Life on two – or three – wheels celebrated at Vintage Motofest

Racer Chris Dietz (right) focusing before his race | William Hall photos
Racer Chris Dietz (right) focusing before the race for vintage Hondas | William Hall photos

Classic motorcycling in all its forms was celebrated at the Vintage Motofest recently at the Road America racetrack in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The event encompassed vintage road racing, an off-road hare scramble, stunt-riding shows, a swap meet, live bands, a microbrew tasting event and the Rockerbox motorcycle show.

The weekend’s main draw was the 14th annual Rockerbox bike show hosted by Motorcycle Classics magazine. Formerly held in downtown Milwaukee, the event outgrew the urban setting and paired up with the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association’s vintage races and swap meet four years ago.

The show draws classic and antique American, Japanese and European makes, as well as innovative customs and café racers.

Husband-and-wife sidehack team Celia and Eric Trosper
Husband-and-wife sidehack team Celia and Eric Trosper | Martin Matuszak photo

Builder Jake Drummond won Best in Show for his 1973 Yamaha RD350, which features such unique details as a telescoping kickstand that disappears into the bike’s front frame downtube. The bike was shown recently at The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin, Texas.

Eric Trosper of Kenosha, Wisconsin, brought out his daily-ridden 1937 Moto Guzzi GTV 500 and took home the award for Best Rider. This Italian bike is commonly called a “Salami Slicer” for its exposed rotating engine flywheel.

It was a winning weekend all-around for Trosper, who also took first place in the fan-favorite sidehack race with his 1972 Moto Guzzi V-7 Sport alongside his wife, Celia. Celia acts as the “monkey” of the team, hanging precariously from the edge of the sidecar for better cornering.

“As a husband and wife team, we are somewhat unique,” Trosper said. “We are both very competitive by nature…for me and my gal, there’s no better fun than competing as a team.”

Jake Drummond won Best in Show with his custom 1973 Yamaha RD350
Jake Drummond won Best in Show with his custom 1973 Yamaha RD350

Chris Dietz of Appleton, Wisconsin raced in a strong 160cc class. The field is populated by inexpensive and durable 1960-1970’s Honda twins, and what the group lacks in horsepower, it makes up for in racing technique, camaraderie and competitiveness.

“These bikes are for racers,” Dietz said. “You don’t have the horsepower to cover up your mistakes.”

A Milwaukee-based mechanical mentorship program named BUILD fielded six of the bikes in this class. Constructed by area high school teams during the school year, the project bikes race annually at Motofest, with this year’s BUILD Cup going to Muskego High School.

Those folks interested in building motorcycles of their own found plenty of parts in the swap meet area of the event, with everything from riding gear to complete bikes for sale. Yamaha was also on site, giving test rides through a wooded off-road course for their newest line of YZ dirt bikes.

Throughout the weekend, twin brothers Shannon and Sawyer Schmidtman, performing under the name “TwinStunts,” were on hand with their motorcycle stunt show. Impossibly young and talented, they proved at Vintage Motofest that skillful riding can be accomplished at any age.

Photos by William Hall

Share your comments