Magazine News VMD

Grand Marshal Historian

Since 1998, Allen Brotz has collected the signature of every VMD grand marshal

November 1, 2023 (Story from October edition of American Motorcyclist)

By Jack Emerson

When Allen Brotz makes his annual pilgrimage to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, there’s one thing he never leaves behind: his trusty cloth.

On the surface, it may seem silly to get excited over an average piece of cloth, but Brotz’s carries great significance, not only to him but to VMD as a whole. Since 1998, Brotz has collected the signatures of each AMA VMD grand marshal on his cloth, which depicts several road racers competing.

“I just thought it would be a neat way to keep them all together,” Brotz said.

Despite possessing more than 20 signatures from top-tier names in motorcycling, Brotz keeps his cloth tucked away in a safe spot rather than displaying it outright to preserve the quality of the signatures.

Of all the Grand Marshals Brotz has met since 1998, AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Malcolm Smith stands alone as his favorite, with Brotz pointing to Hall of Famer Bruce Brown’s legendary moto documentary On Any Sunday as one of the primary reasons. Regardless of who serves as the grand marshal, though, Brotz always enjoys getting to meet them and add to his collection.

“He was kind of my hero from the movie On Any Sunday,” Brotz said. “They’re all really neat people and approachable.”