Bear our founder first interviewed Willie for Chop Cult back in 2013 so it's a proud moment to have our lead writer Mike Vandegriff cover this show and once again interview Willie a man that's fast becoming a living legend. Paying respect to those that came before while passing the torch to the next generation is something we at OBB believe in and we are stoked to see many whitebeards of like mind. Together against gas prices, sweeping changes to the motorcycle industry, and the striping of people's know-how as technology takes over, custom culture is preserved. It's shows like Chopper Time and Men like Willie and Marty that are the anchor! Enjoy!
Deep within the confines of the biker subculture has always remained a series of "happenings" and moments over the years, pure, raw, forever nostalgic moments that have given fellow bikers a sense of pride for having lived through them or been a part of them. We have always tried to pay homage to moments like this and regionally these moments have become something that have transformed the landscape surrounding these biker happenings and brought others in pilgrimage to find their own sacred yet wild moments within them. Daytona Bike week forever immortalized by the striking images in the pages of biker magazines of the eighties and nineties was forever transformed when Daytona legend Willie Jones of the famed "Tropical tattoo" in Ormond beach began hosting a "true to the core"custom bike show called "chopper time" birthed from the comradery of fellow bikers and custom builders that would often make his tattoo shop lot a staple of their adventures. The show soon became the mecca of Southern motorcycle culture and held true to its core values for over 2 decades now. Early on bringing along the outgoing vaudevillian talents of the quick witted "Roadside Marty" as his master of ceremonies and an All Star cast of judges that made the shows awards a true "judging of its own peers" the show was destined to get bigger and better with every passing year. Not only did the show allow builders from all over the country from all walks of life to showcase their talents, connect with like minded individuals over a cold well priced brew or just simply cruise the lot looking for continued sources of inspiration, it also had a very important cause fueling it that not everyone knew about.
The "chopper time" event sought out to make a difference behind the scenes as well by donating all of its proceeds to various charities over the years until they finally stuck with one very true to Willie's heart, the local veterans support fund. It became his mission to continue to support the veterans fund year after year not only with the proceeds of the show but with his own efforts in person through outreach at the veterans home, the show continued to support them for years with great success. After the effects of the 2020 pandemic shaking the show to all time lows it was just the right time for many in the biker community to help show Willie, his crew and the vets that together we could make this year's chopper time again, one of those great moments forever carved into biker history. So we here at Old Bike Barn teamed up with one of the events most heralded photographers and all around moto icon himself Michael Lichter by offering limited edition prints from some of Michael's great Daytona moments captured on film as well as some of the events greatest builders in their truest environments. The print sale at the show as well as online was a great success, helping push a record amount raised over the top for the veterans this year. After a year of hardship and adversity the 2021 Willie and Roadside Marty's "chopper time" event proved to be just the thing that everyone needed. We let the dust settle a bit and then reached out to Willie and Marty to dive even deeper into the events very interesting history and spoke one on one with them in what will be two features here on the Old Bike Barn blog. So here is part 1, our talk with the unofficial mayor of Daytona himself Willie Jones.
So just to start out, how did everything turn out in terms of the contributions for the veterans fund over all after the show was all finished?
Well I talked with Mike Erthal at the fund yesterday and he said it was definitely one of our record breaking years! A big contribution to that was the prints and stuff you all were selling too. You know it's like everybody came down here just to get the heck out of Dodge and have a good time for the week and you know it's like they didn't even mind donating more this year. Hell I had quite a few people even walk up and hand me $100 bills for the fund and I'll tell you we did really good! You know for years we didn't really talk much about what this show was even all about and then when people actually found out what we were doing, I guess it just took a while for people to understand what was going on. Then people started really getting behind it.
Well first off why don't we touch base a little bit more on that and get a bit of back story on how you began working with the veterans fund and what the catalyst was behind all that?
