Unique work of art becomes tradition at annual Bike Week event

Engines roar over burning bike sculpture at Volusia County Fairgrounds

By Carolina Cardona - Reporter

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The annual Bike Week event is celebrating its 78th year in Daytona Beach.

It's an event known worldwide that brings in thousands of bikers from all over.

"It's really cool. We really enjoy the rallies, really do," Larry Wiemer, a biker from Texas, said.

Wiemer is one of thousands of bikers to hit the sandy beaches of Florida for the largest biking event in the country.

"Being down here in this beautiful, beautiful weather, and attend ... all the bikes go by and hearing the sounds, it just...gets ya. I love it," Sue Rhea said.

[RELATED: Daytona Beach Bike Week 2019: Everything you need to know]

Rhea is a biker from Oklahoma and among the many people who rolled in and out of town, making pit stops along the way. One of those stops is at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. For the past four years, one bike in particular has been captivating bikers and passersby. 

Standing at more than 30 feet high and 80 feet long, a unique work of art has become a tradition.

"I just love it. I think it's a great creation. Very good artist," Rhea said about the sculpture of a biker riding his motorcycle.

The creators say there's a special meaning behind it during Bike Week. 

"It's an all-year process. We gather wood from trees that have fallen down. A lot of them have fallen from the hurricanes. There's about eight carpenters and three artists that build it," said Troy Rentz, of Fast Lane Promotions, the company that came up with the idea.

Bikers at the 78th annual Bike Week enjoy the sight of the Burning Bike, which is on display at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. (Image: Justin Potter/WKMG)

The mastermind behind the design, Sam Knowles, is a Central Florida chainsaw artist who's been making all sorts of sculptures for about 30 years. 

"He's a visionary. He's a great artist. I went to Sam with the idea four years ago, and it was his idea to put a rider on the top," Rentz said.

The idea came about fours years ago, as a way for people to honor a special person they've lost.

"Someone that may have passed. It's an event to remember a loved one. Someone can come out, they can sign the name on the bike. People that come here from all over. There's signatures on the bike from Switzerland, from Canada, from Australia," Rentz said.

Knowles said, as an artist, it has been a unique experience.

"It's pretty neat, as an artist, I get a lot of recognition from carving things. This is a little different and you have a captive audience," Knowles said.

The work of art has become a staple of bike week.

"It's just (gotten) bigger and better every year. The first time we come, the bike was probably a fourth the size it is now. You'd be surprised the names and the countries and states that everybody's from," Wiemer said.

As part of the tradition, the structure is then lit, turning it into a huge bonfire. The burning bike event will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, making a sight for adults and children alike to enjoy.

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