Antique motorcycles rolling up the road
Hot Springs resident keeps antique motorcycles rolling
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 ...