In the very early days of the show we did it with a VFW group in town and then we went from them to the ARNI animal rescue foundation which Mike of the veterans fund was a part of at that time with Nikki Lynn. They worked together a lot on different stuff as well, Mike and Frank Scott were the original creators of the veterans support fund which takes care of the guys out at the nursing home out here. So we started doing the show just for the veteran support fund because it seemed like their need was a lot greater than any of the other charities we had worked with basically when they first started it up, it was to provide the guys with stuff that they couldn't get through the government support anymore and even came down to things like for instance, we had one guy that we raised money for him to get a prosthesis. For some reason the government bureaucracy just wouldn't let him get one and just wouldn't help him so we stepped in. You know it's stuff like that and that was on a good year. A few years back basically another thing they do is try to take these guys out in 2 or 3 of those big vans and take them out to dinners and just try and get them out of that home out there. When they finally got me to be more a part of it and they start asking me to go out there and go from room to room and talk with these guys. I took a buddy of mine that was very well educated in The Bible and we would go Room to Room and we would pray with these guys, we were talking with them a lot and as that progressed we even got some girls to go with us because that seemed to help break the ice with some of these guys and make them feel a little more comfortable you know, open up and stuff. Well anyway when I started going from room to room and listening to everyone's stories man, it actually tore me up so bad one year that I was having a hard time dealing with it. It was just like, this is just terrible you know, these poor guys are in here with nothing and right now has really been a bad time for them because it's been almost a year and a 1/2 and they've been in full blown lockdown from all this covid stuff. Some of these guys just feel like they're in a prison out there. I'll tell you once you go out there and listen to some of these guys stories it's like that's really what pushed me over the top on this whole thing and we really started trying to do more you know. You've got these guys that gave it all and the sacrifices these guys made and it's like you know they kind of get left out after it's all said and done. It's like any nursing home really but people just get left out in there and it's sad. You're towards the end of your life and you really feel like you're all alone. My wife, daughter and my granddaughters used to go out there too quite a bit and talk to the guys and bring them cookies and what not. We do a Christmas party out there and raise all kinds of money for Christmas and buy them gifts too. A few years ago I think everybody in there got TV's for their rooms each and every one.
Wow! So that's all directly from the contributions put into the veteran support fund?
Yep that's actually from the money that we raised during the show, these guys even got laptops one year which was huge for them and it was another 1 of those biggest years ever. Since the covid stuff though it's just not been the same the last 2 shows I did they were down a lot of the country still on lockdown but after talking with Mike he said this is going to be 1 of the record years and that's a big thanks to you guys and what you did with Michael Lichter. You guys really pushed it over the top. It really seemed like people were more giving this year than ever
Well I think everyone has had a hard year and covid has affected everyone differently and its important trying to stay open minded to everyone else's situations but you also have people like the veterans who are being affected by this in a totally different way of their own, so now more than ever this a good time for people to be able to reach out and show these guys that they care?
Well when we did the Christmas thing we always had a party inside for them and its like we couldn't even go inside this year we had to sit outside in a big car port out there and get the packages sorted. We didn't get to go in and mingle with the guys at all. They had me dressing up in a Santa Claus suit the last 4 years even though which was pretty cool.
Hahaha yes! That is awesome!
Yeah It's pretty funny but they had us do some weird stuff this year though like drive around the parking lot and stuff beeping horns and waving and stuff. Which they brought out some of the guys to the lawn in wheelchairs so they got to watch that but it's just not the same as actually getting to sit there and talk with the guys and interact with them you know, cause that's what they need. They need people to visit them. I guess we all got a look at that 1 day the older we get and I think that's one of the things that affected me a lot with these guys is just the loneliness. When we first started going out there some of these guys came around pretty good cause they were just so happy to have people coming out there and interacting with them and Mike, he does even more with the staff from the veteran support fund too. It's just a great feeling to know you're doing something decent for somebody that really deserves it
Man that's awesome and we are glad that we are able to help this year, like you said these guys really do deserve it. Well why don't we dive into some info about the show a little now? We spoke a bit with Marty about how long the show has been going on but I think this question is a good one for you being it's founder. So as events regionally come and go over the years, and with Willie's chopper time now having surpassed 2 decades of successful shows at tropical tattoo, what do you attribute most to the continued longevity and success of the show?
