Love At First Sight

Winning the Honda Elsinore auction at AMA VMD completed a half-century journey for one man

October 17, 2023 (Story from October edition of American Motorcyclist)

By Keaton Maisano

Each year motorcyclists flock to AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days for a multitude of reasons: To participate in the vintage racing; some, to meet and talk with a motorcycling legend like AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Steve Wise; or maybe it’s to experience the jaw-dropping swap meet, where they can buy, sell or do both.

For 69-year-old Armando Arredondo, however, his first trip to AMA VMD was for none of the typical reasons. He came to be reunited with his “first love.”

Arredondo, a happily married man for more than a quarter-century, was not there for any of the tens of thousands of eventgoers, but rather, he had his eyes — and heart — set on a 1974 Honda MT250 Elsinore, a beloved bike he cherished in his 20s.

The bike being a featured item in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame silent auction that ran until the final day of AMA VMD, Arredondo was determined to be the highest bidder, so he could relive the magic from his early years.

“I saw the bike and it was like the angels were singing to me,” Arredondo recalled. “I saw it and was like, ‘That’s my bike. That’s my motorcycle. I need to have it.’”

Growing up in a middle-class family in Mexico City, Arredondo started riding minibikes around 9 years old. Although heavily involved in dragster racing — claiming three national championships (’74, ’75, ’76) and holding the national record for several years — Arredondo’s fondest memories came on his 1974 Honda MT250 Elsinore, which he raced in enduros as well as took out for rides around Mexico with friends.

“Every Sunday or Saturday we went camping and explored little towns around Mexico City,” Arredondo said.

Fast forward 50 years to present day and Arredondo — a certified court interpreter by the Supreme Court of Ohio and an insurance agent — is married to his wife, has two kids and is a resident of the United States. With a collection of more than 15 motorcycles and five collector cars, the Elsinore remained a missing piece to his puzzle, so it was imperative that he left AMA VMD with the bike.

On the final day of the auction and possessing the highest bid, Arredondo did not let the Elsinore out of his sight.

“I couldn’t get farther than 50 feet from it,” Arredondo said. “I was famous for being around the bike, like a puppy!”

Finally, after several bids and days of waiting for the auction to end, Arredondo’s half-century journey back to his Elsinore was complete.

“I have aged, I’m nearly 70,” Arredondo said, “but my bike is still 1974. She’s still young and exactly how I remember her. I can touch her and work on her. We can go to the mountains and kill time. That’s a magical moment.”

In the time since, Arredondo has spent plenty of time in his garage working on the bike to get it running again so he can race it in the AMA Vintage Enduro and Hare Scramble series.

“I’m not customizing this one. I’m just going to transform it into a real-life motorcycle,” Arredondo said in response to purists wanting him to preserve the bike. “This feels different. This is a motorcycle that is going to come alive. I feel like I rescued her for a ‘boring’ life at the museum. And she rescued me from the risk of feeling old.”

“It couldn’t be in better hands with all the respect and all the humbleness,” Arredondo added. “I’m going to love this bike more than probably anyone else in the world, because this is my bike, this is my baby.”

With his first AMA VMD — which he said would not be his last — in the books, Arredondo has another cherished memory to look back on, as well as a two-wheel time machine to the past that he will certainly enjoy.

“They are not people, but somehow they have a soul,” Arredondo said about motorcycles. “The soul comes from all these moments you have shared with your friends, all these moments you have shared with the road, crossing rivers, going uphill, downhill in the mud. They mean freedom, and that’s what I found in Vintage Motorcycle Days.”

We could not have said it better, Armondo.