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Mel Dinesen: 2015 Trailblazers Hall of Fame Inductee - Monday, Jan 26 2015




Mel Dinesen, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 93, had been a motorcycle dealer in Bakersfield, CA. dating back to 1950 where he sold Indian into the 1980s with Yamaha, Hodaka and other brands.

He first made headlines as a race tuner in 1960 when 16-year old Eddie Mulder won the famed Big Bear Grand Prix on one of his Royal Enfields. Dinesen went on to sponsor numerous riders from central and southern California in dirt track racing and roadracing with Ron Pierce, a young Bakersfield rider. Ron won numerous AFM and AMA races for Mel which earned him a spot on the Yamaha factory team beginning in 1968.

Trailblazers President Don Emde took over the saddles of Mel Dinesen’s race bikes in 1969. That summer Emde won the AMA Novice National race at Indianapolis, Indiana as well as winning the overall AFM #1 plate. In 1970 Emde won the 100-mile 250cc National race at Talladega, Alabama, and in 1972, history was made when he won the Daytona 200 on the Mel Dinesen-sponsored and tuned 350cc Yamaha. It was the first time that a two-stroke had ever won the 200, as well as a first for Yamaha. It was also the smallest engine size to ever win the event, beating private and factory entered machines up to 750cc. All this was achieved on a motorcycle that was privately entered and tuned by a motorcycle dealer.

The Trailblazers remember Mel Dinesen and welcome him into our Hall of Fame.




Chris Carter: 2015 Hall of Fame Inductee - Wednesday, Jan 14 2015





Chris Carter was born in Palo Alto, California on April 23, 1951. His life on two wheels began, like many others, with a Schwinn Stingray bicycle which he used for his paper route. Every day he’d pedal by some neighborhood kids riding dirt bikes in a vacant lot. After hanging around long enough the boys let him have a turn and Chris was hooked on dirt bike riding.

Saving his money allowed Chris to buy his own bike in 1965, a Honda Scrambler, which he used to trail ride around the open lands of his northern California home. Soon the paper route was replaced by a job as a “Gunk brush” at a local dealership, A & A Motors. At the time future great riders like Kenny Roberts, Jim Odom and Mark Brelsford were launching their careers out of the same shop. Still a teenager, Chris used to cut school on Fridays to drive these riders’ bikes down south so they could race Friday nights at Ascot.

Soon the Honda Scrambler was replaced by a Greeves and Chris began racing in local off-road and motocross events. By 1970 he was racing in the Trans-Am Series on a pre-production Yamaha DT2MX which had been supplied to A&A. Traveling with Gary Jones, Chris got to see a lot of the country and hone his riding skills. Soon Yamaha hired Chris as a test rider for their off-road development program. Next Chris qualified for the International Six Day Trials (ISDT), an event he would compete in until 1977. He won a Gold Medal in Austria in 1976 and won the final motocross special test.



By this time he was working at Rocky Cycle where he would eventually become the West Coast Sales Manager. In 1984 a Taiwan-based cable company asked Chris if he would be interested in representing its brand in the United States. He decided that if he were ever to start his own business, this was his opportunity. Chris suggested he become their exclusive distributor rather than agent. They agreed, and Motion Pro was born. Cables were a problem for most dealers back then with multiple part numbers for the same cable, discontinued part numbers, poor packaging, etc. Chris redesigned the whole business making the packaging and identification of his product easier for distributors and dealers to inventory, use and determine correct application, even color coding them red for Honda, green for Kawasaki, and so on. This was just the beginning of the many innovations in products, parts, specialty tools, etc. that have made Motion Pro one of the most successful aftermarket companies in the world today, celebrating more than 30 years in business.

But Chris’s involvement with the sport and the industry goes far beyond his business. He simply loves motorcycles and everything about the sport, the people, and the whole culture. He still rides and tests new products, and gives back in every phase of motorcycling. For example, Motion Pro is the official tool sponsor for the American World Trophy and Junior World Trophy Teams. Motion Pro supports virtually every professional Dirt Track racer in the USA, and also works with Supercross, Road Racing, Motocross and off-road racing teams.

Chris is a historian of the sport, sponsoring a book on Honda’s Dirt Track history, as well as collecting many important vintage motorcycles once ridden by Hall-of-Famers like Don Emde, Bubba Shobert, and Preston Petty. He also serves on the AMA Hall of Fame Museum Board of Directors and supports many charitable and nonprofit organizations like the Blue Ribbon Coalition, the California Off-Road Vehicle Association, CRISTA Camps, the Trail Preservation Alliance, and Riders for Health, Oasis for Kids and many more.

Truly, Chris Carter is an inspiration to the sport and the industry he loves. The TrailBlazers proudly welcomes Chris Carter to the 2015 Hall of Fame!



Lucile Flanders Award

Because of his lifetime dedication to the sport, industry, culture, and history of almost every aspect of motorcycling Chris Carter is also receiving the inaugural “Lucile Flanders Award,” named after the late-Lucile Flanders, matriarch of the Flanders Company for many years after the passing of her husband Earl Flanders. Lucile’s involvement in the motorcycle industry and also the Trailblazers dated back to the early days of motorcycling. She was a great supporter of the sport throughout her life. The TrailBlazers proudly honor Chris with this award for his outstanding efforts as a rider, sponsor, businessman, historian, and philanthropist.

Thad Wolff: 2015 TrailBlazers Hall of Fame Inductee - Tuesday, Jan 06 2015


Mark you calendars! Tickets go on sale on the Trailblazers website January 1st! Most of you will recall how quickly the seats sold out last year. If you don’t want to get left out this time, set your alarm clocks New Year’s Eve and order as soon as possible on or after January 1st. The website is at: www.trailblazersmc.com and the form will be easy to find on the Home Page to order either individual tickets ($70 each), or a full table of ten for $700.00. CLICK HERE TO ORDER TICKETS!!
Note: if you are ordering multiple tickets, including a full table, it works best if you have the names of all those attending, and their email addresses. Included with every ticket is a Trailblazers membership -- which includes being added to the email list to receive our email blasts and bulletins. Until we get a name and email address we will not be able to add them.
At the banquet, we will as usual be honoring some deserving Trailblazers members. In addition to the new inductee Walt Axthelm that we posted recently, another inductee will be Thad Wolff.  
  





Thad Wolff: 2015 TrailBlazers Hall of Fame Inductee

Thad Wolff was born in Los Angeles in 1959 and has lived in nearby Thousand Oaks his whole life. One day, a neighbor’s father offered to take Thad to a motorcycle race nearby and the event changed his life. The race was the Trans-Am and Thad climbed a tree to watch Torsten Hallman, Joel Robert and, Roger DeCoster dominate the American riders.


From that moment Thad wanted a motorcycle of his own. His hard-working family believed in earning things yourself, so Thad mowed lawns, washed windows and delivered newspapers until he had enough to purchase a Mini-Trail 50 in 1969.

