Race bikes, show bikes and plenty of people at the vintage-motorcycle races and show at Road America | William Hall photos
You meet the most interesting people at a racetrack. Here are just a few we encountered during the recent AHRMA Vintage Motorcycle races and Rockerbox Motofest at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Rudy Muller brought his family out to the event, riding his father’s rare Swiss-made Universal. His dad raced it in the 1960s, and Rudy restored the bike and added the sidecar for his wife. His 15-year-old son Adam is learning mechanics on his first bike, a 1973 Ducati Desmo 250 single.
Joe Rosenbauer, 16, from Kiel, Wisconsin will not get his driver’s license until August, but that hasn’t stopped him from building a Salt Flat Racer from a barnfind 1977 Yamaha XS500 he bought for $25. That’s how he met his buddy Rene Jelinek, a BMW restorer, who has been helping the project with advice and parts. Rene let Joe take his 1952 R51/3 for a spin around the paddock until the throwout bearing failed and it was back on the trailer.
Bike builder Tyler Stepp of Ann Arbor, Michigan, wowed the crowd with his all-white 1975 Honda CB360. Tyler applied a matte ceramic paint used for painting firearms, having first heat- tested it on his lawnmower. The gas tank is from a CB900F and features Frenched-in digital gauges and a hidden battery box. His craftsmanship earned him the People’s Choice Award at the Rockerbox Bike Show.
Ray Hoeper owns a transmission repair shop in Neenah, Wisconsin, and has been vintage racing his Formula Ford and Elva Courier for years. He only started racing his 1971 Honda CB350 Twin four years ago at the age of 58, and says he has never had more fun. He just finished a race in which he was in third place until the last turn, when his engine lost rpm and he failed to place. The good news is that his previous lap times had been his personal best on his home track.
Steve Olds from Friendship, Wisconsin, is fascinated by what he calls the “mechanicalocity” of early board-track racers, so he set out to build his own…from scratch. The frame’s top tube was bent by a shop that makes industrial railings, while smaller tubes were bent with a hardware-store pipe bender. The engine was sourced from a 1976 Honda XL350, and nearly all parts are nickel plated or polished brass. The whole project took six months from design to completion.
Joe Haupt (center) of Brookfield, Wisconsin, has been racing small-bore Hondas for six years, but now has a new role as a mentor for the BUILD Program, a non-profit that teaches high school kids mechanical skills through motorsports. Joe was guiding the BUILD New Berlin Team through a wheel change as they prepared for the next race against other area high school teams. The team ended up placing third overall against BUILD competitors.
Dave Roper was the first American to win the famous Isle of Man TT in 1984. Since then, he has gone on to win more than 20 AHRMA National Championships. Today he races this 1946 Moto Guzzi Dondolino and a 1970 Aermacchi/Harley Davidson ERTT. Dave has not missed a season of racing since 1972.
William Hall is a writer, classic car broker and collector based in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. He has spent the whole of his professional career in the automotive industry, starting as an auto-parts delivery driver at the age of 16 to working for some of the nation's premier restoration shops. He is a concours judge and a consultant to LeMay-America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington.