In Illinois, we mostly spend our time admiring Michael Jordan and singing tunes from the Blues Brothers while bashing Wisconsin through a mouthful of deep dish pizza. We sometimes, however, get a reprieve from the spotlight of Chicago and remember there’s gold outside the Windy City.
The Greasiest Motorcycle Show was one the best bike shows I have attended. Nothing beats a grassroots family event that brings the community together. It wasn’t long ago I heard trickles of conversation about Bad Grease, and not much longer until I heard their announcement for The Greasiest Motorcycle Show.
In the first week of spring, folks from around Illinois and neighboring states made their way to the newly opened B-House Live in Lombard, Illinois. A rookie Chicago-based company, Bad Grease, was putting on their first ever bike show, appropriately named, The Greasiest. As only the Midwest weather could promise, it was fucking freezing and would probably snow. This did not stop anyone from loading up, riding out, and hauling themselves over to Brauerhouse to see what The Greasiest was all about. It was the perfect remedy for a long winter of garage fever.
March 25, the day of the show, we lucked out and woke up to blue skies and a cozy 34 degree forecast. Still cold by any means to be on a motorcycle, but most Midwesterners are a tough stubborn lot that will ride whenever the temperature climbs above freezing. I am not one of those tough ones, so I trailered my sportster to the show along with a ‘69 genny shovel owned by my best bud, Sam Long. Sam had just emerged from one of those cable television chopper show experiences while he scrambled to finish his shovelhead with both perfectionism and haste in the final hours leading up to the show. Deadlines. Stress. Last minute fabrication. Throwing wrenches. Too many fine pilsners. All the conflict leading up to a commercial break. With a fair amount of damn good luck and lack of planning, I was relieved to see Sam pull into the parking lot with both our bikes intact and still upright in the trailer. Thanks again Andrew for letting us borrow your truck!
Load-in started at 9AM and the parking lot was already filling up with trucks, vans, trailers, and empty beer cans by the time I got there. Many people hauled their bikes and drove their homies, but a handful of invited builders defied comfort and rode to the show, including one of the show organizers, Ken Carvajal, who rode his Triumph before catching a lift home to ride his shovelhead over too. It was apparent who made the longest routes as dudes bundled up like Ralphie’s brother from The Christmas Story dismounted their vintage choppers. It was fun to watch the joy and stress of bikes rolling out of vans, and friends recognizing old friends. It was only good vibes.
Inside the venue, it was starting to look like a bike show. Never having been to the new venue space at Brauerhouse, I had no idea what to expect at B-House Live. The decently sized floor space in front of the stage could fit three rows of choppers and extra room for vendor booths. In mildly sloppy synchronization, everyone made their way into the show. Gotta say it felt cool rolling bikes through the long entrance hallway into the chandelier-lit venue. Most builders found spaces by their homies’ bikes, and the turkeys all flocked together. Adam Meltron took home MVP award for his trike maneuvering skills as he barely made it through the front door and into the vestibule with a soft 1/16” to spare on his port and starboard.
Once lined up in the venue and undecidedly drained of fluids, each bike was made an official show bike with its own vinyl 45 record, reading the bike and builder’s name. Mine was repurposed on the single “Peek A Boo” by the New Vaudeville Band, which became the soundtrack for editing these photos with a fond nostalgia. The show was a huge success and if anything like my own experience, a great memory to look back on for lots of folks. I can continue with every detail from the rest of the day, but I think it’s something that everyone would enjoy more in person. Hope to see you all next year!
I had the opportunity to ask Danny Tompkins and Aga Dondzik a few questions about Bad Grease and the future. Here are their thoughts.
What is Bad Grease? Who are the people behind it? Bad Grease is a lifestyle brand that focuses on motorcycles, skateboarding, and all the culture surrounding it. It is owned by Danny Tompkins and Aga Dondzik.
How did The Greasiest come about? We had been talking about having some sort of Bad Grease get-together at our local bar, Brauerhouse, because it had such a good vibe. We were thinking like maybe just like a parking lot meet up and some beers, but then they opened up a giant venue next door and a lightbulb went off that we could jam some bikes in there. Next thing you know the owner was like “sure, go for it” and we had a month and a half to get the show together.
How did you decide which bikes would be in the show? We started out just inviting a couple of our closest friends, and we made a post on our social media pages that we were looking for some bikes. The response we got was amazing and luckily for us there were tons of guys and girls with amazing bikes that responded. Also our good friend Ken Carvajal invited a couple of his buddies that had great bikes. Choosing the bikes wasn’t easy since there were so many great builds to choose from. We basically just picked bikes we liked and thought people would be interested in checking out.
What do you see for the future of The Greasiest? The Venue gave us the green light to do it again next year, so we are already in the very early stages of planning the Greasiest Motorcycle Show 2. Cramming it into one day was rough so we will probably make it a two day event with more bands more vendors and more good times. We know some guys are already working on bikes for next year and there are a couple bikes we couldn’t fit in this year we would like to invite out.
Thank you Danny and Aga for putting together a great experience. Ken Carvajal for bringing in some of the raddest bikes from the Midwest. Brauerhouse for hosting a venue full of leaking bikes and ruffians. Show sponsors: ChopCult, Lowbrow Customs, Motorwolf. Performing bands: The Crombies, High Gallows, Gun, Bleach Party, Loose Diamonds. Everyone who brought their bikes and attended the show. Personal thank you to Ashlee Stewack for being the most incredible girlfriend and pushing me to be in the show even though it was on your birthday. Behind every idiot there is an extraordinary woman.
Be sure to keep March 23-24,2019, open for the second annual Greasiest Motorcycle Show. Upcoming information will be shared via the Greasiest's website, Instagram and Facebook.
Alec Ozawa / Website / Instagram