Article By: Pat Jansen
Photos By: Chris Callen
Originally Published In The February 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I’ve gotta tell ya that I’m disappointed in the motorcycle event offerings in this era. With few exceptions they have become nothing more than t-shirt malls at which you can be sure to pay a premium for lodging, booze and food. If familiarity is your thing you probably love them because you can also see the same 10 1980’s and 1990’s cover bands over and over and over and over again. But don’t lose heart because into this bleak, cold world of $6 beers and shitty t-shirts there comes an event that will blow your f#@king mind!!! Motoblot. This event has been around for a minute. It started as Mods v. Rockers Chicago in the early 2000s. Initially, it was an homage to the rebellious youth of Britain’s café racers and scooteristas. It has since exploded and evolved into the largest vintage motorcycle and scooter rally in the country.
The event is the brainchild of Larry Fletcher and the late Sean McKeough, Chicago’s Riot Fest founder, and finds great support from the Chicago Ton Up Club. Five years ago, the name changed in order to more aptly describe the events spirit. Moto is obvious as it is a motorcycle event. Blot, less so. It is an Old Norse word that means to feast with sacrifice. Usually a pig, but in some cases, a prisoner of war was sacrificed, so I’m assuming I’ll eventually be the main course as I find myself occasionally playing both these roles.
This event is a turn style event which means that it is a ticketed event. At first, blush it looks like your average street party. But it doesn’t take long to discover that this thing is world class entertainment. First, the bikes… you will be hard pressed to find more vintage bikes that are actual asphalt eaters than you will at this event. These guys and gals ride hard. Wanna see a Vincent do a burnout? It’ll likely happen at this event. And as the event has evolved so has its custom motorcycle scene. Some of the country’s best builders bring out their creations for the Ride in Motorcycle, and Hot Rod show that has fifteen categories in three classes. And yes, you read that right, Hot Rods. Sleds, muscle cars, rat rods, restorations, and resto-mods cram the streets too! These guys get it — the whole culture.
Second to the bikes is the entertainment. If you are dying to hear the latest take on “Cat Scratch Fever”, then this is not the event for you. This one is going to bring you Punk, Psychobilly, Western Swing and some shit that is beyond description. You’ll go from toe-tapping to the mosh pit at two outdoor stages and an inside venue, The Cobra Lounge. But wait, there’s more! Donna Touch, a world-renowned Burlesque dancer and event producer, brings the bang with the Miss Motoblot Pinup Contest and heats up the nights with Cobra Lounge Burlesque hours presenting an amazing troupe of artists. I should go ahead and confess that I have a huge crush on Donna, she’s super-hot, funny, talented, bright, and engaging… but I digress and need to tell you about even more.
A few years ago, with the help of the equally hot and talented Lisa Osman, who produces commercials for a living (how cool is that), the event started the Motoblot Film Festival. With its own venue featuring moto culture themed films submitted by amateurs and professionals the event has captured the attention of those who feel as comfortable at the Cannes Film Festival as well as on the Tail of the Dragon. The Motoblot Film Festival is exactly the kind of creativity that separates this from the run of the mill rally experience.
The event is anchored by All Rise Brewing that has an eclectic offering of on-site microbrews. There are eats of all kinds (at non-rally prices). Food trucks, tattoo artists, Grease and Gears Garage, Black Magic Lounge for women riders, dance classes, chicks grinding metal bras and codpieces and making sparks…I mean come on this thing is off the hook. And because Chris Callen and I are more depraved than most, we thought, “What would be the coolest thing you could do on a crowded street in downtown Chicago?” Street racing of course!!!! And, completely in stride Larry Fletcher, with child like exuberance, said, “Hell yeah!” So, expect also to come out and participate in the Psychobilly Street Racing next year.
The event is June 21-23, 2019. It’s perfect timing for a summer Blot as the ancient summer Blot was a time for sending marauding Vikings out on a new season of adventure. So, go ahead and take the days off, book your rooms and prepare your mind to be blown. The pig will be slaughtered, the beer will be cold, the entertainment will be hot, and you will not be disappointed in the least. www.motoblot.com has all the details. You can buy your advance tickets, submit a film, enter the Pinup Contest, ask questions, look at pictures of past events and see what this guy thinks a motorcycle event should look like.