Buell 25th Anniversary July 2008.

Also see: Buell 25th Anniversary Videos

Our trip to the United States for the Buell 25th Anniversary was our second visit to the factory in East Troy, Wisconsin. Our first was in October 1997 following the purchase our S1 Lightning on 20th May in the same year. See first video on this page: Buell Video Archive

In early Spring 2008 when the announcement was made that the Buell 25th Anniversary event would take place between 2nd to 6th July we made our plans and booked our flights, car hire and registered on the official website. This was one Buell event we did not want to miss!

Highlights of the event would include:

Seminars, and Q&A with Erik Buell and the Engineers
Factory Tours and Vintage Bike Display
Autographs with Erik
Tech Seminars
Organised Adventure Rides
A 25th Anniversary Track Day
Admission to the Summerfest music festival grounds on July 4th
CCS/ASRA Racing at Road America (Elkhart Lake), with free Buell Demos on the street and Motorplex Mini Track
Autographs with Buell Racers at Road America
Erik Buell and The Thunderbolts playing at the Victorian Village – Tiki Bar (Elkhart Lake) on July 5th

The host hotel for the event was the Sheraton Milwaukee-Brookfield in the busy Milwaukee conurbation but after researching where the various events were going to be held, we chose to stay at the Best Western in Janesville. East Troy was just 45 miles away and there were good road links to all the other event locations.

Wednesday 2nd July. We travelled to Brookfield to check in at Buell registration at the Sheraton and receive our weekend passes etc. From there we went onto Hal’s HD-Buell in New Berlin. Hal’s was one of the earliest proactive Buell dealers in the USA and at that time had quite a lot of Buell memorabilia and a couple of early Buell models on show. While at Hals we met up with the Twin Motorcycles team from the Netherlands. There was a great buzz in the parking lot as Buell riders, some who had travelled long distances, arrived for the weekend’s festivities.

Later that afternoon we went to the Great Lakes Dragway in Union Grove, Wisconsin. This was a smaller event where the intention was to demonstrate a drag race Buell. Unfortunately, the wet conditions meant they could not run the bike. A hospitality tent had been set up offering refreshments so although there wasn’t any action on the track it was a good place to chill out with American Buell riders.

Thursday 3rd July. We spent all afternoon at the Buell factory in East Troy. The weather was glorious and the whole of the main parking lot was full of Buells. In front of the reception entrance was a display of early Buell models including the RW750.

The book ‘25 Years of Buell’ by Court Canfield and Dave Gess had its official launch at this event. After buying our copy and having it signed by the authors, we had it signed by Erik Buell. Also see: Book Reviews Page 1

The factory tour was interesting. The recently introduced 1125R was on the production line and staff were on hand to answer any questions.

Buell had laid on a BBQ at the top of the parking lot which included an area where people could relax and take in the whole occasion. To say it was a perfect way to spend an afternoon would be an understatement. The event was very well organised, and Erik spent a considerable amount of time talking to people and signing autographs.

Friday 4th July. We attended the Buell 25th Anniversary track day at Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, Illinois. South Beloit is just 24 miles away from Janesville, so it was an easy drive using minor roads. We spent most of the day there. It was a very warm day with temperatures around 35 degrees. Buell had thoughtfully provided large barrels filled with ice and free bottles of water and soft drinks to guard against dehydration.

Riders could use their own Buells on the track or demonstrators provided by Buell. There was a good selection of models present including the new for 2008 1125R.

Saturday 5th July. The CCS/ASAR Festival of Speed at Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, took place over the weekend of 5th/6th July. We made an early start to travel the 120 miles to Road America using part of historic Highway 51. This road runs south to north through the state. Before the Interstates were built it was the main road through central Wisconsin. It is a beautiful route and takes you through rolling farmland and small towns.

For the Saturday Buell had organised a hospitality tent with VIP Buell parking plus complimentary beverages and snacks. There were several Buell dealers and independent riders who were running Buells on the track. It was great walking around pits looking at the machines and talking to people.

Henry Duga, Buell Race Manager, together with many famous Buell racers including Shawn Higbee were present at this event. They signed autographs between 11am and noon in the hospitality tent.

The VIP parking area contained a good selection of early Buell models many of which you do not get to see on a regular basis on this side of the pond. Although it was a 200+ mile round trip to Road America many Buell riders had made the most of the fine weather and travelled north from the Milwaukee area to this famous circuit.

Postscript. Given that Keith Wandell (CEO of Harley-Davidson at the time) made the decision to close Buell in October 2009 we are so glad that we had the opportunity to attend the Buell 25th Anniversary events in Wisconsin and Illinois. It was an incredibly special trip and the memory of it will stay with us for the rest of our lives.