The restaurant is no longer there, but the motorcycle brand is going strong.
The date was June 26, 1997. On a beautiful, sunny summer day, invited guests arrived at the Mall of America for a mid-morning press conference hosted by Polaris. Guests rode escalators to the fourth floor, site of the Planet Hollywood restaurant.
A large team of Polaris employees wearing black staff shirts with the Victory logo welcomed guests. Multiple speakers made presentations, including Matt Parks, then General Manager of the Victory Motorcycle Division, which Polaris had introduced on February 19, 1997.
But the presenters were overshadowed by the powerful presence of the first Victory motorcycle most of those on hand had ever seen.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Polaris product endorser Al Unser, Jr., rode the bike in from the rear of the restaurant. It was an Antares Red and Black prototype version of the first Victory model, the V92C, a classic cruiser.
Most engineering and development work on the original Victory model was being done at the Polaris facility in Osceola, Wisconsin. On June 27, selected members of the motorcycle media – primarily magazine editors since the internet was in its infancy – traveled to Osceola to learn more about the V92C and get their first rides on the bike.
That’s right: Bike, singular. There was one prototype that was close to being cosmetically correct – the bike Unser had ridden into the restaurant. So the editors were allowed to ride the bike after receiving strongly worded warnings to be careful.
Al Unser, Jr., rode a V92C prototype into the Planet Hollywood at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, in June 1997.
Two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser, Jr., rode a V92C at an event in Florida in the brand’s first year.