Mike Brown works on a custom bike at Amen Chassis Works near Rogersville. The shop will soon be renovated into a functioning bike fabrication shop/ TV studio. Times-News file photo.
ROGERSVILLE — One of the most creative minds in the world of original motorcycle design will be going prime time in 2009 with a new Fox Sports TV show filmed on location at the Amen Chassis Works in Hawkins County.
Rogersville native Mike Brown’s motorcycles have appeared on TV and national magazines, and one of his original creations is currently on display at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark. He’s even got a bike that will appear in the movie “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which will be released next June.
Beginning this March, however, Brown’s Amen Chassis Works shop, located just west of Rogersville, will be converted into a TV studio to begin filming his new show, “What Would Mike Do?”
In the show Brown will shepherd about a dozen “gear head” students as they build several unique creations over the course of 13 episodes.
The show is scheduled to begin airing nationwide on the various Fox Sports networks beginning in June.
In a way it’s a contest, and there will be prizes for the best students. But the biggest prize will likely be obtaining knowledge, experience and approval from a bona fide master. The idea is to build a new motorcycle and then build a matching hauler for the new bike.
“We build a bike, and then we build a crazy machine to put the motorcycle into,” Brown said. “People look at me as a motorcycle guy, and I am, but that’s what I do for a living. For this show I said, let’s do something different.
“The effect I’m looking for is to drive up in this cool rig, and you get a lot of ooohs and ahhhs and everybody is blown away, but nobody knows that there’s a motorcycle inside. Then I’ll pull a trigger and a door opens and the motorcycle slides out of the back end, and we blow them away again.”
The motorcycles will be originals, while the haulers will be transformed from existing vehicles.
The starting point for one hauling vehicle is an Eagle Motorcoach, which Brown wants to transform into a hauler that looks like a Space Shuttle.
He’ll also make haulers out of a 1939 Lincoln Zephyr and a 1957 Volkswagen panel bus.
“There will have to be a motorcycle built for each one of those too — kind of a matching pair — so we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Brown said.
And that’s not including work that is about to begin on his shop.
When the renovation is completed it will be a functioning bike fabrication shop built into a TV studio, Brown said.
“Basically I’m tearing the building out and pouring concrete next week to build the studio portion of it,” Brown said. “I’m going to open it up some so we’ve got a good way to pan a camera and really take a good look at the whole studio. It will be a working studio, that’s for sure.”
Brown has already picked out five contestants. Other hopefuls interested in being on the show are welcome to apply at his shop or call him at 272-6000.
A word of caution, though.
Only serious “gear heads” need apply. Brown is known for working long hours with little sleep, and his students must be prepared to keep up with his pace.
He sometimes works until he runs out of energy and just sits down on the floor of his shop to take a nap. He scared his wife one time when she walked in on one of his floor naps and feared the worst. Another time one of his helpers drew a chalk outline around his sleeping body on the concrete floor.
He’s not going to work his students to death, but they will have to be dedicated.
“I’m looking for a can-do attitude,” Brown said. “I can teach them anything if the attitude is good and right. They have to be willing to spend some time and get dirty.”
His goal is to auction off the bikes and haulers built on the show and donate the proceeds to charity, minus the amount it cost to build them. He just wants to get his original investment back so he can “do it again” in season two.
Brown said a promotional video made with the help of Kingsport-based Revma Media played a big role in helping him sell the show to Fox.
The promo can be seen at www.revmamedia.com under the heading “Television and Media Production” — although the concept of the show has changed a bit since the promo was filmed.