Motorcycle swap meet a long-standing tradition at Stafford Motor Speedway

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Thu., Nov. 7, 2013
Bill Puchelt of Belchertown, Mass., looks over a selection of quality pre-1980's 'shovelhead' motorcycles, possibly to add to his collection. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Bill Puchelt of Belchertown, Mass., looks over a selection of quality pre-1980's 'shovelhead' motorcycles, possibly to add to his collection. Photos by Annie Gentile.

Ray Tracy has had a long involvement with the motorcycle swap meets that are held at the Stafford Motor Speedway. He can’t say for certain exactly how long they’ve been held, but knows it’s been going on for the better part of 30 years.

“It was my partner, Jim Darby, who started it, and when he passed away in 2002, I just kept it going,” said Tracy, who organizes the event with the help of family and friends.

A former Ellington resident, who now resides in Florida, Tracy said he was first approached by Darby, a Rockville area native, about putting together a motorcycle swap meet. “He always wanted to do it, and he knew I had an in with Mark Arute, the owner of the track, because I was involved with organizing the Ty-Rods automotive swap meets that had already been going on for a few years here,” said Tracy.

The fall meet - held all day on Sunday, Oct. 27 - featured about 250 vendors and drew a couple thousand visitors from throughout the region. Tracy said he would guess that about 70 percent of the vendors sell Harley Davidson-related items, but he likes to encourage a broad variety of merchandise, with the only requirement being that it has a connection to motorcycles. In this way, he can keep the swap meet from morphing into a flea market. “If it’s on two wheels, no problem,” said Tracy.

True to form, there was a good variety of merchandise for sale, including motorcycles, parts and accessories, scooters, ATVs, motorcycle-related services, and clothing.

“I’ve been doing this show for at least 30 years. It was one of my first shows,” said Birdie Guzman, who operates Cotter’s Leather, part of a textile co-operative, with her family out of Worcester, Mass. At the show, Guzman sells motorcycle jacket patches, sewing them onto jackets on-site. “It’s just a joy being here, because this show [caters to] the real nuts and bolts of the motorcycle community,” she said.

At another vendor booth, Bill Puchelt of Belchertown, Mass., was looking over a row of shiny pre-1980s shovelhead-style motorcycles to add to his existing collection of six. Puchelt said the “shovelhead” term refers to the design shape of the cylinder heads, a style that was manufactured by Harley Davidson from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s.

“If you notice, all these motorcycles can carry passengers,” he said. “They’re big, they’re comfortable, and there’s room to carry luggage too. If you wanted to take a long trip, this is the way to fly,” he said.

Tracy said he doesn’t do a lot of local advertising for the event, but just puts the word out in a couple of motorcycle trade papers. He also provides a flyer advertising the swap meets for the upcoming year. “I’d say our busiest one is the one we hold in the spring - usually in April. I think people have a little cabin fever by then and want to get out,” he said.

The dates for next year’s swap meets at the Stafford Speedway are March 30, June 29 and Oct. 26, 2014, and will be held from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine.  For more information, e-mail

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