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Vintage Motorcycle Festival showcases classic bikes paired with classic tales

The Seattle Cossacks Motorcycle Stunt and Drill Team end a performance by slapping hands with the audience at the fourth annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival at LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma on Saturday.
The Seattle Cossacks Motorcycle Stunt and Drill Team end a performance by slapping hands with the audience at the fourth annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival at LeMay-America’s Car Museum in Tacoma on Saturday. Staff photographer

Dave Secrist had a gorgeous 1964 Ducati to show off at a vintage motorcycle festival Saturday, but it wasn’t his bike that stoked jealousy among the people who dropped by to meet him.

What made them envious was the story of how Secrist came to own the classic motorcycle.

He found it in a barn, he’d tell other collectors.

Then, underscoring his fortune, he’d add that its original owner “practically gave it” to him.

His story was the kind of tale that inspires collectors to scavenge garage sales and antique shops looking for precious finds.

It also was one of the highlights at the fourth annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival at the LeMay-America’s Car Museum in downtown Tacoma. The event brought together more than 2,000 visitors who checked out about 250 motorcycles that dated back to 1909.

The festival continues Sunday with a 74-mile motorcycle road trip hosted by the Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiast Club that begins at the museum at 9 a.m. (Registration begins at 8 a.m.)

This year’s festival had a few familiar attractions, such as a series of stunts by the Seattle Cossacks. Members of the motorcycle stunt and drill team linked arms as they drove across a grass field and formed pyramids on moving motorcycles.

It also featured a competition in which collectors asked judges to rate motorcycles in a mix of categories, such as antique American and vintage Italian.

Judges toting brown clipboards looked focused as they moved from bike to bike, inspecting restored and original machines.

“We’re looking for the best of many, many really good bikes, and that’s hard to do,” said Terry Kellogg, a judge visiting from Seattle.

The festival is a partnership between the museum and the motorcycle club. Its chairman this year was Mark Zenor, 58, of Graham, who owns five vintage motorcycles.

“It seems like once you start (restoring) one, you always get another one,” he said.

Secrist, 48, of Edgewood, plans to leave his Ducati almost as he found it two months ago in a Pierce County barn.

“It’s going to be original,” he said. “It can only be original once.”

He’s a glazier who often travels for work, meeting customers at their homes. He likes to get them talking to see if they have any shared interests.

He jokingly calls those conversations “fishing, or trolling.”

It pays off. It once led him to a classic 1941 Willys-Overland coupe.

“I’m always turning over rocks,” he said.

Earlier this year, one of his customers mentioned that he had a vintage Ducati stashed away in an old barn. They kept talking, and Secrist eventually got a look at the machine.

The previous owner “felt bad about it sitting in the barn,” Secrist said.

He carried it out of the barn and found that it didn’t need much work to get running.

Secrist’s display at the festival inspired one obvious question from other collectors: “Everybody’s asking, ‘Where’s the barn?’”

He wouldn’t tell.

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