What do you call a day on a well-groomed track with 500 or so like-minded folks? Some might call it heaven, but on a sunny day in SoCal it was called Hell On Wheels and it brought together a collection of ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s machines, mini bikes, a couple of great bands and a dozen pinup girls.
The man responsible for this day of two-wheeled happiness goes by the nickname “Meatball” of the Hell On Wheels motorcycle shop. He didn’t do it by himself though, he gives lots of credit to Scott Curtiss and a number of other hardcore riders who all made this event happen. Yes, Hell On Wheels is not only his event, but also his bike shop and many of the machines on the track had spent time on his bench.
Like many epic events, Meatball and a crew of old bike devotees dreamt up H.O.W. one drunken evening where good friends and whiskey mingled in a perfect blend of destiny being charged with creativity. Lucky for us, the plan still sounded solid in the light of the sober morning and not long after, the inaugural Hell On Wheels event went down.
Fast forward to 2011 and we find ourselves under a grove of shade trees watching a handful of pull-start mini bikes airing it out over disproportionately huge table tops with little indication any are ever going to back out of the throttle. Entertaining does not begin to describe these guys. Much credit goes to MAC (Minibike Association of California) and men comfortable enough with their manhood to race a bike with 10-inch tires and lawnmower engines. The midday minibike drag race brought the entire place to its feet. Vintage MX was next and equally fun to watch. There’s nothing cooler than a ’74 Elsinore at full noise looking to make a pass on a black and yellow Yamaha (why again are they blue now?).
The race of races had to be the Hooligans. It’s really hard to beat an old Triumph flat tracking it through a corner, hunting for traction, and looking to give a couple of BSA singles a bad time. There were kickstands flopping in the breeze and big ol’ shit-eating grins clearly visible through ¾ helmets. Well, except for that guy with the legit Jofa mouth guard, but I suspect he was smiling, too.
I love this event. No egos, no drama, and not a douche bag in sight. I’ve been to a lot of “biker” events and my fair share of MX races, but nothing compares to Hell On Wheels. My 74 XL350 is already prepped and I’m scouring Craigslist for a Taco minibike. See you on 2012. STC