The idea for the High Voltage show came about when Ron Brefka bumped into a Milwaukee city official and Frank, the owner of Frank's Powerplant, a local biker bar. Ron spontaneously asked both gentlemen if they would consider permitting him to host a bike show at the Powerplant to raise awareness and money for pancreatic cancer research. Without hesitation, both were in total agreement with the idea. Under the neon Blatz beer sign, the High Voltage show was born. When asked how he came up with the High Voltage show's name, Ron said it's simple. I'm a licensed power engineer, and the first show was held at Frank's Powerplant. The name had an energetic feel, and it fits.
The very first show took place on September 10, 2016. After the second show in 2017, High Voltage had outgrown Frank's Powerplant. Ron is a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, so he knew exactly where to move the show. The new location was at Humboldt Park Amphitheater, eight blocks up the road from Frank's.
Ron is somewhat of a traditionalist, and he wanted to model the High Voltage show after the Alternate Site, a park on the lakefront that used to have free concerts. Friends would gather to listen to music and have a good time. High Voltage is a free show with motorcycles, music, and BYOB. A salute to Milwaukee's past.
Due to restrictions this year, the county refused to issue any permits for any outdoor events. Canceling the show was out of the question. Ron had to find his Alternate Site for the 2020 show. His friend Mark recommended the 7 Metal West Shop, where Ron creates his custom fenders. Once the village gave him the go-ahead, the show was back on, and a new location was established.
On the day of the show, the morning dew seemed to linger a bit longer than usual. Regardless, it was all systems go; the stage was set. The participants and spectators kept rolling in all day long, coming from as far away as Florida and Colorado. Considering the conditions of the day, the event had a great turn out.
Volunteers helped with donations for beer and raffle tickets throughout the day. The Lions Club provided food. DJ "Ace" kept the clouds away with his choice of Rock ‘n Roll. Brian Smith brought his guitar, playing everyone's favorite country songs. High Voltage was a family-friendly event, and the kids, as well as the adults, were really getting into spectacular burnouts that took place all day long. Mike Standfil took the Best of the Best burnout award, literally melting his tire down to the rim.
Everyone who participated in the show was presented with a High Voltage pennant. The awards went to Mike Lang and his 1946 WR Harley factory racer for Best Vintage; Brian Chemerys took the award for the best chopper with his 1974 Survivor "Wish"; Best of Show winner Steve "Part-Timer Steve" Glennon, brought his special construction "No Name" Panhead chopper all the way from Colorado.
A big thanks to all the sponsors for their support. Taylor the fire dancing princess, Michelle the Raffle Master, Jonah, Mark, and Virginia, Jake Schultz, and many many others that helped out.
Ron is a cancer survivor. As far as I can tell, he ain't slowing down for nuthin'. Please make plans to join him for the High Voltage AMA 2021 Ice Race Grand Championship on February 6, 2021. As well as the Shovelhead Reunion, celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Shovelhead engine on June 26, 2021, at the Harley Davidson museum, brought to you in part by the House of Harley. For more info, check out highvoltage414.com. Thanks, Ron. We'll see ya up the road.
Mark A. Garcia / Big Machine Photography