No fluke: Carotenuti claims second bike show title

Thomas “Tommy” Carotenuti of TNT Motorsports in Kensington recently won first place for the second year in a row at the Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show, held annually in Daytona Beach.

Last year, Carotenuti won with a “radical” bike – a fully customized “chopper” class machine built entirely from scratch. Radical class bikes feature extensive customized parts, with few, if any, parts repurposed from other motorcycles.

Winning two years in a row proves “it’s definitely not a fluke,” Carotenuti said.

Carotenuti has kept his finger on the pulse of what’s hot. Last year, radical-class bikes were highly popular, but this year, the bagger-class featured 126 bikes, while “there were only nine radicals,” Carotenuti said.

The 2014 competition included custom bikes designed by entrants from Australia, Japan, Brazil, and Indonesia.

The bagger “is the trend right now,” because this bike class “can jump on the highway,” while the radical-class bikes are more limited to “trips around town,” Carotenuti explained.

The Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Shows are world-renowned, with competitions held in Italy, Germany, France, Sweden, Canada, and throughout the United States.

Carotenuti is a self-taught mechanic.

“I started fixing things in the shop when I was 11,” he said.

Carotenuti has worked on just about anything with a motor, including tractors, ATVs, snowmobiles, and lawn mowers.

“My father never said no to a job. If you have the money to fix something, we’ll fix it,” he said.

The flame-decorated bagger that won this year’s competition features a high attention to detail. The intricate flame-inspired design in the wheel is echoed in other custom metal parts on the side of the bike.

Some of the parts were shipped out to be diamond-cut using a patented manufacturing process that utilizes a laser to etch a diamond-like shape into the metal.

“It makes those parts shine like a diamond in the sunlight,” Carotenuti said.

Carotenuti hopes to bring home a win next year in the radical bagger class. It will take the entire year to design and build the bike. This year’s bike took more than 3,000 hours to create.

“The design is in my head,” said Carotenuti, who created fiberglass molds and parts right at TNT Motorsports. “We do everything here but paint it,” he said.

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