Seven years ago, filmmaker Todd Huffman was sitting on a plane reading a book written by the former president of the American Motorcyclist Association, Ed Youngblood; a biography about hall of fame motorcyclist John Penton. On June 20 Huffman and his company, Pipeline Digital Media will release Penton: The John Penton Story, a two hour plus documentary about John, now 88, his family and the impact they’ve had on the motorcycle industry.
Huffman said the more people he interviewed, the bigger the story grew and, while the finished product maintained his original intentions, the path he took there was longer and filled with way more information and tales than he’d expected.
“There’s always more to a story and a reputation of ‘a guy in a family’ than what the public thinks they know, even after 30 or 40 years of knowing the main story,” Huffman said. “And sometimes you can’t even dig it out of the family you have to dig it out of the people around the family, or who worked with the family, the people involved. The Pentons are learning stuff from this story themselves, John and his family.”
Penton’s motorcycle story started in the 1930s in Amherst, OH with his father’s 1914 Harley-Davidson that he and his brothers got running. The story continues today with KTM, the fastest growing motorcycle company in the United States in 2013. It was Penton, who in 1968, took delivery of ten prototype 100cc off-road motorcycles, that he designed, from Austrian bicycle manufacturer KTM.
In between, Penton raced the Jack Pine Enduro on both a Harley Knucklehead and a B-33 BSA; he rode from Ohio to Daytona on his NSU 175, won the Alligator Enduro, strapped his trophy to the back and rode home; he used a BMW R69S to set a new transcontinental motorcycle record of Fifty-two hours and eleven minutes; he competed in the International Six Days Enduro; and he ran a dealership. To the motorcycle industry, Penton is royalty. Penton says he’s just a “farmer and a mud runner.”
After nearly seven years, 108 interviews, 150 hours of footage and an initial cut of five and a half hours, Huffman and Pipeline will premiere the movie in Cleveland on June 9, Hollywood, June 17 and on June 20 it will be distributed via Gathr films. Visit the movie’s Gathr Page and click “Notify Me” for information on the movie coming to a nearby screen.