Well I guess, you know it's weird because, I get offers all the time to move this thing to where I wouldn't have to deal with it at all and all the headaches of it. You know every time I wanna move it and I talk to people and I throw that out there, they say it would never be the same. I mean it would be a lot easier on me to move this thing and there was occasion's where I talked with Melissa and them who own the Iron Horse. Its like when I first started doing this show there was only like, the "rats hole" show over on the beach side, then since it's I started doing this "chopper time" thing a lot of people have tried to copy it and do spin off of that.
I've lived in Daytona my whole life and rode motorcycles since I was 15 years old, I'm 66 now and I'm not somebody that's like new to the whole motorcycle scene or anything you know. So I've been involved with motorcycles for a long time. Me and clay that works here at the shop, we worked at the Boot Hill saloon back in the 1980's, it's just like I've got a pretty good background in motorcycles and a lot of my friends of course have been in motorcycles for years and years too. Ranging in their eighties down to even the younger guys. There is a big thing now with the younger crowd really trying to keep choppers alive and that new generation of bikes and stuff with these young guys has really helped out. Some guys like Sean from "trailer trash choppers" that has helped out here quite a bit a few years and Marcus who used to work here him and Sean are partners with "trailer trash choppers" who've helped, you also got cycle source magazine has came up and gave me a big help with advertising and promoting the show. It's funny because you know the shows going on 20 years and we still have $2 beers! It's like we've kept the prices "old school prices" and it's really cool because a lot of people they don't even care about that one way or another and they still throw a good tip up there for the girls that are working. They even give their tips to the veterans fund all my girls though working the T-shirt booth too they do the same thing it all goes to the fund.
You know it got to be where guys like Dave Perewitz and Billy lane and man just a big host of great builders were coming out year after year, Adam Chandler from Palm Beach, Sucker punch Sallys, Pat and Led sled, all kinds from all over used to be here and still are.
You know how this started actually we used to meet up here on a Wednesday and ride our bikes over the Lollipops then everybody would come back here and be over here in the parking lot on Thursdays and stuff. Well people started coming by in the early years when we were doing this before we actually started doing a chopper show and they would ask "Hey are you having a show here or something." It was funny because everybody was here because we were either riding to or coming back from Lollipops in like early 2000. Knowing all these guys from out of town everybody would stop at the tattoo shop. Hell you figure, think back 20 years ago, there wasn't 300 tattoo shops! Probably when I opened up my shop in 1990 there was only 3 shops in Volusia County, now there are freakin 70! They did that with the motorcycle industry too. I mean everybody's got a bike shop now. I've got so many people that come here all the time that want to get something fixed too and its like "wow where did you get that at?" and you know the same goes with bikes, some people just shouldn't be working on them the same as some people shouldn't be tattooing, but hey, yeah.
Well in regards to the shop we can only imagine with the success of the show it is probably brought some rather well known or interesting clients into the shop to get tattooed during bike week so who were some of your most memorable clients?
Wow that's a hard one, haha. Man there's just so many people we've tattooed, hmm, well a lot of professional wrestlers and stuff like that girl Medusa from WWE was in here a while back and her old man, he had a bike shop too. Let me see we had one of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and well, man just thinking about this it's been a bunch of people you know through the years. Especially in the nineties and the early 2000's since there wasn't as many shops. We would have had just unbelievable people come in here all the time. Ohh another guy, Jim root came in this year from the band Slipknot, he is a good one. You know the mix of people that was here this year honestly was just crazy because it's like almost everybody who is somebody in the motorcycle industry shows up each year. It's so cool you know Michael Lichter, he always used to come out here and photograph and you just don't get more well known as a motorcycle photographer than Michael Lichter you know? Ohh and Carl Messner he used to be like an icon around the motorcycle world he traveled all the events all over the country and he was always here too. Sad thing was he actually came here one bike week knowing he had cancer and he knew he was dying and he had been coming into my shop since he worked for "skin and ink" back in the early 1990s. He did the magazine's Outlaw biker and Skin and ink but, anyway yeah he actually came here, he had his camper here, he came here just to die.
Whoa, that is heavy.
That's a pretty wild feeling that he felt that this was like the only place where I don't know where he felt something like that and you know he had a kid in Colorado and all but he came here instead. He felt like this was where he wanted to die. He was just a funny guy though you know and hit all the events all over the country, that's not the same as like musicians and wrestlers but in the motorcycle industry everybody knew who he was.
