The High Voltage Bike Show and Drag Races brought the Midwest some welcome events, all while raising money for cancer research
Words by Joy Burgess Photos by Jason Kewley and Eli Bub
The fifth annual High Voltage Show looked a bit different this year, but that didn’t keep it from turning into a party. Covid-19 meant that the Humble Park amphitheater in Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood was a no-go, so the show took place at the 7-Metal West/VMetals shop, located in an industrial loop in a village adjacent to Milwaukee. And despite a global pandemic and a change in venues, on Saturday, September 12, 2020, more than 100 bikes showed up for the show from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, and as far away as Florida.
Throughout the day there was great music from DJ ‘Ace’ Fischer, raffles with all proceeds going to cancer research, a fire dance by Taylor Flows, and plenty of great food provided by the Lions International food vendors, who donate half of their proceeds to cancer research and the other half to community projects. According to High Voltage Founder and organizer Ron Brefka, “Even the food vending proceeds went right back into the community.”
Because the show was on private property, this year they had a burnout pit. “I’m calling it the year of the burnout,” Brefka said. “We had a couple best burnout awards, and Mike Lange got best burnout with his ’46 WR. Nick from Motofied, one of the Supermoto kids, got a best burnout award, and then I had to make a best of the best burnout award when Mike Stanfill’s burnout melted his tire to the ground, which was pretty awesome. He just kept going ‘til it popped.”
And then there were the bikes. Steve Glennon’s ‘Panhead with No Name’ took the Best In Show award with a panhead chopper. Brian Chemerys, who had the longest bike at the show, won Best Chopper for his 1974 Survivor Milwaukee Chopper, and the 1946 HD WR factory racer by Mike Lange won the award for Best Vintage Bike.
Even after all the food, burnouts, raffles and awards, the party didn’t stop. “No one wanted to go home,” Brefka said. “There haven’t been many events to enjoy this year, and I think that’s why everyone stayed and hung out. People came, they were smiling, they were having a good time, and nobody left. People even camped overnight in the grass around the shop’s Building #2. The party went all night, and the next morning we went riding.”
“People thanked me for doing this,” Brefka continued. “They couldn’t wait to get to a motorcycle event. Everyone’s been bummed out, lost jobs, lost businesses…we just had a party while we could, and all for a good cause.”
And then three days later – September 15, 2020 – there was even more fun with the High Voltage Drag Races. It all went down at the historic Milwaukee Mile Speedway, which is the oldest continually operating track in the world. “Around 150 bikes showed up to drag race,” Brekfa told us, “and there were even more spectator motorcycles parked in the parking lot, too. A huge sea of bikes.”
Drag racing brackets included vintage and chopper, cruiser, sport bike, electric, and a Supermoto class. But beyond all that drag racing excitement, one moment that stood out to Brefka the most was this: “For me, because this is all about raising awareness for cancer research, just seeing all those bikes lining up with High Voltage stickers on them was really cool. I had a bit of a lump in my throat. So many people came out to support this cause.”
“And I’ve also got to stop and thank everyone who helped,” Brefka went on. “I want to say a special thanks to all the volunteers, sponsors, and true friends who came through and helped out with the High Voltage Show and Drag Races.”
While the fifth annual High Voltage Show and Drag Races are history, there’s plenty of excitement coming next year. There’ll be the High Voltage AMA Ice Races Grand Championship this winter; the High Voltage Show will present the Shovelhead Reunion in Milwaukee in June 2021 to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of the Shovelhead; and the High Voltage Bike Show itself will be back again next fall. You can keep up with the latest events and updates at highvoltage414.com.