Lunch With a Local Legend

Nov 28, 2012 View Comments by

Recently my riding friend Bob Brown invited me (Jim Parks) to a luncheon in Gettysburg, PA with a group of BMW riders. One of the attendees was Paul Mihalka, an 80-something year old rider who has logged over a million miles on BMWs. Paul, who was born in Hungary, moved with his family to Caracas, Venezuela in 1947 and began his motorcycle racing career there in 1952 on an AJS 350cc thumper. In 1953 he was sponsored by a local Velocette dealership and rode a modified version of that marque to a 350cc class national championship in Venezuela. He next campaigned the Velocette in the South American Championship race in Lima, Peru and again came out on top in his class. The following year he moved up to the 500cc class and won his second consecutive national title in Venezuela.

Paul, ironically, did not ride his first BMW until 1972, while on an Alpine tour. Paul and his wife, Maria, immigrated to America in 1982 and set up house in Florida. He retired from racing and began work at a BMW dealer, 441 Cycles, in Ft. Lauderdale and, while there, became a certified BMW technician. 1988 saw Paul and his wife move to Maryland, where he garnered the position of BMW manager at Rockville Harley-Davidson (now Battley Cycles). In 1991 Bob’s BMW became a full BMW dealer and Paul was hired to oversee sales, warranties, and several other areas. During his tenure at Bob’s, Paul received several national sales awards.

Paul headed back to Battley Cycles as BMW sales manager in 2003 and achieved the million mile riding mark in 2007. As a long-time member of the BMW Bikers of Metropolitan Washington (, he will be awarded the club’s Hall of Fame honor at a ceremony in January 2013. Long story short, Paul has pretty much done it all in motorcycling and has done it on several continents. For someone with such a hard-charging motorcycle career, though, I found him to be a very warm and gracious person with many interesting adventures to tell. Ride on Paul!

L to R, Scott Keimig, club VP, Paul Mihalka, and Jim Parks, RoadRUNNER Magazine editor. Photo credit: Bob Brown.

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