To Read The Full Article, Go To: www.cyclesource.com
Article And Photos By: Twila Knight
Originally Published In The May 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I know for certain that I was not alone in my thinking, figuring that when the David Mann Chopperfest was scheduled on Super Bowl Sunday that it was going to be a sparse crowd. Well, the crew proved us all wrong! It ended up being the biggest year yet. According to Tory DuVarney this year they had over 5,000 attendees. Besides the sheer mass of the crowd, there was also over 50 participating artists and 50 show bikes. Tory and the crew had a challenging year, with the horrendous wildfires, they had to make the tough call to reschedule the date. But in the end, there was so much love for David Mann, and for the city of Ventura, people really came out to show their support. This year was a year of firsts for a lot of us. For my husband and myself, this was our first year attending the pre-party. We had discovered The Tavern by accident recently on a spontaneous trip with no destination for our anniversary. We ended up in The Clocktower Inn for the night; right next door was The Tavern. We loved it, so when we heard that was where the pre-party takes place, we were super eager to check it out. It was also our first year driving rather than riding out the morning of with a group of friends. It would have been my first time having a booth…. Mike Salyer from Santoro Fabworx had planned on sharing a nice big booth with me, but luckily for them, they sold out of so much inventory that they decided to forego the booth and just meander with some beers for the day. Thanks for the thought anyway guys!! Maybe next year?
This year was a first for our buddy Tim Pilcher too; it was the first time he had ever had a bike entered into a show. I am sure that there were there were so many entries, but I was happy to see Tim get his bike buckled up just in time. He was working with Santoro Fabworks putting his new baby together. It was just about ready to roll, got to the point of starting her up… But alas there was zero compression in the front cylinder, so they had to tear it all down on Friday night. First thing Saturday morning they hustled to put it all back together. They got it to turn over, loaded her up into the trailer, and hit the road at about 3:30 pm on Saturday. Tim wasn’t sure how his bike would be received, but he really got a kick out of watching people’s reaction to it. To bust their asses the way they did to get it completed on time, then see all the positive reactions to it made all the struggles worth it. “Looking at all those killer builds there, I was as much a spectator and admirer as everyone around me. A ton of inspiration to be found at a show like that for sure! There are few things better than going to a show as great as Chopperfest and seeing friends from all over the country. Shows are a dime a dozen nowadays, but few have managed to keep the focus about the bikes and the people, as opposed to being about the sponsors. Bikes may be the reason we first started showing up to chopper shows, but the people are the reason it is a family. Chopperfest encapsulates that philosophy better than most for sure. The bikes were beautiful, the weather was great, the party the night before was killer. I wish it were a two-day event!”
Tim might have been a happy camper getting his bike finished in time and watching people appreciate it, but I don’t think anyone was happier than Mondo that day. Chris and Heather here at Cycle Source, along with the folks from Chopperfest awarded Mondo with a Lifetime Achievement award that day. Chopperfest likes to call that little award the “Mann Kind Award.” And man, was he speechless and surprised. His shock was transparent when I had the chance to talk with him recently about his award. One of the first things Mondo said to me was that myself and everyone at Cycle Source must be really great at keeping secrets because we surprised the hell out of him. As I spoke with Mondo, he was in his shop looking out over his bikes, and he tells me how so many of them look just like a bike from any one of David Mann’s paintings. He remembers being a kid and impatiently waiting for the next Easyriders magazine to arrive, so he could pull out the David Mann poster to hang on his wall. About the award he says “It is just like someone letting you know you have done something right, saying you did it for the right reasons. Your blood sweat, and tears are all worth it in the end. This is for the Brotherhood and Sisterhood. This award is so special because Dave influenced the entire industry. I do wish Denver was still with us, so he could see this award, so he could see how his name carries on.” Mondo was humbled, his most predominant thought was “It is as if David Mann came up to me himself and said, ‘Hey man, I like your work.’” The fact that Mondo and two of his bikes were the subject of David Mann’s last painting proves that this award could not have happened to him in any better location, or from any better show. So, a heartfelt thank you comes from the purest of the pure in the chopper world “To Chris, and Heather, and all the crew at Cycle Source, to Tory and his Dad with the crew from Chopperfest, a profound Thank You, from the bottom of my heart. I am truly humbled to receive such a high honor.”
This year Mondo will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Sturgis, he ensured me, and all of you, that he will continue to keep his work true, pure and honest, as it always has been. To never lose sight of the choppers that they all started, back with there were no catalogs to order from. He will keep this lifestyle going with his timeless work that will truly never go out of style. There were so many classes of bikes winning awards; I walked around trying to guess who would win what, I had my eye on a few of them wondering which class they would win because certainly, they would win. I knew Dalton Walker would win, he pretty much steals the show at every event, and of course, he did just that. Dalton won 1st place chopper for his 1950 Panhead. I am a huge fan of Henderson’s, and Landon Bateman was down, holding his own for Legends Motorcycles taking first place for their 1916 Henderson 4 Cylinder. Frankie Klepadlo of Pan Am Moto was awarded First Place in the British category for his gorgeous 1969 Triumph TR6R, which I am pretty sure still has my drool on it. Another show stopper was Ryan Cox who was duly handed the David Mann Memorial Award for his 1939 UH 80” Flathead. I asked Ryan how he felt about his award, because he seemed truly grateful, as he squatted down in front of his bike photographing his award placed on the wheel of his gorgeous machine. His response was “I was honored to get the David Mann Memorial Award because it represents the spirit of his artwork, which revolved around choppers. I built this bike with the idea of keeping it true to a late 60’s style chopper. I like knowing other people agreed that my bike was on point with the spirit of his artwork.” A few quick mentions of some firstplace winners that deserved every bit of their award are Stacey McCleary for the 1949/69 Shovelhead that won in the Bobber category. Boog won Daily Rider for the 1947 Knuck; Jeff Ettleson won Modern Chopper for his 2017 beast. Where would we be without the Radical Design category, which was taken by Marco Barra for his 1980 Honda CB650.
First place Metric went to AFT Customs with their 1970 Honda CL362, and Michael Tyrell with his 1970 won for the Sportster category. Stephanie Cota nailed it with her 2005 Rigid Custom, awarded first for Special Construction. Paul Wheeler with his 1939 EL Knucklehead knocked it out of the park in the Rat Bike category. And to wrap things up on these awards, Best Knuck was awarded to Jeremy Aleck for the 1940, Pan was Super Chop Even with his 1969, and Johnny Branch took Shovelhead with his 1969. Best of Show went to Ryan Grossman for his 1947 Knucklehead winning the fat ass check of $2500 for “The Alien.” Well, my lovelies cheers to another Chopperfest, and lucky for all of us we get two in one year. You all know where to find me this December. Do yourself a favor. Look up all these builders, admire the love the devotion, and creativity that goes into each and every one of these fantastic machines. I personally have a few lined up to shoot for you all because one or two quick shots from the show was just not enough love for these guys. So, keep your eyes peeled!!! Ride Safe ya bastards