Other bikes would follow for occasional trips to the desert and a chance to ride local Motocross every now and then. Even though he was only able to race a hand full of times, he still won a few junior Motocross events. When Thad turned 15-1/2 he got his drivers license and a street legal bike, a Honda SL100. Then, an article in Cycle Magazine inspired Thad to try Roadracing. He purchased a used Yamaha RD350 and went to Ontario Motor Speedway where he lined up against more than 50 other bikes in the production class. From that moment his full focus went to Roadracing and success came fast. In 1979 Thad won the 410 Production Class Championship in the California AFM Championship.

As his Roadracing career started to take off, another life-changing moment happened when Thad got a phone call from Cycle Magazine editor Phil Shilling. Shilling needed a rider for a magazine photo shoot and Thad had the skills to wheelie a Kawasaki 175 through the river at Indian Dunes. This was his chance to ride and get paid, so Thad accepted the additional role of photo model when he wasn’t racing.

With some modest sponsorship Thad went AMA Roadracing and won the Novice Championship in 1980. In 1981 he jumped from Novice 250cc Champion to Expert status and took a Superbike and Formula 1 support ride with the Yoshimura Suzuki Team as the number rider 2 behind Wes Cooley. He scored two F1 podiums that year in Superbike and F1 racing against Wes Cooley, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey.

All the while he was racing for Yoshimura Suzuki, Thad’s photo riding in the magazines got noticed by Honda, who hired him to ride their bikes for a series of television commercials and other advertising. Some might’ve called it a conflict, but Thad was able juggle and separate his racing life and his advertising life well enough that both companies were happy with his work.

In 1982, Thad finished 8th in the Daytona 200 riding a 500cc Suzuki RG500 two-stroke. Then, in 1983 the 1000cc Superbikes were replaced with 750s and Thad decided to concentrate on Formula 1. In the Daytona 200 he had fourth place wrapped up behind Roberts, Lawson and Spencer, but with just a few laps to go the big pink Suzuki F1 four-stroke he was riding blew sky high.
Later that season a crippling crash made Thad rethink his pro racing career. When he healed up, he decided to focus on his advertising career. Thad's last professional races were in the ABC wide world of sports Carlsbad Superbikers event with a best finish of seventh in 1982 on a Wheelsmith Maico.
With his SAG card in his wallet working for all four Japanese manufactures, he has been in over fifty TV commercials and countless brochures and ads, and more than one hundred magazine covers to his credit.


Now in his mid-50’s Thad’s passion for motorcycles continues. He has raced actively in the AHRMA Vintage series and won two National championships. He also built his own BSA Rocket Twin in 2010 to win the Premier Expert class at the Catalina Grand Prix off-road race. Thad is also an electric motorcycle pioneer and holds a world record, for travelling coast to coast on an electric motorcycle in 84.5 hours.
For the last 10 years Thad has been involved with Dan Gurney’s All American Racers testing and promoting the innovative Alligator motorcycles. He gives back to the Roadrace community by teaching the New Racer Program at Willow Springs Raceway and is also the west coast Chairman of the Daytona 200 monument founded by Dick Klamfoth. His greatest passion is as a member of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, personally collecting, restoring and riding many classic and antique bikes to help preserve motorcycling’s past.

The TrailBlazers proudly welcome Thad Wollf to the 2015 Hall of Fame.

Walt Axthelm: 2015 TrailBlazers Hall of Fame Inductee - Sunday, Dec 28 2014


SAVE THE DATE! The 71st Trailblazers banquet will be held at the Carson Center in Carson, CA on Saturday, April 11th. Tickets will go on sale online at www.trailblazersmc.com beginning January 1st. The banquet sold out quickly last year, so don’t get left out.

As always, there will some notable motorcyclists being honored and in the coming weeks and months we will be featuring them here. Our first honoree is Walt Axthelm.

Walt Axthelm: 2015 TrailBlazers Hall of Fame Inductee

Walt Axthelm was born in Upland, Pennsylvania, in 1933. His family moved to Southern California when he was 14 years old and Walt soon got a junior motor license and his first motorbike, a Schwinn-bicycle-framed Whizzer. His first races were against his buddies who had Whizzers and scooters of their own. He loved to ride and in the afternoons he would go down to the L.A. riverbed and practice until dark. When Walt was 17 he began racing his first true motorcycle, a rigid-framed Royal Enfield.

One of his first races was the 1951 Big Bear Grand Prix. It was a wet year and the mud built up so thick under the rear fender it locked up Walt’s rear wheel. So, he removed the fender and finished the 180-mile race.

He continued to ride Scrambles and other off-road events and quickly became one of the leading off-road racers in Southern California. His first sponsored ride came in 1954 when he was backed by Louie Thomas’ BSA shop in Los Angeles. Riding a BSA Gold Star Scrambler in 1955, Walt earned the District 37 number 1 plate.

For off-road racers like Walt, the Catalina Grand Prix was the high point of the racing season on the West Coast. In 1956, Axthelm won Saturday’s featured 50-mile race and then scored second to Chuck Minert in Sunday’s 100-mile final. No one was allowed to practice on the once-a-year Catalina course, but Walt was a smart racer. He volunteered to be on the hay bale crew so he could drive around the course (setting hay bales) and at the same time plan his races for the weekend.

By the early 1960s, Walt moved from riding the big four-strokes to the lighter, more nimble two-strokes. He began riding Jawas and CZs and that led to an opportunity to compete in the ISDT. The U.S. Jawa importer helped set up the trip to Austria for Axthelm. He was only the third American to ever compete in the Six Days. Walt went back to the ISDT with the American team several times in the 1960’s, pioneering the way for the successful USA teams of the present.

Walt was also one of the pioneering motocross riders in Southern California in the 1960s. He’d had direct exposure to European motocross, having ridden on some of the tracks as a guest of Jawa when he went over to Europe. As a result he became one of the early proponents of motocross racing in the USA and participated in many of the earliest motocross events in America, including the Inter-Am races put on by Edison Dye.

As his career progressed, Axthelm specialized in the long-distance off-road races of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, such as the Baja 1000, the Parker 400, and the Tecate GP. Walt also raced and tested some of Suzuki’s early TM250 off-road prototypes. He later worked with R&D for Kawasaki, racing for the factory in desert races.

By 1980, Axthelm was in his late-40s and decided to retire from off-road racing and focus on his engineering career.  He had done enough for the sport to be inducted in the AMA Hall of Fame in 2001.

But his career on two-wheels wasn’t over. After gaining a lot of weight in his job as a contract engineer for Boeing, Walt bought a mountain bike to “get back in shape.” The racer inside Walt was still alive and the skills he’d earned with thousands of hours of off-road racing transferred well to mountain bike racing. He soon became one of the nation’s top senior mountain bike racers. In 2007, he won the overall cycling jersey in the National Senior Games. In 2014 he won the overall jersey in the Huntsman World Senior Games in the 80-84 age division.

Walt’s now retired and lives in Durango, Colorado and trains almost daily for his bicycling competitions.



