Stockton Motorcycle Club Inc. nears its 100th year in 2024
June 6, 2023 (from June 2023 edition of American Motorcyclist)
By Keaton Maisano
For nearly 100 years, Stockton Motorcycle Club has endured and thrived in the motorcycling hotbed that is California.
Founded in April of 1924 by Jake and Pete Bayer and 22 other friends, Stockton Motorcycle Club has built its reputation on catering to both racing and riding events.
“The Stockton Motorcycle Club, as most old clubs, has gone through different stages,” said Bill Harr, a club life member. “More racers than road riders, and then more road riders than racers. But the love of motorcycles was always at the front.”
Today, the club’s membership fluctuates between a few dozen and 40 members at any given time.
Stewart Barber, a member for more than 30 years, has grown up in Stockton, Calif. The first in his family to join the club, Barber has seen his son get involved with Stockton Motorcycle Club — a club that has certainly leaned on family involvement over the years.
“They would always be doing something involved with motorcycles,” Barber said, “and it was always family oriented. They always brought their kids along. A lot of the people in the club now, their parents were in the club many, many years ago, so you kind of pass it on.”
Involved in short track, hillclimb, observed trials and more, Stockton Motorcycle Club has been putting on racing events since its inception in the mid-1920s.
For years, Stockton Motorcycle Club’s clubhouse was located on land loaned by the Bayer family. Eventually moving to a space bought by the club, the current clubhouse includes a pool table and bar, and its walls are decked with pictures from the club’s decorated history.
The club hosts weekly meetings every Wednesday night.
“It’s like any other club,” Barber said. “There are always gonna be people who agree or disagree, but that’s what it’s kind of all about. We can go and discuss at the bar motorcycles or whatever we want to, and we can agree to disagree, and we still show up the next week.”
In addition to its involvement in racing, the club hosts annual riding and social events, including the High Sierras Overniter, the Sonora Pass Ride, and the Hare and Hound Run. The Hare and Hound Run began in the 1940s and evolved into the club’s Hoot and Owl Poker Run.
“That’s an eclectic group,” Barber said on the club’s riding members. “Some guys are getting older and [they’re riding] three-wheelers now. The younger guys are riding the sport bikes. And it’s just fun. If you want to go for a ride, there are different levels of riding and you just go for a ride.”
With the club’s 100th year less than a year away, Barber said they are still figuring out what to do to honor Stockton MC’s impressive history.
“We would like to do something special,” Barber said. “We’re always doing stuff, and to plan something special, it’s like we’re doing something special all the time.”