San Diego Indian & Victory Motorcycle’s Grand Opening
Story & Photos by Randy Twells
It was time for San Diego Indian & Victory Motorcycle to officially Welcome the World! On June 14, 2014 the stage was set and preparations in place. As guests arrived for the long awaited Grand Opening, owner Petrina Herman- Shelby and her husband New York Myke, Owner of San Diego Harley, and Petrina’s sister Caryn were on hand to help celebrate and greet their guests as these iconic motorcycles make a grand entrance as the first Indian Motorcycle dealership in Southern California. Petrina is a seasoned rider and professional business woman who also owned a modeling agency, and has worked extensively with clients in the motorcycle industry. With her husband New York Myke a Harley dealership owner as well as her own resume of accomplishments, Petrina’s background served her well to launch San Diego Indian & Victory. As featured in Quick Throttle’s Women Who Ride in March 2012* she carried former Presidential candidate Sarah Palin as passenger, as she piloted Myke’s 110” Ultra at Rolling Thunder in 2011, in the glare of worldwide news coverage with cameras rolling. Talk about keeping your cool under pressure!
Here in San Diego, the beautiful original plank wood floors in this century old building hold a showroom full of “modern vintage” as well as 1935 and 1947 historic motorcycles on display. The Indian Motorcycle imagery fits right in here, in old San Diego’s North Little Italy neighborhood, an artsy collection of shops and businesses with even a tattoo shop right across the street in a converted older era house. An easy spot to land at along Kettner Blvd. and very close to San Diego Bay with the sea breeze, trees along the street and chairs placed outside making for a welcoming atmosphere.
To enter San Diego Indian you must pass through very tall, heavy, function-as-art double wooden doors, right away setting the stage for what is inside, a glimpse through their windows telling you, this is going to be an experience. With studio ceiling lighting, 2 lounge areas with comfy seating to enjoy a coffee and chat, and the 1935 & 1947 Indian bikes on display, you can close your eyes and almost feel the time slip away to nearly 80 years past, when these early Indian Motorcycles were brand new and ridden every day. Indian Motorcycle was the first American motorcycle brand in 1901—and with San Diego Indian the first Indian dealer in Southern California, you know it’s a timeless match—
We got to actually meet Russ Shepley a vintage gentleman himself, the owner of the fine 1947 Indian Chief on display, where he decided it would have a good home and be available for all visitors to look at and enjoy. He sat one more time on his Indian Chief for us to photograph. He looks so right at home on this bike…. and you are invited to come and see this wonderful bike as well as the 1935 Chief drag bike also on display- and take a minute to read the history noted by the owner on the info sheet displayed with each bike— Russ having typed the info for the 1947 Chief on an actual typewriter, a contemporary machine of the bike’s era– and, Russ’s 1947 Chief is also available to the right buyer— meantime, this is like a little museum display inside San Diego Indian, so folks, enjoy.
Taco Man brought the food, back by popular demand from the Indian Demo Event of a couple months prior, and a 3 piece band played some great classic tunes to set the mood. A key feature that Petrina and crew wanted to promote was the collection of goods for San Diego Military Outreach Ministries (SDMOM.org) a charity that serves military families in the local area to help them through difficult times. So guests brought bagfuls of goods for the collection barrel and San Diego Indian then passes that on to the charity for them to distribute to their clients. The very engaging Bob of KGB 101.5 Radio’s Bob & Coe In The Morning was on hand with the station remote booth, doing spin-the-wheel prizes and greeting the riders.
There were some beauties parked out front, such as a willow green and cream example brand new Indian Chief Vintage with fringed leather all around. Sheila Rae Johnson a 64 years young rider, came to San Diego very shortly after San Diego Indian opened their doors for business, and bought this bike originally NOT willow green and cream, took it home and then took it apart herself to get the paint job she wanted, and put it all back together again—by herself. Read her story in Quick Throttle’s Women Who Ride feature in an upcoming issue. Sheila is just one of many new Indian owners who came back to the place where they found their dream bike, to celebrate with Petrina and each other. Stories flew of road trips and good times, both past and to come. San Diego Indian is planning Full Moon Rides, North Little Italy Nights events and other unique opportunities to enjoy your Indian Motorcycle in a group setting as well.
Needless to say, this new breed of Indian Motorcycles are so well built – I keep hearing the word “bulletproof ”– that owners come back for community more than repair issues, but can find great service and maintenance when needed. There’s street parking out front of the dealership but also a huge parking lot on the lower level lot beside the split level building, that can accommodate large groups such as the demo rides they had just back in March.
All in all, an eclectic setting for iconic Indian Motorcycles – as well as the newer Victory brand– making a grand entrance here at San Diego Indian & Victory Motorcycle—and where Indian riders find friends old and new on these ‘new vintage’ machines that make everyday rides a special experience, and who knows but that you find your next ride here too…