CLEVELAND, Ohio – Motorcycle racing legend John Penton got his moment on the silver screen for the premiere of “Penton: The John Penton Story” at the Ohio Theater in his hometown on June 9.
The theater, only a little older than Penton himself, 88, has hosted touring Broadway productions and served as a movie palace. But it had never seen a night like the movie premiere. Thanks to the Penton Owners Group, several bikes bearing Penton’s name were on display, as were a couple that didn’t bear his name, but were important to him. The lobby display included a BMW that’s still part of Penton’s personal collection and the NSU he used to win five consecutive national races.
“Did you ever think you’d see motorcycles in the Ohio Theater, let alone on stage,” asked master of ceremonies Griff Allen.
View a gallery of photos from the premiere here.
More than 800 people turned out for the premiere, including many of Penton’s large family and fans and friends. The genesis for the movie came when Todd Huffman was flying to Dealer Expo in Indianapolis and had a copy of Ed Youngblood’s book, “John Penton and the Off-Road Motorcycle Revolution.” Huffman tore through the book and decided to start chronicling Penton’s life on film.
Monday, he saw six years of work come to fruition for the premiere – and, he added, a test screening. He was thrilled with the product, but a little sad at the same time.
“Now I don’t have an excuse to call John,” he said. “He was my fact-checker.”
Youngblood, who was at the premiere, was astonished with the amount of photos used in the movie.
“I thought I found them all for the book,” he said. “He found more.”
Penton loved the finished the product.
“It was just right,” he told Huffman. “I couldn’t imagine how you’d put it together.”