BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Cutting down decades worth of motorcycle racing history into just a 50-minute documentary is no easy task, but in an effort to spread awareness about Paul Schlegel’s impact in the sport, several Northwest Ohioans knew it had to be done.
With the help of Matt Bucher, the founder of Toledo Trail Riders; major film sponsor Paul Bucher; producer Todd Stanton of Todd Productions; and several others, pieces of Paul Schlegel’s story were gathered for the documentary.
Paul Schlegel: The Godfather of Motorcycle Racing is a documentary about the man who advocated for every genre of motorcycle racing and was involved in the creation of several local and national races. The film premieres on Saturday, May 13 at 6:00 p.m. at the Maumee Indoor Theater.
The time between the idea for the documentary and its inevitable release spans only a few years, as the group knew they needed to work quickly to preserve the stories Paul Schlegel had to tell.
“You want to save that history before it’s too late,” Matt noted.
The idea for the film came as a sudden realization for Matt, who heard Paul Schlegel speak to the Toledo Trail Riders in 2019.
“We had Paul (Schlegel) talk about some stories and things and it was like a lightbulb went off. We had to do something for him,” Matt said. “He has done way too much and impacted the sport and the profession at a high level in certain genres of racing that is still going on today. We have an unknown legend in Toledo that we need to let the world know about.”
Both Matt and Paul Bucher were already familiar with Todd Stanton’s work at Todd Productions, so when Matt reached out to him, they knew they had already found the right people to bring the idea to fruition.
“I had heard these guys nerd out about motorcycles and I’m not into motorcycles, so I thought if I could make it entertaining to me, I could make it entertaining to anybody,” Stanton said about joining the project. “I think we’ve done that.”
After dedicating hours upon hours of his time listening and watching the footage and editing it down, Stanton became more knowledgeable about the profession and has realized the story is more than meets the eye.
“It’s a Toledo story. It’s the story of a guy who took chances that affect more than just Toledo, too,” Stanton added. “For business owners, it shows how simple it is to just take a chance and I think it’s a story for everybody.”
As a fellow business owner, Paul Bucher wasn’t prepared for just how much he would learn from the documentary process and Schlegel’s entrepreneurship.
“As business owners, we take risks and we hope that it flies, but having the imagination to see the big picture and what this could become, I don’t know how he did that … so much of what he did became much larger than him and probably what he could have thought,” he said.
It might be a bit cliché, but it’s the story of the often referenced American dream, Stanton acknowledged.
Schlegel persevered through whatever hardships life threw at him, he fought for what he wanted and he kept working for the betterment of his community.
“He created events that would bring people in to spend money in these communities,” Stanton said.
He then achieved more than most would have even thought possible. Many of those achievements are outlined in the film.
From his involvement in co-founding what is known now as the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch to his work with Delta Raceway and the Lima Half-Mile race, the documentary provides a highlight reel of his achievements to appeal to professionals and amateurs in the sport, too.
“There’s certain segments of our genre that do know about him, but more people need to know him,” Matt said. “A lot of people don’t know everything he did.”
When learning more from Schlegel, Matt was impressed by the commitment Schlegel had to every genre of the sport and how he championed races and clubs for professionals and amateurs alike.
“I want the audience to learn something. I want them to admire Paul and I’d like people to leave inspired by Paul,” Matt said.
As for Paul Bucher, he hopes attendees understand that risks are a part of life and it’s important to persevere for yourself, your community and your business.
That’s why it’s a story everyone needs to hear, the trio said.
“We’re excited to get this out into the world and tell his story,” Matt said.
Tickets for the movie can be purchased on the Maumee Indoor Theater’s website at maumeeindoor.com. Tickets are $12.00 per person.
The Maumee Indoor Theater is located at 601 Conant St. The event begins at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 13.