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Tuesday Edition


Daytona Edition of the Flying Piston Benefit

Revving up for a Good Cause: 2023 Flying Piston Benefit Charity Breakfast and Auction

by Prince Jeffrey Najar, emperor of the Piston Empire
3/31/2023


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Each year, I produce the Daytona edition of the Flying Piston Benefit Builder Breakfast and online silent auction with industry maven, Marilyn Stemp.

This year it was a tale of 2 rides, the cold one and the hot one. The cold ride is where all the trouble happened and, well, I'm still thawing out.

I left for my Daytona adventure early Thursday afternoon with icy rain dogging me. I got as far as Richmond, KY, before the rain seeped through the layers and I couldn't stop shaking more than the Harley. My Aerostitch insulated deerskin gloves worked surprisingly well until they got soaked. I like these gloves, but they are not impervious to water.
 

 
I got up at 5AM on Friday and headed South. I then met up with Edge and Bear at a McDonald's outside Columbia, SC. We motored down to Brunswick, GA and got in a little after dark. I had 12 hours in the saddle and was ready for a break.

Saturday was another early morning, as we were heading to New Smyrna Speedway for Billy Lane's Sons of Speed race.

We hit the Georgia/Florida line during a morning rain shower when my clutch cable snapped. I was in the middle lane when I lost power and coasted to the side of the road. I whipped out my phone and dialed my go-to-AAA service for a tow.

Yikes, what a disappointment. The first lady I spoke with couldn't hear me or I her. I asked her to speak up. She counters with, "get in your car where it's quiet." I told her about the horse I rode in on. She gets frustrated and hangs up.
 
 
So, I'm standing in the rain with sheets of water cascading down and call AAA again. This time they spoke up and wanted to know what city I'm calling from. They didn't seem to understand that some areas don't have cities. I know this because this is the second time I've used them, and both times they were adamant that I give them a city. I'm thinking now that no one actually uses them while traveling, only if they are in a city. I get a flat bed 3 hours later with a driver who has never towed a motorcycle. How is that possible in Florida?

They tow me to Adamec Harley-Davidson dealership. This is Bike Week and you can imagine they are busy. The good news is, it is warm. The bad news, they tell me my ape hangers are not stock and don't have a cable to fit my bike. Ouch!

I think, of course, my ape hangers aren't stock. It took Hank Thibodeau of Widowmaker Custom Design & Repair weeks to talk me into these things. He measured it and made them for a custom fit. And I am glad he did, as it has doubled my riding experience.
 
 
 
When I asked how long it would take to order a clutch cable they said Tuesday. Four days for a part? They must not of heard about the Internet.

While we are waiting around, we all do my second favorite activity of the trip. And that is looking at all the Harleys in the dealership. It's interesting to see how guys change their views. When I first met Edge he was a custom Chopper, Softail, Sportster guy. Since he joined the Hamsters he is a Bagger, Chopper, Softail, Sportster guy. I have to admit, a 26 inch front wheel custom bagger has my attention.

Back to the dilemma—after deliberations with a mechanic, they used a longer clutch cable and make do. Great, and I am back on the road by 6PM. I have to say these guys really came through in the clutch and I'm exceedingly grateful!

I throw a leg over the Nightster and head to the Days Inn in Palm Coast to meet up with the weekend team. We've added Ralph Bellini, and Bruce Seigal. Bear and Edge are ex-Green Beret and Ralph is an ex- Maintenance Warrant officer. These guys are smart, focused, capable, and jokesters.
 
 
After dinner, we are walking back to the Days Inn and stop in front of Bruster's Real Ice Cream parlor. Ralph is undecided about which ice cream to buy, so the Florida beauty with eyes of porcelain and blue behind the counter offers him a taste. He tries Black Raspberry Sherbet, Blueberry Cheesecake, Blueberry Cobbler, and Almond Divinity. These flavors weren't exactly what he wanted, so he tries Banana Chocolate Chip, Banana Cream Pie, and Black Cherry. The girl's freckles are becoming more pronounced and her face is turning a light shade of red and is showing her impatience when she asks Ralph to make up his mind. "Well, I'm full now. I think I'll pass."

After watching this, I almost spit out my ice cream. As we turn to leave, Edge slips up to the counter and slides the honey a 20 spot and sez keep the change.

On Sunday, Marilyn Stemp and I set up banners, secure the tables, and set up the art in the green room at Teddy Morse's Harley-Davidson. We staged the event the night before.

The Flying Piston Benefit has three featured art categories. They include the customized electric bikes sponsored by Stacyc. These are tiny bikes that were sent to and customized by Cory Ness, Bill Dodge, Jordan Lessig, and Jim Lynch/Gina Woods.

The second category is the Art On Deck presented by Gnarly Magazine competition which are custom-painted skate decks. And the last category is the Drink the Art presented by BIG FRIG, which are custom painted BIG FRIG tumblers/growlers.
 
 
On a bright and sunny Daytona Beach Monday, the event kicks off. I arrive at 6:20 AM to see Marilyn and Woody of the Buffalo Chip moving tables. Edge, Bear, Ralph and others jump in to get the show ready to go. The coffee shows up and then 6 dozen Donnie's Donuts. Ron Harris of Chop Docs rolls in with breakfast sandwiches from Giuseppe's NY Pizza Pasta Express.

