INside Story

Motorcycle business booms on legendary Gasoline Alley in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis is known for its racing scene.

In the Marion County town of Speedway, one street is home to some of the most amazing stories and experiences in the motorcycle world. The legendary street is home to many racing vendors, motorcycle shops machinist parts suppliers. Gasoline Alley is home to daredevils, hard workers and dreamers, including the owner of Northbilt Customs, Brett Johnson.

“I got into motorcycles when I was a kid. I was 11 or 12 years old with a dirt bike and always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Johnson said. “Honestly, when the pandemic started my business was less than a year old. I was primed for failing. (My business) grew! It doubled in size. During the pandemic, motorcycling was one of the few things that people could still do. This is not normal for a city. Actually, I would challenge you to find more play in other places in the world where you have more of an ingrown cottage racing industry, where you have all these vendors to do stuff. You’re probably not going to find a concentration of those people anywhere on the planet but here.”   

 Jimmy Light is chief operations officer at Horsepower Inc. He has seen business boom during the pandemic.

“We’re known for making power HBI or aspiring, because pretty much the name, that’s pretty much what we’re known for,” Light said. “Gasoline Alley used to be all Indycar teams back in the ’70s and ’80s. It was all the cars around at the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway. This is now; it’s more. There’s other manufacturing businesses in here, but it doesn’t really have many racecars left and we’ve been just trying to wreck the street as much as we can so people realize this is now, you know, this is our street, this is gas. Now, this is cool stuff is back loud you know fast that kind of stuff ”  

Bike night at Gasoline Ally brings people from around the country including Marshall Tucker from LA Choppers.

“It’s just about coming together grabbing a beer grabbing some food truck food and having fun and hanging out with your friends and do that as the guys from Ferrari the guys from the Ferrari team are walking through here because they heard all the noise. They didn’t even speak English, but they wanted to come and see what it was all about and that’s what motorcycles is you don’t have to speak the same language,” Tucker said. “You don’t you all you have to do is write two wheels and you’ll break up the language between there everybody understands the passion for two wheels as long as you have that the language doesn’t matter.”   

“One of the things I would see on bike night, you’re definitely going to see a lot of burnouts and wheelies. You’re going to see, you know, a lot of great bikes,” Johnson said. 

Light said the increased interest in motorcycles can be felt throughout the business. Bike nights, especially midst the pandemic have helped give people a chance to connect and businesses a chance to sell more products.  

“These bike nights started just because we wanted somewhere to go that wasn’t a bar, to get people that are in the industry and like-minded people to come here and have a good time and it wouldn’t helps us sell products and show people what we do in the city,” Light said. “Everybody was for a long time was trying to figure out what could get people back into motorcycles. Some blamed millennials because they didn’t buy motorcycles. They weren’t into this … culture. Older riders were getting out of it. I think pandemic made people realize that can go on motorcycles just disappear, which is good.

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