An excellent time was had by all!
We were looking at 33 degree weather, this morning, when we rode down from Wake Forest to the Ray Price Harley-Davidson / Buell dealership in Raleigh, for the USMC Toys for Tots toy run.
While waiting for the ride to begin, we had a chance to meet hundreds of other bikers, see their motorcycles, and warm up with some coffee, donuts, and cookies supplied by Ray and his friendly staff.
The USMC with Humvees, and the Raleigh PD motorcycle unit, led the way to downtown Raleigh, where Rolling Thunder Chapter IV had itís monthly reading of the names of troops missing in action. After the reading of the names, the Vietnam Veterans MC received a plaque for itís contribution of a PA system.
From there, we had a ride to the RBC Center. Around the city, the cage drivers were great thanks to the escort and road guards. On the highway, there were a few cage drivers who were boneheads who had little regard for our safety when merging and changing lanes. Fortunately, there were no incidents.
We were met at the RBC Center by muscle car / classic car enthusiasts, the USMC, and Santa.
The car drivers who brought a toy voted for their favorite motorcycle by placing the toy they brought in front of it. They voted for a 45 Indian that was all decked out for the Holidays.
The bikers did the same, with the toys they brought. We voted for a 429 Cobra Mustang.
We were then treated to hamburger and hot dogs.
At the end of the afternoon festivities, I had an opportunity to talk with Ray Price. Itís always a treat to talk with Ray about racing and modifications.
Janice: I heard you were the first to convert an 883 into a 1200. Is that true?
Ray: (Smiles). Maybe. We were always doing something like that. We converted a lot of 883ís to 1200ís.
Janice: Did you primarily ride Sportsters when you first began racing?
Ray: We always rode Sportsters. Weíd easily blow away the bigger cruisers. I had an 80 ci Sportster.
Janice: Hmmm. My 1200 is 74 ci, right?
Ray: Thatís right. The 80 ci Sportster we had was fast. I really liked it when we tried nitro. Once we started using nitro, I was hooked.
Janice: The Sportsters you used to race are a far cry from the dragster you race now. (Ray smiles and shakes his head). I havenít seen you since the Raleigh Bikefest. That was a terrific event! It was very well organized.
Ray: Iíd be interested to hear what people have to say about the bikefest. We want it to be even better next year.
Janice: All the feedback I heard is that it was excellent! Itís too bad it rained. If it werenít for the rain there would have been many more people there.
Ray: Weíre not sure about the dates for next year yet, but weíre working on it. So, you like racing?
Janice: Oh yeah! Iíd love to get into racing either the drags or the speedways. I was thinking about racing a Buell Firebolt, and have been talking with Dave Estok who won the Nationals. In terms of a Buell, do you think Firebolt is the best choice?
Ray: Thatís the one.
Those are the highlights of my conversation with Ray. Heís always a pleasure to talk with. Heís a man who does what he loves, and loves what he does. At one point, we were joined by a very nice woman from the RBC Center, and they talked about next yearsí Toys for Tots. They loved having us there.
Thank you to all the hundreds of riders who turned out, (both motorcycles and cars), thanks to Ray Price and staff for another wonderful event, thanks to RBC Center, thanks to veterans for making sure we always remember the sacrifice of the fallen, all the troops who do their duty for our country, and thanks to the USMC for finding a good home for all the toys we brought. MERRY CHRISTMAS !