By Brandon HENSLEY
Out in the streets, driving his yellow 1951 GMC, is where Joe Sebergandio grabs attention, both for his vehicle and the publicity for his upcoming show. Along the side of his vintage truck are stickers and signs advertising his show, and in the back are the displays of what the show is about: minibikes.
Those small motorized vehicles that aren’t quite scooters, not quite motorcycles are things Sebergandio had fun riding around on as a youngster, and for the fifth consecutive year he’s bringing back the nostalgia with Joe’s Minibike Reunion Tour on Saturday.
From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Crescenta Valley Park, 3901 Dunsmore Ave., residents can drive down in their cars and then experience a different automotive flavor on the grass fields of the park.
The day could be a busy one for those who want to hit all of the action offered on Saturday. The Early Rodders car club meets in the morning by the UA Theater, then there’s the minibike show and, of course, later on in the Montrose Shopping Park will be Oktoberfest.
“It seems the people who participate in our Montrose and foothill communities are active. They’re into cool things, and the Early Rodders, Oktoberfest and the minibike show are cool things,” Sebergandio said.
The street may be the place to get the word out, but in his garage is where all the action happens. Super Bowl memorabilia and Muhammed Ali posters adorn the walls and on the floor sit vintage minibikes from when Sebergandio was young, and newer models that look like miniature motorcycles called mini-motos.
The vintage bikes, from brands such as Honda, Taco and Bonanza, were never street legal as the newer ones are because of the lack of turn signals, among other reasons. That didn’t matter to Sebergandio and his ilk.
“It really was a different time back then back in the ’60s and ’70s when if there was an open lot, kids could ride the bikes,” he said. “They even got to ride them from the park to their house.”
Event-goers can see these bikes and more at the show, sponsored by Campbell’s Automotive Repair Service, Motor Media and presenting sponsor Pioneer.
Sebergandio said he expects around 200 bikes to be registered for the show, which will compete for various prizes, but fewer than in previous years. Sebergandio said this year is more about the quality of the show and less about the giveaways.
New this year will be the reveal of Frankenstein, a custom minibike creation built by Jake Moe utilizing spare parts to prove that people don’t need to go far or spend a ton of money to build their own bike.
“Minibiking is really not about the most expensive parts out there, it’s using what you have. We’re soft spenders, us minibikers,” Sebergandio said.
Frankenstein, which will be revealed around 9 a.m., has a hand-built frame that features a front end from a bicycle, a bike tire, a golf cart tire, an engine Sebergandio had lying around, and a metal seat.
This year’s show will recognize Brad Elze, a former contestant and winner of JMBR. Elze died this summer in a motorcycle accident and, as a tribute, Sebergandio said the People’s Choice Award will now be renamed in his honor. Elze’s Honda CT70, which he built, will be on display at the show.
Sebergandio attended Elze’s service and said attendance was “like a rock concert” by the number of people who were there. On a table at the service was a display showing Elze’s interests, including rock climbing and motorsports.
Sebergandio was surprised to learn how connected Elze was to his show.
“I didn’t realize he had won awards, all three years,” he said. “You talk about making this show about community; it doesn’t get more community than that.”