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Packard museum brings marquee bike for its 22nd show

WARREN — The National Packard Museum is taking a something-for-everyone approach to its 22nd Motorcycle Exhibit.

There still are vintage motorcycles — five of the vehicles on display this year are more than 100 years old — but the museum has dropped “antique” from the name of the show, and the more than 30 machines on display also will include a 2021 Harley Davidson XG.

Instead of building the exhibition around a particular theme, the show has bikes representing six categories — veteran, sport, on / off road, race, military and scooters.

“This is our first year going away from a theme,” Jim Iacozili, one of the organizers of the show, said. “We’re doing more what the Barber motorcycle museum (in Alabama) does. That way we can get more of a variety of motorcycles, something for all age groups.”

One thing they’re doing this year and plan to continue in the future is featuring a “marquee” bike, something unique and with some history behind it.

That motorcycle is a 1987 Buell RR1000 BattleTwin, created by Eric Buell.

“Eric Buell is from Gibsonia, Pa., and went to the University of Pittsburgh,” Iacozili said. “He raced at Nelson Ledges and on local motorcycle tracks.”

Only 50 of the sportbikes were made, and Hemmings Motor News called Buell’s creation “frighteningly close to perfect” with a lightweight design and “spot-on” aerodynamics. The Buell RR1000 BattleTwin that will be on display at the Packard Museum is on loan from New Castle Harley-Davidson and only has 3 miles on its odometer.

Another rare motorcycle in the show is a 1960 Vellocette Thruxton.

“I think 200 were made, and it’s only the second one I’ve seen in my lifetime,” said Bruce Williams, who’s been involved with the Packard motorcycle exhibit since its inception.

Accompanying this year’s exhibition will be the art of Guy Shively, an Austintown artist who also does pinstriping and gold leaf lettering on vehicles.

“He’s been a long-time friend of the museum, a member and has done a number of car show logos and motorcycle show logos,” museum Executive Director Mary Ann Porinchak said. “He’s painted stuff for us that we’ve sold and auctioned off and did prints we sell in our store.”

A painting Shively did of motorcycle parts, which is part of the permanent collection at the Butler Institute of American Art, was loaned to the museum for last year’s motorcycle show. This year more than 15 of Shively’s pieces will be displayed alongside the motorcycles.

Some of this year’s bikes belong to collectors such as Williams, who’ve participated for years, but Iacozili said the show continues to attract new owners.

“The Packard motorcycle exhibition is very well known throughout the United States,” Iacozili said. “We’re getting a lot of inquiries from people who have stuff and have offered to put it in.”

The National Packard Museum has a form on its website (packardmuseum.org) that motorcycle owners can fill out if they would like their bikes considered for a future exhibition.

Imitation not only is the sincerest sign of flattery; it’s also the surest indication of success. And Iacozili and Williams both said they’ve noticed many other automotive museums have added motorcycle exhibitions to their programming since the National Packard Museum first did it in 2001.

It’s easy to understand why. The motorcycle exhibition brings people to the museum and the surrounding area at what traditionally was its slowest time of year.

Iacozili, who owns the motorsports shop Motozilli up the road from the museum in Champion, said, “Every Saturday in January and February, we have people come into the shop from out of town and look around, waiting for the museum to open. And many of them go to lunch and other places while they’re here.”

agray@tribtoday.com

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