Anyway, we've also got a pretty big mix of all of the motorcycle clubs that show up too. Everybody comes out here and they all get along, them guys it's like they know what this is about and nobody wants to cause a problem or anything. It's like, there are so many different people that have been here it would be tough to even start writing names down you know. Ohh and actually to think about it, Billy lane and his wife were in here on Sunday and she got tattooed. Billy has been in several times. Darren Mckeage is another good guy he has worked here in the past as a guest artist too, he came down a couple times and helped us. Also Dave Perewitz always comes down and hes always said this was his favorite thing to do on bike week. Dave is like an icon in the industry too, let's see Jeff Cochran with Sucker Punch Sally's hes been a staple as well, man just so many different people.
Well with the show it definitely seems like there is a revolving cast of builders that come out, it's very apparent that it brings the best vintage choppers and custom bikes of any show in Daytona. How do you guys work out the selection process for who fits the bill to actually be able to roll into the lot?
Well when they pull up, we won't do store bought motorcycles. It's gotta be built or custom and you know we do also have an antique class for some of the guys that wanna bring restored bikes or antique bikes. I had a guy Marshall who was judging that this year he does a lot of judging for another old school bike show called "shovels and pans only" then Roadside Marty, I forget which class he got this year but he picks a few too. By the time it's all over I think we give out like 30 awards unofficially and like 170 motorcycles were in the show this year, which is a lot of motorcycles packed in there! Our all time record for participants was around 197 one year and you just couldn't even walk out here it was horrible. I mean it was cool that it was that packed but man you couldn't even hardly breathe. You know I tried to keep it down a little bit with the whole covid thing but if you noticed we actually gave out awards early because the place had just gotten so packed.
Well, all safety concerns aside it was pretty damn cool though to see haha. It's neat to stand up on those ledges and just look out on a sea of motorcycle tanks and handlebars just filling that whole lot, it's really freaking cool.
Like you said though there's such a variety of different people up here like man what a great mix of people to you know. We'll have doctors, lawyers, dentists, just regular ass guys who don't even ride motorcycles, you had all of them wondering around in the mix and stuff. Some people come straight here just to support because they know it is for the veterans fund and they make donations and stuff which is really cool because a for a long time we didn't really push it that much you know? You're supposed to just do good stuff and not even tell anybody. It's kind of an old country thing, if you help somebody out, you don't brag about it, you just do it. We were really kind of on the quiet about everything then we had a bad Biketoberfest and also bike week March last year when all this pandemic just started. We just had two bad ones in a row, attendance was way down. Hell they actually shut me down at the end of bike week in March a year ago! They just scared so many people off, the damn media just scared the hell out of everybody. Hell the whole country but that's a whole story I don't wanna go on a rant, they damn sure made things a lot worse but anyway, you know what it's a great group of people that participated in all this deal and if I could go through it and name every single one of them I would. It would sure be a big list. There's a lot of people that help sometimes, it feels like I do every thing but I do have other people that help and a lot of people volunteer to help it's just that when you're set in your ways you wanna take care of certain things yourself and not ask for help you know? It seems like I am always getting stuff ready right before the show like right up to the day before every year it seems like we are rebuilding picnic tables for some reason. I was trying to get the asphalt done in the back too and I worked over on the property next door also it just kind of creeps up on us every time.
Well when we spoke with Marty he had spoke about maybe even trying to expand the show a bit by gaining ownership of that property next door to the shop? Is that something you maybe see as a possibility for the future of the show then?
Yeah, I've talked to the guy who owns it from time to time about it, and he's getting up there in age and with some health problems. I would even go so far as to let the guy a live there that way he doesn't have to worry about nothing, it would be where I would only be using it a couple times a year. Man I really I don't want to do any more shows then I already do, the 2 shows a year actually takes or wear on me cause I'm here from 8 a.m. to midnight for a couple weeks beforehand each show. I've had people wanting me to do shows here and there like I've had some people want me to come do one in Sturgis but then some people say it just wouldn't be the same thing and you know it wouldn't. For me at my age this is about all I wanna do, I mean I wish I could do more but I ain't got the energy to do much more than this at this time.
