Oley, Pa., Apr. 28-29—High temperatures and plenty of sunshine greeted those attending the Antique Motorcycle Club of America Perkiomen National Meet the last weekend of April. Although the official start of the meet was Friday the 28th, AMCA members from all over the U.S. and beyond started arriving mid-week. By the time I rolled in late Thursday afternoon, much of the fairgrounds was already populated with vendors, campers, and people just strolling around checking out the vintage goodies on display.
The meet is held at the Oley Fairgrounds, and admission is free for spectators and campers, with the vendor fees quite reasonable as well. Next to the fairgrounds, Oley Fire Company has a social hall which houses a bar on one side and full-service restaurant on the other. And every year the Reading Motorcycle Club invites AMCA members to their clubhouse, just a mile up the road, for a Thursday night barbecue and on Friday night, a bounteous buffet. We took a ride over there on Friday night and after the delicious dinner, we watched dozens of racers compete for hours in old-school arm-drop grudge racing that was held at RMC’s drag strip. Thanks to RMC for their warm welcome and exceptional hospitality.
When I climbed out of my tent on Friday, the meet was in full swing, with every one of the hundreds of vendors having opened their booths early that morning. Vending generally sells out every year, with many showing up year after year to claim the same spots. The first meet at Oley was held in 1971, when you could still buy a new Shovelhead or Flathead Servi-Car from the dealer. And just to add a little more context to the definition of “vintage” that year, much of our beloved old iron, such as Panheads, K Models and Ironheads, and even final-year Knucklehead, Indian Fours, 841s, Scouts and Chiefs, weren’t yet classified as antiques according to AMCA standards.
Fine examples of those models and more could be seen for sale, being ridden by their owners, or just on display for the crowd’s viewing pleasure. Just a few I saw included several Harley-Davidson K Models, such as Mike Cohen’s 1953 built for flat-track racing, a 1902 Clement Gladiator, a 1902 Lamson Motor Bicycle, a 1960 H-D Super 10, an early 70’s Harley-Davidson Leggero that looked to be in pretty good shape, and completely original 1912 Silent Gray Fellow in full working order for $70,000. AMCA members were also offered the opportunity to avail themselves of the motorcycle corral for selling bikes of any make, model or year.
A number of activities took place that weekend at the meet, such as the memorial ceremony for Vic Northey, a.k.a. Flathead Vic, who had passed away just a short time before the meet. Vic, who many considered the “Master of the 45,”, was a familiar face at AMCA swap meets. I’m told he was working on a Servi-Car that he’d planned to enter in The Race of Gentlemen in Wildwood, New Jersey, this coming June, but sadly, he didn’t get the chance.
This year, Motorcycle Cannonball riders and their machines were invited to celebrate the Cannonball. Some special awards were given at Friday night’s sold-out AMCA banquet, and Motorcycle Cannonball Director of Operations Jason Sims presented the 2016 MC winner #49 Frank Westfall and his 1912 Henderson with the #1 plate that they will be running for the 2018 MC. And members of the Classic Panheads Facebook group gathered together for one of their traditional photo shoots.
About 3:00 a.m. Saturday, long after most of us had retired for the night, a spectacular thunder and lightning storm lit up the fairgrounds for a good two hours. When the fairgrounds came alive with the morning light, mud puddles and trashed pop-ups could be seen scattered about. A few drizzles came and went, and before noon, an announcement came over the loudspeakers that another bad storm was headed our way. Although the skies stayed gray that day, the big storm never materialized but by early afternoon most of us had decided to head for home. All in all, the weekend was truly superb.
The next big meet in the Northeast is the Rhinebeck National Meet that will be held June 30-July 1 at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, New York. Maybe there I’ll find the vintage machine of my dreams.