The goal of the People’s Champ competition is to get exposure for builders who might not have been well-known enough to be official “Invited Builders” at Born Free. There is so much talent out there, it’s impossible for the BF guys to know everyone, and lots of People’s Champ competitors have gone on to compete in the big show the following years. We’re not promising anyone fame and fortune, but we’ll do our best to showcase your craftsmanship and the democratic process will determine the final Champ.
Who’s eligible? Anyone who has not been a previous Born Free Invited Builder or made it to the Final Six of any past People’s Champ competitions. You can build your bike in a carport or a shop, it’s all fair game. We determine the Original 20 entrants from a much larger pool of contestants, and just so you know, we like boot strappers and underdogs. So, if you have a million dollar shop, the kid working in their mom’s basement is gonna get priority. We will do our best to pick a diverse range of bike builds so they don’t all end up being the same basic format. When there are over 100 initial entrants and only 20 move forward, it’ll leave quite a few people pissed. Welcome to life, suck it up and try again next year. We are going to pick that OG 20 from your submissions on our website ( details here ) and will announce the competitors October 1st 2022. No “co-builds”. Of course, you can get help from friends, but there can only be one Champ and one name on the check, so submissions will only be accepted from a single person.
First Round: We will ask for some progress photos and a paragraph or two about your build so far to be delivered via form submitted on the website. All of the Original 20 builders will need submit that form by January 30th 2023. We will post them in a poll on this website on February 2nd-5th and announce the Lucky 13 a couple days later. Tip: quality photos and a thoughtful paragraph go a long way in your campaign to get votes. It’s simple; if you present your project as professionally as possible, it’s likely that more people will take notice, so take this part is kinda serious.
Final Round: This is where it gets different from any show we’ve ever been involved in, so pay close attention before entering. For the past three years, we have traveled to each of the final six builders to take photos and videos to release prior to online voting. In previous years it was because we had the time due to Born Free being postponed or canceled due to the COVID pandemic. We realize these videos are extremely important to a level playing field and allow those following the competition a more detailed look at the build to allow for successful online voting. To allow us to produce these videos this year the builders will need to have their bikes completed by May 8th 2023. Our media team will then travel to all six builders May 8th through May 21st. The videos and photos will be released prior to the Online voting which is to be held June 20-23rd. But wait there’s more! We will meet the Final Six Pack builders on the east end of Ortega Highway on Friday, June 23rd, 2023– the morning of the Biltwell People’s Champ party. This is approximately 50 miles away from Cook’s Corner. Each builder will be required to start their own motorcycle and ride it to Cook’s. This is not a race. We will ride together with you. This means not only do you have to build a beautiful machine, but it has to be an actual motorcycle that runs and rides, and that you can ride it yourself. The route will go up the twisty mountain pass and down the other side, onto a moderately travelled freeway, through some lights and traffic, ending at the bar. Just like a real motorcycle ride! You can have a chase truck follow and work on your bike along the way if you must, but it needs to be ridden the entire route and arrive at Cook’s by the set deadline. The show starts at 3:00 and we need to shoot interviews and bike features with each builder and machine before putting the bikes on platforms and getting them ready for the show. If your bike does not make it to the show from the starting point under it’s own power (or you pushing it) you will still be able to display it, and will still get your consolation cash but you will not be eligible to be the Champ. This ride is open to spectators but we will put the Final Six Pack up front and ask that you respectfully give ‘em some room to do their thing. We ride rain or shine.
What does a builder get for all this work? Not enough, that’s for sure. If we can wrangle some sponsors again, we’ll give some discount codes to the Final 6. Then, we do just like 2022: beg as much cash as possible from generous sponsors and divide that up between the Final Six. The way that works is the non-Champs (no one is a loser in our book, lol) get $1000. Whatever is left over goes to the champ in one giant check. The Champ for 2022 took home $10,000. Please note, Biltwell takes zero from the sponsorship money and we kicked in two grand of our own money to make sure this grand prize was significant. We’ve got no idea how much we can generate for 2023, but we’ll do our best and share it all. We also will shoot bike features and videos of each of the final contenders and showcase them on our WTF Blog and our YouTube channel. If possible, we’ll try to get some magazine coverage for as many as we can. Our goal is to not forget the builders as soon as the show is over, so we will try to highlight the bikes and people as much as we can. The Champ will be able to display his or her bike on the grass with all of the Born Free Invited Builders on Saturday and Sunday, and all bikes present will be eligible for any awards at the big show. We also have an area on the grass for all Peoples champ participants to show off their bikes.
What kind of bikes can enter?We love all kinds of motorcycles, but we were at the first Born Free and the first People’s Champ shows and these were very much started as Chopper shows. So, we will be picking highly customized, hand-built motorcycles. Japanese, American, British, it’s all good. There are no separate classes and we won’t be picking any club style Dynas, performance baggers or even our beloved FXR’s. No trikes, quads or VW’s. We only have room for six bikes and we’re looking for choppers!
Questions? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org