An­tique mo­tor­cy­cles rolling up the road

Hot Springs res­i­dent keeps an­tique mo­tor­cy­cles rolling

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - News -

alk­ing into Mike Thom­son’s home, with pho­tos and posters on ev­ery wall, guests have no doubt about his pas­sion for his col­lec­tion of an­tique mo­tor­cy­cles.

He is cur­rently down-siz­ing his col­lec­tion, which at one time con­sisted of 26 mo­tor­cy­cles. He hasn’t been with­out at least one mo­tor­cy­cle in the last 26 years.

“I’m orig­i­nally from Dal­las, and I’ve been rid­ing since I was 14 years old,” he said. “In 1963 in Texas, you could get your mo­tor­cy­cle li­cense at 14, so that’s what I did.”

Thom­son’s first “bike” was a Har­ley-David­son Scat, though he said he’s “had a lot of them over the years.”

Of course, he said rid­ing mo­tor­cy­cles in the 1960s came with the label of “hood­lum.”

“Peo­ple watched too many Mar­lon Brando movies, I guess,” he said. “Rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle made you a tar­get for ev­ery cop, and peo­ple would lit­er­ally try to run you off the road.”

When he was 14, he said, he had stopped at an in­ter­sec­tion and put one foot down. He looked around and saw no one, then took off.

“And this cop came out of nowhere and pulled me over. He told me I ran that stop sign back there, which I knew I didn’t.”

The of­fi­cer then told him that from now on when Thom­son came to a stop sign he “needed to put one foot down and then the other. Look right, then left and spell ‘S-T-OP’ and then I can go.”

“He wrote me a ticket and told me I was a po­ten­tial Hell’s An­gel,” he said with a laugh. “I’ll never for­get that.”

Thom­son lived in San Diego for 30 years and re­tired in 1999. He moved to Hot Springs in 2003 where he and other lo­cal en­thu­si­asts have got­ten to­gether to show off their col­lec­tions to the pub­lic.

In 2007, the An­tique Mo­tor­cy­cle Club of Amer­ica Di­a­mond Chap­ter of Arkansas was formed and along with it came the an­nual An­tique Mo­tor­cy­cles in the Park. This show takes place dur­ing the Hot Springs Mo­tor­cy­cle Rally ev­ery year.

“We’re not af­fil­i­ated with the rally, but we pro­mote them and they pro­mote us,” he said.

“I hear from peo­ple all over the coun­try that there’s this great an­tique show in Arkansas, and I tell them ‘we’re the club that puts that on,’” he said. “A lot of folks come for the rally, but stay for our show.”

And the show draws in a lot of in­ter­est­ing mo­tor­cy­cles from around the coun­try.

“There’s a man named Steve Klein from Texas, who deals mostly with pre-1920s Amer­i­can mo­tor­cy­cles, and he’ll be here this year,” he said. “He even sug­gested that we start some of th­ese up ev­ery hour just to let peo­ple hear what they sound like.”

The show will be held at Hill Wheat­ley Plaza on Sept. 7, a lo­ca­tion which draws a lot of foot traf­fic, he said.

“We get some younger peo­ple, but we re­ally at­tract the older folks who grew up with th­ese mo­tor­cy­cles,” he said.

“The big­gest comment we get is, ‘Well, I had one of th­ese when I was a kid and I wish I’d never got rid of it.’ It’s a good bit of nos­tal­gia.”

Though he won’t be giv­ing up this hobby, Thom­son hopes that af­ter sell­ing some of his mo­tor­cy­cles he will be able to travel more.

“This house is a lot big­ger than I need and it’s a lot of work keep­ing the bikes up and run­ning,” he said. “I hope to get down to maybe one or two mo­tor­cy­cles – maybe three or four – and then travel to swap meets all over the coun­try. There are very few places I haven’t been, but I al­ways en­joy meet­ing peo­ple who like what I like.”

A 1934 B.S.A.

6th An­nual An­tique Mo­tor­cy­cles in the Park

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