It takes a village of bikers to make the Flying Piston run.

Headlining the event includes custom builder Bill Dodge of Blings Cycles and artist Curt Green of Bare Bones Leather. In addition, we had one of the originals daredevils, Doug Danger. He hung out and signed books.

I love these events as you never know who will show up. Rusty Wallace and his son Steve came in on their outrageous baggers built from their shop, Southern Country Customs. Athena "Chickie" Ransom a.k.a. "The Vagabond Chickie" came through. She has the Rock and Roller cross with the ex-MMA actress Gina Carano vibe going for her. She'll also be our headline builder in Sturgis later this year.

Masha, a Ukrainian artist, won the online Gnarly Magazine competition, for her 1964 slammed Buick Riviera. She won $200.

The Peoples Choice award went to Curt Green of Bare Bones Leather for his leather wrapped skate deck and Mike Richardson of Rebel Soul Studio for his BIG FRIG Growler nicknamed Zombie Juice. They both won a case of stainless steel tumblers from BIG FRIG.
 
 
The most fun I had at the auction was poking the Bear. I'm still not sure if he is entirely happy with me. The last couple of years he lost out on the silent auction, so he is in hyper-vigilant mode to make sure he gets what he wants. He's eyeing these pieces of art from artists from Ukraine, England, Hawaii, and the continental US. And these artists are talented.

I'm eavesdropping on Bear to hear what he is bidding on. I'm also working with Jason Hallman, the EMCEE, to promote the items to the crowd. I think you know where this is going. Bear is bidding on a skate deck is designed by Colorado native Mari Geolfos of @aireffexcustompaint. It is five minutes before the bidding closes and Bear has the winning bid. He isn't in a bidding war with anyone. It looks like the closing minutes will tick away and Bear will get his skate deck. That is until the EMCEE picks up the skate deck, at my prompting, and ask the crowd for bids on this particular item. Bear lost the item in the last seconds. He's spitting mad and stops talking when I come around.

Bear is good natured about the loss with everyone but me and he is joking with the guy who did win the deck when he comes to pick it up. None of us recognize the guy who won the deck at this point. Bear tells the new guy, whose name is Teddy, that he stole the deck from him on the closing bell. They both have a laugh but Teddy tells Bear to take the skate deck. "It's yours man, I want you to have it. I am just here trying to support this charity."
 
Even if he hadn't done that, just talking to the guy, we all conclude he is a likable guy. Then we find out this Teddy is actually Teddy Morse who now owns the whole place, formerly known as Destination Daytona. Fourteen foot high signs saying Teddy Morse's Harley Davidson are scattered around but we didn't do the math and that is another laugh. And then of course we had to take a picture.
 
 

Needless to say, Bear is a little less cranky after this turn of events.

The charity breakfast and silent auction are the centerpiece of the Flying Piston Benefit. The breakfast is an opportunity for attendees to network with industry leaders and custom motorcycle builders, while the silent auction features a range of custom motorcycle parts, accessories, and memorabilia.

The auction is done and it's time on Tuesday morning to get moving. I head to CVS down from the Daytona Speedway for bandages. For the event, I bought some Converse Chucks 70 because they have a lot of cushion, I can't walk on regular Chucks because they are so hard. After a half day on the Chucks 70 I can't walk at all. The balls of my feet are volcano sore. I've got blisters on my heel and a cut on the ankle.

Ahhh, these CVS bandages are good.

I'm invited to the Hamsters' lunch at Porkies Landing in Georgetown, FL and point the bike West to meet these exclusive riding rodents. It felt wonderful to be in 85 degrees and rolling through Florida on ribbons of asphalt that are smooth as glass. This area outside of Daytona had a distinctive 1950's feel to it. I roll into the parking lot and I'm greeted with a sea of custom bikes. It's easy to find my table, I just follow the yellow shirts.

As we are eating, Bruce leans into me and sez, "You know, you remind me of my grandson.” Why is that? Is it because of my rugged good looks? "No." My intelligence? "No." My table manners? "No." So, what is it? "Your bandages. He sports just as many as you do…"
During my ride, I had burned my hand on the engine, inexplicably punctured my pinky, scraped the back of my hand and had 2 hang nails. That all happened after the cable snapped.
 
 
After lunch, Bruce heads South, and Ralph, Edge, Bear and I head North to the Okefenokee Swamp. We arrive at sunset and are greeted by two very cool structures for our sleeping accommodations. One is a caboose and the other one is a train engineer shack and both came with Airbnb status.

What we didn't know but what we soon found out is that this town of Folkston, GA is known for trains. Ralph asked Bear, "how late do the trains run?" He responded, "Nothing past midnight, I'm sure."

It's a national train watching spot and as many as 60 trains pass every day. And as soon as we went to bed, the big trains start up.

Since we were 50 yards from the tracks and sleeping in a caboose with springs, the whole caboose would move as the trains went by. I'm not talking about small trains. These suckers were miles long.

