By Babydoll Pics by Pete Alva, CD, Lisa D, Mike Sayer & Pizano
I arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday night for a week jammed packed with interviews and excitement. My first stop was The Biltmore Hotel downtown to check in. On Wednesday, I drove over to see George Barris the King of Kustoms, one of the regular Love Ride celebrities, for an interview and to see his North Hollywood location. Thursday, I met with Karen Sharpe Kramer to discuss her upcoming documentary about the re-release of the original movie “The Wild Ones”, Friday night I was off to Petersons Museum for a touch of class, previewing vintage motorcycles, listening to one of the best bands out of San Francisco, Heather Combs, while enjoying some tasty morsels prepared to surprise our palates. Instead of sweet dessert tidbits, we were actually served a buffet of appetizers to please the pickiest of appetites.
Cameras were flashing as usual as people from all walks of life came to preview the many beautifully maintained collector’s items that would be auctioned off the next day while the occasional celebrity entered the room to mingle. Willie G (Davidson) and Oliver Shokouh (founder of the Love Ride and owner of Glendale Harley-Davidson) and Robert Patrick (TV Series “The Unit”) were present for photo opportunities while their guests lined up for a proud pose and a smile.
I had talked to many regulars who attended the Love Ride from year to year. There were mixed emotions and a lot of it was because they couldn’t fathom what the Love Ride would be like at any place other than Castaic Lake. But, sometimes, we have to use our imagination and try to see the bigger picture and most of all, have faith in the people who have been involved in bringing the Love Ride to us year after year. I felt sure that Oliver Shokouh, Emily Vindeni and their committee would not let us down. But, there was still a little nervous butterfly fluttering around in my stomach for them.
What many people didn’t understand is that California Bike Week included the Love Ride, the Pacific Coast Nationals flat track races and the All Harley-Davidson Drag Racing Association (AHDRA) racing on the famous NHRA drag strip, but they were all separate events. So, for instance, you and your friends decide to go to the AHDRA races at the race track, you are going to pay an entrance fee. Well, some people thought that buying a Love Ride ticket would get them into all the California Bike Week events. There’s always some confusion with big, brand-new events like this.
Just the added racing made the Love Ride extremely interesting. We have always come down for three days anyway because the Love Ride always had some Pre-Love Ride activities that we participated in. But in this case with the AHDRA event which was presented by Laidlaw’s H-D was beyond extreme and something I had never seen before. I hope the pictures can give you a taste of what the races are like but there is no way for you to understand or even feel the excitement until you actually experience it. Here are some of the winners of both the drag races and the flat track races:
The final results for the AHDRA California Bike Week Nationals:
Screamin Eagle Top Fuel winner: Doug Vancil, from Albuquerque, NM
S&S Pro Stock winner: Junior Pippin from Conyers, GA
JIMS Pro Fuel winner: Douglas Home, from Aberdeen, MD
For information on winners go to www.ahdra.com
Pacific Coast Nationals Results: Flat Track Racing
Open Class Winner: George Roeder: II (#66/Harley-Davidson)
Saddleman Vintage Class winner: Royal Adderson (#28/ Harley-Davidson)
Top Gun 450 Class Winner: Kayl Kolkman (#45/Honda)
For more information on winners, go to www.wcfts.com
A few other stats for AHDRA: The top Pro Fuel winner’s purse was $20,200.00 and in the Sportsman class for the Destroyer: the winner’s purse was $1,000.00. The total purse for all classes was $64,575.00. Pretty impressive!
But where did “California Bike Week” come from and what is it comprised of? California Bike Week is making an effort to rival some of the largest rallies in the United States by combining the Love Ride Foundation, the Southern California and Northern California Harley Davidson Dealership Association’s (75 H-D Dealers) and heavily supported by Harley Davidson Corporation. The event includes a Trade Show with 200 vendors, demo rides, preview party and auction at Petersons Automotive Museum, AHDRA Drag Racing and Pacific Coast Flat Track Racing featuring the Harley Davidson Wrecking Crew, the famous Wall of Death board track stunt riding team and freestyle stunt rider Jason Pullen, Victor McLaglen Motor Corps Stunt Team, music and festivities all day long by the Dynatones, Mohawk, Heather Combs and The Hard Miles Band. The Love Ride is a separate event but included in California Bike Week. And I am sure there will be more each year.
But the ultimate event of California Bike Week is the Love Ride which happens on Sunday each year. This year I was concerned that the focus would be on the new venue and that everyone would be more concerned with the new location than what the Love Ride is all about. But on a gloomy morning threatening rain, biker’s saddled up and rode out to Glendale with their generous donations packed in their backpacks yet close to their hearts. For more than twenty years the Love Ride has raised over 20 million dollars for charity and this year was no different. The bikers focus remained true to the ride and Oliver announced that they had raised over $900,000.00 and were still counting.
