The Gregory 651 (500+) World Record Parade

It's been over a year now since this came up.  Someone had sent me a video from the Annual Hot Springs Rally where Rob Gregory announced he was going for it.  I don't know if he came up with the idea himself or if local riders prompted it, but he stood up in front of God and all, and announced it .. that he was going to Krush it; that they would actually get 500 unlike the previous two tries.   In the first seconds I heard it I thought to myself  " here we go again" and wasn't on board .. but ...  after thinking it over for a short while, I took a deep breath and decided I was in.   A quick call to Rob got me assurances this was for ALL Indian Motorcycle Riders and not slanted towards any specific association or group. I decided right there and then, I was all in and would do everything I could via some Social Media outlets I have some pull on and the Texas Indian Biker website to support him.  My first blog on the subject was back in mid September of last year.  The record was only 274, but others had tried  and found it difficult to bring in enough bikes.   I knew then we could most likely pull it off, but it'd take a lot of effort, especially on Rob's part to get folks on board.   I'm not sure he realized back then how much effort it'd take though.  Due to a lot of inconsistency at the '16 and '17 record rides (ex. unregistered bikes off the dealer floor and unlicensed riders) as well as at last years HD attempt in Paris, TX (ex. other brands of motorcycles in the mix and huge gaps / spacing between riders), there were new rules in place, or at least being enforced.

 Things started off slowly; we had a 12 month lead on this and folks signed up slowly at first. Myself and a few others had jumped in right at the get go, but others ....waited.    In the first week of October a Facebook group was created to allow folks the ability to chime in together as a whole on social media.  I drug my feet, but others had a simple flyer together by the 8th of October.  It was now 'officially' on.  Membership would continually grow as an indicator, but I personally 'knew better'.  Having been involved in the 2016 attempt, that 'group' had over 2,000 members and they were lucky to have gotten 250 to roll in (okay...265).  Still, you could see the momentum.  Surprisingly,  on the Indian Forum groups no matter how hard one pushed, folks rarely participated in the conversations.   Even though you have tens of thousand of bikes out there, getting folks to roll in is a bitch.  Simple as that.  Still we soon became aware in the early summer there were over 275 registered bikes. That's more than the previous record and we still had months and months to go.  When we had hit the magic 500 number with a month to go, people were ecstatic.  I personally believed you needed a 10% buffer.  Peoples' plans change for a dozen various reasons.  And if the weather had sucked (it was perfect!), some folks will not mount up for it; period. The last I heard a week or so out was we are right at about 600.   At the last second I become aware of folks rolling in whom hadn't registered previously.  Folks like Paul Nighthawk Iron Butting in , then back out for this ride.  Other folks from MN.  The list goes on and on.  I believe the number that rolled in for the parade this past Saturday was over 740.  But wait.... only 651 were there you're thinking.  Well, sort of.

Saturday morning I rolled in with another 55 bikes or so in our IIRA group (we had a lot more but we didn't all roll in at once), and there were already over 250 other various Indians lined up by 0800 in the morning. Over the next two hours another 400+ would quickly line up and you could feel the excitement increasing.  Soon, they were re directing bikes around the Main Center to line up on the other side to form the second group.   Folks milled around visiting until 1030 rolled up and the rules for the parade were laid out and a prayer was said.

Now this is where things got interesting for me, because I've been on a couple of these over the last several years.   Not only was the registration process a grueling one for the Promoter (Gregory Polaris) but the parade process was going to be.  They said we had 3 chances at the attempt and I laughed it off to be honest.  But turns out this was a no BS event this time around.   When they said we had to maintain a 10mph speed the entire time, they meant it.  The lead vehicle kept the pace at that.  Additionally, you couldn't have too much spacing with the bike in front of you/behind you.   So, if someone had a problem ( which they did), chaos could ensue ( it sort of did). Hell, by the time I hit the service road coming out of the first downhill stretch, we were all accelerating to keep up with the group. We had a rubber band right out of the chute due to a bike failure ahead of us.  Still we did the run, thinking it was all good and behind us.  On the last stretch, it was an uphill road to our final stop and were having to stop multiple times, then working the clutches to get up the hill.  Pulling back into formation, thinking we were good to go finally .... we got the bad news.. WTF?   Disqualified and we had to do a second run.   After all the bikes rolled in we had a fifteen minute break before we fired them up again.  It was hotter than hell with all that heat coming off the motors and we were about to do a repeat.