The TrailBlazers welcome Walt Axthelm to the 2015 Hall of Fame.

2013 TRAILBLAZERS BANQUET - Thursday, Apr 11 2013



A Note from the President:

WE'RE SOLD OUT!

If you came to the Trailblazers website to order tickets for the banquet, I am sorry to say that we are sold out for this year. This spring we will be announcing the dates and other details of our 70th annual banquet that we will have in 2014. We hope to have you join us next year.

If you have attended in the past you know that calling the event a “banquet” is not really a complete description. It’s practically a day-long event that starts in the afternoon with the annual Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show. The show, named after our dear departed friend Tom Cates, is somewhat different every year. The format is the same, but we never know what bikes are going to roll through the gate every year. People bring motorcycles without any kind of pre-appointment. The only requirement to show a bike is that you have bought a ticket for the banquet. There is no additional charge to display, and there are some nice trophies awarded. If you do bring a bike, make up a little information board explaining its history or details.

We have a nice evening program planned for you. We will be giving a toast to one of the sports most famous and prolific race photographers, the late-Walt Mahony. Not only is he being inducted into our Trailblazers Hall of Fame, but we have our traditional custom wine bottles this year featuring Walt for a special tribute to him.

There are some other great motorcyclists being honored this year, including the late Larry Bergquist, the “Desert Fox” – who had an incredible racing career in Baja and the California desert; Lori Conway – 4 times AMA Women’s District 37 #1; Jim Connolly pioneer California motocrosser who also lent his product expertise to the early motocross magazines; “Supermouth” Larry Huffman, the well-known race announcer who excited race crowds at the Costa Mesa Speedway, LA Coliseum and more; Stu Morley, once one of the famed BSA Wrecking Crew at Ascot, Buddy Stubbs, a former pro racer and movie stunt man who became a successful motorcycle dealer and collector in Arizona; and Tom White, who was also a top ranked AMA GNC pro racer at Ascot and the National circuit, then partnered with his twin brother to create and operate a motorcycle aftermarket manufacturing and distributing company. Today he spends his time keeping his private motocross museum in order, and is active in related motocross and historic programs.

Last, but not least, is Ed Kretz Jr., this year’s recipient of the Dick Hammer Award, the  Trailblazers most prestigious award. Ed lives in Colorado these days, but grew up in Southern California and is making a rare return visit here to accept his award.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Don Emde
President
Trailblazers M.C.

Sammy Tanner Gets Top Award - Friday, Sep 21 2012




The “Flying Flea” receives the Trailblazers’ top award at 68th annual banquet. Photo by Mahony Photos.

In 2000, Skip Van Leeuwen, Tom Cates and Jim Feuling came up with the idea of honoring motorcycle racing legend Dick Hammer at the Del Mar Show. Hammer, who at the time was still winning a ten-year battle with cancer, had throughout his life demonstrated a rare level of “Desire, Determination and Dedication” in everything he pursued, from racing motorcycles to his fight with cancer.

A special perpetual trophy was created and Dick was the first recipient. He was surprised with the presentation of the trophy and well pleased to have an ongoing award carrying his name as a part of the popular Del Mar motorcycle event. The following year the honors went to 1970 AMA Grand National Champion Gene Romero, followed by racing great Joe Leonard.

Motorcycle racing ended at Del Mar in 2002 however, so the idea was presented to the Trailblazers to make it a part of our annual banquet. It has not only been a part of the Trailblazers annual banquet ever since, it is the club’s highest award.

For 2012, the Trailblazers Board of Directors considered many candidates, but unanimously agreed that Sammy Tanner best lived up to the Hammer’s “Desire, Determination and Dedication” criteria and we are proud to present him the award this year.

Tanner was born in Houston, Texas in 1939. He started riding motorcycles at age 14 and soon was riding and racing Triumphs on the midwest county fair circuit. 1958 was his rookie year in AMA Pro Racing and he scored the top ½-mile points in the country, and was 6th overall in National points. He moved to California and in 1959 scored his first AMA National win at Ascot Park riding a Triumph 500 twin.

Sammy later switched to a BSA Gold Star and went on to repeat victories at the 8-Mile National three more times, as well as wins at Elkhorn, Wisc., Heidelberg, Pa. and the famed Springfield 50-Mile National in 1964. He continued racing into the 1970s, including a stint in Speedway racing, before hanging it up and devoting full time to his Sammy Tanner Distributing Company that he continues to operate today.

On Saturday, April 14th, Tanner received his award at the club’s 68th annual banquet, which drew over 600 attendees. The program also included a toast to legendary race builder and tuner Shell Thuet, who passed away in July of 2011, as well as the Trailblazers Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Jim McMurren, Dan Rouit, Eddie Lawson, Sam & Gene Dempsey, Steve Scott, Ray Tanner, Bob Sirkegian Sr. and John Rice.

The date for the 2013 Trailblazers banquet will be announced here in the near future.

TRAILBLAZERS ELECT “JOHN R” TO HALL OF FAME - Monday, Mar 26 2012

The Trailblazers Motorcycle Club has announced John Rice, better known as “John R,” as one of its 2012 Hall of Fame inductees. He joins previously announced inductees Jim McMurren, Eddie Lawson, Bob Sirkegian Sr., Dan Rouit,Steve Scott, Sam & Gene Dempsey and Ray Tanner to be honored at its 68th annual banquet on Saturday, April 14th.

John was born in 1933 in Long Beach and graduated from Jordan High School in 1954. He was married and has two daughters, Robin Capps and Tami Rice Greenhill, who is still an active motorcyclist.

Rice was, as many young men in the 1950s, very interested in motorcycles and bought his first two-wheeled ride, a Cushman scooter in 1956. That only lit a spark however and soon after he purchased a BSA 650 Golden Flash. He rode more and more and then decided to take the next step and try racing. John purchased a 350cc BSA Catalina Scrambler and was ready to go for 1957.

His first “race” was at the old Lancaster fairgrounds and didn’t go very well. John entered an enduro, not understanding that an enduro is a timed event, and as was his style, he rode wide open the whole way. Next he tried a Scrambles race at the “Rusty Nails” track in San Pedro and led the race until he got a flat tire on his BSA. Scrambles was more to his liking and soon became his favorite type of racing. He rode every Scrambles race that year, finishing 7th in the district and a very credible 5th in class at the Catalina Grand Prix.

In 1958 John joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Ord. He continued to race almost every weekend, breaking his arm at Perris when he fell and was run over by Elliott Schultz. He came up with a story that the Army would buy; however, he cut the cast off his broken arm every week and had the Army medics re-do it on Mondays. That, he says, took a lot of explaining.

At the time Fred Moxley of Lakewood BSA helped him and stored his motorcycle for him. One weekend he left the base and wasn’t going to race, but decided to go to Perris to watch and saw a young rider racing his BSA. John asked the rider what he was doing on his BSA and the rider promptly said Fred Moxley said it was okay. Thus began a friendship with Monte Darling that has lasted ever since.

