Rik Smits Swap Meet
Writer / Ray Compton . Photos / JJ Kaplan
No one can say that the Vintage Motorcycle Swap Meet is your typical Indiana garage sale. But then again who could accuse the promoter of being just another peddler of personal products?
You see, the promoter of this event – located at the Farm Bureau Building on the Boone County Fairgrounds on March 7 and 8 – is a former NBA first round selection that played 13 seasons of professional basketball and stands 7-foot-4. Obviously, this is not Aunt Millie hawking seldom worn clothing, the kitchen’s pots and pans and yesterday’s sofa from her living room.
So comes the question: Does this event fit the usual standard of a Hoosier garage sale?
Instead the Vintage Motorcycle Meet falls somewhere into the next interesting chapter of the life of Rik Smits and his continuing passion for motorcycles as he connects hundreds of bike enthusiasts at his Vintage Motorcycle Swap Meet. Since its inception in 2012, Smits has welcomed dozens of booth sponsors and thousands of fans at the Zionsville event.
“I enjoy everything about the weekend,” said Smits from his greatly decorated garage on the northern outskirts of Zionsville. “I see a lot of old friends and want to know how they are selling. And I enjoy selling some of my things too.”
The event (from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day) features vintage European and Japanese bikes, scooters and parts. Smits expects up to 50 booths open inside and outside the Farm Bureau Building. Many exhibits will feature sacred body and engine parts, but several also will have vintage bikes and scooters available for sell or viewing. Smits, in fact, will have his several vehicles at the show.
“It is a social gathering and it has been a cheap hobby for me,” said the former Indiana Pacer, who has been lured to the motorcycle turf since his youth days in Holland and drove competitively for several years in the United States after retiring from the Pacers in 2000. “I love hanging out with the people.”
The 2014 event attracted more than 600 people, including visitors from Spain and Louisiana.
“I don’t do the event to lose money,” he said. “But I also don’t do it to make money. I only hope the event keeps growing.”
The second day of the event includes a motorcycle auction at 11 a.m. Among the available items is the new Decopod designed by famous motorcycle and scooter designer Randy Grubbs. Grubbs has created only four of the Art Deco designed vehicles, which hug the ground and feature aluminum bodies. Who will spend as much as $25,000 for the Decopod?
“Probably someone who wants attention,” said Smits.
An owner of two of the unique vehicles is Hollywood’s Jay Leno, who shares Smits’ fondness of motorcycles, cars and scooters. The two have exchanged messages.
“If you have the money to spend, it is a special item” said Smits, who says the bike can go almost 60 miles per hour.
For Smits, the weekend filled a personal need that he has had in uncovering parts for his collection of vintage bikes, motorcycles and cars.
“You have to have extra parts and it can get expensive,” he said. “Going on eBay was not always easy and this event makes it more convenient for buyers and sellers.”
So who attends? Smits admits the audience has strong numbers in middle aged men, but many visitors bring their wives and children to the event. Admission is $7. Additional information can be found at bcswapmeet.com. The Boone County Fairgrounds are located at Exit 138 off I-65.