Juli 15th 2022, ADAC Fahrsicherheitszentrum Schlüsselfeld/Germany
It sounds like a crazy idea: To race massive and super-heavy touring bikes in a competition race around race circuits, usually the home of highly specialized state-of-the-art racing motorcycles. Yet, no idea is crazy enough not to be tried in the USA - and quite consequently, the "King of the Bagger" has become one of THE most popular racing series in the USA. The theme was talk over a glass of wine between Christoph "Chicken" Repp of Harley-Davidson Würzburg and Thomas Voigt, BMW District Manager – and soon the idea spread like wildfire to, at least, try something similar in Germany. In just 8 weeks, the idea of the first "Bagger Race Party" was born, organized and executed on Friday, July 15th at the ADAC Test & Training facility in Schlüsselfeld/Franconia/Bavaria/Germany, just off the Autobahn A3 between Wuerzburg and Nuernberg.
As interest grew, the event soon needed to involve the importers of Indian and Harley-Davidson, BMW – as it turned out - was on its "home turf" anyway, offering "riding & safety trainings", with all type of BMW's but also especially for R-18 riders on this track for two years. The "official" blessing was given, and the teams rolled in three Bagger-type bikes each, (almost) fully stock, on road tires, aftermarket exhausts allowed, as "Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde" were part of the event and even had Peet Gerards performing on various Harley-Davidson's as guest rider in the HD "Bagger Wrecking Crew".
With his profound experience in organizing events, Custom Chrome Europe partner Christoph "Chicken" Repp and his team set up the logistics on the ADAC test track, the HDWV Truck, cooling truck and many HDWV custombikes present for the event. CCE-partners Metzeler tires, Dr. Jekill & Mr. Hyde plus the three teams arrived on Friday morning and prepared for the showdown, which was planned and communicated to riders and 300 "invitation only" visitors more as "show" and party rather than competitive racing. Matthias Hirsch, Sales and Marketing Manager and Mirco Buschmann-Adam, Product Manager, attended the event and not just met a lot of invited Custom Chrome Europe partners and dealers, but also made a lot of new contacts from all three brands, as Custom Chrome Europe's parts range also includes a lot of parts which are used in the US "King of Baggers" series, namely from Öhlins and Roland Sands Design. And watched some outstanding racing action: in fact, some of the riders forgot about the "show" part the second a checkered flag was waved in front of them - and "free practice" had given them some ideas about how to wrangle the heavyweights through the very tight turns of the short but fast ADAC handling track.
Indian's race team included Thilo Günther, Sebastian Neumann, Niklas Duracic of Indian, who developed a particular "special" mix of breaking the massive "Challenger" into turns, then drifting the spinning rear wheel out of hairpin turns with the rear end wildly waving left and right. His duels with BMW R-18 powered Supermoto racer Bernd Hiemer showed the potential of close-edge Bagger-fighting when they sometimes only barely managed not to kick each other out of the final hairpin when using different techniques to wrench the big bikes around the turn in front of the spectators.
"Competitors" entered the track in fields of nine or six riders – the show runs interrupted by breaks of 20 to 30 minutes to give machines and riders some rest. Since there was no real racing logistic, no measuring of times and no real reason to "ride to win", all three brands were winners. As were the spectators, who did witness some spectacular riding on these touring motorcycles, showing what is possible and sometimes where the line should not be crossed. First to cross that line was active BMW Team Kiefer Racing IDM Superbike racer Bjoern Stuppi, who lost pushed the rear brake a little too enthusiastic before the first 90° turn in "Heat 1", the only held with all nine riders on the track, at least for two laps. Subsequent runs, which included several "guest riders" and even some swapping between the brands resulted in a 3-2-0 ratio for downed and scratched parts for BMW - Harley-Davidson and Indian. Alex Jolig, former "Big Brother" Soap-TV star and "BMW ambassador" did a spectacular "highsider" that took him out of the field, while all other riders and bikes continued until the spectacular "burnout show" in the final field which left a lot of rubber on the track.
Stage presentations after each run introduced the riders and their impressions – and every rider had pretty obvious fun, often being surprised about the racing abilities of the heavyweight touring bikes. And these were close to STOCK rides, motorcycles which are street-legal and homologated, ready to be ridden out onto the roads and Autobahn anytime! As the champagne was sprayed over the complete organizers and racers, it seemed that this would not be the last-ever Bagger Party Race? Racing or not, the Party was as great as it could be – and riding surely spectacular!
Text & Fotos: Horst Roesler