Juris Ramba 1

Juris Ramba, Historic Motorcycle Enthousiast.

Juris is a remarkable man, stubborn even, especially when it comes to motorcycles.
We first made contact in 1986 via the UK Classic Bike people, this was when everything was forbidden under the Soviet rules. Located in Latvia, which back then was part of the Soviet Union, Juris found it almost impossible (but not insurmountable) to pursue his hobby of restoring old motorcycles, foreign money transfer was forbidden at that time so it was very difficult to get anything done and everything was made of unobtainium.

Well, motorcyclists don’t take kindly to restrictions of any kind!
So it was we continued to communicate, even though more than half of our letters went “missing” so we decided to number our correspondences, Juris joked that in winter they just burnt them to keep warm! … and it seems they did as only half our letters found their destinations! This page is to reflect on this mans determination, kindness, good humour and enthusiasm, of which there are no bounds!

Here is a short highlight on Juris Ramba
From the start it was a hard struggle to get recognition for the the Antique Automobile Club of Latvia (AAK), which was founded in 1972, and a Vintage Motorcycle Section (SMS) quickly rose like a Phoenix from the ashes.
The biggest motorcycle event in Latvia during the “Iron Curtain” years was organized in Riga in 1985 to celebrate the centenary of the motorcycle. Juris Ramba, the chief organizer of the rally, managed to involve the USSR motorcycle industry and the Ministry of Road Transport of Latvia. Nine motorcycle plants from all over the USSR sent their teams with old and modern machines to Riga, making it a unique and very
interesting event. It was also of great value to the Riga Motor Museum, resulting in new
contacts being made with the right people in the industry – this led directly to later acquisitions of unique racing machines which can now be inspected there. Juris worked tirelessly to see the Centre Mezciems Riga Motor Museum come to fruition, a massive undertaking. Juris was the museum’s first curator, which also houses a large vehicle restoration facility and workshops. It has one of the most impressive collections in the
world and is certainly worth a visit if you are travelling to Riga in Latvia. As chief organizer of several important vintage rallies in the past “Iron Curtain” times, Juris Ramba well remembers the days when there were no such things as mobile phones, e-mails, websites or even faxes – the only communication options with fellow enthusiasts and prospective participants in the rest of the world were by written letters and telex/cable messages. Phone calls to the Western world had to be ordered a day in
advance (!) and were not always delivered. Yet all these hardships were overcome by enthusiasm and goodwill. A strong advocate of International Vintage Rallies, Juris hosted the following events:

  • RIGA-85 – the Centenary of the Motorcycle
  • RIGA-88 – the International Riga Motor Museum Inauguration
  • RIGA-90
  • RIGA-92 – the first International Rally after Latvia became independent.
  • The Round Kurland Historic Motorcycle Rally 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.

This rally is dedicated to the memory of Alexander Leutner, who is regarded as a true motorcycling and motoring pioneer and one of the first producers of motor vehicles in the territory of Latvia , once part of tsarist Russia.

There was no Round Kurland Rally in 2007, as Juris had hung up his coat after deciding he needed to quit in order to concentrate on his health, family, business, and his motorcycles. He was saddened that nobody would step up to take on the job of rally organiser, after all, all the hard work had been done by Juris in the preceding years.
But Juris is a purist and staunch continuator, in 2009 he once again organized the Round Kurland Rally and hopefully will find the right apprentice to assist with future rallies. We finally met in person in 1991 when I was able to host the Latvian USSR delegation during their stopover in Sydney Australia. It was very good timing we were able to attend Sydney’s largest Historic Motorcycle Racing event at Amaroo Park Raceway, which by the way, is now a housing estate.

Juris wrote in the RMOA Attendance Book:
“Neither seas, nor hills, nor man-made barriers can overcome the kamaraderie amongst motorcyclists. Thank you for your hospitality.”

Juris Ramba 1991 on his visit to Sydney, Australia
Photo: J.D. Witness: Mr Philthy Cozzack

Juris was accompanied by Valdis Kleinbergs FIM Delegate and President of the Latvian Motorsports Federation. Sadly dear Valdis passed away only a few years later. Rest In Peace Valdis, you were a great guy and it was an honour to have met you!

yes, Santa rides a USSR “C” Vostok-4! of course!

Juris and his AAK Team took the Soviet racing motorcycle Vostok-4 and a few other rare soviet machines to the IOM in an unprecedented show of friendship and support for the classic movement. He did not go un-noticed.

and to know that the “Dream Palace” came true! The largest antique car and motorcycle museum in the Baltics boasts Stalin’s ZIS 115 limousine, a Rolls Royce from the Kremlin’s collection and a Lincoln Continental given to Brezhnev by Richard Nixon. American and European gems include a pre-war Mercedes, 1942 Harley-Davidson and early-model Fords. Then there are the motorcycles and many other things. But that is not giving away any surprises! The Riga Motor Museum with its impressive Rolls Royce frontage.

Juris often wrote to me about his “Dream Palace” a motormuseum come restoration centre – this dream finally came alive with the depositing of time capsules in concrete of the construction and the opening of the Riga Motormuseum “Mezciems” was with great fanfare. I recall a conversation Juris had with my late father about “How
do you begin a business?” Juris went home and started RAMOTO, a successful engineering company. website: http://www.ramoto.lv/
In 2001 RAMOTO undertook the restoration and bronze welding of the stars of the Freedom Monument in Riga.

This is the Freedom Monument in Riga Latvia
Juris with son Roberts with the restored stars of the monument

We all value our freedom, and Juris will be the first to tell you that! I second that. I am sure you will all agree. Freedom is priceless. Juris is now well known in vintage and veteran circles around the world, and he deserves every bit of accolade and recognition!

And yes, there is a “troll” under the bridge!
The Latvian language is the hardest in the world, if you are not born to it you do not learn it. This even stumped Lucia from the Swiss World Travel Team, she only spoke more than a dozen languages, when she heard it she said “ah yes, of course!”

Priecigus Ziemsvétkus

This page is to say thank you to Juris and the Members of the AAK Motorcycle Section of Latvia. Thank You very much Juris for your friendship and for letting me pick your brain ever since about the old Russian bikes! A most sincere Thank You.

Posted by JD on the former Multiply website. Retrieved from preserved archival material by Catweazle. 😉