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John Penton documentary needs 100 supporters for Sheffield show


Motorcycle buffs will get a chance to see a documentary based on Amherst motorcycle pioneer John Penton.

That is, provided at least 100 people buy tickets for a single screening of “Penton: The John Penton Story” set for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Regal Cobblestone Square 20 theaters in Sheffield.

Staff at the multiplex verified the film is to be booked if at least 100 tickets are purchased in advance.

“We’re hoping there is enough interest that we can book it here,” said Fred Barck, a longtime family friend of the Pentons.

“This is probably the only way we’re going to get it,” Barck said of the film, which is unlikely to see any sustained theater release due to its limited appeal and tiny — by Hollywood standards — $300,000 budget.

Directed and produced by Todd Huffman of California-based Pipeline Digital Media, the documentary chronicles the story of Penton, an Amherst native whose legendary career with motorcycles began at a cycle shop he opened in 1950.

Penton soon was competing in rugged off-road motorcycle competitions known as Enduro.

Winning contests in several states, he broke the world speed record on a BMW bike in 1958 during a trip from New York City to Los Angeles that took about 52 hours.

Penton’s lightweight motorcycles, first built by Austrian manufacturer KTM, revolutionized the sport, said his son, Jack Penton, who stood in for his 88-year-old dad in scenes recreating John Penton’s competitive riding days that were filmed in June 2013 in Lorain County.

Parts of the film also were shot in more exotic locales in Austria and Italy.

The film’s budget was raised by donations from 500-plus people, Huffman, and motorcycle industry sponsors.

“Penton: The John Penton Story” is narrated by Grammy-winning country singer Lyle Lovett, himself a longtime fan of Penton and his motorcycles.

The film had its Cleveland premiere in June at the Ohio Theatre in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square.

The film is being released theatrically by Gathr Films, a small film distributor.

“We’ve got 10 days to make the showing possible,” Barck said.

Tickets may be purchased at the Gathr website.

If the required 100 seats are not sold, those who do buy tickets will have their money refunded, according to the theater.

If that happens, Barck said he would try to get the movie screened in Amherst.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or

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