RACING

The National BMW Motorcycle Rally expects to draw around 5,500 participants to Springfield this weekend

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) — If you’re noticing more motorcycles on the streets of Springfield this weekend, there’s a reason for that.

BMW Motorcycle Owners of America are celebrating their 50th anniversary by holding their National Rally in Springfield. Created in 1972 by five friends who shared the same passion for BMW cycles, the group today has more than 32,000 members and around 5,500 participants are expected for their national meeting at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. The BMW MOA has members in all 50 states, plus 10 Canadian provinces and seven continents.

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“A lot of people don’t know that BMW made motorcycles before they made automobiles,” said BMW MOA executive director Ted Moyer. “Our rally moves from place to place each year as we go from one area of ​​the country to another. We were actually supposed to be in Springfield last year but got pushed back due to of the pandemic. It’s a great location for us, the center of the country where we have a lot of population that’s really easy to get to from all four corners.

The Ozark Empire Fairgrounds was in full swing Friday, with motorcycles filling the parking lot and vendors, seminars and entertainment spread outside and inside the E-Plex.

Tents dotted the landscape around the field as many attendees camped out.

Renee Denk and her husband Bob are camping with their poodle Ginger, but because of the heat, they don’t spend all their time in a tent.

“I got a hotel room with air conditioning,” Renee laughed as she gestured to the dog. “It wasn’t because I wanted to. It was for her. »

Visitors are expected to spend around $1.4 million here, which is one of Springfield’s biggest events since the pandemic wiped out much of the city’s tourist activity.

Considering Springfield has seen an increase in motorcycle accidents this year, there are also concerns that rally participants will have a safe experience.

“The large number of motorcycles that are here this weekend adds a different level to the complexity of riding a motorcycle, especially in traffic,” Moyer said.

“The other thing is that BMWs are quiet, so you don’t hear them like Harleys,” added Steve Kronberger, a member of the BMW Motorcycle Club of Springfield. “So that’s one of the factors. People don’t hear us. But we want people to pay attention. Be careful and do not use your mobile phone while driving your car. Of course, bikers should also be careful.

The rally tries to do its part by offering low-speed maneuvering courses where safety trainers give advice.

“We also have a sister charitable foundation whose entire mission is to advance motorcycle safety education and training,” Moyer pointed out. “So all of their efforts are aimed at training motorcyclists, whether they are new or experienced.”

When you walk through the grounds and see groups sitting under a shade tree talking or waving as they pass on bikes, you feel the camaraderie that comes from a shared love of hitting the road.

It’s like a family… and some have even started their families thanks to the annual event.

“If it hadn’t been for the national rally, I wouldn’t be married,” said Bob Denk, Renee’s husband. “I met my wife in 1999 in Rhinebeck, New York.”

“I was with another guy (at the rally),” Renee said. “Then we broke up, and about a week later…”

“We got together, and the rest is history,” Bob said.

“My story is similar,” Kronberger said. “When I met my current wife, she was riding motorcycles and I wasn’t. She was leaving and going to all these gatherings, and I felt left out, so I got hooked.

So the “love connection” isn’t just about motorcycles. Sometimes it can also lead to a love connection between humans.

“I think that’s what it’s really about,” Moyer said with a smile. “These relationships are what makes us unique, quite honestly.”

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