John left the Army in September of 1960 and came back to Southern California and began working in the aircraft industry for a while, then motorcycles called again and he went to work for Monte Darling at Norm Best BSA in Buena Park. He stayed in the motorcycle business and later accepted an offer to work at Long Beach Honda, where he worked for the next 12 years.

At Long Beach Honda he started riding Honda 305 Super Hawks because they were faster than his BSA. He rode District 37 events every weekend and even rode Ascot Park as an AMA pro Novice in 1961 and 1962 for Norm Reeves. John decided that professional racing at Ascot was just too dangerous and wasn’t as much fun as Sportsman racing, so he returned to District 37 racing. In 1967 he got a Honda 450 twin and went to Perris to try to beat one of his heroes, Jim Hunter. He won the number one plate in the very tough 500 Expert class in 1967 and 1968.

While doing all of the Scrambles in Southern California he managed to ride Hopetown several times, eventually winning the 100cc class and the 125cc class on DKW for Ted Lapidakis. He also won the 350 and 500 Expert classes, almost winning the Open Expert on a 501 Maico, it broke while he was leading. In the last year of the Elsinore Grand Prix, while leading overall, he hit aspectator, crashed and broke his nose. He got up and went to the pits to repair the bike as best possible and ended up finishing second to Steve Hurd.

Rice also won the District 37 Perpetual Trophy for the 400 Expert class that year. The names on the trophy are a who’s who in Southern California racing history. Next he decided to try his luck at District 37 motocross and in 1969 became the number one rider in the 500 Expert class. He continued riding motocross until 1976 when he quit racing and started in another sport, endurance horse racing. In 1996 John again began racing with AHRMA Vintage Motocross on a vintage Honda. Unfortunately he broke his hip, which ended his active racing days.

John rode for, and was sponsored by Long Beach Honda, Ted Lapidakis, Frank Cooper, Norm Reeves Honda and Norm Best BSA. He has always been a serious competitor and definitely a trailblazer. He has lived in Ridgecrest, CA since 1995 and still rides off-road as often as he can and helps the Viewfinders Motorcycle Club lay out desert race courses and put on their races.
John Rice is still active in motorcycling and a true trailblazer, racer and a credit to the sport. He is one of the ironmen of early Scrambles events and motocross and a well-deserved inductee into the Trailblazers Hall of Fame. The 68th annual Trailblazers banquet will be held on Saturday, April 14th at the Carson Center in Carson, CA. The evening’s dinner and awards presentationswill follow the Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show which will begin at 3:00 pm. Tickets are on sale and going fast online at: www.trailblazersmc.com.

R.I.P. EARL ROLOFF SR. - Monday, Mar 05 2012

Celebration of Life for Earl Roloff Sr. (1927-2012)

aka: “Lefty” “The One Armed Bandit”

will be held on Saturday March 10th, 2012

from 11:00 to 3:00 at:


Southbay Motorsports

1890 Auto Park Place

Chula Vista, CA 91911


For additional info please contact Earl Roloff Jr. at earlroloff@yahoo.com

TRAILBLAZERS ELECT DEMPSEY BROTHERS TO HALL OF FAME - Monday, Mar 05 2012

The Trailblazers Motorcycle Club has announced brothers Gene and Sam Dempsey among its 2012 Hall of Fame inductees. They join previously announced inductees Jim McMurren, Eddie Lawson, Bob Sirkegian Sr., Dan Rouit, Steve Scott and Ray Tanner to be honored at its 68th annual banquet on Saturday, April 14th.

Gene (pictured above in 1961) and Sam started riding, and then racing, motorcycles in the early 1960s. At that time big British bikes were the rage and the Dempseys rode Triumphs. They were both working in construction then, and after working all week would prep their bikes on Saturdays and race the desert on Sundays. That was their routine for about ten years. Along the way Gene started his own construction company and Sam joined the L.A. City Fire

In 1970 the Dempseys first raced in the now-famous Baja 1000 from Ensenada to La Paz. They rode a 650 Triumph and finished 4th overall. In those days Baja was a two- man race, so Gene rode the first half and Sam rode it to the finish. Department in 1974 after completing five years for the Ventura Fire Department. Sam retired in 2007 after 33 years.

As the years went by the courses got rougher and rougher and were more physically demanding. There were three races per year in Baja: the San Felipe 250, Baja 500 and the Baja 1000. Along the way some additional riders joined their team. They included Jim O’Neal, Steve Hurd, Dick Vick, Ron Bishop, Lou Peralta, Mike Harper, Charlie Marshall, Chuck Koistra, Dave Lapraik and Bill Nichols.


Through the years they followed the age classes: 30, 40, 50, and presently in the 60 class. They have now ridden in all five classes with many wins and class championship awards. Gene and Sam (pictured at right in 1967) rode together for fifty years, ten years in the desert and forty years in Baja. In 2007 Don Lewis joined up with the Dempseys team and has won four class 60 championhips riding all three Baja races each year. Gene Dempsey passed away in September, 2009 from cancer. He was Sam’s brother, best friend and racing partner. According to Sam, “My personal passion for motorcycle racing for all these years could only be exceeded by Gene. He was one of a kind as everyone who knew him would tell you. He is greatly missed by all, but mostly by me.”


The Trailblazers congratulates Sam Dempsey and his late-brother Gene for a lifetime of motorcycling excellence. The 68th annual Trailblazers banquet will be held on Saturday, April 14th at the Carson Center in Carson, CA. The evening’s dinner and awards presentations will follow the Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show which will begin at 3:00 pm. Tickets will go on sale in January online at: www.trailblazersmc.com.

TRAILBLAZERS ELECT RAY TANNER TO HOF - Monday, Feb 13 2012

The Trailblazers Motorcycle Club has announced Ray Tanner as one of its 2012 Hall of Fame inductees. He joins previously announced inductees Jim McMurren, Eddie Lawson, Bob Sirkegian Sr., Steve Scott and Dan Rouit to be honored at its upcoming 68th annual banquet.

Ray Tanner was born in 1922 in Salt Lake City Utah where he lived until he was 12. After the family moved to Los Angeles, Ray grew up with some interesting siblings: a brother who was a Harvard lawyer, another brother who became a millionaire industrialist, a sister who was a radical leftist socialist, a sister who became an elite socialite in Hollywood, and another sister who married a Chicago Bears quarterback.

After he got his driver’s license Ray was a terror on the street. He got kicked out of High School for spinning donuts on his Harley VLH in the lunch yard. Then again for riding down the street in front of the school standing on the seat, with the high school quarterback doing a hand stand on the pillion pad behind him. He was constantly getting into high speed chases by L.A. police and to avoid capture he mounted the license plate of his bike upside down.

Tanner was drafted into the Army in 1941. He participated in the Normandy invasion in June 1944, was in Battle of the Bulge in the Arden’s forest Jan 1945 and marched into Berlin. He was wounded 3 times and received the Purple Heart and two Oak Leaf Clusters.