Well what would be your goals for the show going forward or things to come for the future of the event?
Well you know it's funny they say if it aint broke don't change it or don't fix it. haha. It's funny the way we've been doing this it's always seemed to work out. My biggest thing was I get a lot of people wanna fight me on it, officially we have around 22 classes then unofficially we end up with about 30 awards. You have Dave Perewitz pick motorcycles, Bill Dodge, he usually picks one, Cycle source usually picks one, the trailer trash choppers guys pick one, D&D customs they also pick one too, also Marty, we had Danger Dan do one. So anyway we end up with probly 30 awards for the motorcycles ranging from event to event usually it's a little slower in Biketoberfest and I actually like that one cuz it's not as slammed busy and stuff you can walk around a lot easier. Alot of people really like the thing being packed in though and that whole party atmosphere and the bands playing too. Which I've always had good bands here to through the years, we try to mix up the music every year from time to time, we throw different people in there it's kind of good though because people come here and they don't really even expect a band. Alot of people just figure it's only a bike show and nothing more. When we get the bands out here they usually play from 11 to 4 each year, this year we did the awards a little early so 3:30 but hell people were in the damn lot ready to go at 8:00 a.m. in the morning this year. It's like they keep getting here earlier and earlier. Our original show was 12 to 4 then we moved it to 11 to 4 and now you got people here at 8 in the morning wanting to get their bikes in the show.
Well I know some of the guys that we came down with that were from Iowa who actually ended up taking home a couple of show awards, they were like man we want to get into that show as early as we can. So maybe that was a shared mentality amongst other builders that they all wanted to get a good spot up in the lot.
Yeah you're probably right, you know there's always gotta be somebody there that loses though not everybody can be a winner. I get that sometimes these guys that complain about their bikes didn't win and I go man look how many bikes are out here!
It's certainly stiff competition for sure, it's definitely tough, there are some really great bikes all mixed in there. A bit of seriously everything.
I mean if you do win, you're doing pretty good cause it's like 21 or 22 awards and unofficially 30 but you got 170 motorcycles, there are gonna be 20 or 30 that are just over the top anyway but it's like we all look for different stuff that's why I always gotta split it up and have different judges so it's fair. I like to keep it where it's like 15 different people picking bikes.
You know that's the way to go so nothing is swayed in one direction or another it's not just one person's taste being the deciding factor, that's pretty awesome.
Yeah you're not picking with favoritism and not everybody knows everybody with 15 different judges you really got better chances to win. What I like and what I look for is a lot different than what some of these other guys look for I personally like I won't pick a motorcycle as one of my picks if it doesn't look like it has been ridden. If it looks like its just been in storage somewhere and they take it out for shows that's just not my idea of what I pick. To me it's gotta be a motorcycle that can be ridden! Just building a bike that for me personally has been ridden that's it. That's also why it's supposed to be a "ride in" bike show. Every once and a while people do slip something in here, I even had 1 guy 1 time that the dag gone motor wasn't even finish and we were like man you can't win with this!
So with the way that the show filters so many people into it, it attracts clearly a diverse crowd of builders, would you say that the show is something that the average garage builder with the right bike could roll in and compete side-by-side with some of the greats?
Ohh absolutely! Yeah we always pick those kind of guys too. There's a lot of bikes that come in here that are done by Bling's cycle, Billy lanes bikes and things like that. A lot of big name builder motorcycles are here but you know it's like we've even had some times where you have guys say I had so-and-so build my bike and I didn't even win. Well yeah what's your point you know? It's kinda to give some of these guys some of these younger guys a little publicity you know, I always do this too, I always try to get a bunch of girls up there for these guys because you know that's a big moment for them and to be in that show and to be surrounded with a bunch of girls and stuff kinda makes them feel good you know.
