Penton Movie Night in Irvine, CA
Back in May, I signed up to host a screening of Penton: The John Penton Story at a local theater in Irvine, CA. Little did I know that it would turn out to be such a big event on July 10th. In order to host the screening, I had to get 64 people to reserve their seats online. It was slow to start, but I promoted the screening through social media, email / professional connections, local dealerships, word-of-mouth and friends’ networks. As the months progressed, the tickets sold. About a week and a half before the screening, we sold out of tickets online and more tickets were made available. The day before the screening was to take place, we sold out of tickets once again, marking 228 tickets sold.
To say the movie was emotional for me at times is an understatement. Being an Ohio native (as John Penton is), I have known John Penton and his son, Jack, for pretty much my entire life. Below are some photos throughout my life of him and I that would make you laugh, from the early 2000s when I was crazy little tomboy to the woman I am now. John is the sweetest man ever. He greets me with a giant hug every time I see him, and he just warms my heart. I absolutely love sitting down with him at the races and listening to his stories. So, when I found out that a documentary was going to be produced about his life, I was thrilled.
I first met one of the producers, Todd Huffman, at the John Penton GNCC in Ohio in 2013. Todd was filming some of the race that was named in John’s honor. A few months later, I once again ran into Todd with the Penton family doing some filming in Austria at the KTM factory (I was in Austria for the KTM Dealer Meeting with my family). After returning from my trip to Austria, I accepted a position as a Communications Specialist for the Motorcycle Industry Council in Irvine, CA. I moved to California, and a month after living here, I ran into Todd at a local EnduroCross race. I will never forget when Todd hollered at me, “Hey girl. Aren’t you supposed to be in Ohio where your parents’ dealership is?” It is so interesting how paths can cross so many times, in so many locations.
So I guess you could say I was destined to host a screening of the film. I helped organize a screening for my parents’ dealership, Wheelsports, in Ohio in late June. They were the first dealership to host a screening after the premiere of the movie in Amherst, OH (John’s hometown). They sold out twice and eventually held the screening with 175 people. Since I couldn’t exactly afford a trip to Ohio to see the movie with my family, I decided it would be fitting to host a screening here in California.
Now, in regards to the movie itself, I can honestly say that I thought I knew a good bit about John and his family. After watching the movie, I can say there was a whole lot that I didn’t know! I was really impressed by the amount of history that it covered and thought the storyline flowed flawlessly. John has had a very tough, yet very rewarding life. I don’t think anyone could argue that he worked tirelessly on everything he put his mind to. He didn’t do anything half-ass. That’s the kind of dedication and will-power I hope to inspire in others, as so many others have inspired in me — including John himself.
Todd was probably a little bit scared at the end of the movie when he asked me what I thought… I was speechless. Literally, I couldn’t answer him. Eventually, I think I squeaked out that “I liked it.” — which was such an understatement. I was just trying to hold back tears and emotions, which is really why I couldn’t speak. Not only was it amazing to be able to look deeper into John’s life and accomplishments, but I really connected with the movie in the sense that it had a very strong theme of “family.” It really made me reflect on how big of an influence motorcycles have had on my family’s life. I couldn’t imagine spending our family time in any other way. Whether it was through the dealership, races, or just play riding, it is always a great way to spend time together. I really cherish the memories and will continue to love and appreciate my family and how motorcycling brings us together.
That’s the power of motorcycling — it really can bring people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, all experiences, all ages together.
I’d like to thank Bike Week Radio Show for sponsoring 10 tickets to the screening, the Kawasaki staff that attended, OC KTM and customers, and all the other Penton / motorcycle enthusiasts who joined us for the movie!