After reading Ed Youngblood’s book “John Penton and the Off-Road Motorcycle Revolution” in 2007, renowned motorcycle biography director Todd Huffman (The Motocross Files-Speed, Legends of Supercross-CBS, The Carlsbad USGP:1980, One Chance to Win, and Bob Hannah's 1981 Massacre at Saddleback) thought there was a story to be told there. In June of 2007, on location to shoot interviews in Michigan for The Motocross Files, Todd and accomplished Director of Photography, Michael Graber, went to Amherst, OH to at least get “John Penton on tape”. Two days and seven hours worth of HD tape later, Todd and Michael had John and Jack Penton as well as nephew, the late Dane Leimbach, on tape.
Fast-forward to the fall of 2010 when Penton enthusiast Jack Martin contacted Todd to suggest a film project about John Penton’s life. After reading Youngblood’s book in 2000, Martin had come to believe that a documentary of John Penton’s championship enduro career, his development of the Penton motorcycle line and the tremendous effect that had on the sport of off-road motorcycling would be a wonderful demonstration of American ingenuity, entrepreneurship and family values. After contacting Youngblood and Penton and mulling the project over for several years, Martin finally came to the realization that, while Mr. Penton’s story deserved to be told, he wasn’t the man to do it. Rather than let the dream just die, Martin contacted Huffman to share his idea, not knowing that Todd had already commenced work on the project. Martin suggested that Lyle Lovett narrate the film since he had competed on Pentons as a teenager and remained a motorcycle and Penton fan. Todd contacted Motorcycle Hall of Famer, Mark Blackwell who is personal friends with Lyle who said he’d “be honored to be the voice of the film” since as a 14-year-old boy, Mr. Lovett worked sweeping floors at a Penton dealer in Texas.
By November of 2010 PDM, along with supporters and fans of John Penton, had produced a teaser to generate interest, complete with Lyle Lovett voice-over and music.
It’s time to finish the project.
The plan is to get into production the summer and fall of 2012 traveling back east for interviews with Penton family, friends and enthusiasts. Also, there will be a 10-day shooting trip to Europe including Austria (where Penton's were made by KTM), Italy (where Penton’s line of Hi-Point competition clothing was made by Alpinestars) and England, Germany, Sweden, etc. where longtime Penton customers and competitors will be interviewed. Both John and Jack Penton may accompany the production to Europe to see some of their old friends. We plan on capturing those moments on film when they happen.
Approximately 50 interviews will be involved with the production.
In early 2013 the post-production process will begin and will involve more pick-up interviews and re-creation shooting to fill holes in the story. More editing, music and effects will be undertaken through the spring and summer to get the film ready for a fall release on DVD and digital downloads. A premiere may happen at the annual AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Weekend in Las Vegas, NV which usually takes place in Mid-November.
If you're a motorcycle or dirt bike fan in the US or around the globe, or you just love a great story about American spirit, tenacity and ingenuity, then you can be proud of having been a part of bringing this project to life.
Thank you for being part of bringing John and his family's phenomenal American story to life.