Poteets go Russian in classic motorcycle

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Unique bike with side car purchased to ride

By Ron Benningfield

Doug and Sandy Poteet of Hodgenville have been turning a lot of eyes this summer as they drive through the streets of town and nearby countryside.

Actually, they’re not causing the double takes so much as the vehicle they’re riding – an olive drab Russian military motorcycle complete with side car and red stars.

“It’s a DNEPR (pronounced D-KNEE-PRO) Model MT 16, produced in Kiev, Ukraine, the same model used in the Indiana Jones movie with Sean Connery as his father,” said Poteet, who lives on Eugenia Avenue in Hutcherson Heights.

Although he is still trying to find out how old the motorcycle is, he believes it was probably built in the early '70s. The design is taken from the pre-World War II German BMW motorcycle, according to research he has done.

“It’s made sturdy, for off-road riding, and the sidecar also has a drive wheel,” he added.

Poteet, a 1978 LaRue County High School graduate, has taught automotive and diesel technology at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College since 1994, but his interest in military items goes back to when he was 16.

“That’s sort of what’s got me going into collecting military items,” he said.

Over the years, he has acquired a 1952 Jeep painted in army green, a replica of the M16 rifle, army helmets, inoperative hand grenades and many other military items.

“I’ve even inspired my neighbor who painted his dune buggy olive drab like WWII,” he said.

Poteet came across a picture of the DNEPR while searching the Internet.

“I liked the picture of it, and called its owner, Yuri Diatchenko, who lives in Cleveland, Ohio,” he said.

After agreeing on a price, which Poteet generalized as “neither too cheap, nor too high, but in the thousands,” Diatchenko delivered the cycle to Hodgenville on a truck.

“He arrived here about 11 o’clock at night, and I think we woke up the whole neighborhood as I checked it out,” Poteet said. “Yuri, who has been in America for 18 years, was so interesting that we talked for hours before he left.”

The cycle appeared to be in good condition and with his mechanic’s skills, Poteet has tweaked it so that the 32-horsepower machine roars, but like a relatively tame lion.

“Yuri asked me where I would be driving it and I told him just locally, around town,” said Poteet. “He told me that was good, because I shouldn’t try a trip to the Smokies on it.”

He views the motorcycle as much more than transportation, though.

“It’s got character,” he said. “I enjoy driving it, and Sandy enjoys riding in the side car.”

Though his vehicle won third place for oldest metric motorcycle at this year’s LaRue County Fair, Poteet, who has had it since spring, declares he didn’t purchase it just as a showpiece.

“I enjoy watching people wave and smile as we pass them along the road,” he said. “It makes me happy when I see that it’s giving them enjoyment, too.”

His love of military memorabilia is even more important for him now that his two sons – Kirk 25, and Wesley, 24 – both with the National Guard at Glasgow, have told him they’re going active into the regular army.

With thoughts on honoring his sons, Poteet said that he and his wife plan to enter both his Jeep and DNEPR in the Lincoln Days parade.