The ANPAC Motorcycle Jubilee was formerly known as the Ozark Motorcycle Jubilee and was held in Springfield, Missouri. A couple of major changes took place in 2004.
Insurance giant ANPAC signed on as the corporate title sponsor of the event. The Jubilee also moved to its new, long-term home in Nashville, Tennessee, and thus dropped Ozark from its title. Nashville’s huge, opulent Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center is now host to the Jubilee.
Held over the Labor Day weekend, the ANPAC Motorcycle Jubilee was a showcase for motorcycle drill teams. The International Drill Team Federation (IDTF) held its World Championships in conjunction with the Jubilee. Though there were other activities for participants, the drill-team competition was clearly the star of the show.
Drill teams are divided into two classes for IDTF competition, Lightweight and Heavyweight, based on the size of the motorcycles utilized by the team. All of the teams in the heavyweight division were riding either Harley-Davidson Electra Glides or Honda Gold Wings, although presumably other large bikes would be eligible.
Fittingly, the winner of the Heavyweight class was the local Al Menah Shrine Motor Corps. Mounted on blue Electra Glides, the Al Menah group put together an impressive display of precision riding maneuvers that garnered standing ovations, even from some competing groups.
The Gold Wing influence at the Jubilee was especially strong and there is good reason for that. The organizers of the Jubilee, Event Management Group out of Phoenix, Arizona, are also the parent company of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. Forty percent of the heavyweight drill teams were aboard Wings, including the 2003 champions, the Arizona Precision Motorcycle Drill Team.
Watching the drill-team competition, the casual observer is struck by what some skilled people are able to do with an 800-pound motorcycle. Riding in formation, literally within a couple inches of each others’ bikes, is certainly not for the faint of heart. One former drill-team member was overheard saying that he had quit competition because of the hundreds of hours of practice required to reach competition level.
The team competition was exceptional and very evenly matched. Out of a possible 200 total points, 100 for each of the two days’ competition, the winners finished with 179.75 points. That’s impressive, but so is the fact that the top nine places were separated by less than 20 points. The top three teams (respectively, Al Menah, the Arizona Precision Team and the Ft. Lauderdale Harley-Davidson Precision Drill Team) were separated by a total of less than nine points.
Though it was the main attraction, drill-team competition wasn’t the only one. The organizers employed a unique poker-run format that allowed riders to tour some of the most scenic suburban routes east of the Mississippi. On any of the first three days of the event, poker-run participants paid their money, then drew their complete five-card hand at the registration table. Then they chose one of three different ride routes, and simply went for the ride. No stops for cards, no tally sheets to carry, just enjoy the scenery.
The Opryland Convention Center offers tons of air-conditioned indoor exhibit area. The majority of the vendors were located there and the room area proved to be a welcome retreat from the middle Tennessee heat and humidity. Passes were available so that motorcycle owners could bring their bikes inside for installations, pinstriping and other services. A few other vendors and displays were set up outside near the show field where the drill-team competition was held. Notable among those were Boswell’s Harley-Davidson, American IronHorse, Big Dog and a couple of trike manufacturers showing mostly Harley and Honda three-wheelers. Opryland provided shuttles to carry riders back and forth between the convention center and the show field/outside vendor area.
A Saturday night concert with country blues singer and motorcyclist T. Graham Brown was reasonably priced and well-attended. Brown also sang a couple of patriotic acapella songs during the awards ceremony on Sunday.
Nashville’s downtown area has a lot of history and much to attract visitors. The art deco Frist Center for the Visual Arts is located in a former post office. Printers’ Alley, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the former home of the Grand Ol’ Opry, Ryman Auditorium, are also within easy walking distance of each other.
For updates and plans for 2005, check out the event Web site at www.motorcyclejubilee.com.
(This article was published in Rallies & Clubs in the June 2005 issue of Rider magazine.)