Securing its place as one of the best vintage motorcycle shows in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the fourth annual GAS Vintage Motofest drew nearly 200 two-wheel enthusiasts for the small Upstate South Carolina town of Piedmont this September.
“It’s a vast variety of vintage and unique motorcycles,” said Bradley Fawcett, an organizer with the GAS Vintage Motofest. “We usually surpass 100 show bikes. This year it seems we doubled that when you count the modern bikes that came with spectators. Every year, it seems to get a little bit better, and each year we’re glad to see the turnout. There’s a significant camaraderie in the motorcycle community, and it’s evident at events like this.”
The GAS (Greenville-Anderson-Spartanburg) Vintage Motofest attracts many of the fans and show bikes as other major vintage events such as The Meltdown in Hendersonville, North Carolina; British in the Blue Ridge in Hiawassee, Georgia; and the Barber Vintage Festival at the Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama.
There’s an impressive display of European and Japanese motorcycles, along with an assortment of American bikes, largely vintage Harley-Davidsons.
Daniel Huggins, 43, one of the organizers of The Meltdown held each April, is British bike aficionado and participant in most of the vintage bike events in the region.
“I think I’ve attended just about every one of these GAS Vintage Motofests,” Huggins said. “(They) have put on a fantastic event. It’s got a good hometown feel, and everyone is very friendly. It’s a lot of fun.”
Huggins entered his custom-built café racer in the show, joining an impressive collection of Norton motorcycles and vintage signage.
“I’ve got a 1962 Triton. It’s a pre-unit Triumph engine in a Norton featherbed frame with a lot of handmade custom parts. I put it together about 20 years ago, and it’s gone through a lot of changes. Now I think it’s one of my favorite versions, although I’m getting a little older and it’s getting less-and-less comfortable every year,” he said.
The site of the Vintage Motofest each year is the Saluda River Grill, a casual-but-upscale riverside eatery located on Route 86 at Piedmont’s Main Street. The restaurant usually only offers dinner, but they open for lunch during the annual Vintage Motofest.
“Great food, great service,” said Arnold Perry, a partner with Saluda River Grill. “(Visitors) will love it, the steaks, the seafood. Everything is good. You don’t get anything bad.”
The organizers of GAS Vintage Motofest began the show during the pandemic, unsure of its success, Fawcett said. In the last four years, the event has drawn a strong following, raising the group’s hopes for continued growth.
“We have a vision down the road of bringing younger guys into motorcycling and getting maybe some classes going around combustion engines,” Fawcett said. “The vision is to keep this going for generations. We we’ve all decided there’s worse ways to get in trouble.”
— Michael E. Gouge