By Koz Mraz
It only took 8 hours and 45 minutes for nationally renowned Chopper Chick Crew of all-women designers and builders to transform a Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster into a custom drag-style bike. Accomplished at Harley Davidson’s 105th celebration in Milwaukee the finished motorcycle was donated to the RAACE Foundation (Race Against Abuse of Children Everywhere). Chopper Chick Jayme Gray from California Harley-Davidson/Buell in Harbor City wrenched for the crew. Born in Long Beach she knew early on riding was in her blood. As a child she grew up dirt bike riding in the desert with her family. Her first Harley, an ’87 chopped Sporty took her to Phoenix Arizona to pursue her dream at MMI (Motorcycle Mechanics Institute). After graduation she came back home and immediately started working for a local dealer for some real world training. She also apprenticed with master mechanic Ed Syre who took the time to help hone her craft.
Currently Jayme is a service writer at California Harley Davidson in Harbor City where her knowledge and fantastic people skills are put to good use. Other women appreciate Jayme’s perspective as a fellow rider and mechanic, she knows what works for women riders. Jayme owns 3 Sportys, her daily rider is an 883, a 1999 1200 and yes, she still has that 87 chopper. “Don’t let the bike ride you”, she states, mid controls and an upright position create a stable center of gravity. She’s also a big fan of the Dyna Low. Everybody at California H-D & Buell pitched in for the build. “The owner, Mark Ruffalo, sponsored my airfare!” she exclaimed. Peg Carr in Motor clothes made her crew shirt, James and Adrian Errera (he’s a mechanic and she owns Lucky Girl) donated leather goods for raffles.
This was her third year with the Chopper Chick Crew. She started doing electrical but has moved into fabrication. On this bike she stretched out the swing arm, chopped the rear fender among her other wrenching tasks. The rear passenger pegs were replaced by clutch and brake controls for drag race riding position. Custom paint, a V-Hive oil tank, raked out front end and a wheelie bar complete the drag bike stance. She ultimately wants to build her own customs from the ground up. As if hypnotized, Jayme describes a 1930s era stretched, raked and powder coated chopper sporting dual head lamps, center horn and stingray handlebars as if it was sitting right in front of her.
The completed bike was donated by Shell and House of Harley to the RAACE Foundation, (Race Against Abuse of Children Everywhere) an organization dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse by raising public awareness. The completed bike, sporting an eye-catching purple and yellow custom paint scheme emblazoned with the RAACE and the Shell V-Power sponsorship logos, made its debut as part of the Women’s Day ride. Taking part in this historical celebration helped The RAACE Foundation bring national exposure to the prevalence of child sexual abuse in our society. The bike will travel to RAACE events around the country to help bring people into their booth. Jayme has 14 nieces and nephews and knows life moves very fast for children now. Sexual abuse is a taboo subject and too often avoided, she is adamant about helping educate children as a preventative measure. While I interviewed Jayme the parking lot at California H-D filled with fire trucks, firemen and a horde of riders.
A very moving tribute to the fallen comrades of 9/11 ensued. Only an hour later I attended the South Bay H.O.G .chapter meeting and California HD owner Mark Ruffalo was presented with two plaques by the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.
The SB H.O.G. chapter (sponsored by Mark) was the second highest fundraiser overall and it was their first year participating.
Sometimes is easy to forget why we ride, it’s really not about the cool bikes or even the places we ride to. It’s the people we ride with and the people we ride for that makes our community special.
Photos by Brad Brickel and Jena Lewis