KANSAS CITY, MO, JUNE 9–At first, a 1928 AJS and a 1911 Pierce, followed by a 1920 Indian alongside a 1946 Indian, a 1913 Pope and then a 1953 Harley-Davidson. These were the first six motorcycles to greet you after you paid your minimal $8 gate fee to the Heart of America Motorcycle Enthusiasts 2013 Vintage Motorcycle Show. Best yet—more than another hundred classic scooters were on display awaiting your inspection in the National Airline History Museum hangar at the Charles B. Wheeler Kansas City Downtown Airport.
The nominal $8 admission is the standing price to tour the Airline History Museum, but on this beautiful Sunday you were treated to the additional visual treat of an incredible collection of some of the most interesting motorcycles in the Midwest. In addition to the more than 100 machines displayed in the hangar, there was an impromptu gathering of many more unique motorcycles under beautiful blue skies outside, parked in the overflowing parking lot adjacent to the hangar.
Outside on the asphalt, Chris “Teach” McNeil was busy laying out fresh rubber residue from his BMW motorcycles’ tires in an impressive display of his gravity-defying championship freestyle stunts. Chris rides a stock BMW F 800 GS and a stock BMW S 1000 RR. He puts about 5,000 abusive miles on them doing wheelies, stoppies, doughnuts and burnouts; sometimes riding with no feet or no hands. Other than using more rubber than the average rider, McNeil’s BMWs require the normal maintenance of your average BMW. One of Chris’ signature stunts is selecting a female volunteer from the audience to stand at one end of the contained arena roped off for his performances while he revs up his bike at the other end, coming full speed her way and cranking a stoppie just in front of her toes. He delicately leans forward as she blesses him with a helmet kiss, and only then does the back tire of his BMW slowly come down to the pavement. Just one Chris McNeil stunt show would be worth three times your admission. However, you had the opportunity to witness three of his stunning shows during the day—heck of a deal.
On the other side of the hangar, horsepower junkies were able the witness the cranking up and running of a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engines. Each P&W R-2800 is a two-row, 18-cylinder, air-cooled radial aircraft engine with a displacement of 2,804 cubic inches that crank out 2,100 hp. These powerplants were originally on a U.S. Navy Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon. The PV-2 Harpoons served as bombers, reconnaissance and attack aircraft during World War II, and were based primarily in the North Pacific, the Aleutians and Alaska.
The Airline History Museum also had their 1958 Lockheed Super G Constellation open to wander through, as well as their 1941 Douglas DC-3 on display. Additionally, the museum had their exhibit of 1950s-era airline uniforms and other memorabilia open to visitors. Check www.airlinehistory.org for details so you can make another trip down the memory lanes of the friendly skies.
In the hangar in the ’70s Superbikes circle, there was a little leeway since there was a pair of Honda CBs, one a 1969 and another a 1980. Nonetheless, included in the ’70s mix was a 1974 Kawasaki Z900, a 1977 MV Agusta 850SS, and a 1972 Suzuki GT750, among other sterling examples of the decade.
Trophies were presented to the 10 best bikes, selected by brands, and those class trophies were typically sponsored by the dealer members currently selling and servicing those brands of bikes. Other awards included Best Preservation, Café, Giro, Scooter, Mini, as well as best American, British, European, Japanese and Competition. Essentially, there was something for everyone.
Top awards were won by Dale Keesecker with a 1977 MV Agusta 850SS for Best in Show and a 1974 Kawasaki Z900 for Best Superbike, Doug Rollert with a 1975 Honda GL1000 for the Heritage award, Tim Thoele with a 1911 Pierce for People’s Choice, Tom Marquardt with a 1980 CB750F for Best Competition and Gary Berger with a 1972 Suzuki RV90J for the Constellation award.
Rally Director Jim Van Eman was slightly concerned that light overnight rains might dampen the turnout. However, his concerns were unfounded. “The midday period was amazingly busy,” Van Eman commented. “It seemed that nobody left the hangar for hours. The bike parking lot was a zoo. Three vintage aircraft were also on display with the Airline History Museum. The quality of the show bikes may have been the best in our history,” Jim continued. “There was some really amazing stuff ranging from an early teens American board track racer to a mid-’80s Japanese factory grand prix racer. The feature exhibit, ’70s Superbikes, was a terrific compilation of bikes showing what the manufacturers considered an ‘arms race;’ every year brought more power, stronger brakes, better suspension.”
More than 80 Heart of America Motorcycle Enthusiasts members volunteered their time and talents to pulling the event together, and more than 1,500 people experienced the excitement of this year’s HoAME Show. If you are enthusiastic about motorcycles, consider becoming a member yourself. They have frequent get-togethers throughout the year. Check in at hoame.com and join up.