Three-wheeled ATV riders converge in Indiana
The ATV industry voluntarily ended the manufacturing and selling of three-wheeled ATVs back in 1988. Nearly a quarter century later, merely the sight of a three-wheeler can create more profound thought then any other type of ATV. The three-wheeler reminds some of a time when things were more simple, and people got along better. For others, the three-wheeler is a reminder of an overly intrusive government. To those who actually ride one, the a three-wheeler means big thrills, possible spills, but most importantly, good times and good people.
Each year, the week following Father’s Day, Haspin Acres Off-Road Park in Laurel, Ind. hosts Trike Fest, the largest annual gathering of three-wheeled ATV enthusiasts in the country, if not the world. The event lasts between three and five days, with most of the participants arriving on Thursday and departing Saturday evening or Sunday morning. This year’s event drew several hundred riders and machines from as far away as Germany.
“Attendance fell off over the past few years with the economy,” says Billy Golightly, event promoter. “Although we don’t have an exact number count for this year’s event, participation seems to be up.”
Some participants come to take part in some of the event’s loosely organized competitions, such as motocross, drag racing, and the infamous Devil’s Backbone hill climb competition. This year’s hill climb turned out to be more of an exhibition than a competition. Most impressive on the hill were Erick Jensen and Brian Chilenski, who conquered the boulder-infested incline on modified Honda ATC70s. There are also spontaneous events such as the Herk and Jerk, where two contestants attach their three wheelers to one another with a chain or strap and see who has the power and traction to drag the other down the road.
One of the highlights of Trike Fest is the famous three-wheeler parade, where everyone lines up and takes a ride around the park, ending this year at the Devil’s Backbone hill climb. We spoke to many attendees about why they came to Trike Fest and the overwhelming reason was the camaraderie and friendships they had built through the three-wheeled community.
Top motocross racers included CT ATC250R-mounted Rob Ray, who won the Open Expert class. Jake Kister brought home first in the competitive Open Four Stroke class aboard his Honda 350X, while Taylor Alexander rode a Honda 350X to victory in the Women’s class, holding off a hard-charging Regina Swinger, also on a 350X.
Aside from all of the events, one of the most entertaining things you can do is just walk around and look at all of the various machines in attendance. Vintage Sport and Utility ATVs abound from Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki. More rare finds included the occasional Polaris Utility trike and the extremely uncommon Tiger Sport models, plus some hot new conversions from TPC and TT, which convert 450cc ATVs and dirt bikes into modern day high-performance trikes.
After attending several three-wheeler racing events, and now the largest three-wheeler festival in the world, it’s easy to see why these die-hard enthusiasts are so into their vintage machines. It’s fun and affordable and the people are some of the most welcoming we’ve come across. We usually don’t plan things this far in advance; however, I had to pick up a 2013 Calendar to remind myself that the week following Father’s Day belonged to Trike Fest.