Thanking the exceptional

Seven ascend to motorcycling’s pantheon

Rapid City, S.D., Aug. 11—One of the events I most enjoy during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a celebration of motorcycling royalty that’s been held every rally week since 2001. The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame Induction Breakfast this year honored seven nominees who have, in some way, made a significant impact on the sport and lifestyle of motorcycling.

First up, Sonny Bridges, this year’s Freedom Fighter Hall of Fame inductee, was introduced. In 1974, Sonny began working to bring together clubs and riders to form the United Bikers of Maine. For the past 36 years, Sonny has continued to fight for motorcyclists’ rights in his home state.

Nancy Davidson was inducted as a representative of the non-riding motorcycling partner. Through her marriage with Willie G. for the past 63 years she has encouraged countless women to ride and has served as an ambassador for Harley-Davidson for a number of charitable causes.

Betsy Lister is a long-time motorcyclists’ rights advocate, with deep levels of involvement in the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association.

Ron McKinley got the most laughs of the day when, upon his introduction, he announced, “I broke a cardinal rule of mine—never, ever pass up an opportunity to pee. I wish I’d stuck to that rule right now.” Ron has spent many years instructing groups and individuals about motorcycle safety. Drawing on his experience as an instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, H-D’s Riders Edge program, and National H.O.G. Primary Officer Training, he developed and implemented several courses on riding skills and accident analysis.

Roger Schieman, an advisory board member for the museum, was presented with the Founder’s Award. He spent many hours working on the first motorcycle museum in Sturgis before it left town, and continued his dedication by helping with the conversion of the first Sturgis Motorcycle Museum building as well as the old Post Office where the museum is currently housed.

Stan Simpson has raced and promoted AMA racing for over half a century. He stepped up to take the reins as chairman of the board of the AMA in 2008, and his leadership has seen the organization through a dificult period of transition.

“Kiwi” Mike Tomas was the final inductee, and was recognized for his passion for classic Indian Motorcycles, and his efforts to keep the original Indian brand alive and relevant in today’s motorcycling world.

Dave Davis, the museum’s chairman of the board, wrapped up the event by speaking about the legacy the museum represents. He said that from his father, he learned to “embrace it, grow it and pass it on to the next generation in better shape than we found it.” He continued, “We are bursting at the seams. We also have a commitment to stay at that location. We need to preserve the history, and part of that history is our location at Main and Junction, so we’re going to do everything we can to stay at that location.”


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