The first night was fitful. I awoke a half dozen times, bouncing on the bed, hearing the train whistle past. The second night, I slept the night through and dreamt of trains.
 
 
On Wednesday the gang headed into Okefenokee Swamp and took a boat ride to hear swamp stories. Okefenokee in Native American is "land of trembling earth". It refers to the swamp's unstable ground, which can shake or tremble underfoot.

The swamp is about the size of Delaware and the water is black and so pure you can drink from it. On our boat tour, we saw 18 alligators of some 15,000 alligators that call the swamp home. We also saw a few turtles and a couple of raptors. I found the scenery to be quite stunning with the tall cypress trees draped in Spanish moss, creating an eerie and enchanting atmosphere.

One fun fact. Henry Ford used Spanish moss as seat stuffing for his cars to give him a competitive advantage. As it turns out, when he first starting using the moss, you would immediately know who was driving a Ford. They would scratch their butt because Spanish moss is full of chiggers. And ol' Henry failed to de-chigger his moss. And that is how the term, working-out-the-bugs came about.
In the evening, we sat around the campfire telling stories. There are a lot of things you learn on the road.
 
 
Bear mentioned how he conducted a popular and highly secret scientific study called the nipple matrix. It turns out the researchers were vitally interested (him) in the correlation between eyebrow color and nipple color. They would engage the female subject to guess their nipple color. The study covered months of research in multiple countries. Their results were over 99% correct even though nipple color is determined by several factors, including genetics, skin tone, and hormonal changes. I don't have the time here to go through the entire study and the intricacies of the research, but I will leave you with one universal result. Redheads have the lightest nipple color and are always a light pink.

I will say after hearing about the research, I can't help but look at females a little differently.

I got to say some guys have that Huck Finn knack for getting woman to undress. Whenever I employ my brother to shoot photography for an event or a product shoot with a model, woman would always be in fewer clothes at the end of the shoot than when they began the shoot. If I couldn't find him, I could always locate him by finding the best looking woman in the room. Always.

Since alligators were on our mind, I heard the story about a guy rescuing a baby alligator. He kept it in his basement. It grew up with a terrible disposition. It was so bad that it took over the entire basement and he had to feed it from the top of the stairs. He would open the basement door and throw down chicken. And what made him despondent was the alligator had no appreciation for his good work. He knew he had a gator problem when it charged up the stairs during feeding time. To make a long story short, the alligator got Ambien and slept his gator sleep until the van stopped in South Carolina and then was released.

Honestly, I'm not sure I believe this one. But if you live in South Carolina and you are missing any chickens, I may have an answer for you.

Friday morning I was up early and raring to go. I'd planned on staying with Edge Friday night but I determined if I kept riding, I could keep the 35 degree riding at a minimum.

During the ride, I had developed a significant amount of pain in my back and right forearm. I used CBD from HOKO Holistics and it worked like a champ reducing the sharp points.

Edge and Bear peel off in Columbia, SC. I motored on to Knoxville, TN and shut it down for the night when the rain hit and the wind started blowing. I was up at 10AM the next morning to get as much warmth as possible. My heart skipped a beat when the engine stumbled and didn't start. I really didn't want another AAA adventure. Then I remembered that I'm running a lithium battery and you need to charge it first by bumping the starter to wake it up.

The last three hours were in 37 degree weather during a cold slate rain. By staying in the saddle, I'd missed even colder weather, more rain, and probably an extra day on two wheels. I finally roll into my driveway and shut the bike off. I grab my gear with claw-like hands and stiff leg it into the house with a feeling of relief and satisfaction.

I reflected that no matter what you do; it takes a lot of people to do it. You can't have an event without volunteers. Mandy and Sandy Rossmeyer, Edge, Bear, Ralph Bellini, Joan Catalino, Woody Woodruff, Steve Piehl, Ron Harris, Jessica Shine, and many more helped and made it run smooth.

None of this could have happened without presenting sponsors: Stacyc, Sturgis Buffalo Chip, Baker Drivetrain, Motorcycle Safety Lawyers, Strider Bikes, and host Teddy Morse's Daytona H-D. Their contributions made the event possible, allowing proceeds of over $10,000 to fund All Kids Bike programs at local elementary schools. This program of the Strider Education Foundation puts bike-riding instruction in kindergarten PE classes nationwide.
And my last thought to close out the 2023 Flying Piston Benefit Builders Breakfast is Mandy Rossmeyer. Mandy confirmed her participation in the 2024 Flying Piston Benefit Builders Breakfast in Daytona. And Mandy, I am thanking you in advance.
 
Be There, Be There, Be There!
Be There, Be There, Be There!

 
P.S. I was asked what I learned from the trip to Daytona Beach. It gave me pause. The thing that came to mind is that rain suits from Walmart should be considered disposable.
 
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Reader Comments


Excellent article Sir Jeff. I ‘m honored to be a part of such an incredible event and thanks bandit for always keeping us updated and for keeping it real -

Athena Ransom
Pompano Beach , FL
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Editor Response Hey Athena, you made Jeff's day, hell all week.
--bandit

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