Lincoln County motorcycle shop Iron Station Thunder won third place overall and first place in its class at Florida Full Throttle Magazine’s Motorcycle Expo and Bike Builders Invitational last weekend. The invitational drew an attendance of more than 30,000 people from across the country. There was only a first place overall grand prize, but class winners were awarded a trophy and pendant.
“We won that class hands down…they didn’t stand a chance,” shop owner Bryan “Rocket” McClure said.
Florida Full Throttle Magazine’s Motorcycle Expo and Bike Builders Invitational divided its contestants into five categories. Iron Station Thunder was placed in the bagger class. According to McClure, a bagger motorcycle is simply a motorcycle fashioned with saddlebags.
McClure believes their lack of knowledge regarding the judges’ point system held them back from bringing home the first place overall title.
“With this being our first competition, we didn’t fully understand the point scale,” he said. “We were 11 points from first place, so we were close to winning the thing with our first shot. So, now we know what the score card is; we know what we need to do to make ourselves better.”
A display plaque with the shop’s entry, dubbed “The Rusty Runner,” states that the inspiration behind the bike’s theme is drawn from the foothills county’s landscape and moonshine smuggling heritage.
“The Rusty Runner is a product of the past and future combined and wrapped into one well designed, high horsepower, technically advanced work of art,” McClure said.
The crew, along with several family members and hometown friends, headed to Florida last Tuesday for the invitational. However, the Iron Station Thunder crew was hard at work until the first day of competition.
“It was down really to the last minute getting the bike finished,” McClure said. “We left for Florida on Tuesday, and we still had parts getting shipped to local bike shops in Florida that were more than accommodating to us and received our packages.”
The unique craftsmanship of Iron Station Thunder’s motorcycle immediately drew a crowd.
“When we fired the bike up at the motel — the motel is a quarter of a mile from where everything else is at — people left to come over and see the bike,” McClure said. “They quit doing what they were doing — the vendors, the display people, they all came over to see the bike. So, from the minute that bike hit the ground, it had fans following it around like the paparazzi. It was really crazy.”
Invitational officials quickly took notice of the Lincoln County contestants as well.
“When they were addressing the sponsors, the Harley Davidson guy stopped and said, ‘You know, I just really want to reach out to the boys from Lincolnton, North Carolina for bring such a quality piece in,” McClure said. “There are 54 other builders that he didn’t mention a thing about.”
Since the end of this competition, Iron Station Thunder has been invited to two other build-off competitions this spring, located in Daytona, Fla. and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“Everybody wants us back down there,” Master Mechanic John Mashburn said. “Everybody knows we’re going to come up and do something different.”
In addition to the competitions, the motorcycle shop has been invited to a photo shoot with Road Iron Magazine, owned by Easy Rider Magazine.
“Now we have guys flying in from Texas coming in to check out Lincolnton and hang out — people from Texas, Maine, Florida,” McClure said. “We’re bringing more people from all over the country here to Lincolnton to come in, hang out in town, jump on bikes and ride through the mountains. They’re planning their vacations around coming here to Lincolnton. It just makes you feel good that they’re planning on vacationing here because of what we’ve done here at the bike shop and the surroundings that we have. They love the small town atmosphere; they love the small town hospitality. That’s one of the best compliments you could get for the town, with people from all over the country planning their vacation here.”