After the war, Ray began racing his own VLH that was built by an L.A. tuner called “Little George.” He only had three sponsors over his entire race career: Joe Walker, Rich Budelier and Mel Dinesen, plus support from Walter Davidson from the Harley-Davidson Motor Company who pitched in monetary support, especially for the Catalina events where Ray was virtually always the best finishing Harley.

His first sponsor was Joe Walker. When Joe’s main rider got hurt, Ray got the ride for the 1947 Riverside TT National. He won that 100-mile race ahead of fellow Harley rider Floyd Emde.

In 1949 Ray began riding for Rich Budelier’s L.A. Harley shop because Walker would not field a 74 inch Harley along with the WR. Rich gave Ray a Harley 45 to race half-miles on, a 74 inch Knucklehead to ride TT’s, and another Knucklehead to ride on the street and to use in off-road races.

For one year, when the AMA pros rode outlaw races in protest over the lack of insurance, Ray rode Dinesen’s potent Indian Chief and was undefeated at the old Lodi Grape Bowl TT (the track prior to the Cycle Bowl currently in place).

When not racing Ray worked as a truck driver, line driver in tank trucks, and his routes were L.A. to Phoenix, L.A. to Oakland, L.A. to Kayesville Utah. The companies he drove for were Langley, PIE, and Ringsby. His wife Barbara was raised as an orphan in a Shreveport Louisiana convent and they met at a motorcycle race.

In addition to winning the AMA TT National at Riverside in 1947, Tanner’s career victories included winning the 1946 Three Point National Hare and Hound desert race, 1952 Gold Rush Hare and Hound, 1953 Greenhorn 500-mile Enduro on the new Harley K-model (which Harley advertised significantly), the Cactus Derby and the 1954 Pacific Coast TT Championship. He once led the Big Bear race to last check point until he hit some ice in Fawnskin putting him and his Harley 74 into a ditch. This handed the win to Dick Page and Ray got up to finish second.

Ray quit racing when he was still fast. In his last year, 1958, both he and Ed Kretz beat Joe Leonard at a TT at Carroll Speedway. Kretz told Ray after the race, “We can still put it to the kids.” That same year Ray was 6th at Catalina.

Ray’s son Cary mentioned how his dad enjoyed telling stories of his racing days and of his fondness for his competitors and riding friends such as Floyd Emde, Ed Kretz Sr., Jimmy Phillips, Don Hawley, Chuck Minert and Chuck Wheat Sr. and Jr.

His favorite motorcycle was a 74-inch Harley, always a hard tail, and the only one in his view that deserved the title “Hog.” According to Minert all other smaller motorcycles were termed by Ray to be “paper route machines.” Tanner died at age 59, and is buried at the military cemetery in Riverside, not far from the old Box Springs Riverside track.

The Trailblazers look forward to honoring Ray Tanner for a lifetime of motorcycling excellence at the 68th annual Trailblazers banquet to be held on Saturday, April 14th at the Carson Center in Carson, CA. The evening’s dinner and awards presentations will follow the Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show which will begin at 3:00 pm. Tickets are now on sale online at:www.trailblazersmc.com.

STEVE SCOTT JOINS CLASS OF 2012 INDUCTEES - Tuesday, Jan 31 2012

The Trailblazers Motorcycle Club has announced Steve Scott as the fifth of its 2012 Hall of Fame inductees. He joins previously announced inductees Jim McMurren, Eddie Lawson, Bob Sirkegian Sr. and Dan Rouit to be honored at its 68th annual banquet on Saturday, April 14th.

While many motorcycle racers of his era specialized in one certain aspect of the sport, Steve Scott excelled in many different types of events ranging from Scrambles and TT to Short Track, Half-Mile, Motocross, Speedway, Roadracing, the Elsinore Grand Prix and the famed Pikes Peak Hillclimb.

He started riding motorcycles in 1957 on dirt roads in the Santa Monica mountains. Some of his first bikes included Whizzer, Powell and Cushman scooters, a 125cc James, 125cc and 165cc Harley-Davidson Hummers, an old Tiger Cub with plunger suspension and a Honda 50cc C110. In 1963 he bought a 1961 Tiger Cub that he raced at Acton, Spencer Park and El Toro Speedway. That same year he also got into the motorcycle business, working at Honda of Santa Monica.

In 1964 he purchased a used 200cc Bultaco Sherpa S to race ACA Short Tracks at El Toro and earned the #1 plate there for 1964 & ’65. He also rode Ascot 1/2-mile and TTs as an AMA Class C Novice. “It was a good year, and very educational,” said Steve, “I got to eat a lot of dust by the likes of Gene Romero, Malcolm Smith, Jimmy Nicholson, Chuck Palmgren, Paul Conserriere, Glen Hayes, Sonny Nutter and many others.” Steve joined the Dirt Diggers Motorcycle Club that year and in Amateur racing earned the District 37 #2 lightweight plate. His success on the Bultaco got the attention of Doug and Wally Yerkes from Bultaco Western. Not only did they support his racing efforts, but they gave him a job too.

In an age of lightweight racing dominated by Triumph Cubs and Harley Sprints, Steve changed the landscape dramatically in 1965 when he got one of the first 250cc yellow Bultaco Metisse race bikes and earned the #1 District 37 plate. A lot of weeks he would race 5 times or more a week in Scrambles, Short Tracks and TTs at Ascot and El Cajon Speedway. El Cajon had an AMA Class C lightweight and heavyweight championship and Steve ended up high point lightweight rider for the year (Trailblazers Hall of Famer Jack Simmons was high point heavyweight class rider). Steve also went on the road for Bultaco Western that year setting up dealers and doing some racing in Oklahoma and also up at the Sidewinders TT in Portland, Oregon where he finished 1st place in the 250cc class.

In 1966 he decided to stay closer to home and with a lot of help from Bultaco Western, opened Steve’s Bultaco in North Hollywood. Motocross was just getting started in America and Steve raced some of the first events held here, including the Dirt Diggers first race at Hopetown. World MX Champion Torsten Hallman was there, which made it an international event. Steve got the hole shot and lead the race for a while, ultimately finishing 2nd to Hallman and first American rider.

By 1967 Steve had his Class C Expert Competition license and raced Ascot TTs on Larry Wilburn’s 650 Triumph and Larry rode his Bultaco. “I got the better part of that deal!” Steve remembers. In the 1968 Elsinore 100-mile Grand Prix, Steve got 1st overall on a new Bultaco 360cc El Bandito and also raced in a few Speedway races. He sold Steve’s Bultaco in 1969 and went to Spain to race Motocross for Bultaco. But after a couple of months came down with Hepatitis and returned to the United States to recoup.

In 1972 he started manufacturing aftermarket Bultaco parts such as engine gaskets, clutch springs, fork springs and tools, etc…parts that were sometimes hard to find at Bultaco dealers. That year he also raced the Pikes Peak Hillclimb for the first time. On a rainy and cold day, Steve started the race from the last row on a 250cc Bultaco Astro and about halfway up got the lead and held it to the finish. He was protested, but found to be legal and declared the 250cc class winner. He went on to win the 250cc class the next five years in a row.

