legends…

So I had the pleasure of attending the 73rd annual Trailblazers banquet over the weekend, an event that brings together a virtual who’s-who in motorcycling and honors those who have made legendary contributions to the motorcycling lifestyle. Along with the ceremonies, great food & drink, and the annual Hall of Fame inductions there’s a bike show like no other where the legends in motorcycling bring out their prized machines and compete for bragging rights as “best in show” at this prestigious event. For those who have attended this event, the best way I can describe the experience is sensory overload. Here are few highlights…
The Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show…70 of the most iconic machines in the motorcycle world – each with a VERY unique story and history.

How often have you seen a Wankel powered Hercules?…

…almost makes it’s Norton cousin seem “common” (okay, not really).

Nice old iron-head Sportie…

Beautiful Triumph X-75 Hurricane co-designed by Craig Vetter…one of my favorite motorcycles.

Racing legends everywhere you look – here we see Larry Langely talking story with “Fast” Eddie Mulder…

Yet another beautiful vintage XL
BSA Gold Star….you can almost hear it.

Nice relatively contemporary Classic – 1982 Kawasaki GPz750

Norton Commando…always wanted one – haven’t had one…yet.

The infamous Joe Bonnello happily posing for a quick photo – as Larry Langley “photo-bombs” the otherwise happy moment.

There were several Flat Track and TT racing machines – each with their own place in history.

Speaking of Maicos…. Old Maico Riders tend to converge at such events…here, I discuss bad decisions and jetting with Super Hunky. Conversation went something like this: Me: Hi Rick, I’m a big fan – you’ve been my literary hero for most of my life! Rick: Oh God – you didn’t actually buy into any of it did you?…did you ever buy a Maico? Me: Yes – Alpha 490. Still have it. Rick: Sit down, we need to talk.

Roadracing was represented as well – how about Dick Mann’s BSA?…

This was my favorite in show 1971 Yamaha JT1 – who else started out on one o these?…

…turned out the owner of that little JT1 was none other than my friend Moto Film Producer/Director Todd Huffman. His Dad Larry “Motor-mouth” Huffman was in attendance as well.

There were a few that brought back vivid memories…

Ran into Moto Film Director/Producer legend Peter Starr. He discussed his latest project with me. We also discussed his long term field testing of the shock I tuned for him on his V-Strom.

…and speaking of unique English imports – there was this beast!

And the American innovators brought out their iron as well!

…and of course a few pseudo-American classics (Spaghetti-Westerns shall we say)…
Some bikes tell their story at a glance…

Here I am with Trailblazer Hall of Fame inductee Norm McDonald…we go back some 30 years. Truly a motorsport legend in so many ways. As co-founder of K&N Engineering he has helped countless racers in all aspects of motor racing. K&N cycles was the first US importer and distributor of Yamaha motorcycles. At that shop, he hired a young racer named Malcolm Smith and sat him on a path to a legendary career of his own. As a Racer, Norm was a hole-shot master. My favorite quote from the evening was when Malcolm told the story of Norm’s hole-shot skills, Malcolm said “So I asked Norm how he always got the hole-shot and Norm said “I start the starter – don’t wait for the flag to drop, make him drop it””

The show was awesome, and the crowd even more so – the stories…the bench-racing…the memories…all epic.

But it was time to make our way into the Banquet hall for the ceremonies. There were 75 tables at the sold out event – each with one or more racing & industry legend sitting at it. The MC duties were shared by Don Emde and Keith Mashburn, with some help from Tom White. I didn’t take many pictures during the proceedings as it not only didn’t seem appropriate, there were professional pictures being taken. So I’m betting you can find those on the Trailblazers website (link at beginning of the story). All I can say is if you’re a motorcyclist and you have an opportunity to attend this event – DO IT!

Group picture of all the Trailblazer Hall of Famers in attendance…

…while the ceremonious commenced inside, the mechanical Hall of Famers held court in the courtyard….if you listen closely you can hear the tales of GLORY…

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