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The Californian

Story & Photos by Harald Zechner

A glorious California spring day that would make the rest of the country jealous was the backdrop for vintage motorcycles, classic horse racing, beautiful scenery, music, food, and fun. Held May 4, 2019 on the infield of the famous Santa Anita Park in Arcadia California this family friendly gathering could not have been a more perfect.

Titled “The Californian” this is a Grand Concours of Classic and Custom Motorcycles show unlike any other. Well, organized and laid out the promoters do good in presentation and content. Now in its third year, attendance has more than doubled from 788 guests to almost two thousand. Still it should draw more. It was free to get in, and parking was free. Matter of fact you could view, picnic, and play at zero cost. Naturally for you high rollers food and a bar was there to feed the body and mind.

Gate 6 parking was conveniently close to the event entrance. Once inside spectators walked through a long tunnel that goes under the horse track back straightaway. Emerging on the infield side it is a spectacular sight as the well-manicured bright green lawn and majestic San Gabriel Mountains overlook the Santa Anita arena grandstands. It reminded me of King Arthur and days of old as many there wore odd clothing with patches and emblems as they strolled through the large field filled with steel steeds, brightly colored pop-ups and flags blowing in the warm breeze. Horses racing on the long one-mile dirt oval next to the bike display and people cheering only added to the ambiance of illusion and merriment.

Almost every different category of motorcycle was on display from street, vintage, endurance, custom, chopper, competition, and one of a kind. A lone Speedway machine received lots of attention and I’m pleased to say its owners had 2019 Industry Racing and Costa Mesa Speedway race schedule hero cards for the taking.

Naturally bench racing and reliving yesterday was in full bloom. Some vendors even gave away branded items like sunglasses, key chains, decals, earplugs and more. A multitude of motorcycle clubs, organizations and race promotions had displays and handed out literature of who they were, how to join and upcoming events.

Naturally prizes were awarded for the best of this and that. With the crowd cheering them on their owners got to go on stage and tell the tale of how, when, where and long they owned their prize possession.

Ribbons and trophies were awarded in several different categories

So was there a down side. Well, not on this day. Everyone enjoyed and left with a smile. It was a good old-fashioned shindig of the motorized kind. The kind of thing memories are made of. A respectful thank you to all who were involved. I can’t wait to do it again next year. Heck maybe I’ll even display a bike but if not I’m for sure going to bring some friends.

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