In 1976 he sold his house and moved to Woodland Park, CO, which is at the base of Pikes Peak. He opened a motorcycle distributing company selling his line of parts and accessories and other motorcycle products to dealers in Colorado and throughout the USA.

Steve won his sixth 250cc pro race at Pikes Peak in 1979, then his long-running string of success at Pikes Peak had a dry spell for a few years with various mechanical problems. But at the 1985 Pikes Peak Hillclimb, American Honda donated 15 new 350cc XRs to be raced in a Jolly Rancher Celebrity Challenge by some previous winners and other invited riders, including Malcolm Smith. Despite the legendary competition that day, Steve took home the winner’s trophy.

Showing his versatility, Steve got into roadracing in the mid-1980s. In 1985 he rode a couple of 6 Hour roadraces with teammate Chuck Lee. “We made a good team,” said Steve. “Chuck was fast and I was ‘fast enough’ at Aspen and we finished 2nd overall in the Superbike class.” Then they scored an overall victory at Pueblo International Raceway at round #12 of the US Endurance Championship. Steve recalled, “Chuck got the holeshot and about 2 hours into the race it started raining. We lapped the field many times, being dirt trackers we liked it sideways!”

Later in the year Steve got invited to the Superbikers race at Carlsbad. His first ride in that all-new type of event did not go great. He rode Rob Muzzy’s 465 Yamaha short tracker and finished 16th in the main. But in 1993 he returned to Carlsbad for another try. He rode a CR500 Honda in the 500 pro class and finished 3rd in his last competitive event to date.

The Trailblazers congratulates Steve Scott for a lifetime of motorcycling excellence. The 68th annual Trailblazers banquet will be held on Saturday, April 14th at the Carson Center in Carson, CA. The evening’s dinner and awards presentations will follow the Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show which will begin at 3:00 pm. Tickets will go on sale in January online at:www.trailblazersmc.com.

STEVE SCOTT JOINS CLASS OF 2012 INDUCTEES - Monday, Jan 02 2012

The Trailblazers Motorcycle Club has announced Steve Scott as the fifth of its 2012 Hall of Fame inductees. He joins previously announced inductees Jim McMurren, Eddie Lawson, Bob Sirkegian Sr. and Dan Rouit to be honored at its 68th annual banquet on Saturday, April 14th.

While many motorcycle racers of his era specialized in one certain aspect of the sport, Steve Scott excelled in many different types of events ranging from Scrambles and TT to Short Track, Half-Mile, Motocross, Speedway, Roadracing, the Elsinore Grand Prix and the famed Pikes Peak Hillclimb.

He started riding motorcycles in 1957 on dirt roads in the Santa Monica mountains. Some of his first bikes included Whizzer, Powell and Cushman scooters, a 125cc James, 125cc and 165cc Harley-Davidson Hummers, an old Tiger Cub with plunger suspension and a Honda 50cc C110. In 1963 he bought a 1961 Tiger Cub that he raced at Acton, Spencer Park and El Toro Speedway. That same year he also got into the motorcycle business, working at Honda of Santa Monica.

In 1964 he purchased a used 200cc Bultaco Sherpa S to race ACA Short Tracks at El Toro and earned the #1 plate there for 1964 & ’65. He also rode Ascot 1/2-mile and TTs as an AMA Class C Novice. “It was a good year, and very educational,” said Steve, “I got to eat a lot of dust by the likes of Gene Romero, Malcolm Smith, Jimmy Nicholson, Chuck Palmgren, Paul Conserriere, Glen Hayes, Sonny Nutter and many others.” Steve joined the Dirt Diggers Motorcycle Club that year and in Amateur racing earned the District 37 #2 lightweight plate. His success on the Bultaco got the attention of Doug and Wally Yerkes from Bultaco Western. Not only did they support his racing efforts, but they gave him a job too.

In an age of lightweight racing dominated by Triumph Cubs and Harley Sprints, Steve changed the landscape dramatically in 1965 when he got one of the first 250cc yellow Bultaco Metisse race bikes and earned the #1 District 37 plate. A lot of weeks he would race 5 times or more a week in Scrambles, Short Tracks and TTs at Ascot and El Cajon Speedway. El Cajon had an AMA Class C lightweight and heavyweight championship and Steve ended up high point lightweight rider for the year (Trailblazers Hall of Famer Jack Simmons was high point heavyweight class rider). Steve also went on the road for Bultaco Western that year setting up dealers and doing some racing in Oklahoma and also up at the Sidewinders TT in Portland, Oregon where he finished 1st place in the 250cc class.

In 1966 he decided to stay closer to home and with a lot of help from Bultaco Western, opened Steve’s Bultaco in North Hollywood. Motocross was just getting started in America and Steve raced some of the first events held here, including the Dirt Diggers first race at Hopetown. World MX Champion Torsten Hallman was there, which made it an international event. Steve got the hole shot and lead the race for a while, ultimately finishing 2nd to Hallman and first American rider.

By 1967 Steve had his Class C Expert Competition license and raced Ascot TTs on Larry Wilburn’s 650 Triumph and Larry rode his Bultaco. “I got the better part of that deal!” Steve remembers. In the 1968 Elsinore 100-mile Grand Prix, Steve got 1st overall on a new Bultaco 360cc El Bandito and also raced in a few Speedway races. He sold Steve’s Bultaco in 1969 and went to Spain to race Motocross for Bultaco. But after a couple of months came down with Hepatitis and returned to the United States to recoup.

In 1972 he started manufacturing aftermarket Bultaco parts such as engine gaskets, clutch springs, fork springs and tools, etc…parts that were sometimes hard to find at Bultaco dealers. That year he also raced the Pikes Peak Hillclimb for the first time. On a rainy and cold day, Steve started the race from the last row on a 250cc Bultaco Astro and about halfway up got the lead and held it to the finish. He was protested, but found to be legal and declared the 250cc class winner. He went on to win the 250cc class the next five years in a row.

In 1976 he sold his house and moved to Woodland Park, CO, which is at the base of Pikes Peak. He opened a motorcycle distributing company selling his line of parts and accessories and other motorcycle products to dealers in Colorado and throughout the USA.

Steve won his sixth 250cc pro race at Pikes Peak in 1979, then his long-running string of success at Pikes Peak had a dry spell for a few years with various mechanical problems. But at the 1985 Pikes Peak Hillclimb, American Honda donated 15 new 350cc XRs to be raced in a Jolly Rancher Celebrity Challenge by some previous winners and other invited riders, including Malcolm Smith. Despite the legendary competition that day, Steve took home the winner’s trophy.

