beautiful thing about Vintage Motorcycle Days is the amount of unrestricted access you have to the facilities at Mid-Ohio. Walk through the paddock, observe the race teams preparing their motorcycles, and even chat up some of the competitors.
Much like the bikes, some of the racers are vintage, too.
Racing goes on each of the three days through a number of classes. These races mean something—these guys are fighting for championship points during a season of racing. There are a few superbike classes featuring new bikes, which is only fair because this year’s event featured Grand Marshal Wes Cooley, AMA Hall of Famer, and a two-time superbike champion. Wes rode a Suzuki GS1000S to championships in 1979 and 1980.
As a spectator, you’ve got to love the option to ride to your best view. A front-row seat you can take anywhere.