So you would say overall, Willies chopper time is more of a level playing field then? If you got a good bike and you got some talent come on down put it up against the big boys! haha
Right! That's exactly it! You know there's some guys that put bikes in the show like there was a guy named Ray Ray from Miami he put in a bike that Warren Lane built and I thought Ray had built it but he happened to win in the show 2 different times before I found out that Warren actually built it for him. It was a really cool Panhead which won some stuff up up at the broken spoke too and now hes out there building bikes of his own. Those guys from "trailer trash choppers" nobody had really heard of them for a while and Marcus won the "tarball award" with his ratty old Evo bike. It's funny he has a rigid frame Evo bike with a 124" motor in it and it looks like he just pulled this bike out of the damn woods or something! Hes got this 124" motor on a rigid frame that they had to put special gussets on the frame to beef it up because it had so much torque. Its like some of the stuff these guys build is just out of control. I really miss some of the foreign builders too we used to have a lot more guys like that from out of the country. Guys from Switzerland and Germany and all over they would have bikes shipped over and stored just to bring to the show and then ride them all we get bike week. We had some really cool stuff over the years hell I even saw a BMW that was so bad ass out here one time, which I'm not a BMW guy but that thing was just cool as shit. You know though I do like some old triumphs, some early model sportsters and stuff, knuckleheads, Panheads, Shovelheads, Evos, and now you even figure a dag gone Evo they had made those things almost 40 years ago now, came out in like what 85 so 35 or 36 years, golllly, it's crazy how time goes by and now that's actually an old motorcycle.
Well I know myself when I can't fuckin go and get parts for it from the Harley dealer anymore its officially an "old motorcycle." Hahaa
Aint that the truth, ahh man, you know what I was going to Peterson's poker run in 2003 or something and I had a Crane Hi4 Ignition module in the cone and it overheated down in Miami. I went into a Harley dealer and the guy goes, " oh no man Evos, yeah theyre obsolete!" I said man are you kidding they made them up to 99 which was only 4 years ago at the time and I was like you gotta be kidding that's crazy. They'll sell ya the damn t-shirts all day but they aint got the parts for ya. Ain't that some shit.
Haha! Yep exactly, that's something for years I could never understand but I stuck to my guns and I just could not ever buy anything newer than a big twin Evo, just couldn't do a twin Cam, just wasn't for me.
Well you know that twin Cam motor I finally broke down and bought one of them in 2006. I bought one, still with a carburetor the last year for the carb, I went to the New Smyrna dealership down there and the guy was like " man I can't get rid of this thing I'll give you a really good deal on this bike" and back in the late 90's and 2000's I don't know why but bikes at the dealerships man it just seemed like they were so hard to get in and it was just sitting there, just ready to go. It was a red heritage, silver motor, and its like it wasn't Chrome or black or anything. I got that thing for like 13 grand out the door for a brand new bike. Man I'll tell you what, we used to crack on that thing when I had it up here at the shop, everybody's like " Ah man it ain't no shovelhead or it ain't no Evo" but you know what I put a good exhaust system on it and an Ignition module under the seat and that's all I've done to it besides tires and oil. I think I've got around 70,000 miles on it too. I pulled the Cam cover off to inspect the shoes on the Cam chain tensioners and they don't even look bad. It's like you always heard they were so bad and stuff I guess I must have just got a good one! haha. I always change my oil and do the maintenance though I don't wash my motorcycles much but oil changes in tires and stuff are always a must I'm pretty happy with that bike but I've got like 5 Evos, a shovelhead, a sportster, I've got quite a few bikes.
So this is a question I actually wasn't sure if I was going to ask you but now since we are talking bikes hell I might as well just ask. So if you had basically a "go to" bike, what would Willie's "go to" bike be or maybe even to rephrase that, when people ask you what your favorite bike is what would that be?
My favorite bike to run around on is my black-and-white flame bike, it started out as a Springer and I put a Fat boy front end on it, did up the motor on it and it's kind of like my hot rod motorcycle to run around on. If I'm gonna go ride out to California or Texas or somewhere I jump on my twin Cam heritage, it's like I'm not a bagger guy, I never liked baggers but I've got an FLH shovel head a 78 and that's technically got saddlebags, no fairing or nothing and that's kind of the type of motorcycle I've traveled all over on. I've traveled the whole country on shovelheads for years and years. I would put my bed roll on the headlight you know and just go. Pretty much now though I run the heritage with a windshield while I'm traveling long distance but my go to bike though if I'm just here in town though is my black-and-white flame Evo soft tail. I think that's my favorite one, I've also got a 95 that today me and a friend went out and ate barbecue and he was riding his old Evo and man I think that thing has about a 120,000 miles on it and I was riding one of mine that has around 50,000.
