I attended my first BMWMOA rally in 1974. I was a new faculty member at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and had purchased a new R75/5 from Brown-Austell BMW in West Columbia. It was a wonderful bike; far surpassing the Harleys I had ridden since returning from Nam and the Triumph I had ridden in graduate school.
The rally was incredible as were all the people who welcomed me into the ranks.
THEN... BMWNA put my dealer out of business. I had grown close to the owners, Mark Atria and Clanton Austell. I was personally offended and irate beyond description. BMWNA was insisting they change the way they ran the shop. Some of you may remember the days when going to your BMW motorcycle dealer meant watching the mechanics turn wrenches and answering your questions. Saturdays were filled with local rides and burgers and beer back at the shop.
Mark and Clanton would not go along with the BMWNA program and closed the doors. Mark started another venture and did well. Clanton became the head of technology development for SC and was instrumental in bringing the BMW plant to Greenville, SC.
Clanton is now retired and running his own BMW shop. The primary focus is on old airheads and training new guys to wrench on BMWs.
When I get pissed, I stay pissed a long time.
This year's rally was my first since 1974.
Thanks to everyone for making it a great rally and for welcoming me back.