David Mann Chopperfest

Where Artists & Builders Come Together

By Mike Cupp

December weather in Southern California can be fickle. The week leading up to the event was peppered with rainstorms and the weather reports for Sunday were mixed, most were calling for rain all day, but there were some optimistic forecasts that predicted morning drizzle followed by a clear afternoon. Thankfully the latter reports were true. We saw some morning haze and drizzle followed by mostly clear and dry skies.

I have to say that I love coming to this event. It occurs shortly after Thanksgiving, but well before Christmas, so it’s a great place to do some holiday shopping. In addition to the typical vendors that you see (leather, jewelry, parts, etc.), you also get two full buildings of the best artists on the West Coast.

The motorcycle artist David Mann is a huge inspiration to many of the artists here in his subject matter, attitude, style and vision, and their works are often reminiscent of his. Chopperfest is a celebration of David Mann’s work and was started by David “Huggy Bear” Hansen in 2004, after Mann’s death earlier the same year at age 64. And now Huggy’s son Tory has joined in helping with this family-run event.

Chopperfest also features a swap meet with used, rare and sometimes rusty parts, plus a bike show featuring the most talented builders from all around.

The thing I like most is the spotlight on the artists from our community. While you might see one or two artists at other rallies, this one has two full buildings of the best artists on the West Coast. Whether you like your art neatly painted on a canvas and hung on a wall or you crave something a little different, like a hand painted flask, helmet or skull, you can find it at Chopperfest.

We stopped in to visit some of our old friends; Cathy Mejia, Bomonster, Irene Airbrush and also met the very talented Darren McKeag. We discussed future cover artwork with several of the artists and look forward to working closely with them throughout the year.

Lunch time arrived and we headed towards the food trucks. There were several delicious looking choices, but we opted for a couple of hot dogs and a pair of 805 beers. We sat down near the bleachers where a DJ was cranking out classic tunes, and a few people were dancing away. After finishing lunch and relaxing for a minute, we headed over to the bike show area. I don’t have an exact count, but I’m sure there were 100 or more bikes entered into the show, likely lured by the $5,000 worth of cash prizes supplied by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys. Row after row of beautiful bikes were on display including choppers, bobbers, baggers, antiques, rats and everything in between.

We chatted with builder Stacy McCleary for a while and heard stories from his recent Lone Star Rally appearance. We also chatted with Ricky Bongos and saw the latest parts from USA Parts Co. in their booth. Right next to Ricky was Frank Hoff from HMF industries, another friend that we last saw in Las Vegas at Rally in the Alley. Frank and Ricky are both working on some amazing new products, and if you happen to see their booth at your next rally, stop in and check out what they’re doing, but first make sure you mention that you read about them in Quick Throttle Magazine.

And just when you think you’ve seen, heard and tasted all that Chopperfest has to offer, it’s time for the bike show awards presentation. Huggy Bear and his son Tory took the stage, accompanied by the beautiful and talented Jennifer Santolucito to hand out the awards. And like many awards shows, we’re a small, tight-knit community, and part of the fun of these shows is walking down memory lane as Huggy Bear shared some of his favorite stories about the award winners. As the last award was handed out, I realized that the show was just about over.

Before leaving, we made one final stop at the Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys booth, where we ran into Randie Raige, Redhot Tattoo Barbie, and our friend Vanessa B. We chatted a bit about the 2020 calendars that were included in last month’s edition. Found out where the ladies were appearing in the next few weeks. Vanessa is one of the newest Russ Brown marketing reps, and we last saw Vanessa on vacation down in Mexico at the Rocky Point Rally, so we caught up for a few minutes before calling it a day and heading for the exit.

To sum it up, there’s really something for everyone here. Whether you like bikes, art, old stuff, new stuff or just like hanging out with old friends, Chopperfest is the coolest place to do it. See you all next year!


Chopperfest Award Winners

Award Winners
Chopper (old school scooter)
1st Gerald Casey 1955 FLH
2nd Dalton Walker 1937 VL
3rd Ryan Friedili 1973 Shovel

1st Rick Davidson 1960 Panhead
2nd David Rosales 1949 Panhead
3rd Troy Smith 1955 Panhead

1st Ruben Gonzales 1953 Cushman Eagle
2nd Brett Johnson 1947 WL
3rd Ben Pecqueur 1926 Harley Single

Daily Rider
1st Jeff Montgomery 1946 Knucklehead
2nd Howlin Wolf 1958 Panhead
3rd Mitch Urban 1965 Panhead

Modern Chopper
1st Charlie Weisel 2003 H-D Chopper
2nd Taylor Goodwin 2019 Custom Chopper
3rd Gustavo Sanchez 2019 H-D Chopper

1st Brett Johnson 1940
2nd Dalton Walker 1937 VL
3rd Ryan Friedili 1973 Shovel

Special Construction
1st Taylor Goodwin 2019 Custom Chopper
2nd Alex Madina 1997 Custom Chopper
3rd Phillip Lukas 2016 FXR Custom

FXR (presented by KD Customs)
1st John Jessup 1984 FXR
2nd Rex Henderson 1985 FXR
3rd Thomas 1988 FXR

1st Trevor Hibbs 2017 Dyna
2nd Ricky Bongos 2008 Dyna
3rd Brian Gerson 2001 Dyna

Rat Bike
1st Mitch Urban 1965 Electra Glide
2nd John Davidson 1957 Panhead
3rd Mike Vitagliano 1972 Custom Chopper

Radical Design
1st Richard Jones 2000 Sportster
2nd Garrett Sweany 1969 VW trike
3rd Kirk Taylor 2007 Ducati Flattrack Racer

1st Daniel Davis 1972 Honda CB750
2nd Gonalo Romero 1979 Yamaha XS650
3rd Harry Mingorance 1979 Yamaha XS650

Koolest paint
1st Brian Deiorgh 1980 Shovel
2nd Anthony Robinson 1973 XL
3rd Gene Jones 2005 XL

1st Bart Matson 2013 Road Glide
2nd Josh Burkey 1986 FXRD
3rd Omar Mendoza 2017 Dyna

1st Anthony Robinson 1973 XL
2nd Mike Velarde 2003 XL
3rd Denver Chopper 1973 XL

1st Ryan Todd 1953 Triumph P6
2nd Gilbert Prieto 1954 Triumph/BSA Thunder
3rd Ray Espinosa 1969 Triumph Bonneville

1st Stephanie Cota 2009 Special Construction

Best Knucklehead
Mike Rabideaux 1979 Knucklehead

Best Panhead
Powerplant Choppers

Best Shovelhead
Expensive Trash 1977 Shovelhead

Best Of Show
Dalton Walker 1963 H-D Chopper

David Mann Memorial Award
David Rosales 1949 Panhead

Ross Kiwi Tomas Award
Mike Rabideaux 1979 Knucklehead

Builders Choice
GMO 1982 FXR