Motorcycle Design Legend Craig Vetter Gets His Due In Ohio This Summer
Craig Vetter is one of the true giants in motorcycling history, and he’s going to get a chance to wave to the adoring masses from the back of a limo in July.
A member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, designer Craig Vetter, the man famously responsible for the Windjammer fairing and the Triumph X-75 Hurricane, will get a tour of honor as this year’s grand marshal at the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, July 20-22, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
Vetter is pure old school and a true genius. A member of the American Motorcyclist Association and a designer since 1965, Vetter’s work has touch nearly every facet of the motorcycle stratosphere. Over the last 45 years, Vetter design projects have ranged from café racers to scooters to (and most recently) a long list of high-tech and low-tech motorcycle fuel-economy efforts.
But it’s the old school stuff, back in the Mods and Rockers day, that will get Vetter’s attention this summer.
“AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days has become the high point of my summer,” Vetter said. “Rockers and Mods will be fun for me since I raced my Rickman Café bike to victory in AMA competitions in the 1970s. And my current favorite ride is a scooter, though many Mods would probably not recognize my fuel-economy streamliner as a scooter, at least not at first glance.”
Vetter’s Rickman is on permanent display at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and it’s one of the touchstone original examples of the American café racers from the time. That seminal machine will be on display at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days alongside a Vetter-designed Triumph Hurricane, Mystery Ship No. 1 and various examples of the classic Vetter fairings which made him a household name in the motorcycle world.
While he might be more famous among the general public for his fairings, the Triumph X-75 Hurricane has to be regarded as his masterwork. The X-75 had a production run of fewer than 1200, and it’s now a much-prized machine among discerning collectors. How good was it? This good. The prototype Hurricane was displayed at the Guggenheim Museum’s Art of the
Motorcycle exhibition in 1998, and one example spent several years being drooled over as a highlight of the AllenMotorsports Collection
As for his latest obsession, there will be a few of Vetter’s latest “streamliners” on the scene as well. Vetter has made headlines lately for his Fuel Economy Challenge, and that event is held on Friday, July 20, just prior to the Vintage Motorcycle Days celebrations.
This latest project, Vetter says his goal is to squeeze “100 miles to the gallon of gas at 70 mph in a 20 mph headwind carrying four bags of groceries.”
Vetter says modern motorcycles should be much more efficient than they are, and he wants performance to take top priority with designers and consumers alike. Since Vetter’s past designs have focused on making slippery shapes which pass through the wind, this latest project is right in his wheelhouse. His latest effort starts with a 250cc Honda Helix which has adjusted gearing and full bodywork made from .035″ poly-ethelene sheet plastic. Always the pragmatist, the rear section of the bike includes a storage area – for those tasty groceries. It’s not fussy in the looks department, but quibbling on that detail is missing the point.
The event will also coincide with Vetter’s 70th birthday, and if you’re lucky enough to attend, you’ll get chance to sit ringside and hear some of his many stories from am unparalleled design career. And he’s got a little work to do as well. As part of his duties as grand marshal, Vetter will lead laps around the Mid-Ohio roadracing track and his legion of fans and admirers will have exceptional access tothe motorcycling legend. That access is set to include special autograph signing sessions.
“Craig Vetter was a man ahead of his time back in the day,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “If you ride a faired motorcycle today, there’s a very good chance that its design reflects the inspiration of Craig Vetter, and his recent focus on motorcycle fuel economy runs demonstrates how prescient his events were in the ’80s.”
And if you show up, you’ll being doing the motorcycling world a favor going forward as well.
AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days is a fundraiser for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and it features classic motorcycles and scooters of all makes and styles. It honors the riders who made those various machines famous, and some of the other activities on the docket include the AMA Racing Vintage Grand Championships.
So what else is going on that weekend in rural Ohio? Oh, so many things, mon frere.
If you make the scene, you’ll get to eyeball amateur national championship roadracing, motocross, hare scrambles, trials and dirt track; check out a load of hardware at North America’s largest motorcycle swap meet; stroll through bike shows and awards ceremonies; dig the stunt shows; take demo rides of current production bikes, and sit in on seminars covering a host of topics and presented by noted motorcycling experts.
If you sign up to be a swap meet vendor, you can camp for free in your swap meet space. Got some vintage parts, bikes or memorabilia that you would like to sell? This is the place to take care of business, so sign up for your spot at www.AMAVintageMotorcycleDays.com. Look for the Vendor and Swap Meet Info link.
If you’re already an AMA member, you can purchase a weekend pass for $35, a $10 savings off the regular advance rate, and a one-day pass for $20, a $5 savings off the regular advance rate.
The AMA member discount is in addition to the regular $10 savings on advance ticket purchases, and there is no service charge for AMA members when purchasing through the AMA.
AMA member pricing, available through May 28, is only available by calling the AMA directly at (800) AMA-JOIN (262-5646). Non-AMA members can buy tickets directly from www.MidOhio.com.