Born Free

Words by: Leticia Cline

The universal reason of why us motorcyclist ride is for the freedom. The reason why some of us race is because it’s that feeling of death that makes us feel born again. The fact that the annual Born Free motorcycle show decided to hold its first ever Hooligan Flat track racing event only seemed fitting and the crowd agreed.

The Moto Stampede put on by Harley Davidson was held at Costa Mesa Speedway Thursday night before the weekend festivities began. Racers came in from everywhere and on everything ready for a good time and a chance just to kick it and casually leave everything on the line. There were pros from all types of action sports and then there were us hooligans who are pros at other things like creating a ruckus or out drinking the next guy. Guys (and girls) like Twitch who raced Big Al’s 750, Carey Hart on the Dualigan Indian Scout, Harley wheelie master Buddy Suttle on another one of Big Al’s 750, freestyle motocrosser Jimmy Hill and Baja racer, motocross champ and side by side racer Sara Price all came out to put on a show, some going out for their first time on a flat track. There were even the four wheeled kind of pros. Besides having a damn impressive frontside invert, pro skateboarder, Steve Caballero raced his 45’ H-D Flathead number 360, a retired wall of death bike, and then went and shredded in the heat on the vert ramp at the Born Free Show on Saturday. Steve actually found his bike from the last Born Free show where he sold six of his 80’s boards on Ebay for the 15k needed to purchase the bike. This was just to make sure he didn’t get in trouble with the wife by using their personal account to do so. Sound familiar anyone?

The track at Cost Mesa makes it impossible not put on a show and have a hell of a good time doing it. The track is groomed to 50 years of perfection, small and feels more like a bull ring than a flat track which means riders can have the confidence to push harder and therefore battle more. It’s ran with the perfect amount of organization and free rein. Starts matter twice as much there because there is not any “true” straight away to pick up speed. If any track could be labeled an equalizer it’s this one and that statement was proven to be true with the combination of skill levels of who was out there riding.

The women’s class had an impressive turn out and because of it there was a battle for the number 1 spot between number 78 Sara Price on the Suicide Machine Co’s 1250 who came from there back of the line, number 77 Babes Ride Out and Atwyld co-founder Anya Violet on her Yamaha DT400 and number 78 Marissa Silva on her Honda XL 185. Price and Violet battled it out for a while before Price pulled out in the lead and then it was Silva and Violet back and forth on the last 2 laps with Silva getting 2nd at the finish line.

The main event is where the organization of the event was highlighted. Because of the amateur class and the continuous on time flow of the events there wasn’t really a gap in the riders on the track with many of them swapping positions throughout the race. Like Musical chairs on motorcycles one by one everyone ended up falling in place with ex pro flat track racer Brad Spender number 7m taking home the win. The show stealer was when the RSD Indian Race team all lined on the track for a universal burnout making the crowd go wild and everyone reach for their phones to capture the moment. Maybe it was in celebration of no one getting hurt in this insane from of racing or maybe it was because being a hooligan is synonymous with DGAF syndrome, either way it was a perfect way to end a perfect night.

This is the 9th year that motorcycle lovers from all around the world gather in the hills of Silverado, CA for the Born Free Vintage Motorcycle Show, or as I like to call it “Chopchella”. The part music festival, part fashion show and all around custom motorcycle scene this year added a new forte, a vert ramp filled with pro skaters.

Even though the event has grown and has brought on larger brands and manufactures to participate it hasn’t shaken loose the grassroots upbringing that founders Grant Peterson and Mike Davis founded it on. And though Born Free ain’t free no more, no one seemed to blink twice at a 15 dollar entrance fee to one of the funnest events of the year. This is a hard-core enthusiast driven show that makes it hard to figure out which bikes are show bikes and which ones the attendees just rode in on.

The two-day event showcased motorcycles built by internationally renowned customizers to garage-builders and a little bit of everything in between and 120 vendors to go along with it. Attendees were as diverse as the bike, young kids on their first motorcycle, fully tattooed tough guys, hipsters, enthusiasts who drove in, life-long motorcyclists of every kind and a school teacher that can swallow a whole hotdog kept in the pocket of her shirt. It’s crazy, it’s wild and with the desert location it’s hot which means that the PBR’s that were served were only making things hotter. A chopper doing burnouts in an inflatable pool cooled off the crowed for a bit like a chopper version of a theme park mister.

Day two was even hotter but a little less crowded. The albino boa constrictor still roamed the crowds and Dumptruck was spotted in a new speedo. All ion all this is a show that truly gives back to the moto community. So many people benefit from the show. From the builders, painters and mechanics to the folks selling parts and their wares. Everyone there believes in the show and works together to make it feel like it’s on little economy. All of that is great but perhaps the best thing from the show is that there is 100% no cell service which means people actually talked to each other. No one felt the need to capture and post immediately, the pressure to be Social Media cool was off the table and we could finally let our bikes and our personalities let loose and speak for themselves. In this modern digital world we live in it was nice to take it old school and go analog for a while. See you at BF10!