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AMCA Pioneer - Jerry Ottaway, Member #14559

Keith Kizer  | Published on 8/18/2021

Below is the unedited version of Keith Kizer's story on Jerry Ottaway as previously published in The Antique Motorcycle. This version includes all the original text and photos which most ended up on the editor's floor for the magazine version. Enjoy 


Some people are literally born into the motorcycle business. In the case of Jerry Ottaway that statement fits him like a wet leather glove. 

Jerry’s grandfather, Gerald Chance, was an Indian motorcycle dealer in the late 20’s and early 30’s in Wichita, Kansas. Jerry’s father, Herb Ottaway, hung out at the motorcycle shop and when he turned 18, he started racing ½ mile dirt tracks. Herb’s pit crew was Grandpa Chance. 

The lineage of the Ottaway family is easy to see and why the blood in Jerry’s veins are Indian red. Jerry was born in 1937 and although he was born into an Indian family, his first motorcycle although was a 1950 Harley Model S 125, which predated the Hummer. This was given to him by his Dad at the age of 13. At the age of 14, Jerry purchased a 1931 Indian 4 with his own money. That was in 1952 and he paid $25 for it. Jerry still owns this bike today which can be seen at the Twisted Oz Motorcycle Museum in Augusta, KS.  

Though the ’31 4 was not yet an antique, Jerry’s appetite for old motorcycles was taking root. Jerry’s second bike was indeed an antique by any standards. A 1918 Cleveland Single.

When Grandpapp Chance retired in the early 60’s, they would load up his 1913 Harley single in the back of his pickup and go to the surrounding small towns in search of old bikes. Jerry said, “We would drive around until we spotted the spit & whittle club in front of the town drug store and the Harley worked as bait.” “The whole spit & whittle club would be looking at the bike and start telling us where we could find other bikes; and the addiction started.” Grandpapp and Jerry would go in halves on whatever they found. Jerry said, “that got tough at $35 each when he only made $0.50/hr.” 

When Grandpapp Chance retired in the early 60’s, they would load up his 1913 Harley single in the back of his pickup and go to the surrounding small towns in search of old bikes. Jerry said, “We would drive around until we spotted the spit & whittle club in front of the town drug store and the Harley worked as bait.” “The whole spit & whittle club would be looking at the bike and start telling us where we could find other bikes; and the addiction started.” Grandpapp and Jerry would go in halves on whatever they found. Jerry said, “that got tough at $35 each when he only made $0.50/hr.” 

The birthright to Indian motorcycle brand was just the beginning and as the collection grew to many American brands including Ace, Henderson, Harley-Davidson, Cleveland, just to name a few. 

At 17 years old, Jerry and his cousin Bob Ottaway barrowed $400 each from their fathers and started a Hoffmann motorcycle franchise in the back corner of the family’s Joyland Amusement Park’s maintenance shed. According to a story by Bart Grelinger of The Hoffmann motorcycle in the AMCA Sunflower Chapter newsletter in February 2020, they sold 27 motorcycles in their first year. Hoffmann went out of business one year later.


Jerry on a restored Hoffmann Gouverneur

Jerry and Bob previously purchased two 250cc race engines from ILO who built 2-stroke vertical twins racing engines for Hoffmann. They installed them in their own Hoffmann 175 and went racing. After their success locally they competed in the Catalina Grand Prix in California. 

Jerry 19 Years Old Taken Before The Catalina Grand Prix On Hoffman Racer 1954


Jerry’s introduction to the AMCA came in 1961 through Grandpapp Chance after returning from the Army. Jerry is a founding member of the Sunflower Chapter in 1981where he has served as the Chapter President. Jerry also served on the national board from 1994-2005. He served twice as the Club’s Vice-President, first 1999-2001 and then 2003-2005. Jerry is also an AMCA Honorary Member, the highest honor given to members.

When asked what some of his fondest memories of belonging to the club were, he said, “My first DJ run in Colorado was pretty special. We rode Denver to Grand Junction Colorado. We stayed all night in Grand Junction then rode back to Denver. We started planning our rides a little better after that so we would end up back where we started each day.”

In the modern age, a man’s legacy is defined by an internet search engine and in Jerry’s case he is infamous for his countless YouTube videos through his beloved hangout, the Twisted Oz Motorcycle Museum. 


Jerry in one of his ten thousand, okay dozens, of videos from the Twisted Oz Motorcycle Museum
Home away from home for Jerry.


Jerry with his first antique bike he purchased 1931 Indian 4 Photo taken in 1980's
Jerry With Father Herb Ottaway and their 1939 Indian 4
Jerry With His 1922 ACE Early 1990's

1930 KJ Henderson Early 1990's

Don't forget to see all the other AMCA Pioneers, including Pete Gagan, Gary Breylinger, Charlie Carter, Lee Cowie, Charles and Martha Darling, Nils-Erik Öst, Richard Schultz, Doug Strange, Bob Shedd and Paul Jensen, Bob Stark, Trudi Johnson-Richards and Dottie Mattern.



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