Vintage Motorcycle & Scooter Festival

Ace Café on the menu at Washington bikefest.



The first Vintage Motorcycle & Scooter Festival drew around 250 collector bikes to the nine-acre field adjoining the LeMay America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, on August 25. Saturday’s concours was followed by a 110-mile ride to Mt. Rainier the next day.

Summer Shakedown 2012 kickstarted a bike component to the museum, which opened June 2 after almost 15 years in development. The $40 concours fee included museum entry to more than 100 cars on display. Also on the card was an entertaining seminar about London's Ace Café by Mark Wilsmore, the ex-cop who revived the British biker mecca in 1994, 25 years after it closed. An Ace Café is scheduled to open soon in Orlando, Florida, spreading its ecumenical message to American riders mostly known for dogged brand loyalty. Following Wilsmore, American Mark Gardiner talked about racing in the Isle of Man TT, and many bikers watched On Any Sunday yet again.

Showbikes ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. The former included a couple of race-worn classics: a dohc 1956 Ducati 125 GP bike and a Norton Manx belonging to Peter Hageman of Kirkland, along with a “green frame” ’74 Ducati Super Sport from Kevin Davis of Bellevue. Gary Lewis’ immaculate 1924 R37 BMW dated from the company’s second year of manufacture, while a Suzuki-powered Bimota SB2 showed how far ahead the tiny Italian company was in 1977.

Other bikes ranged from the elegantly battered original 1913 Sears of Art Redford to better-than-new Triumphs, BSAs, Nortons and Matchlesses from the 1950s and ’60s. Equally well-restored Hondas, Suzukis and Yamahas evoked the 1970s, one of the eye-catchers being an original 1955 Honda Dream.

A dozen sidecar combinations included several BMWs, a glittering white Moto Guzzi and a 1924 Harley-Davidson with the “chair” unusually on the left. Vintage sidecars still race against “the other” three-wheelers, illustrated by a 1938 Morgan V-Twin with a Vegas-style restoration belonging to Brian Pollock of Mercer Island.

Oddities made the day. Brad Hummel of Olympia showed a barn-find two-stroke 125cc 1975 CZ, still in its crate, covered with a mix of oil and dust, and with the rear reflector factory installed with “top” at the bottom. Dennis Daily of Gig Harbor putted around on his tiny 1947 Doodlebug scooter, one of five he owns. “All the rich kids in school had these,” he said. “Now, they’re in rehab. I stayed a motorhead, and I’m okay.”

The most eccentric entry came from Randy Grubb of Grants Pass, Oregon. Looking like a baked potato with a cow-catcher, Grubb’s aluminum Decopod can enclose “any kind of scooter you like,” he said. “It’s a ‘Flintstone’ car; you can put your feet on the ground. It has a door on each side and can’t tip over since it’s so wide.” Grubb’s resume includes concept cars for “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, and he can build you a Decopod of your own for $8000. You provide the scooter.

1924 R37 was only BMW?s second motorcycle, but its 16-horsepower output was double that of the first R32.

Brad Hummel?s 1975 CZ 125cc was discovered in a barn in Minnesota. It?s caged, so it can?t escape.

Honda?s sohc 250cc Dream of 1955 was the Japanese company?s first bold statement.

The 123cc Royal Enfield Flying Flea was designed to be dropped with airborne troops, but who could leave it behind?

Seven-bike Ducati collection ranged from a rare dohc 125cc GP bike to a ?green frame? 750cc Super Sport.

The liquid-cooled Matchless V-Twins that powered Morgan Super Sports were also used in the Brough Superior SS100.

ronically, this 1967 BSA Hornet was shown with a complete set of unused tools.

This dohc 125cc Ducati proved Taglioni?s desmodromic valve theory when it ran away with the 1956 Swedish GP.

Lovely detail work characterized this little two-stroke Ceccato, an obscure Italian make built between 1950-63.

This collection of Honda ?monkey bikes? shows an essential part of bike history from the 1960s.

Owner of the Ace Café, Mark Wilsmore listens to a question from the audience during his entertaining seminar.

Mark Wilsmore describes the old days at the Ace Café as leather-clad riders illustrate ?Rocker? styles of the 1960s.

A classic British lineup from the 1960s, with Nortons and Velocettes in front of the Tacoma Dome.

A Norton Manx in ?as-raced? condition. King of the Isle of Man TT through much of the 1950s, the British Singles were eventually surpassed by multi-cylinder bikes like those produced by Honda and MV Agusta.

Models from Tacoma?s London Couture fashion shop added a touch of glamor to the event.

As always, there were some interesting bikes in the parking lot. BMW produced the wild K1 from 1990-93.

Imagination knows no limits: a stretch Honda step-through.

The LeMay Museum provided a shiny backdrop for the show.

Randy Grubb demonstrates his remarkable Decopod, which could also be fitted with a rear fin or painted to look like a fish.

Dennis Daily prepares to take off on his tiny, street-legal (if you dare) 1947 Doodlebug.