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National Packard Museum

By Ernie Copper

Masters of Speed and Sport

It even looks fast standing still

Warren, Ohio, Jan. 4—It has the same effect as a blast from a “Happy Light” for someone with seasonal affective disorder. Viewing 25 historic, well-displayed, fast motorcycles in one place is just what many of us in the Northeast need to get through the cold gray days of winter. The Antique Motorcycle Club of America, Lake Erie chapter, has been partnering with the National Packard Museum to create uniquely-themed displays of motorcycles during the winter for the last eight years. With the help of countless volunteers, Warren Harley-Davidson, Little Wings Café and the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau, we’ve been presented a remedy for the winter doldrums—and Jeff and Marlene Grieves’ special punch doesn’t hurt either.

An estimated 200 people attended the preview party on January 4 to get a first look at this year’s exhibit, Masters of Speed and Sport. If anything ever looked fast sitting still, it’s this exhibit. It includes the usual favorite marques: Harley-Davidson, Indian and Triumph; but regular attendees know the lenders for this exhibit operate on an entirely different level when it comes to rare and collectible motorcycles. A case in point is the 1898 Columbia bicycle with a 1913 clip-on engine owned by Bruce Lindsay. Bruce always brings at least one unusual bike along, and this year was no different. In addition to the Columbia, he exhibits a 1909 Royal Pioneer, a 1911 Indian TT Special, and a ’48 Harley WR, any of which I’d be proud to have in my living room, let alone my garage!

A stunning 1926 Harley “Pea Shooter” on loan from Inga Schmidt of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, is sure to make you drool and Triumph buffs will appreciate Howard and Gene Rust’s meticulously restored 1967 Triumph Bonneville. They’ve owned it for six years, including the year and a half it took to restore it. The Rusts’ Bonne also finds its way to area bike nights, so it’s no trailer queen.

Lenders come from far and wide with special bikes for this exhibit. Jack Wells, a regular lender from Lake City, Florida, brought along his ’48 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport. You’d have to love this lifestyle to leave the relative comfort of Florida in January to be a part of this event. Jack is a fixture at the Packard exhibits (he’s a fixture at almost all exhibits) so one can only conclude he does.

There are many individuals behind these outstanding exhibits, but at the forefront are Bruce Williams, Daryl Timko and the members of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, Lake Erie chapter. It takes people like that to bring together two-wheeled examples from 10 decades, many of which the average Joe has never even heard of.

The organizers took the opportunity to raise a little money, while providing bidders with some unique artwork at this year’s preview. Artist Guy Shively created posters with a vintage look for this year’s exhibit and those in attendance were given the opportunity to bid on the concept art and various framed, signed prints by the artist. With prices ranging from $75 to over $500 it was a painless way to help the museum. Thrifty journalist types like me could get a copy at the gift shop for a $2 bill.

It hardly seems fair not to list all of the lenders and their bikes, but space just doesn’t permit, so here are a few more examples of what you’ll see when you attend the 7,500-square-foot museum: A ’27 Raleigh Sport. The Sport features a 350cc engine and a carbide headlight. Carbide is often associated with generating light for early miners, but you’d have to look pretty hard to find a motorcycle on public display with a carbide headlight.

Maybe a ’75 Norton Commando is more to your liking. John Robertson’s 850 is on display, looking better than new. (Sorry guys, Norton Girls not included.) Exhibit curators Williams and Timko prove that fast isn’t always on pavement by displaying their ’77 Husqvarna and KTM/ Penton respectively. Timko’s bike and personalized gear are a reminder of the six months he spent on the road trying to earn a spot on the ISDT team “back in the day.” There’s also a 1911 Indian TT, with a ’64 Velocette Clubman, just waiting to go fast.

If you appreciate classic machinery, the Packard Museum is the place for you. Plenty of Packard Family history, classic Packard cars and Packard engines remain on display so you can expand your knowledge of the Packard legacy while ogling the old bikes.

The Masters of Speed and Sport exhibit is open through May 31 so there’s plenty of time to get there. The National Packard Museum is located at 1899 Mahoning Avenue NW, Warren, Ohio, and is open Tuesday through Saturday noon to 5:00 and Sundays 1:00–5:00. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and children. Plans are already under way for next year’s winter motorcycle exhibit with the theme “Made in America.” (www.packardmuseum.org, 330.394.1899)

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