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AMCA Pioneer - Gary Breylinger, Member #78

Keith Kizer | Published on 12/24/2020

If people were the foundation to the club like cinder blocks are to a house, Gary Breylinger is truly a pillar of the AMCA. Like many pioneers, his interest in the hobby of motoring started early. From one of many stories wrote for the club, Gary was recently quoted as saying, “My Mother once told me that as a very young child my first sentence was “Does it go?” Looking back over my 87 years, it seems as though that question might have defined much of my life.”

Gary and his wife Barbe joined the club in 1962 after moving to Winter Park, Florida. Fellow AACA member John Goldman introduced them to the AMCA knowing Gary also owned motorcycles. To understand the history behind Gary’s interest in old cars you have to look no farther than Gary’s lovely bride. Barbe’s Father, Hyde Ballard was a founding member of the Antique Automobile Club of America, circa 1936. The first AACA meet was held on the estate of the Ballard family in Pennsylvania. Hyde was patent attorney whose served as legal counsel for the AACA. He was also a leading expert for steam cars. In 1942, Hyde also served as the club’s third President and then again in 1966. 

Gary and Barbe met while both attending separate colleges in Claremont, California. They met at a local dance and, “The rest,” as Gary says, “is history.” For the betterment of the AMCA, the impending marital bliss of now 67 years led to Gary’s love of old cars to complement his love for motorcycles. The infusion of two club’s histories have benefited both. 

In 1968 fellow AACA and AMCA member, Ralph Mundell, started a new AMCA meet in Jacksonville, Florida. Ralph served on the AMCA Board of Directors from 1968 to 1994. He served as Treasurer, Vice-President and President before becoming the second Director of Chapters after Lee Cowie. 

The first Jacksonville meet was simply referred to as the AMCA Fall Meet for its first three years. It was held at the Expressway Motel Inn. Gary described it as a no-frills little motel but had ample acreage in the back to hold such a meet. The events humble beginning originated out of an annual ride local AMCA members started, called the Daytona Run.  AMCA Co-Founder, Ted Hodgdon and his wife Alice would come over from Tampa to Orlando and join a group who rode down to the Daytona 200 each year. The annual gathering of members led to Ralph establishing a Florida based AMCA meet 90-miles North of the speedway.

The Jacksonville meet predated the existence of chapters overseeing national meets and coincided with the birth of AMCA Chapters. In 1971 John Bowman officially formed the club’s third chapter called the Sunshine Chapter. Gary was one of the founding members. 

Gary on his 1955 Lambretta scooter

Ted Hodgdon wrote a story of the 5th annual Jacksonville meet in 1972 noting Gary’s entry, a 1919 750cc Rudge Multi. Back in those days prior to entering judging, each member had to complete a short ride on a closed course or county roads to prove the bikes roadworthiness. In the case of this meet, they used a course laid out around the perimeter of the swap meet. The story noted that, “Little Gina Webb (daughter of John Webb) riding her bicycle and almost keeping pace and catching up with Gary on the Rudge, as the single thumped leisurely along.” 

This Florida group of members kept themselves quite busy. Fellow members, Howard Culp and Jerry Wilson once imported a container of surplus Nimbus military motorcycles from Denmark. As Gary recalls mostly Sunshine Chapter members bought them and paid $350 each. Gary bought one that he added a sidecar he purchased from Denmark. 

This was in Winter Park, FL. Heidi and Gary. He managed the gear on the gas tank while she steered. This is in 1972. The bike is the 1956 Velocette. It may have belonged to Pete Banks, or Gary, Heidi could not remember. 

In 1975 Gary relocated the family from Florida to Escondido, California. He went to work for a friend who started a company in San Diego, where Gary grew up and his parents still lived. His daughter Heidi remembers, “Dad sold a good deal of his British bikes including his prized Brough Superior before moving to California. He did however take the family heirloom, “the Duchess.” Her grandfather’s 1929 Packard Phaeton.” 

The Breylinger family had a winter home in Borrego Springs, which lies in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, one and a half hours East of Escondido. Gary invited some friends for a ride in the area which turned into an annual event called the Borrego Springs Road Run. This event continues to this day through the SoCal Chapter.

Gary was elected to the AMCA Board in 1992. He served from 1992-1994 as the International Director. He admits he did not accomplish much in that position. He said, “The goal was to entice owners of British motorcycles to join the club but back in those days, the club was completely dominated by American motorcycles.”

1929 Packard 7-passenger Touring car. Gary is driving. The lady to the right with her arms up is Joan Rombauer. Koerner Rombauer and Gary were best friends from junior high school. The Rombauer’s came to Winter Park for a visit.

In 1993 After retirement and after both girls, Katrina and Heidi married, Gary and Barbe retired to Big Fork, Montana. The girls and their husbands followed closely behind three years later. When Gary arrived in Montana, he said, “There was already an informal group of devoted riders and restorers of vintage motorcycles in Kalispell, MT who regularly met for lunch and toured the area on those bikes.” 

Gus Gustafson, Bob Smith, and Orland Leland were-are-key figures in the group. Also, John Rummel in Great Falls was a catalyst for old bike activities over there.  Gary said, “I simply extolled the virtues of AMCA membership in forming a Chapter and others took it from there.” 

This is Heidi’s husband, Todd Delle (in red) and Gary behind him. This was in San Diego around 1988. The bikes are British, Scotts.

