Craig Vetter's Rickman Rides Again At AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days

PICKERINGTON, Ohio-The American Motorcyclist Association's (AMA) Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 25-27, is packed with classic bikes, historic racers and timeless style. Occasionally a machine appears at "the world's largest motorcycle swap meet" that embodies all three: Craig Vetter's Rickman-framed, Kawasaki-powered vintage race bike.

Vetter's bike is the real deal. "It has an AMA racing pedigree. It's original. It's flashy. Not many around like this," he said.

Vetter acquired numerous nickel-plated Rickman frame kits in the early 1970s for Triumphs, Hondas and Kawasakis. One of those frames found its way into a Vetter race bike, at the urging of Derek Rickman, who along with his brother, Don, invented the Rickman frames. Built for the AMA's Cafe Class, the bike was powered by a Russ Collins-tuned Kawasaki 903 engine, bored to 1,100cc, and fitted with a special version of Darryl Bassani's Quiet Pipe, and then-new V-rated Michelin race tires.

In 1976, Vetter took the Rickman to Daytona and put those tires to the test, scoring third behind Lang Hindle and Mike Baldwin in the Cafe Class. The bike was retired shortly after. In 1998, it was donated to the AMA's Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum.

But that's only half the story of this certifiably cool motorcycle. In late 2007, Vetter and Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum Executive Director Mark Mederski solicited the talents of Robert Simpson to restore Vetter's old Rickman. Simpson had just won first-place honors at the Concours d'Elegance for a restored Rickman-framed bike of his own, a 1974 CR750. Simpson, in turn, pulled together a restoration crew that included his son Scott, Gerry Gibbens, Chuck Zorn and Mike Grych. They disassembled the Rickman and rebuilt it from the frame up.

"Rickman frames were about as exotic as an average American could expect to get," Vetter recalled. "I thought he was just going to polish it, but he's turned it into something that's just beautiful."

Simpson explained that a large part of the appeal for the Vetter Rickman comes from its rarity and styling. "The younger crowd entering our sport has a greater interest in things old than we did growing up," he said. "The interest in cafe-styled bikes has probably helped, as well."

Enthusiasts of all ages can see this rare machine for themselves at the cafe racer display at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, along with numerous other classic motorcycles of every brand imaginable at bike shows featuring American, British, European and Japanese bikes. There's even a show for everyday classic bikes called the "Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em show", a perennial favorite among Vintage Motorcycle Days attendees.

Marque of the Year, Swapmeet, demo rides and more
Each year for the last 16 years at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, one brand has been selected for extra attention, and for 2008 the AMA chose Triumph as Marque of the Year. 1970 Grand National Champion Gene Romero and seven-time AMA Grand National Enduro Champion Bill Baird will be co-grand marshals throughout the three-day weekend event in central Ohio. Triumph motorcycles from past and present will be featured at the Marque of the Year display, and there will be a Triumph-only bike show. The Vintage Triumph Roadshow, featuring Triumph expert and Baxter Cycle owner Randy Baxter, will be on hand to appraise classic Triumphs and Triumph memorabilia.

Swapmeet(tm), sponsored by Motorcyclist Retro magazine, is the biggest draw of AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days. Collectors, bargain hunters and curious motorcyclists from throughout North America gather at the modern Mid-Ohio facility to enjoy what has become the world's largest motorcycle swap meet.

Other AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days activities include:
* Motorcycle demo rides provided by Triumph, BMW, Buell, Can-Am Spyder, Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, KTM, Kymco USA, Moto Guzzi and Vectrix.
* The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Auction.
* Motorcycling seminars sponsored by Kymco USA, featuring noted world travelers, authors, writers, builders and experts such as Zack Coffman, John Healy, Don Hutchinson, Clement Salvadori, Mike Seate, Alice Sexton, Ted Simon, Bob Vail, Craig Vetter and Mark Wilsmore.
* A special display by the North American Laverda Owners Club, featuring Laverda founder Piero Laverda.
* American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association road racing, motocross, cross-country, trials and dirt track.
* 2002 World Champion Triumph stunt rider Kevin Carmichael, Team FMX Freestyle, Team Extreme Motosphere and Ryan Young's Trials Stars Show.
* Guided rides of the rolling countryside around Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

All proceeds from AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days benefit the non-profit Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in nearby Pickerington, Ohio. Advance tickets to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days can be purchased at www.midohio.com or by calling (800) MID-OHIO. For more information, visit www.amavintagemotorcycledays.com.

About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has promoted and protected the motorcycling lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life and they navigate many different roads on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world's largest motorcycle organization with nearly 300,000 members, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists' interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition events than any other organization in the world. Through the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com.