Milers arriving at Stevens house April 24, 2007.
Written in 1992:
The history of the Springfield Milers BMW Motorcycle Club can best be summed up by the following newsletter article, written by one of the founding members on the club’s 10th anniversary in 1992.
It was about 1975 that I first thought about BMW motorcycles. I had the good fortune to go on my first long distance tour to Louisville, Kentucky with a group from the Mattoon/Charleston/Decatur, Illinois area. Most of those guys rode H-D’s with a few Honda 750’s, a Gold Wing, my Z-1, and some guy on a black BMW. Remember, those were the days of the bowling ball Harleys and they had a habit for road side repairs. The BMW guy stayed near the back of the 15 bike group so he could assist the broken H-D’s or pick up the pieces. No one had to follow him, he knew his BMW would make the trip to Louisville and his motorcycle wouldn’t be littering the roadway. Being a touring rookie, I stayed all the way at the back so as not to get in anyone’s way or make a fool of myself.
It seemed the BMW rider who I followed, sort of took me under his wing. He would give hand signals when it was safe to pass with him on the two lane roads, would warn of upcoming road conditions, and put his hand on his helmet near his ear when it was time to stop for refreshments. After following him through the twisties of southern Indiana, we hooked up in formation and blitzed Louisville rush hour traffic. I really learned a lot from that BMW rider. I felt a bond of touring trust and envied the way he handled his motorcycle.
After that trip, I knew a BMW was in my future. When I realized my dream in 1978, that BMW rider was the first person I called to tell the good news. He was almost as happy as I was and invited me, along with another rider, to the Wisconsin Dells BMW Rally. Boy, were my eyes opened! Around central Illinois at the time you just didn’t see any BMW’s, but at the Dells, there were over 1,000. I took picture after picture of the BMW’s, went to town, bought more film and took more pictures. And those old BMW sidecar rigs really captured my imagination. It was a great experience.
In the next few years and several rally/road trips later, I was missing the BMW experience at home that I had found on the road. There were still none to be seen in our neck of the woods. That’s when it hit me, we needed a BMW Motorcycle Club. I called all my BMW buddies and they agreed. We opened membership to all motorcyclists, since everyone can’t start at the top. We really had to do a lot of recruiting to come up with ten BMWMOA and AMA members to fulfill their charter requirements.
The first meeting was held in my basement in March of 1982. We called ourselves the Milers because the Springfield Mile dirt track race was back, after an absence of a few years, and we had something to be proud of. At that meeting, my driveway was full of motorcycles and all the members and their guests could barely fit in the basement. From there, our meetings were held at the Aqua Club and as the club grew, we moved to a pub/cafe on Ash street in Springfield (the name eludes me now).
Our treasury was in a tin can and attended every meeting. The newsletter was me dictating to my wife and was a far cry from today’s productions. Our first club party was a night before The Mile wiener roast at Mr Lincolns’ Campground. At the track the next day, we posted a $1000 prize to the fast qualifier, if riding a BMW, or $25 if not riding a BMW. This drew a big laugh from the crowd by the race announcer and we paid the fast qualifier $25.
Today (1992), the Milers are among the most active BMW clubs in the nation and have grown to 71 members. The growth and enthusiasm have surpassed my wildest dreams. With our 10th anniversary upon us, I thank each and every Miler for making it happen. From humble beginnings…. J.B. Norris