Showing his versatility, Steve got into roadracing in the mid-1980s. In 1985 he rode a couple of 6 Hour roadraces with teammate Chuck Lee. “We made a good team,” said Steve. “Chuck was fast and I was ‘fast enough’ at Aspen and we finished 2nd overall in the Superbike class.” Then they scored an overall victory at Pueblo International Raceway at round #12 of the US Endurance Championship. Steve recalled, “Chuck got the holeshot and about 2 hours into the race it started raining. We lapped the field many times, being dirt trackers we liked it sideways!”

Later in the year Steve got invited to the Superbikers race at Carlsbad. His first ride in that all-new type of event did not go great. He rode Rob Muzzy’s 465 Yamaha short tracker and finished 16th in the main. But in 1993 he returned to Carlsbad for another try. He rode a CR500 Honda in the 500 pro class and finished 3rd in his last competitive event to date.

The Trailblazers congratulates Steve Scott for a lifetime of motorcycling excellence. The 68th annual Trailblazers banquet will be held on Saturday, April 14th at the Carson Center in Carson, CA. The evening’s dinner and awards presentations will follow the Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show which will begin at 3:00 pm. Tickets will go on sale in January online at:www.trailblazersmc.com.

DAN ROUIT ELECTED TO TRAILBLAZERS HALL OF FAME - Monday, Jan 02 2012

The Trailblazers M.C. have announced that Dan Rouit will be among its Class of 2012 Hall of Fame inductees to be honored at the 68th annual banquet on April 14, 2012 in Carson, CA. Rouit became a motorcycle rider and enthusiast at an early age and as a teenager was a very active racer competing in both amateur and pro flattrack events. He excelled in Short Track racing and won many events in AMA District 35.

In 1978, Dan experienced a life-changing injury when he suffered a broken neck from a fall while hiking in the nearby mountains. Knowing his racing days were over, Dan and his dad began talking about starting a museum for flat track racing. In 1991 he fulfilled his dream when he and his soon-to-be-wife Kathy pooled their resources and had a building constructed to display historic motorcycles as well as posters, banners, trophies, helmets, programs and photographs. Soon the building was so full you could not walk between the motorcycles. Dan wanted to expand the museum but had limited resources.

Thanks to the generosity of his cousin Joe, a 30 by 60 foot building was added and the Dan Rouit Flattrack Museum had taken shape for motorcycle enthusiasts to come enjoy. But that was not the end of the expansion. In November of 2009, Dan’s need for yet another expansion became a reality with the addition of another 30 by 60 feet of display space. Today the museum holds over 90 flat track motorcycles and is still growing. While the museum has visitors throughout the year, their highlight event is the annual Open House. This past May, Dan and Kathy celebrated with a gala 20th anniversary gathering.

Congratulations to Dan Rouit for his election to the Trailblazers Hall of Fame. His work to give a home to the legendary machines raced by some of the biggest names in motorcycle racing history – many who are also Trailblazers Hall of Famers – is especially noteworthy to the club.

Tickets for the 68th annual Trailblazers banquet will go on sale after the first of the year on the club’s website at: www.trailblazersmc.com.

Contact info:

Dan and Kathy Rouit

Dan Rouit Flattrack Museum
309 West Rialto Street
Clovis, CA 93612-4331

BOB SIRKEGIAN SR. ELECTED TO TRAILBLAZERS HOF - Monday, Jan 02 2012

The Trailblazers M.C. has named the third of its Hall of Fame inductees to be honored at its 68th annual banquet to be held in Carson, CA. on April 14, 2012. Joining the two previously named inductees—Jim McMurren and Eddie Lawson—Bob Sirkegian Sr. will be one of the two Posthumous awards in the next Hall of Fame class.

Sirkegian was born May 19, 1898 in Fresno, CA. He began riding in 1912 and was soon racing dirt track and board track racing. He also eventually became an Indian Motocycle dealer in Fresno. He was initially one of eleven board trackers riding for Indian, and later also rode for Harley-Davidson, Super X and many other factories. His AMA Life Member number was 31.

In 1921 he moved to San Diego to open another Indian dealership, while continuing his racing on board tracks and dirt oval tracks throughout the USA until 1929. He also became the first USA distributor for J.A.P. Speedway Motorcycles and began promoting weekly Class A Speedway races at Balboa Stadium in San Diego. In 1924 he took on Guy Urquhart as his partner at the motorcycle dealership.

In 1938 he sold his half of the partnership to Urquhart, married and moved to Nutley, NJ. At the request of the Indian factory he opened the largest Indian dealership on the east coast. Still a J.A.P. distributor he was now promoting Speedway racing 3 times a week on the east coast. This led to the creation of a West Coast-East Coast Match Race Series, which included legendary Speedway star Sprouts Elder, one of Bob’s friends from his hometown of Fresno.

In 1946, Sirkegian sold his east coast motorcycle dealership and moved back to the Los Angeles area where he and his younger brother Al opened up another Indian dealership known as Sirkegian Bros. They sold Indian, Mustang, Cushman and Evinrude Outboards, and later added Triumph and Ariel Motorcycles.

Upon Bob’s return to the west coast he became reacquainted with A.F. Van Order, Floyd Clymer and others in the Trailblazers and began attending the annual banquets, as well as providing some financial support when asked in order the keep banquets going.

In 1948 Bob built a a TT track called Sirkegian Stadium and promoted races there, as well as at another track called Mint Canyon which was located on another of his brothers’ property. In 1950 Sirkegian began promoting motorcycle road races and drag races at the Santa Ana Blimp Base

In 1951 and ’54, Sirkegian Bros. was the second highest selling dealer for Triumph and Ariel motorcycles in the Western USA. In 1952 and ’53, they were the highest selling Triumph and Ariel dealer in the Western USA. In ’53, Bob bought out his brother Al and became sole owner of the dealership. He also bought out Hollywood Motors, which sold BSA,

In 1955 Bob started selling BMW, NSU and BSA in his Los Angeles store after closing the Hollywood store. Then in 1957 he moved the business to Monrovia selling BMW, NSU, BSA and Harley-Davidson.

Bob Sirkegian Sr passed away at home on May 31, 1960, leaving his wife Ruby and two sons, Bob Junior and Douglas.

For more information log onto www.trailblazersmc.com.

EDDIE LAWSON NAMED TO TRAILBLAZERS HALL OF FAME - Tuesday, Sep 13 2011

The Trailblazers M.C. have named Eddie Lawson as the second of the 2012 Hall of Fame inductees to be honored at the 68th annual banquet next April. Additional inductees will be announced in the near future.

Eddie Lawson will go down in history as one the greatest motorcycle road racers of all time. Lawson won the 500cc World Championship four times during the 1980s. When he retired from GP racing in the early 1990s, he ranked third on the all-time 500cc Grand Prix wins list with 31 victories. In addition to his international accomplishments, Lawson was equally successful on the domestic front. The Californian won the AMA Superbike Series twice (1981 and 1982) and the AMA 250 Grand Prix Series in 1980 and 1981. When inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999, Lawson was the only rider to ever win the AMA Superbike and 250GP titles during his career. Lawson also won the Daytona 200, the first time during the prime of his racing career in 1986, then again in 1993 when he returned to the event after retiring from full-time motorcycle racing.

