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Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Rossmeyer’

NASCAR.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a big fan of this traditionally southern sport.  I’ve been more of a casual observer, not a participant and you wouldn’t catch me dressed up in any favorite driver licensed logo attire.

However, I was in Daytona Beach, FL on February 14, 2003 and of all things happen to be working in a press booth at the Daytona 500 race.  Yes, mullets were sported.  There was a lot of domestic beer drinking.  And hard-core fans were dressed up in stereotypical brightly colored racing gear.  I was involved in a series of product launch activities with Sierra Entertainment’s NASCAR Racing simulator game (NR2003).  This wasn’t just an average video game.  Rather it was a comprehensive simulator where many professional drivers used it in the multiplayer mode, including driving superstars Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. who were often found on-line practicing on the various race tracks.  NR2003 was the last version to be released by Papyrus (now iRacing) before Electronic Arts bought the NASCAR license from NASCAR.  But enough about work!

I read an article today on this weekend’s Daytona 500, Danica Patrick’s racing debut and found myself reminiscing about that 2003 trip.  Chatting with drivers, people watching, visiting the pits, tire change competition duels in the convention center, food and the entertainment.  There was a lot to enjoy.

My biggest disappointment?   Being two-weeks too early to participate in Bike Week.  The 69th Daytona Bike Week starts on Feb 26 – March 7th.  While I made a point to visit Charlie Horse, a few pubs, the hard sand and enjoyed some of the warm winter days it wasn’t the same without motorcycles lining the narrow streets… the opportunity to ride that 22 mile long “Loop” and see Florida’s natural beauty just wasn’t in the cards.  I did have a chance to do a drive-by at Bruce Rossmeyer’s old H-D dealer to scavenge for yet another unique black t-shirt.

As the internet buzz “lights up” with rally details I’m thinking that someday I need to participate in Daytona Bike Week.

Photo courtesy of Papyrus

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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Hamsters Logo on Fuel Tank

Hamsters Logo on Fuel Tank

In the Andes, guinea pigs have a festival devoted to them, which includes contests for the biggest, fastest and best-dressed furry friend.  A Hamster fest has yet to be founded, unless you’re thinking of the motorcycle group?!

The Hamsters’ Motorcycle Club (HMC) is an elite and somewhat secret group of motorcycle riders.  Charter members were Arlen Ness, Dave Perewitz, Donnie Smith, Ed Kerr, Jim Leahy, Barry Cooney and Steve Allington.  A who’s who of the motorcycle industry!  It began in 1978 at Daytona Bike Week.   As the story goes Jim “Jimmy” Leahy and others were in the Mystic Sea Hotel.  They were taking a nap and when they woke up no one was around.  No money, no food and peeved about being ditched Jimmy started calling them Hamsters.  He drew pictures of Hamsters on a bunch of paper plates and wrote Hamsters M/C on each of them.  Before placing them on doors he personalized the names of the charter members.  The idea was it would aggravate his posse, but instead they all laughed about it and the name stuck.  Jimmy went and had black shirts with white letters made up that said Hamsters M/C.  Later the MC was dropped and they call themselves enthusiasts.

Hamster_LogoThe rodent stuck as the mascot which graces bright yellow t-shirts.  The club is selective about new members, but it includes blue collar workers to doctors.  You don’t just join the club.  You must ride with the group 6-7 years and then you’ll receive an invitation to join. There are now 240 members with chapters as far away as Italy, England and Japan.  These days the Hamsters are about as opposite you can get from the outlaw bad guy clubs.

It takes three things to become a Hamsters member:

  1. Owning a custom bike
  2. Riding a custom bike to South Dakota’s Sturgis rally with the group, at least two years in a row
  3. Receiving an invitation to join by another member

The Hamsters have ridden to Sturgis for 25 consecutive years and never followed the same route.  The Spearfish Holiday Inn has served as the Hamsters’ headquarters for several years although approximately 20+ Hamsters purchased townhouses behind the hotel known as Hamster Hill Lane.  The annual dues are $100 and Hamsters who don’t attend at least one function each year are voted out.  Some years there are no new members allowed into the club. Some years there are as many as seven. The average is two.

The Hamsters are famous for a lot things, but two notable items I wanted to bring to your attention is the Hulett Ham-n-Jam in the land of no overpasses (Wyoming on the way to Devil’s Tower) and their generosity and major fundraising for charitable functions.  Many of the Hamsters are world-renowned motorcycle and motorcycle parts builders who donate items to be auctioned off at charity events.  The group’s generosity and ability to raise funds/donations is staggering.

I would be negligent if I didn’t also mention the high profile and weird coincidence of Bruce Rossmeyer (Daytona H-D) and Clifton “Click” Baldwin (Carolina H-D).  Both Harley-Davidson dealer owners, both on the way to the Sturgis Rally riding from dealer meetings, both members of the Hamsters Motorcycle Club/Group, both in deadly motorcycle accidents (Wyoming and Montana respectively) while passing a vehicle turning left on a two lane country highway.  Both passed away one year apart, neither were wearing helmets and both accidents were reportedly misjudgments.  It’s truly sad and a tremendous loss for the communities and families.

I’m reminded of the prophetic Marvin Gaye song “Brother, brother, brother…there’s far too many of you dying…”  Let’s hope for better days ahead…

Photo of courtesy of Hamsters.

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I was in Daytona Beach back in ’03 for the NASCAR Daytona 500.  I had a temperature controlled seat view from a press booth, but having arrived from the cold and rainy Northwest I enjoyed the outdoor seats with ocean air while watching Michael Waltrip win the race — it was shortened to 109 laps that year due to rain.

On that trip I visited Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley Dealer, but I’ve never attended Bike Week.  The event brings in a half-million bikers around the world and this year looks like Harley is “all-in” at the Ocean Center Arena.  The show is March 1-9th.  Harley corp. plans a solid online presence this year.  They’ll have daily blogs, photos, and video updates from the adventure all week with Biker Billy (of “Cooks w/ Fire” fame), Beau Pacheco and Jessica Craker doing the YouTube thing.

Hey Harley corp., if you ever want another “motley” crew member to do event correspondence I’m willing to fly there on my own dime, but can’t justify the expense for this “hobby-blog” gig! You listening Willy?  But then again why should you do anything because Harley already gets this free blog press?!

Okay enough whining, but between the Ford Truck displays, traveling museum, Custom Cycle Show and Florida festival music I’d say they are firing on both cylinders.  Not to mention the “Hot Buns” contest, the boozy and floozy bar tour and the famous “Cabbage Patch“.  A guy would really need to work at scheduling time just to ride!

The official Harley activities guide is here in PDF (1.5MB).

Bike Week seems to favor East Coast residents/riders… unless you’re into the fly-n-drive program or have a lot of free time.  If you go to the event I’d like to hear about your adventures.

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