Article By: Chris Callen
Photos By: Chris Callen & Heather Callen
Originally Published In The July 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Finally I was on my way to the show I’ve heard so much about. These days it seems like everyone uses the term “the greatest show ever” when describing their event. Now, I have seen some incredible photos from last year’s show, saw all the advanced PR for everything going on this year but man, to say that this is a premier meet is right in line. We hit the ground in Austin exhausted from a long ass day of travel and headed straight to the hotel. We were up around the clock on deadline and as much as we wanted to go right to the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show we opted to take it easy on our first day. After a little regroup we grabbed a cab to the Main Street in Austin as it applies to most things cool: South Congress. Now, I should mention that The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show, as incredible as it was, was still only part of a power packed weekend. Additionally, the LoneStar Round Up was going on, possibly the best custom car show in the states. Moto GP was also in town for the weekend, the AMA Pro Flat Tracks were running at COTA, so the entire city was barfing up gas fumes and exhaust blurps. It was South Congress that most of the worlds crashed together and the street became a scene painted with bikes and cars, hipsters and greasers, grey beards and race fans, insane and eclectic.
We had a great lunch at a local favorite and walked over to the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show. The Roland Sand’s Super Hooligans were just about to get underway. A pretty impressive feet; to see them pull off a race track right in the middle of Austin since aside from the government red tape that I’m sure they had to deal with, just to build the track they needed to bring in several hundred tons of dirt. Never the less fans packed the sides of the track and looked on with the wonder of kids seeing their first motorcycle races. That’s the greatest part of what Roland and Indian have been doing with the Super Hooligans Races, they’ve brought fun back to motorcycle events. Inside the collection of motorcycles and art was off the chart. Builders like Steve Iacona and Max Hazan showed off their custom creations while collectors like Steve Klein, the Cherokee Chapter of the AMCA President, had a portion of his incredible collection on hand. Bill Dodge was displaying the brand new custom that he had just finished based on the Indian Scout and Jeff Decker was on hand with some killer race inspired sculptures on display. So many great names like Walt Seigl, Sosa Metal Works, Mike Le, Federal Moto, just to name a few made this a real gallery of top shelf machinery. Behind all this madness are two cats from a company called Revival Cycles, Stefan Hertel and Alan Stulberg. These two rarely had a minute’s rest the entire two days we were at their show but from the brief time I got to spend with them at their shop on the off hours, they have very old souls. There is a vision that they have captured here, one that this year was completed with the American Motordrome Wall Of Death. The WOD represents a part of motorcycling and American histories. To walk through all the wonderful pages of motorcycle history in the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show, then into the courtyard out back and see live performances of age old machinery was the perfect arrangement.
We had missed the preparty at the South Congress Hotel the night before but some of our people were in town and told us that it ruled and that we sucked for missing it. We did however fight the urge to call it and early night and instead headed back to South Congress for an evening of some great food and custom oogling. Oh, I should mention the best slice of pizza possibly known to man this far west at Home Slice. I had tried to walk past that place a hundred times to find a reason to stand in the line to grab a square, but alas…. no pizza this trip. By the end of the night we found ourselves down at the Continental Club, a local legend and the place to be that night. Inside there was live music but we hung out in front of the joint for a while watching some club guys taunt passing rodders to try and get them to do a burnout with cops all around. It worked on some occasions and the cops were pretty cool about it. They seemed tolerant to all but ridiculous behavior. We had our Austin tour guide, Carrie Repp, with us and while we were ready to split, she was not. Good thing that Bob Kay and Kyle Shorey were just headed into the Continental and offered escort service up to her. A short cab ride later we were passed out like two old dogs.
Day two started with an early morning meeting at Revival Cycles where a decent number of industry folks had gathered for a round table discussion about everything from youth coming in; to how to deal with regulations. Bob Kay has started to try to wrangle us all together in an effort to present our needs and concerns to The Motorcycle Industry Council. While we may be a ways off from anything happening on that front, Bob is getting a nice cross section of who we are at the meetings in preparation. Next up would be a day at COTA, we took in the Moto GP, did the flat track thing and ended the night off at the Austin Speed Shop Lone Star Round Up after party. Man, there sure is no time for a pair of boots that fit bad in this town, you gotta keep hopping or you miss something. It would be the last day of the Handnuilt by the time we got back on property and there was little sign of any of it slowing down. We had walked in just after Jay Leno himself was with the guys from American Motordrome and if you need any proof of how your event is doing, when cats like Jay show up, you’re all good. But seriously, so many big names like Jay, Keanu and Jesse James, this was the place to be. Outside on the street there was as much a show of bikes as inside minus the lights and fancy staging. We ran into Brian Fuller, who I haven’t seen in years and then twice now since Daytona. Bryan is a Master Builder, Designer, TV Personality and Author of how-tobuild books through his own publishing company, Full-Bore Publishing and all around just a good dude to talk to. We went over a couple of bikes that were in front of us and just kicked it for a bit. With the day coming to an end we made one more mad dash through the show and tried to take it all in before catching the last run of the Wall Of Death. For this performance there would be one monumental happening. Heather, who has seen the show a thousand times from the top of the barrel, was finally able to go inside and watch it from the ground up. Quite a different perspective if you’ve never had the chance. We said our good byes to Charlie Ransom and the boys and then headed down the street to begin the journey home. This was an incredible weekend. In closing I want to thank Stefan and Alan for their hospitality.