From partyers to racers, it takes all kinds of people to make Bike Week the festival that it is.
Story and Photos by: Bill Petro
The people who annually make the trek to Daytona Beach to cruise the streets call it Bike Week, while those who go for the racing call it Speed Week. Which is right? I think the official term is Bike Week, and the event’s history is traceable as far back as 1937, when riders would come to race on the beach.
The racing on the big banks of the Speedway is why I go. As a photographer, I love the challenges that this expansive track presents. I also like the challenge of trying to find a new and interesting photo that is different from those of the photographer standing next to me. The challenges I don’t care for are the strict rules and the long walks with heavy telephoto lenses to places that have no protection from the sun. And once the racing is done, I will always find the time to check out as many of the social events that I can.
Over the last 45 years of attending Bike Week, I’ve noticed that much is the same and just as much has changed. On the racing side, my biggest disappointment is the lack of international flavour of the races. This used to be the first big international race of the year, a place where the factory teams would come with some of the fastest machines on the planet, ridden by the best riders to challenge this great racetrack. Today, the racing is still competitive, but without the international crowds and the factory teams. It has become just another short endurance race. Saying that, this year’s race proved to be one of the more exciting races I have seen here in years.
On the social side, nothing has changed – it’s still a place for motorcycle enthusiasts of all kinds to gather and have two-wheel fun. The current custom trends tend to be introduced here with much fanfare, while past trends fizzle into the mix. The massive parking areas are filled with hundreds of motorcycles of every type imaginable.
Regardless, I’m always amazed at the many ways that we motorcyclists express our love for our ride. No matter what your fancy is, you will no doubt drop your jaw more often than you can imagine…