Inaugural Summer Set Nationals dedicated to motorcycles

Take equal parts "American Chopper," a Kansas State Fair grandstand event and even a garage pinup calendar and you're got the foundation for this weekend's Summer Set Nationals motorcycle show.

Summer Set Nationals is a three-day motorcycle show with drag racing, trick exhibitions, live music, horsepower competitions and a beer garden.

"If you like watching 'Sons of Anarchy,' or the Speed Channel, this would be the event for you," organizer and promoter Richard Bartel said.

This is the inaugural Summer Set Nationals, sparked by Bartel's success with an event called "The Chill" last February.

Over two days, about 5,300 people attended the Chill, which Bartel had billed as the biggest indoor motorcycle show in Kansas. He's expecting 4,000 to 7,000 people to attend Summer Set Nationals.

"There are car shows in this area all the time," Bartel said. "There have never been shows that are literally dedicated strictly for motorcycles."

The show portion begins at 5 p.m. today, with a burnout contest a highlight scheduled at 6:30. From 9 to 11 p.m., music will be provided by Wichita band Apryl & the Get Down, along with soul and funk performer Rudy Love Sr.

On Saturday, the show opens at 9 a.m. and lasts into the late evening, with several different kinds of races and events. Another concert is planned for the evening, with Ten Day Wish taking the stage.

Fans of speed will likely be attracted to the drag racing events, where the goal is to achieve the highest amount of speed in a quarter-mile.

It's a testosterone-fueled competition of horsepower, which segues into the Dyno Challenge. The challenge involves hooking up the back tire of a motorcycle to a dynamometer, a device that measures the engine's torque and horsepower.

Those who post the highest horsepower will win cash and a trophy plaque.

"For a gearhead, it's all-encompassing," Bartel said of the show. "You can define me as a gearhead. I've been a gearhead ever since I could push Hot Wheels."

The show will also have vendor booths, concessions and a pinup girl contest Saturday night along with fireworks.

Bartel, 43, says he doesn't race bikes but he often rides his motorcycle, a custom Lakota chopper.

Whether the Derby resident is going to a friend's house or taking a longer ride down a county highway, the freedom he experiences is what he enjoys most.

"It's the chance for one to get away, even if it's just for a ride around town. Just 30 minutes on your bike gives you the chance to get away," he said.

If you go

summer set nationals

What: Three-day motorcycle show with motorcycle racing, live music and other entertainment

Where: Kansas International Dragway, 7800 W. 61st North, Maize

When: Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

How much: Admission $10 Friday, $15 Saturday, $20 Sunday. Children 12 and under free. Friday-Sunday pass $35, Saturday-Sunday pass $30.

For more information, visit www.bartelproductions.com.