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 Pack 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 25 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 a 100 initial entrants and only 25 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 25 from your email submissions ( details here ) and will announce the competitors on Oct. 15, 2019. 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 about your build so far to be delivered via email to us from all Original 25 builders by November 13th. We will post them in a poll on this website on November 15th 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 kinda serious.
Second Round: The Lucky 13 will send in a final round of photos and another paragraph about their progress by January 1st, 2020. We will publish a new poll on January 3rd and let the internet vote for the Final Six Pack. We announce that half-dozen finalists a couple days later on January 6th.
Final Round: This is where it gets different from any show we’ve ever been involved in, so pay close attention before entering. We will meet the Final Six Pack builders on the east end of Ortega Highway at 8:00AM on Friday, June 26th– 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 on the patio by noon. 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 ($500) but you will not have a ballot box, so 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 and swag to the the Lucky 13. Then, we do just like 2019: beg as much cash as possible from generous sponsors and divide that up between the Final Six Pack. The way that works is the non-Champs (no one is a loser in our book, lol) get $500 and some swag. Whatever is left over goes to the champ in one giant check. The purse for 2019 was $10,000 and the Champ took home $7,500. 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 2020, 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 show his or her bike on the grass with all of the Born Free Invited Builders on Saturday and Sunday, and will be eligible for any awards at the big show. in 2019, Champ Nick Busby won the Mooneyes award and is going to the world-famous chopper and custom show in Yokohama for free as a result.
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 email@example.com