Culture and creativity abound
VENTURA, CALIF., DEC. 8–9—It is hard to imagine that anyone involved in any aspect of the motorcycle world would not have a complete understanding of the influence that the incredible artist David Mann has had on our biker lifestyle and culture. However, I realize that there is a younger generation coming up that may have no clue and possibly my own generation who may have forgotten or gotten a little fuzzy about his life. The resounding theme across the board at the 15th annual David Mann ChopperFest was the importance of passing on the old-school ideals, culture, works of art and creativity in all the aspects of motorcycles from building choppers, bikes and trikes to artwork on canvas, metal, photography, books and other forms of the creative mind and soul.
David Mann, a Kansas native born in September, 1940, transplanted to California after high school, where his imaginative and creative talents were exposed to and in many ways transformed the biker culture. And in 1972 Mann teamed up with another iconic part of our biker culture, Easyriders magazine, and began creating the well-known artwork that adorned its centerfold for many years. In addition, Mann’s original paintings and art became sought-after collectibles for many personal collections in garages, clubhouses and homes. Just shortly after his death in September 2004, his wife Jacquelyn Mann and his friends held a memorial in his honor in Ventura, California. The gravity of this event did not get lost on the family or his friends and admirers and that first event morphed into what has become an annual pilgrimage to Ventura, California, for the David Mann ChopperFest.
This year, the event once again started off with its Saturday night pre-party at the Tavern Bar and Grille in Ventura, allowing for the early gathering of the riders, builders, artists, and vendors who would be working the event to come together to relax, socialize and network with old and new friends before the big day. The sunset was absolutely beautiful and the atmosphere euphoric with music from live bands, holiday cheer and shared stories from the past year.
The Ventura Fairgrounds, alongside the Ventura coast, was the host site and was the perfect layout for this event. It was again obvious that the organizers, Dave and Tory DuVarney and their excellent crew of volunteers, had done another fantastic job of putting on an event that by all standards gets better and better every year. According to Tory, they had over 200 vendors/swappers, approximately 50 participating artists and 170 bikes entered in the bike show. With approximately 4,500 in attendance it was a great success in their mission to provide a platform for artists and bike builders to inspire others and honor the legacy of David Mann.
Mondo Porras of Denver’s Choppers of Reno, Nevada, was on hand as a vendor and builder competitor and he wanted to share his praise for Dave and Tory in pulling out all the stops to put on this event, attracting the cream of the crop in bike-building competitors, both young and old, paying tribute to the legacy of David Mann and honoring him with the artists that were there to display their creations on canvass, metal works, cars, bikes and other materials.
The emcee of the event for the last 11 years, Jennifer Santolucito, a.k.a. the Tattooed SongBird, was the perfect touch of beauty and class to preside over the festivities. Not only did she lend her talent as a host, she and her band, the So Cal Metal Company, rocked the crowd. They also invited the talented musician, radio host and movie maker Charlie Brechtel. Goodtime Charlie was also there to promote his new movie, Rough Boys. And with sponsors like Russ Brown the Motorcycle Attorneys and Harley-Davidson Motor Company, the bike show awards were top notch and the high-dollar prizes were definitely an added bonus.
One of the highlights of the awards was Kiwi Mike of Kiwi Indian Motorcycles presenting the Ross “Kiwi” Tomas award to Roger Herbison with his 1936 Indian Chief Bobber. The award honors the memory of Kiwi Mike’s late son Ross. Mondo Porras, prior recipient of the Mann Kind Award, previously had the honor of presenting this years’ Mann Kind award to the renowned Sugar Bear. The Best in Show award went to Eric Bennett for his 102-day custom build, a 1977 Harley-Davidson frame around a water-cooled Shovelhead engine from the Jammer Streamliner that set a land speed record at Bonneville in 1978, a tribute to his dad’s drag-racing days and his own land speed records. Reality television star and world-renowned tattoo artist Oliver Peck was on hand to present Micah McCloskey with the David Mann Memorial Award.
An exciting news flash, exclusive to Thunder Press first from Mondo Porras of Denver’s Choppers of Reno, Nevada, is that Mondo will be the bike show organizer for the Corbin Customer Appreciation event and Hollister Rebel Rally on July 6, 2019, so we can expect to see more of the amazing, talented bike builders and competitors in Hollister this year.
There is just not enough space for all the words that could be shared about this year’s ChopperFest, but hopefully it is enough to intrigue more of you to plan an adventure along Ventura Highway next year to experience this event firsthand.