Do you remember the weekend of July 7th, 2000? You would if you had attended the AMA’s Mid-Ohio Vintage Motorcycling Days. This grand event was hosted in conjunction with the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) and proved once again to be an absolute “must see” event. Hosted on the grounds of the Mid-Ohio Race Car Course in Lexington, Ohio the event offered a lot of everything: a lot of Vintage Road Racing, a lot of Vintage Trials, a lot of Vintage Motocross, a lot of Vintage Women, a lot of Vintage Swapmeet, and a lot of modern searing ultraviolet rays. Sunblock 50 was the daily tradition for me, but then again I get third degree burns when I pass a light bulb.
Each year the event pays homage to a single marque and this year’s lucky recipient was the Penton Sports Motorcycle. Vaguely familiar with the brand, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of Penton motorcycles attending the event and the delectable cheeseburgers served by the naked Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders – just kidding, I am friggin kidding, Jeesh. John Penton and his brother Ike formed the Penton Brothers Motorcycle Agency in 1950 after John Penton realized that he was never going to win the Jack Pine Enduro on a Harley Davidson – wow, what a surprise – so he bought a BSA and finished second place. After his second place finish, he incorporated a host of his own designs which bolstered his podium finishes into a common occurrence. In 1967 he approached an Austrian bicycle manufacturer by the name of KTM and presented a host of his ideas for the perfect off road motorcycle. Incorporating these ideas into their standard product offering enabled KTM to double their number of employees from 300 to 600 and produce over 70,000 off road motorcycles under the guise of the Penton Motorcycle.
Not satisfied with fettling only in the motorcycle production department, John Penton became involved with producing high quality apparel and accessories based upon his real world need for boots and Jerseys. For many of you, Hi Point is nothing more than a substandard crappy Wisconsin beer brewed in the 1950’s and 1960’s. To others, Hi-Point is a world renown accessory label coined from the term “Hi Point” to describe the winners of Canadian Enduros. Danny Chandler, Roger DeCoster – the guy who hit a tree and died for like 8 seconds, Marty Smith, Bob Hannah, and Brad Lackey were noted for their endorsement of the Hi-Point off road line and Kenny Roberts joined engineering efforts with John Penton to produce a superior roadrace boot. By the time Penton sold the Hi-Point accessory line to Malcolm Smith in 1987, Hi-Point boots accounted for over 80 percent of the off road boot market. Naturally, he was inducted into the AMA Museum Hall of Fame and everybody got drunk. At least everybody I knew got drunk.