Unknown to most of us... we had well over 700 bikes...  I heard the number 741 but haven't verified this all yet.  So, had that first round counted, that record number would be around a hundred bikes more! But a small group of folks either didn't hear that we hadn't been successful and left too early and they threw in the towel. So now the rumors were going and folks were trying to figure out what the hell just happened.   I sat on my bike the whole time getting some water in my system and pouring it on my head (literally) , cooling down.  Just about that time I heard a god awful sound and looked to the right into the other group of bikes 75' over from me.  I'd had this thought cross my mind and quickly dismissed earlier as I looked at how tight we all were and thought "what if a kickstand failed?".  Well, something just as bad did.  Some gal had parked her bike and .... rumor has it ... was asked not to park it 'that way' .. but she did'...and it fell over to it's right side and with no one on their bikes they all continued in that fashion. Second update: Since then I've also heard when they came back from the first run they were on a slope more so than before and she was in a spot that caused that . Third Update:  "A bit of confusion about the domino incident...... She didn't "run off".... Lol AND, she was PUT there. I suppose you could argue that she should have had an uneasy feeling about the incline. She is distraught over this, and even left Hot Springs earlier than planned because of it. "   In any case, by the sixth or seventh bike making awful sounds falling into each other, folks got the process stopped before it took out another dozen. To say folks were sick to their stomach is an understatement. The good news is... it appeared all bikes were still able to participate and were in the ride.   I still don't know all the facts, but watching all those beautiful bikes quickly getting tossed....   was torture for all that witnessed it.

Soon everyone is back on their bikes and now truly determined to get this done. The second run would be a bitch in some ways.   Putting along at 7 to 9 mph for several miles without your feet down ... well.....  can be tough sometimes.  The first run we were around 10 to 11.. now .. under 10.  Still, no bikes broke down causing any issues and after what seemed an eternity ...  we were headed up the final hill and this time, we were moving as a pack.  By the time we had the bikes parked we heard then saying we had a good run and it counted.  Even before you knew the final number you didn't care....  no third run!

Excitement was in the air!  Soon, the award was given out and it was all official .  651!  Rob thanked everyone in a gracious and humbling manner.  He was soon handing out plaques to others thanking them for all the hard work they had done marketing the event, managing all the processes, and planning and handling of the parking and the ride itself.  Now, 651 is in the record books, probably for a few more years to come.

Next year should be an interesting one though.   The folks in Europe are already announcing a run at it.  Will they pull it off?  Who knows; they gave it a try but decided not to do an official run at it this summer.  They claim to have had 400 to 500 bikes.   Folks in New Zealand claim to be making a go of it.  I doubt they'll get close.  And up north where the first ones were set, the drama is already in play to 'take it back'.  I'd bet money, that one fails ........MISERABLY

So for the rest of 2019, the record is held by all of us from several countries (most of the folks from the US of course),  at the ..... 

Gregory 500+ held in Hot Springs, Arkansas!


A final thought.   HD on the same day out of Paris Texas did something similar with 3500 bikes.  It was the fifth year they attempted to break the record of 2404 set back about a decade ago in Greece. I mention this for two reasons.   First, for the folks that say "only 651?", HD sells a HUGE qty of bikes annually so if one compared the two, how many in the record ride vs bikes on the road, Indian KRUSHED the HDs comparatively.  Second, many of us have been to events where there are thousands of HDs ...  but yet.. their record is now still less than 3500.  Why?  It's a bitch to put on these events AND get folks to show up.  So, Kudos to Rob Gregory and his team for pulling this off!


Gary said…
Thanks for the info as I was wondering why a second attempt ... some people don’t know how to ride as a group and do their own thing.I did watch the ride video and saw the gaps and how people rode....kudos to everyone to get the job done
Judge Bob said…
Was a fantastic write up Rick.. Thank you for doing it for all of us to read.
Judge Bob
J P manna said…
Thank you for a great Blog Rick, glad I got to be there. I can compare the first Record and the Now New Record. This one was earned.

What a great job Rob and his staff did putting this Parade together. Kudos �� to all who worked so hard on it.