John Penton was one of the most influential figures in the development of off-road motorcycle racing in America during the 1960s and ’70s. His life’s story is triumphant and tragic. When his attempts to convince Husqvarna to produce a smaller, lighter motorcycle fell on deaf ears, Penton created his own design and commissioned KTM, a small moped and bicycle maker in Austria, to build it. The motorcycle was an instant success in off-road competition and led KTM to expand its efforts in the motorcycle realm, initially in conjunction with Penton and ultimately on its own. Today, KTM is the largest manufacturer of motorcycles outside of Japan and winning championships around the world.
When inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, Penton still lived on the family farm not more than a couple hundred yards from where he was born. One of his sons, Jack, became a renowned rider in his own right and competed in 12 ISDE events and was named to the Hall of Fame a year after his father.
After a successful campaign to raise production funds through Kickstarter.com, Todd Huffman, the producer and director of the forthcoming film, “The John Penton Story” will be meeting with Penton experts on March 7 in Amherst, Ohio for a Penton Owners Group (POG) meeting. This date happens to fall on the 45th anniversary of the first 10 production Penton Motorcycles arriving from KTM in Austria on March 7, 1968.
“It’s exciting to start this process and meet all the great people who know the stories that we want to include in the film,” said Huffman. “This visit will be invaluable to helping us find people and archival materials such as photos and old film clips to use in the production. To do so on the 45th anniversary of Penton motorcycles arriving in the US is a little surreal. This trip will be the springboard for our shooting schedule, which we’re thrilled to start in just a few short weeks.”