Sunday morning approximately 20,000 riders came to register to ride in the largest one-day motorcycle fundraising event in the world. As the crowd registered from 6:00 AM until the celebrity show began you could hear the music of Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries. Jay Leno, Grand Marshall entertained the crowd with his wit and sarcasm as he joked with the many celebrities he brought to the stage.Willie G and Robert Patrick are generally present each year as Honorary Grand Marshalls along with many other celebrities.
As the bikes lined up to leave, kick stands were booted up, throttles turned and engines roared. The rumble resounded through the hills of Glendale as one biker competed with the next to be heard. The beginning of the bike parade made its way down San Fernando Blvd. which took bikers through town instead of directly to the freeway as in prior years which everyone loved. On each side of the street you could see fans clapping and reaching out in hopes of the minute chance that a celebrity would touch their hand.
Children were atop their father’s shoulders or in their mother’s strollers or backpacks. Most importantly you could feel the anticipation in the air from both the fans and the biker’s themselves. This was the moment they had waited for all year.
Once on the freeway, each biker heads for the event site alone or in a small group. Looking above at the overpasses, you can see folks waving with flags and signs. Each overpass offers something different and it is always welcoming to the many bikers below. This year the route was different so there weren’t as many looky-loos but I am certain, once they get the new route down they will be back at it. It is obvious the Love Ride bikers are loved by all.
The 210 freeway was much more open with less traffic and seemed to be less hazardous for the bikers. One of the concerns previous to the actual day was that it would be difficult to get 20,000 bikes into the Fairplex without traffic jams, and instead everything went very smoothly, events were included in the Love Ride ticket price. I heard several complaints that the Love Ride ticket did not get you into the races. I looked up the prices online so hopefully this will answer any questions you may have for next years events. www.calweek.com
The thing you have to remember about these events is this; some people are coming just to see the racing, some are just going to participate in the Love Ride and some are just going to see the vendors. The only way the promoters of this event could make this fair to everyone is to price each event separately so the people who only want to participate in one event can do so or give you a choice of purchasing a Value Pak so you can enjoy all the events at a discounted price.
People are resistant to change and after so many years of enjoying the Love Ride at Castaic, I can understand that, but for those of you who have been to Sturgis, Daytona, Laughlin or any of the major rallies, there was a time when they grew out from the small town run to a large rally, and then on to multiple city rallies. Due to the fact that I lived about three miles from the Fairplex Fairgrounds in Pomona, I knew that initially many people might have a problem with the fact that the Love Ride would end up in Pomona. But the area surrounding Fairplex is very much like looking through a peephole into the past of million dollar homes representative of the 40’s and it is gorgeous.
I think the main thing to remember is to allow yourself to experience the excitement of the racing and the many new things that California Bike Week has to offer and this is just the beginning of what’s to come. If you are going to spend three days enjoying this event, the Value Pak is the way to go so that you can experience it all at a better price.
With artists like Gregg Allman’s band performing in concert and a grassy area to throw your blanket on, a beer or two, and good friends, that’s just all you need. The main objective of this event is the charities it supports.
All I can say is I have always enjoyed the Love Ride and spending time with family. The new venue has only added to my enjoyment. There is just more to do and all in one place. There are tons more vendors and races to enjoy, plus the stunt men. So what I originally enjoyed, I still enjoy plus a lot of added benefits. My family all had an absolute blast and the men, well, they were in heaven with a few beers and the races. It was a great couple of days!
Rick Schmoranzer gave $26,324.00 as the top fundraising individual. That is truly amazing Rick. Congratulations on your hard work! The money raised this year went to the following charities; Muscular Dystrophy Association, Reading by 9, Providence Saint Joseph Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Special Olympics of Southern California and many more.
Rick Valusek took home an FLHX from the Love Ride opportunity ticket drawing and James Deluca lucked out with a 2007 Fat Boy along with an autographed plaque signed by the Love Ride 23 celebrities.
A special CD was compiled for Love Ride 24 featuring Bobby Kreiger (The Doors) can be purchased along with other Love Ride merchandise at www.loveride.org to help increase the dollars to charity. So in the end, the change many people feared was in fact very well received, both as the new CA Bike Week and Love Ride’s new venue.
As a side note, we here at Quick Throttle want to extend our sincere congratulations to Oliver Shokouh for being inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame for your tireless hard work over the past 24 years.
Special thanks to Pizano for his hard work as my photographer. Babydoll