About to turn 70, Metzger still enjoys racing motorcycles
By Paul Stackhouse
Decatur resident Ray Metzger enjoys drag racing — on the dragway, not the street.
Metzger, who will turn 70 in August, started riding motorcycles when he was 13. His love for motorcycles led him to opening a Suzuki dealership at Lee and Canal streets in downtown Decatur in 1972.
He later added Kawasaki motorcycles to his line and then Honda. Currently, Metzger owns Cycles Unlimited on the Beltline at Spring Avenue.
“I started riding motorcycles when I was 13 years old in Pensacola,” Metzger said. “I sometimes rode illegally without a license, but that was just easy riding. I never tried to race or do anything dangerous on my motorcycle.”
Metzger’s first motorcycle was a Mustang model, which was about 13 horsepower. He said what was so neat about his first ride was that the transmission was made in England, the carburetor in Italy and the rest in California.
“I actually didn’t start racing until I was 50,” Metzger said. “I had a young man named Luke Mann who helped me back then. He was sort of like my motorcycle racing coach.”
Metzger received a second-place trophy at the 10th annual King of the Hill 3-Day All Motorcycle Blowout at the Huntsville Dragway on July 6-8.
Metzger was racing in the 6.20 Shootout, which is an eighth of a mile in length. After several qualifying rounds, the race came down to Metzger and a friend of his who lives in Decatur, Blake Parker. Parker won $400 for winning.
Metzger said that racing can be a dangerous sport, but he has done dangerous things before.
“In racing, I haven’t as much as scratched a finger,” he said. “In 1955 through 1959, I flew a Navy Neptune Bomber during the Cuban crisis. The Neptune was designed to find subs and do recon on shipping. We would even take photographs of ships and later look at them to see if they were carrying any missiles or things like that.
“I guess the real dangerous part for me was what I was carrying some of the time. I carried a nuclear bomb some of the time. On orders, we were prepared to drop a nuclear bomb on Cuba.”
In his free time, Metzger stills flies a single-engine Piper Arrow airplane.
Having seen a lot, Metzger said he has a message for potential racers.
“I would like to see motorcycle racing at the dragway and not on the streets,” he said. “That’s the message I want to send.”
Metzger said he would like to see more riders at the Huntsville Dragway.
“There’s a right way to do it and that’s at the dragway,” Metzger said. “Motorcycle racing is not safe on the street. I’ve seen where people had been racing on the street and something went terribly wrong. At the dragway, safety is a major concern.
“Even if something were to go wrong at the dragway, there is an ambulance there, and people are there trained to handle any kind of accident.”
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