Inside the confines of the Motorcycle Palace, Aubrey Pancake rebuilds the engine of a classic 1963 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Pancake continues to turn wrenches and twist nuts and bolts – just like he’s done since his childhood days in rural Jones County, Ga.
These days, Pancake is a legend in the area when it comes to restoring, rebuilding and repairing Harleys.
His Martinez repair shop has been a fixture on Wheeler Road near Flowing Wells Road since 1976.
His business is an independent repair shop for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and Pancake makes it clear he has no formal ties with the company.
“I only fix Harleys,” said the 74-year-old.
Having developed a strong work ethic growing up as one of four children in rural James, Ga., Pancake said it’s no accident his business has thrived.
“My father always made sure we kids always had something to do around the house,” Pancake said. “He would give me tools to play with. That’s when I started tinkering with bicycles, lawn mowers, radios and old cars around the yard.”
While in high school, Pancake joined the Army Reserve and eventually joined the Navy Reserve. He later worked as an aircraft technician at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Ga., and served as an avionics instructor at Fort Gordon, he said.
Pancake’s father worked as an electrical engineer who wired residential and commercial structures, including cotton gins and sawmills.
Retired golf course manager Red Price, 72, is Pancake’s longtime friend and visits the shop when he has spare time.
“I’d say it’s his honesty, fairness and integrity that has kept him in business all these years,” Price said.
In May, Pancake and his wife, Nell, will celebrate 50 years of marriage. His wife helped get the business off to a good start.
“When he first started the business at home, I’d help him unhook parts from engines, clean them up and sort them in the yard for him to repair,” she said.
Pancake’s adult daughters, Teresa Pancake-Durand and Sheila Huffman, worked at the shop as teenagers. Mike Durand, Pancake’s son-in-law, said it’s an honor helping to keep the family legacy intact.
“I’ve learned so much from Pancake,” said Durand, who works at the shop as a mechanic. “Because of our location near I-20, we get customers from all over and if they need road assistance, he never hesitates to help.”
Since experiencing some health-related setbacks in recent years, Pancake said he’s considering retiring.
“It’s just about time to slow down and do some other things,” he said.