Photos People
Oak Okleshen
Where do I start........

It starts with the question HOW I got into BMW's.
Back in the early 70's I went to get a set of
leathers fitted up at the then Sharold Leathers in
Homewood Illinois. I had just planked some
$$$ down on a New Full Dress Harley. During
the fitting process, Harold Hall-the man of the
house said to me-Hey Oak-before you go get
that hog, why don't you look at a BMW. I said "
What's a BMW? " Didn't know it from Adam.
Then he tells me he has one in the garage and
would I want to look at it. In reality, I didn't. But
not to offend him, I said-" sure, let's go take a
look". Out there in the corner was this all black
shiny 1972 R75/5. I took one look at it and my
engineering brain took over, lighting up like a
Christmas tree. The drive shaft with the jugs
sticking out for low center of gravity with
excellent balance and cooling immediately
caused me extreme interest. Then I started to
ask a lot of questions and learned they were
made in Germany. The final question was-
where is there a dealer around here?? At that
time it was in Alsip Illinois-116th and Pulaski
Road. Went over there, took one look then went
back to the Harley dealer and cancelled the
order in favor of a new BMW. The rest is history.
I was more interested in taking
the machine apart to see what
made it tick than riding it. It
became a pet project and at one
time I tore it all down and
displayed it for the Chicago
Region club at a clinic held at
the company back in Dec 1982.
The part were all spread out on
a pingpong table for all to see.
There is a photograph album I
have of this display (and would
gladly bring it to an airheads get
together for the curiosity
seekers ) that shows closeup
views in 5 x 7 format.
I had already joined and been a member of the
Chicago Region BMW Owner's Association and on
the tech committee. Pretty soon letters of request for
help started coming in and in following the need I
became tech editor for the BMW Owner's News,
writing tech articles and answering letters eventually
totalling in the thousands. Every letter is still on file.
Locally I chaired the Chicago club tech committee
and ended up writing publications and organizing
clinics of various sorts. In the interim process I had
attended service school at the factory as an unusual
courtesy not granted to those outside the dealer
network, as a gesture of appreciation in helping the
BMW community, manytimes dealers and factory
personnel with tech matters, as well as the riders. My
prior employment and experiences with IIT Research
Institute and present work as Plant Engineer with a
steel roll manufacturing facility, coupled with my
innate curiosity on what makes these machines tick
ended up the perfect combination to keep the
impetus going with technical matters. I never ceased
interest in these machine of fascinating, near perfect
and pragmatic design.
In the past over 2 decades I had
been fortunate to attend factory BWM
service school for ongoing needs
and new models that have surfaced
over the years. It is a rare courtesy
that is provided to me to this day and
presently I am as certified technician
many times over. About 4 or 5 years
ago I was awarded the prestigious "
Friend of the Marque" award that
goes only to 1 member per major
club per country per year and is not
always given out. The recipient must
be reviewed and approved by the
international council of BMW clubs,
the BMW factory Gmbh, and BMW of
North America.
The interest continually increased over the
years and assistance now goes out to the
BMWMOA, BMWRA, and the Airheads since
their inception where most of my present
activity involves. But letters still come in from
all areas, -worldwide, and the activity
continues to grow. Soon now at the age of 70
I will have to retire from paid employment to
have more time available for the unpaid BMW
affairs that never cease to be exciting. Call it
insanity if you will, but it is a nice way to go!!
The rewards of meeting the neat folks who
ride BMW's and share their experiences in
concert with the Airheads canons makes life
achieving. Thanks of course must go to my
wonderful wife Carol ( aka " Tiger" ) who
lovingly puts up with me and my crazy ways,
assists in time of need, and enjoys riding
backsaddle to the events. Without her silent
and willing support, the assistance to others
would not be possible.........Oak
Oak's Machine
Bungies for holding folding chair
Oak in his beloved folding chair. Ed neglected
to bring his own and had to impose on the host.
coppyright 2003 john branstrom
all rights reserved
Photo Sal Lombardo