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Inaugural Iron and Clematis Vintage Motorcycle Festival

Florida’s New Milestone Bike Show -- Feb. 8-9 2014

Story by Paul Garson - Photos by Daniel Newcomb, Bobana Newcomb and Greg Ross

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The West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority and Palm Beach Gardens-based Vintage Iron Club, along with the world-famous Ace Cafe London, are bringing one of the largest growing cultural movements to Palm Beach County – the Inaugural Iron and Clematis Vintage Motorcycle Festival -- an event that promises to be one of the largest vintage motorcycle festivals held in Florida. 
The family festival kicks off on Saturday, Feb 8th, from 2pm-9pm, on the closed down 500 block of Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach, and is for motorcycles and scooters 25 years or older.  Festival organizers expect over 250 vintage bikes.  There will be trophies awarded for best-in-show bikes, a vintage fashion show at sunset, stage lectures on the history of motorcycles and Cafe Racers, more than 25 national and local vendors displaying their goods, and live music from the Buckleheads, Morgan Bernard Band, Slip and the Spinouts, and The Riot Act.  After parties at O’Sheas and Longboards will feature more live music.  Admission is free for a full day of family fun, and parking is available nearby.
On Sunday, Feb 9th, Palm Beach International Raceway will host "Vintage Track Day Sunday", with a full day of exciting moto activities.  Bikes are encouraged to meet at O’Shea’s and Longboards in downtown West Palm Beach from 8-10 a.m. to head to the track where high speed pros will be on the course throughout the day, and vintage motorcycles will be allowed on the track for street speed-style parade laps and or Fast Track simulated racing. Over 25 local and national vendors will be on site, and the Ace Cafe Pavilion will be open all day with spectacular views of the track, food and beverages on sale, and the iconic Ace Cafe merchandise.  Admission to Ace Cafe is free.  
How It All Began!
The Original Rust Makes Florida a Must: 
How the Vintage Iron Club Put West Palm Beach on the Café Bike Map
Left - Right:  Vintage Iron Club founders and officers -David Plotkin, Bart Springer (VP), Mark Davis, Bob Gilbert (El Jefe), Kenneth Tropasso, Daniel Newcomb (Prez)
One balmy south Florida night Bart Springer and Daniel Newcomb were out riding their café racers, a style of bike you didn’t see much of in the West Palm Beach area. Daniel was riding a 1976 Honda CJ360 done up café style while Bart was on his ’78 CB400 café. After rumbling up to a local bike-friendly watering hole, Bob Gilbert was just walking out, saw their bikes and said, hey, check out my bike which also turned out to be a ’71 750cc Norton Commando done up cafe. Such was the catalyst of intersecting café bikes that lead to the formation of the Vintage Iron Club.
In “real life” both Daniel and Bart are professional  hi-end architectural photographers while Bob, now retired, used to run two NASDAQ listed public trading companies and before that was a flight and dive instructor but grew up in his father’s south Texas motorcycle shop that sold British bikes including Vincents.
After their fortuitous meeting, the three joined forces and became known as The Original Rust. Says Daniel, “We started hanging out and within a month decided to form a club of like-minded riders. As far as membership, bikes have to be 25 years or older, plus everybody has to participate in at least one event or ride a month, other than that we don’t have too much formal structure and like it that way.”
Says Bob, “Since there are very few shops near us that specialize in vintage bikes, another thing we do is on the technical support side. We get together when we have problems with our bikes and provide advice, tools and a helping hand.” 
“It’s all helped form a close-knit family where we hang out personally, having dinners, going to each other’s birthday parties, that kind of thing,” says Daniel. “The last Saturday of every month we do an “Iron Meets Iron” event that gathers at a great place called The Pirate’s Well, then we do a first Tuesday meet at Cheeseburgers and More plus put together various rides. Our upcoming February event is just the next step to bring more attention to Florida as far as vintage bikes and café racers and to expose the public to the sport.”
Speaking of that event….Welcome to West Palm Beach….
VIC Creates First Annual “Iron&Clematis” Vintage and Café Bike Festival
While West Palm Beach sponsors a famous annual weeklong event called Summerfest as well as several other festivals including a major boat show and a marathon, when asked how they got the city authorities to invite a bunch of bikers into the middle of town, Daniel laughs and says, “Very carefully.” Bart takes over, saying, “Basically we had an in with someone I had worked with who had an in with some of the movers and shakers in the city. We presented our proposal and had a positive response especially from one gentleman who was into vintage bicycles who had previously tried to develop some Harley oriented events that hadn’t worked out because of the proximity of Daytona. But he thought vintage bikes might be just the right thing considering the growth in their popularity. Plus he felt there was a connection to vintage bikes and a lot of the historic buildings in the downtown area.”
The end result was the teaming up of the VIC with West Palm’s Downtown Development Authority and as result the Iron and Clematis Vintage Motorcycle Festival became a reality. Says Bob, “They’re locking down the block, bagging the parking meters and paying the insurance and handling security. We just needed to set up the rest including the attracting the bikes, setting up the stage, recruiting the bands, creating the t-shirts, securing the sponsors and everything else for what’s going to be annual event. As far as sponsors we have Ace Café, Pabst, Lowbrow custom, Biltwell, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, Dime City Cycle, Iron & Air Magazine, Aces High tattoo, Vintage CB750, Motorcycle Sport Touring Association, Partsnmore, White Diamond Metal Polish, VaVaVoom Pinup Photography.”
West Palm Beach has got to be a top flight venue for such an event. Just a bridge away from its famous posh neighbor Palm Beach, WPB was founded in 1894 even before Miami it’s the state’s old municipality. Nestled on the scenic Intracoastal waterway, the city has grown into a center for the arts and culture and now that would now include the motorcycle culture. The city’s main street of Clematis, already a popular hot spot filled with restaurants, shops and clubs, will be the staging grounds for the Iron & Clematis Vintage Bike Festival, the date set for Saturday February 8th, 2014 and that just around the corner. All bikes 25 years or older are welcome to register with some 250 vintage machines expected to take part in the show with competition categories focused around several vintage themes.
In addition, the family oriented festivities will include lectures on The History of the Motorcycle and the The Cafe Racer Movement. A vintage women’s and men’s fashion show will be hosted by Atomic Living and VaVa Voom Photos which means plenty of Pin-Up models. Providing the event’s hoppin’ and boppin’ sound track will be live vintage Rockabilly music performed by local entertainment acts including Slip and the Spinouts and the Buckleheads. And extra added attraction is an after-show party plus an event-following Sunday morning breakfast and ride benefiting the Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization founded in 1975 and based in San Jose, CA that provides highly trained service dogs free of charge to disabled civilians and wounded veterans.
(right) Daniel Newcomb, president of the VIC aboard his 1976 Honda CJ360 and Bart Springer, VP of the VIC, aboard his 1978 Honda CB400 prepare for some test laps around the famous Barber Speedway outside Montgomery, AL.
1971 Triumph T-100 prior installation into VIC member’s new ride
VIC member Bob Gilbert's award winning 1971 Norton Café at monthly club meeting.
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