Lawson was born in Upland, California, on March 11, 1958. He grew up around motorcycles. Both his father and grandfather raced. Some of Lawson’s earliest memories are of going out to the desert races with his father. Lawson started riding an 80cc Yamaha when was 7 years old, having to hold the nearly full-sized bike up on his tiptoes when he came to a stop. By the time he was 12, Lawson was racing the local Southern California dirt track circuit. "We rode mainly at tracks like Corona and Ascot. I didn’t do very well for the first couple of years," admitted Lawson. "I just sort of rode around cautiously trying to not fall off my little 90cc Kawasaki Green Streak." It didn’t take Lawson long to get over his timidity. He quickly became one of the fastest young amateurs in Southern California during the early 1970s heyday of dirt track competition. Besides dirt track racing, Lawson also began to hit the local road races after his grandfather bought him a 50cc Italjet. He later graduated to a Yamaha RD350. This road racing experience would later prove to be very valuable for Lawson.

Lawson obtained his AMA expert license in 1978. He was riding Shell Thuett Yamahas, which were very fast for Yamaha dirt trackers, but was no match for the Harley-Davidsons that dominated dirt track racing. Lawson did manage to do decently on TT tracks. His best finish of his rookie expert season was fifth in the TT national at Santa Fe Speedway near Chicago. By 1979, it was becoming clear that Lawson was fighting an uphill battle on the dirt tracks, while just the opposite was happening at the road races. At 20, Lawson was already considered one of the top road racers in West Coast club racing. In 1979, he proved that he was a force to be reckoned with when he finished second to a young Freddie Spencer in the AMA 250 Grand Prix national at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, California. Lawson finished the season as the second-ranked rider behind Spencer in the AMA 250 GP series. While doing a made-for-television Superbikes event late in 1979, Lawson was invited to a Superbike tryout at Willow Springs Raceway by Kawasaki. Lawson set fast time in the tryout and was offered the ride. "It was really pretty fun to ride those old 1000cc Superbikes," Lawson recalls. "They were pretty heavy and had a lot of power and with the wide handlebars you could actually ride them a lot like a flat tracker, power-sliding out of the corners and everything." It did not take long for Lawson to get used to racing Superbikes. Lawson won his first Superbike national at Talladega, Alabama, in April of 1980. That season saw some epic battles between Lawson, Freddie Spencer and Wes Cooley. The season ended with Cooley winning the title in a controversial manner, with protests and counter-protests being filed between the Kawasaki and Suzuki Superbike teams. Cooley had to wait two months after the season to finally be awarded the championship. The same season, Lawson dominated the AMA 250 Grand Prix Series.

The Superbike controversy at the end of 1980 just made Lawson more determined. He came back in 1981 and won the title after another great year of battling Honda and its top rider, Freddie Spencer. The Lawson/Spencer rivalry would go down as one of the best in the history of Superbike racing. During this period, AMA Superbike racing really came into prominence and started to replace the Formula One class in importance. Lawson again won the 250GP title in ’81. Lawson’s ’80 and ’81 championships marked the only times that Kawasaki would win the AMA 250 Grand Prix titles. Lawson's last full season of racing in the U.S. was 1982. Again, Lawson and Kawasaki held off a serious challenge from Honda, that year with Mike Baldwin, who finished second in the series. Lawson accepted an offer from Yamaha to contest the 500cc World Championship for the 1983 season. Before he left for world championship battles, Lawson donned his steel shoe one last time and competed in the Houston Astrodome TT AMA Grand National, where he finished sixth. Lawson spent his first GP season learning the tracks and how to live outside of the U.S. for the first time in his life. Lawson looks back on the ’83 season as the most trying of his career. "I was away from home for the first time, I wasn’t having that much success and at times I wondered what I had gotten myself into," Lawson recalls. The 1984 season changed all that. Lawson began winning and getting used to his surroundings. He won the 1984 world championship. It would mark the first of four world titles Lawson would go on to win (1984, ’86, ’88 and ’89). By the time Lawson retired from GP racing after the 1992 season, he had won a total of 31 world championship races, which placed him third all-time in the 500cc class.

Lawson won the prestigious Suzuka Eight Hour race in Japan in 1990 with teammate Tadahiko Taira. After retiring from full-time motorcycle racing, Lawson came back to race in the Daytona 200 in 1993. He won in a spectacular last-lap duel with Scott Russell, marking a triumphant return and his second Daytona 200 victory. He raced at Daytona one more time in 1994 and finished third. Lawson continued racing in Indy Cars in the mid-1990s after his motorcycle- racing career. His progress through the Indy Car ranks was such that several auto racing publications cited Lawson as the top up-and-coming driver of the circuit. Unfortunately, the team that Lawson drove for was under-funded and was forced to field uncompetitive machinery and Lawson eventually left the sport. When inducted in 1999, Lawson was enjoying retirement living in Lake Havasu, Arizona, spending a lot of time on the lake and racing shifter go-karts with friend and fellow Hall of Fame member Wayne Rainey for fun.

Story courtesy of AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

JIM MCMURREN ELECTED TO TRAILBLAZERS HALL OF FAME - Monday, Aug 15 2011

The Trailblazers Motorcycle Club has announced that Jim McMurren is its newest Hall of Fame inductee. McMurren, who lives in Nestor, CA, competed inmotorcycle roadracing, TT, 1/2-Miles and Miles, but it was Short Track that heenjoyed the most. Once they earned their AMA Expert racing licenses, Jim andhis lifelong friend Sid Carson, made Short Track racing the center piece of theirracing careers. Jim and Sid were true professionals, racing where the moneywas, rather than worry about chasing the AMA points at National Championship events. Every spring from the mid-1960s into the 70s, Jim and Sid would leavetheir homes in the San Diego area behind and move to Chicago for the summerto race motorcycles in the Midwest.

While there was racing going on all around them, every Wednesday night Jimwas racing the weekly Short Track races at Santa Fe Park on the southeast sideof Chicago. It was there that he learned the ropes of the sport against some ofthe sport’s greatest Flat Track racers, including Neil Keen, Gary Nixon, Fred Nix,Dick Mann, Darrel Dovel and many more. McMurren was ranked 3rd in the nationin short track racing in 1967, and 2nd in 1969.

In the off-season Jim and Sid would return every year back to San Diego,where they have been partners in a crane operating business dating back the60s. After his professional racing career was over, Jim continued to race local vintage events on his famous “Number 11” Harley-Davidson Sprint. And evenwhen health issues prevented him from racing, he was seen as late as April inattendance at the Wayne Hosaka Memorial race at Perris, CA.

McMurren and other Trailblazers Hall of Fame inductees yet to be named will behonored at the 68th annual Trailblazers banquet at the Carson Center in Carson,
CA on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

For more information, log onto the club’s website at: www.trailblazersmc.com oron Facebook.