Mike Parti has a massive collection of memories and artifacts from days gone by. When asked what his favorite might be, he simply replies, "the friends I've met along the way." Born in 1935, "Parti Animal" has lived a rough and ready motorcycle-oriented life most of us could only dream of.
From running with early LA motorcycle clubs in the '50s, to dominating desert sidehack races in the '60s and setting LSR's at Bonneville in the 70's, the man known by friends as "Parti Animal" has done it all.
Mike Parti retired as a Master Machinist in the '80s and began restoring uber-rare pre-1920's motorcycles. Through it all, one thing has remained constant: Mike Parti has always loved Triumphs and Vincents. He's been working in the same home garage for half a century, and both the man and his machines show that wear and tear. Every nook and cranny of Mike's overstuffed garage is filled with the useful tools, parts and odd collectibles that can only be acquired through a lifetime love for machines and the people who ride them.
In 2001 the AMA inducted Mike Parti into their "Hall of Fame." Mind you, this is the same organization that used to punish Mike and his friends for most of their on- and off-track antics. Not an easy accomplishment by any stretch, and it's one that Mike is still proud of today. When asked how he survived the particularly wild early days, his response is immediate. "I drank a lot of whiskey and beer, and raised a fair amount of hell. But, I got up every day and went to work. I never did drugs and I was never a criminal. Didn't have to be, I was a machinist and I chased the overtime working in 25 shops over 40 years. I married a good woman fifty years ago and am still married to her today." Mike is justifiably proud of his accomplishments and the friendships he's grown over the decades, and it shows.
Last month we spent an afternoon with Mr. Parti, video cameras rolling. ChopCult will bring you a multi-part video interview featuring some of Mike's legendary stories, but editing all those hours of footage will take some time. Until then, please enjoy these photos from Mike's amazing musuem of rare and cherished motorcycle arts and artifacts.
Thanks to Wes D for the great shots in this set, the other ones were by yours truly.