I'll say for sure it's pretty tough to kill those damn Evos! They are just damn good motors, definitely one of my favorites for sure.
I would say the evolution motorcycles out of all the harleys I've owned being shovelheads, Panheads, everything else, well I never owned a knuckle but, out of all the harleys I've owned the Evo has been the most dependable and reliable motorcycle. I didn't like belt drives when they came out but I will say after you travel on a belt drive and you don't gotta adjust the chain all the time or spray it or lube it , it was really nice. When I was riding shovel heads years ago I would stop somewhere and change the oil and go right to the maintenance stuff like that. Hell I even put one of them chain tensioner's on there to keep it from slapping so hard on my inner primary and shit, tear it up all the time so I put one of those skateboard wheel type things on there. All the way up until 1996 I mostly preferred shovelheads though then in 96 I bought my 1st Evo and it was a fat boy and I fell in love with it man. Put a set of exhaust and an Andrews EV27 Cam in, I put an S&S super E carburetor and I was just happy a shit with it you know? Also in my shop too when I first started this show everybody used to ride motorcycles back then and it was such a great thing when we started doing that, the very first few years we did it, it was with the VFW group here and then we did it with the animal rescue then with Mike and the veteran support fund and we've been doing it with him ever since. Every once in a while when I say I'm about to hang it up somebody goes, awww man I really count on this. That's why I was really happy when you guys called about the print thing with Michael Lichter cause you know I'd like to do this at least a few more years and sometimes I think man if my health ever takes a turn I wouldnt know how much I could do it any longer but I actually really like talking to people usually. I just like talking about motorcycles and stuff and like I said motorcycles have been a really big part of my life. Motorcycles and firearms those are 2 things that I have always loved all my life.
Same here, same here. I'm a bit of a weirdo in the respect that I've never drank, never even taken a sip of alcohol but I've alwaya gotten my rush or my "highs" from either playing in bands, guns or motorcycles over the years. Plus you save a ton of money not drinking so then you've got more to spend it on all that fun shit!
Right!.... and you are healthier for it too in the end! You know, I actually quit drinking a few years ago. Another thing I tell people because I've always had guys I've been friends with, some of the club guys and stuff for years and years they always tried to get me in their clubs and im always going "OK, look, I don't like yalls retirement program ok?" and then they're like "wait what?" I'm like "yeah you know, your retirement, state Penn, federal penitentiary and stuck with no firearms and no fun stuff." You know I just don't need all that headache, I want to go where I want to go and ride my motorcycle when I wanna ride it. I've got a pretty nice place out in the country too, I've got a 100 and 200 yd range and that's always been a big hobby of mine and I've got friends that are all different types of people you know. Its like I actually even used to have a church group that used to come out here and target shoot, they would do security for the churches ever since everybody's gone wacko. It seems like you got actually arm people in churches to keep people safe, pretty ridiculous, crazy times we live in but anyway, I let them use my range sometimes. Hell, I've even had some law enforcement guys come out and shoot. So it's just something that I always tell people too, it's always been something that has kept me in line. I would hate to do anything to lose my 2nd amendment rights. I'm a pretty big gun rights activist and I have been forever and it's like, when that guy was trying to ban assault rifles in Florida we went to Tallahassee and marched, we even went to Washington DC back when Clinton was in office and G. Gordon Liddy and all these guys for the big 2nd amendment rally they had, which we still got beat by the damn thing but man, now we got a real headache in they're now. God what a mess, anyway I could talk about that all day man.
Yup, same here well I really appreciate you talking with me and taking the time and I know people are gonna really enjoy reading this and getting your perspective on the event. We appreciate all you've done for the world of motorcycling and your efforts with the show and with the veterans support fund.
I appreciate the talk, I appreciate all you guys did to help this year with the prints, I know it really made a difference. My final note is...... God bless America.
Amen to that Willie, amen to that.
Photos and words by Mike Vandegriff
For more info on how to support the Veterans directly after our print sale has ended on March 31st you can go to -