Across town the focus was on Rory McIlroy, a 21 year old golfer from Ireland. Speculation was high on whether the young Irishman would finish strong on Sunday, or if Tiger Woods could mount another charge to win his 5th green jacket.
But behind the fence at the Motorcycle Palace, the crowd who came to celebrate Aubrey Pancake ‘s (his real name) birthday wore leather vests instead of polo shirts and the only birdies that were shot were the fickle finger kind.
Pancake (as his friends and customers call him) will turn 73 Tueday April 12th.
He started his motorcycle repair business in 1976, the year after Jack Nicklaus won his 5th Masters tournament. But, unlike the Golden Bear, Pancake hasn’t retired. He still takes an occasional ride and he’s turning wrenches everyday and has no intention of retiring. ”I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t do this” Pancake once told me. “I look forward to seeing my friends come in the door.”
The motorcycle faithful rode in from all over the Eastern Central Georgia and Western South Carolina area for a poker run and to eat a piece of birthday cake in his honor, set up by his daughter Teresa, who customers affectionately refer to as, you guessed it, “Cupcake.”
His daughter said that today was special for her because her father was able to ride in the poker run. A few weeks before his birthday, three years ago, Pancake wound up in the hospital and she wasn’t sure if he’d ever return to the shop.
“It was a tearful moment for me when he rode off on his motorcycle” She said.
When the door prizes were all given away and the last rumbled echoed off the fading paint facade of the Motorcycle Palace, Pancake locked the front door, drove out the gate and locked it behind him. Next week the Master’s crowds will be gone, but rest assured Pancake will be back, turning wrenches and greeting old friends.