Historic City News readers are expecting an influx of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts when Bike Week returns to the World’s Most Famous Beach for the official opening of the 79th Annual Bike Week; Friday, March 6, 2020 through March 15th. The rumble of motorcycle exhaust pipes these days echoes well beyond Daytona Beach’s Main Street — the traditional epicenter for the iconic spring event.
St Augustine and St Johns County always rolls out the red carpet and becomes a beneficiary of the must-see stop for thousands of motorcycle fans expected to roll into Volusia County.
“It’s definitely a changing event, but Daytona Beach still has the mass appeal,” Janet Kersey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, the organization that sponsors Bike Week, told reporters. “No matter where they go, no matter where they stay, they always end up in Daytona Beach. They have to come here to experience it.”
Bikers start cruising Main Street on the opening day of Bike Week, as tourists and day-trippers travel to the area to catch a glimpse of virtual celebrities; clad in black leather leggings, calf-high black leather boots, black leather gloves, glistening black motorcycle helmets, and “biker bitches” with shoulder-length blonde hair, straight out of a bottle of peroxide.
Although this year’s event will offer the time-tested diversions — people-watching on Main Street, daily concerts, vendors and motorcycle demos — according to local media, the Bike Week party is evolving.
For the second straight year, the event’s official daily welcome center is at One Daytona, the retail, shopping and entertainment complex across from Daytona International Speedway, where it moved from its longtime home in Riverfront Park.
Likewise, the Boot Hill Outpost at 1081 U.S. Highway 1 in Ormond Beach again will host a mix of vendors offering everything from commemorative patches to custom exhaust systems.
Those vendors also relocated from Riverfront Park last year, a move necessitated by the planned renovation of the 22-acre park and ongoing construction of the new $60 million Brown & Brown Inc. corporate headquarters building on Beach Street.
A little north at Destination Daytona, at the intersection of US-1 and I-95, Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson will be celebrating with its own mix of live music, food, and festivities, said Shelly Rossmeyer Pepe, the dealership’s general manager.
“We’re getting busy here,” she said. “We want to offer something for everybody. What the industry has to offer is the motorcycles, the parts, and the stuff to go with it. We need to keep the party going.”
At Destination Daytona, that means a mix of new Harley-Davidson products including the Livewire electric motorcycle and a concert line-up that features daily performances by up-and-coming country star and “The Voice” alum Michael Austin.
“We’re calling him our house entertainment for Bike Week,” Pepe said. “We’re just going to have quite a few Bike Week events.”
On Beach Street, Indian Motorcycle Daytona Beach will be hosting a “Challenger Challenge” throughout the event to showcase the company’s new Challenger performance model, including an appearance by action sports celebrity Carey Hart at noon March 8, said Mike LeFiles, the store’s general sales manager.
“We like to call it the Super Bowl of motorcycle events,” LeFiles said. “We get thousands of people in from all over the country.”
One Daytona also has a busy event schedule, aimed at coaxing visitors across the street from events and midway diversions at Daytona International Speedway.
In addition to the official welcome center, open daily from 9:00 a.m. til’ 9:00 p.m., there will be a Cruisin’ Car Show and music from local rock band Greye on March 7; an American Flat Track Bike Show on March 12; and music from country singer Alex Hayes on March 13 and the band Cumberland Gap on March 14.
Not to be outdone, Main Street also will be a hub for live music, including shows at Main Street Station by rock bands Buckcherry on March 8 and Saliva on March 12. The band lineup is aimed at a younger crowd that Bike Week has had its challenges in attracting in recent years, said Phaedra Lee, who manages the bar.
“That’s what we’re doing with the music,” she said. “We will continue to support the brand (Bike Week) that was created 79 years ago. As the next generation, it’s up to us to protect that brand, so we can’t go into it thinking that it’s going to be anything but great.”