Gus Gustafson, Bob Smith, and Orland Leland were-are-key figures in the group. Also, John Rummel in Great Falls was a catalyst for old bike activities over there.  Gary said, “I simply extolled the virtues of AMCA membership in forming a Chapter and others took it from there.” 

As much as Gary likes to downplay his role in the Northern Rockies Chapter, his fellow members are the beneficiaries to his participation. In a recent letter to Gary from past chapter President, Mick Jimmerson, he wrote; “In case something happens that might bring regret of not saying, I just wanted to tell you how delighted I am to have known you and to be able to call you my friend. You have been a good example of an honest man, and a mentor to many.” 

When Gary joined the AMCA there were less than 200 members. If you could calculate the number of members who joined at his invitation and those who joined through those members, you begin to see the biblical implications reminiscent of Joseph. A true pillar indeed. - Keith S. Kizer

All the text above this paragraph is the original, unedited version of the Gary Breylinger story. Below are all the other interesting stories and tidbits that had to be left out because I reached my 1,000 word limit. The great thing about the internet is I’m not limited to space. So enjoy these story additions and photos. 

Gary at the 2012 Great Falls Run on a Honda Helix

Gary Quotes:
o “My Grandfather told me many years ago; “The cost is forgotten but the value remains.”

AMCA Judging:
o Gary was involved in AMCA Judging when it made the switch to the 100-point system, which was mimicked from AACA.
o Gary was on the AMCA Board and assisted then Assistant Chief Judge, Peter Heintz in developing the points system that is enjoyed today. Peter Heintz became Chief Judge in 1988. 
o Back with Gary joined the AMCA, bikes were limited to 1929 and older motorcycles. 

Gary’s Family:
o Gary’s two daughters were actively involved with the hobby not only as kids but after they grew and married. 
o Heidi Delle is a high school teacher in Montana.
o In the Fall 2018 Northern Rockies Chapter Newsletter, Barbe was featured with a photo of her from back in the sixties riding a BSA.
o Heidi recalls her and Katrina spending hundreds of hours on the back of bikes their Mom or Dad riding. 
o Both girls learned to ride the Whizzer, just as their Dad did back in the 40’s.
o Heidi’s husband restored the 1955 Lambretta scooter for Gary.
o The 1929 Packard Phaeton, known to the family as “Duchess” was purchased used in the late 30’s by Barbe’s Father, Hyde Ballard for $300. The car was passed down to the Breylinger family who kept the car with them through Pennsylvania, Florida, and California. The car was sold in the 70’s to pay for the girl’s college. Pretty good college savings plan. 
o In a YouTube video provided by the AACA a 12-minute silent video shows the first AACA meet which includes Barbe’s father and grandfather. Both belonged to the Quaker City Motor Club as well as the AACA. 
o In recent years Barbe contacted the current owners of the Ballard family estate. The man is very proud of the home’s history. 
o Gary and Barbe lived in Marion, PA before moving to Florida.

Sunshine Chapter
o In the story it was noted that John Goldman got Gary started with the AMCA. John and Charlie Carter were good friends. Charlie is an AMCA Honorary Member who served and Editor and Publisher of the Antique Motorcycle magazine from 1974 to 1986. Charlie is credit for the basic format and look that continues to this day. 

Northern Rockies Chapter
o In an attempt to avoid riding small cc motorcycle on roads with fast moving traffic, which included postwar motorcycles, Gary organized a Tiddler Run for bikes 350cc and smaller which rode at a slow pace on paths of least resistance. The ride started along the Missouri River from Great Falls. The event continues today and is referred to as the Gary Breylinger’s Tiddler Run. Tiddler is a British term for a small displacement motorbike. 

Gary Notes:
o Motorcycle of choice these days, Honda Helix scooter.
o Gary owned several Brough Superior motorcycle back in the day. Gary said, “I had the privilege of spending some time with Albert Wallis at his home/shop in England..  Albert was the shop Manager for George Brough.”

Letter's from Gary to AMCA:
o April 7, 2018 to Keith Kizer and Bill Wood
    Over 50 years ago, AMCA Founder and first President Ted Hodgdon and his dear wife Alice would visit us after they had moved to Florida.  They had a 1955 or 1956 Packard which Ted dearly loved, and they would look for an excuse to take it out on the open road.  On those visits I sometimes would ask him of his experiences as Marketing Director of Indian in those last fateful days of the Company, as well as about the early days of the AMCA.
    On one such occasion I took the opportunity to set up my Ampex 7” tape recorder and asked Ted to chat about those times in which he played such a part.  He obliged, and his remarks were most interesting.  Sometime after the visit I put the tape on and to my horror, the recorder had not only recorded our conversation, but had also faithfully preserved the laughter, chatting, and clanking of pots and pans going on in the kitchen as lunch was being prepared!
    Many years ago Bruce Linsday made an appeal for additions to the Club Archives, and I sent the tape in question to him.  My thought was that it might be of some use if ever a first hand account of whatever it was that we discussed would somehow be of use in the future, as the memories of past events fade into darkness.   It may be that the clarity of the dialog can be increased, what with the advances in technology existing today. In any case, I am writing you to let you know that the tape might still be lurking in the Archives—just in case.
    I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you both for all you are doing for our Club!
        Gary Breylinger
        AMCA No. 78
        Past AMCA Director
        Co-Founder, The Sunshine Chapter
        Co-Founder, The Northern Rockies Chapter
        Founder, The Borrego Springs Road Run


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