Story & photos by Randy Twells
San Diego, CA—Motorcycle events in San Diego have seen ups, downs, and gone round and round, literally—The Del Mar Mile having gone by the wayside in the last few years. San Diego proper has struggled in the meantime to hold court as a credible motorcycle event host city, involving a major venue. Flat track dirt racing no longer comes here. And in spite of the huge military population of San Diego with the Navy and Marine Corps bases, which often spawns huge participation for military support events and rides (think Rolling Thunder), the city has lacked that major signature event to put San Diego on the Motorcycle Event Map again.
But hope springs eternal. Enter, MotoExpo San Diego. Promoters Lawrence and David Bame have lots of experience as local people who know San Diego, and have watched what goes on here. They have produced many other types of shows at Del Mar Fairgrounds, such as the San Diego Home & Garden Show. We know it takes motorcycle people to do a motorcycle event. And, these guys are motorcycle people. Having been motorcycle riders and enthusiasts for many years, they also noted what has and hasn’t happened on the motorcycle event scene here. Blessed with the talent to turn imagination and an event just waiting to happen into reality, they did just that.
MotoExpo San Diego was a first year event, held interestingly the same first October weekend as Del Mar Mile had been—and so far a San Diego-only event. Attendance was about 5,000 total with about 128 zip codes represented from as far away as OC and Riverside counties.
Not huge attendance, but given current economic factors and its first-year status, and what the event comprised, MotoExpo was a success.
Lawrence Bame’s reply to my comment that there did seem to be a HUGE amount of bikes on display, not by vendors/for sale, but by exhibitors/ show entrants: “Well, we think that a motorcycle SHOW, should have MOTORCYCLES. Not just a bunch of vendors. It’s a MOTORCYCLE show. And we wanted to bring together all aspects of motorcycling as well.”
Which is why, outside activities included a No Fear/Whoops dirt bike/motocross exhibition, Riders For Life Freestyle Team exhibition with a launch ramp, Jason Britton Super Moto superbike stunt exhibition (wow, wheelies AND stoppies, defying gravity and sanity), San Diego Trials Riders exhibition (obstacles climbed/jumped with special seatless bikes, at low speeds with precision skills and balance), dyno runs and tuning, and a road course demo track set up by Three Brothers KTM. There was something for every bike style and from spectating to full involvement on the extensive and fairly twisty (read: FUN) demo course.
Inside, notable builders Arlen Ness and Chica were both on site. A sport bike rental company, Metrics such as Ducati & San Juan Capistrano Yamaha, So Cal Cycleworks showing the futuristic Victory Vision cruiser, El Camino Mortuary’s glassed-in hearse & trike combo on display (for that final ride, in style!), and pretty much any product category you wanted was represented. We also saw Jim and Wanda Hicks with their Left Coast Kustoms display out of Oceanside, being the nearest Big Bear Choppers, Intrepid, Ultra and Swift dealer around, and good people to boot.
Available for greeting and autographs was actor, wrestler and Spike TV’s “Bullrun” host Goldberg, with a continuous line-up of fans young and old checking out his Jesse James chopper as well. Goldberg also tried out a Coast Choppers of San Diego Big Dog for a Quick Throttle photo and we later caught up with him checking out the artwork on display by wonderful Harley artist Scott Jacobs.
Legal services, paint, trailers, lifts, racks, accessories, etc, etc. but the focus was the HUNDREDS of bikes on display. Vintage to modern, experimental examples both old and new, and a judged bike show with every bike guaranteed a trophy of some kind. Indeed, the stage Saturday looked like a cash crop of plexiglass and metal plate, displaying what all would take home Sunday.
Bike show judges were Ray Kittel (Ray’s M/C Show World), Exporter/Collector Bill Kennedy (Kennedy’s Custom Cycles, Oceanside, CA), Jim Waggeman (Air Stream Studio, Carlsbad, CA), XR Bob (XR Bob’s H-D Repair, Vista, CA) and VIP Guest Goldberg. Awards for 43 classes and $3500 in prize money.
Judges Choice Best in Show went to Bad Island Toyz (we love their paint) but 2007 Grand Champion Award went to Bill Speeg of Valley Center, for his fully restored WWII military-issue 1941 Indian 741.
Good motivation to enter your bike in the show, and get recognized for your effort. It paid off, because there were lots of interesting and varied bikes, personal treasures of those who enjoy and pamper them, and give them a good home in their golden years, on display. And a large vintage display sponsored by the San Diego Antique Motorcycle Association. Old Nortons, Zimmermans, BSA, and vintage Ducati ‘bullet’ bike in the “Ducati corner,” makes & models you usually don’t see outside of a museum. Old military sidecar bikes, left in post-war condition, as if they just came off the battlefield. Along with recent award-winning special construction bikes.
The food available was more than adequate, with dogs to cheesesteaks, so you didn’t go hungry, and everything was pretty tasty too, but you don’t go to a bike event to dine, the food is there to fuel you for your walkabout, and it served the purpose for sure.
And speaking of the walkabout, the parking was right near the exhibit hall venue, if you followed directions on where to enter the grounds. And all the outside activities were adjacent to the building so, you didn’t have to hike all over the fairgrounds.
I’m sure I am leaving something out; it’s impossible to mention every single facet of the show, but that’s good, because it means there was enough going on that, you had to ‘be there’, and that means it was worth your $12 (online)/$15 gate ($9 military), or 2-day pass for $20. Under-12 kids got in free—and there was enough kid-friendly stuff for a meaningful family outing. Motorcycle parking was $5.
Feedback from vendors was, they were happy with the tone of the show, felt it was a good start, felt they had good attendance, attitude was upbeat, MotoExpo was different in having so many aspects of motorcycling included, and done well. We hope to see MotoExpo again in San Diego, making a great destination for enjoying a beautiful day! Check ‘em out at www.motoexposandiego.com for next time around.