#85 Jason Wadzinski
Spring Valley, OH
1947 Indian Chief
Dayton Rip Rap Rider: Jason Wadzinski
My first memory of riding a motorized bike was on my brother’s Gemini 80 minibike when I was about 10 years old. Hopped on and wide-opened the throttle immediately. The bike took off a little faster than I did so I went blasting down a gravel driveway holding on for dear life…which kept the throttle wide-open. When the bike finally had enough of me hanging on, it dumped me and landed about 10 feet in front of me. I remember my older brother running toward me, only to pass by to check on his bike. Boy was he pissed.
I rode other small bikes until I bought my first Harley while I was stationed at Langley AFB in Virginia. I paid $200 for a Harley Sprint manufactured in Italy that I bought off the owner of a strip club. Some customer traded it to him in lieu of paying off a bar tab. All I remember was that it only had one cylinder and the shifting pattern was backwards. That bike disappeared about a week before I shipped off to Korea.
When I got out of the Air Force and ended up in Dayton, I bought a Kawasaki 750 from my brother, who got it from my other brother. Although I didn’t have my endorsement, I really enjoyed that bike until I laid it down. The clutch handle snapped off and I limped it home on the one inch of clutch handle that was left.
I had just started my first business and I was pretty sure I wanted to have kids some day, so I quit riding for a while – which turned into 25 years. After my 2 sons were born I decided when they went off on their own I would start riding again. I almost made it. I bought “Meg”, my 2009 Road King in 2013 when my boys were around high school age.
About a year later after putting many catch-up miles on Meg, I bought a biker bar in Dayton Ohio called Jackass Flats. After extensive renovations, it was renamed Rip Rap Roadhouse. Our claim to fame is that on any good-weather Wednesday in the summer we have one of the biggest bike nights in the Midwest with over 1,000 motorcycles showing up.
I decided to make the bar side vintage motorcycle themed and bought 3 vintage bikes. A 1937 Junior Scout for behind the main bar, a 1920 PowerPlus behind the restaurant bar, and “Jess”, an all black 1947 Indian Chief that I was going to ride.
While getting fully accustomed to a left hand throttle, thank shift and foot clutch takes a few days, once I got the hang of it I was hooked.
There’s something about riding a vintage motorcycle that is unlike any other experience. I wish I could describe it, but I can’t do it justice. When the bike is running smooth it soothes the soul.
About 6 months after riding Jess almost daily, she tried to kill me.
I was heading to a Vintage Iron Motorcycle Club meeting at and stopped at a stop light. I immediately felt intense heat, looked down and flames were up to my waist. It’s amazing how fast a 50’ish year old man can move when he thinks he’s on fire.
A passerby who is a customer at the Roadhouse took a picture of the bike when it was at full flameout. Quite impressive with flames of about 30 feet. The bike smoldered for about 5 minutes until the fire department (which I could see from the fire) showed up and put the fire out.
Other than a slight burn on my nose and right arm, all was good with me. Not so much Jess. I ended up buying the carcass from the insurance company and my friend James Solberg rebuilt her.
After the rebuild she took me from Dayton all the way to Montana for a week of riding out West and almost all the way back which qualified me to be a “bud”. When the kicker stud broke in Iowa on the way back to Dayton, I had to call it quits. Several parts of the bike had fallen off (including my license plate and a spot light) and the red Loctite holding the carb together was enough for me to tap out.
The year of this trip I broke the mileage record for the Dayton Vintage Iron Motorcycle Club. Over 17,000 miles that year on vintage motorcycles. I guess I’m still trying to catch up on the miles I missed during my 25 year hiatus.
Given my history with Jess, this is why I chose to ride her on the 2019 Cross Country Chase. We have many miles and many good memories together.
Jess is by far my favorite bike. Although I’ve acquired 10 more vintage bikes over the past several years, it’s probably because she was my first vintage. I’ve often said that if Jess catches on fire again, I will give her one more chance after that and then we’re done.
In 2018 I joined two other vintage bike guys from Dayton and completed the 2018 Motorcycle Cannonball on a 1924 Indian Big Chief with a perfect score. Couldn’t have done it without my fellow riders and road crew.
I’m really looking forward to joining my fellow 2018 Cannonball riders Brent Mayfield and Shane Masters on 2019 Cross Country Chase. We had a great time riding our pre-1928 bikes from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon last year.
Doing the 2,500 mile 2019 Cross Country Chase from the Canadian border in Michigan to Key West Florida on pre-1949 bikes should be a blast.
There’s road time and there’s vintage road time. While similar, they’re not quite the same.