Wilmington, Mass., Mar. 8-9—“I’m done with the cold!” is what you hear this winter from bikers and non-bikers alike. If you are a biker, at least there have been bike shows to create diversions from the polar vortex of 2014! In this area were four shows this season—Boston in January, the Springfield show, one in Salem, New Hampshire, and last, but not least, the Northeast Motorcycle Expo in Wilmington held the second weekend in March.
Wilmington is rather a small show compared to the others, but it was a great way to spend the day or even the weekend. As you walked in you saw the aisles of vendors familiar to every show this season. Motorcycles of Manchester took up a third of the one room with an array of used and new bikes on which to ride off when summer arrives.
Larry Fredella of Old School Choppers pulled out all the stops with 11 bikes to display. He was awarded best of show for his 1983 FLH Harley-Davidson. Not only are his custom builds still going strong, Larry is also starting a clothing line of custom riding apparel. Jackets, T-shirts and fleeces are among the items of clothing available. Jackets are custom-designed with one deeper pocket for your cell phone, for example, and a lining that can zipper out when it is warm. The back of the jacket is longer than the front so cold air stays out. Sleeves are also a little longer to keep them from riding up while hands are gripping the handlebars. Check out www.choppersoldschool.us and see what is available on the website.
Larry was also very proud of his 1981 FLH called “Road Kill,” as it took a year to build. A mousetrap covers the fuses. The igniter creates sparks in the muffler and a flame comes out of the exhaust pipe. The paint is made to look old and all of Larry’s paint jobs are unique, look antique, and he encourages you to touch the bikes and see how the new paint was made to look old and rough!
Larry’s good friend and fellow builder Paul Mirisola was there as well. His antique 1947 H-D WL named “Red Headed Step Child” is an eye catcher. Paul creates his own custom build in a unique way. He takes a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood and draws the bike design on paper. Then he makes templates from the design on paper out of cardboard and configures the 3D prototype of the bike.
The people’s choice for first place went to Peter Loosigian for his 1948 Harley-Davidson EL. “Benny’s Bike,” as the ’48 is called, has an interesting story. Benjamin Sayles, known as Benny, bought the bike in 1948 or ’49 at Cycle Haven in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Benny traveled with the bike to Niagara Falls, the Smithsonian, into the Deep South and even out west to Hollywood. While in Hollywood, Benny ran into the actor Humphrey Bogart who bought him a doughnut! For all of you that didn’t know, Humphrey Bogart went to school at Phillips Academy in Andover.
Benny rode up until 1975 when advanced age stopped him from riding and the bike was then stored in the garage for 28 years. As Peter grew up, he watched Benny travel the roads of Andover. Every time he saw Benny he would ask him if he could buy the bike, but Benny was resistant. Finally, when he was quite ill, Peter went to see him and Benny sold him the bike.
Peter has restored the bike in red, though the unrestored color was blue. There are some interesting facts about the Panhead: 1948 was the first year of production, and 4,321 ELs were built in Milwaukee.
Peter talks so lovingly about the bike and the memory of Benny. The bike is a part of his life as much as it was the original owner’s. Benny was known to ride the bike in Andover, park it and stand with one foot on the fire hydrant. Peter keeps that image in his mind and rides it over the same roads that Benny rode before putting flowers at Benny’s resting place.
You can just feel this story, and obviously the people who attended the show did too because they voted it the winner!
From each of the two halls the band music played on. Wagner Motorsports of Massachusetts employed the Pit Girls to promote their Indian Motorcycles. The Pit Girls are models and spokeswomen available to staff your event, help with fundraising, product endorsement and just meet-and-greet responsibilities. The company has also raised more than $650,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, as well as other cancer and charitable foundations. But these girls are not just beautiful; they are willing to break a nail for the cause, which can include getting muddy, dirty or greasy. Check out www.thepitgirls.com to learn more.
The Wilmington Expo was the last of the bike shows and now we just have to make it through the last couple of storms till spring rounds the bend and we can ride again.