The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is pleased to announce another member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2009: Gilles Vaillancourt, a pioneer in modern motorcycle suspension development. Vaillancourt will be among the motorcycling heroes honored at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas this Dec. 5.
"There are key periods in the history of motorcycling where major leaps forward helped bring us to where we are today, and in the off-road world the suspension revolution of the 1970s certainly qualifies as one of those eras," said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. "Gilles Vaillancourt and his company, Works Performance, were not just along for the ride during that period. They were among the few in the rider’s seat, pushing the technology and the sport of motorcycling forward."
Don Rosene, chairman of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Committee, added: "Like so many of our Hall of Fame Inductees, Gil has been involved with some aspect of motorcycling most of his life. He might have started his suspension company in the 1970s, but his ideas for a better-handling motorcycle started a long time before that. To this day, if you have a question about suspension you can call Gil at work — he’s there every day. And he’s a pretty good rider as well."
In the early 1970s, Vaillancourt began developing off-road motorcycle shocks that featured a revolutionary multi-stage damping system. Motocross and desert racers began using his shocks with great results, and soon racers in all disciplines of motorcycling started adopting them. Works Performance now makes custom shocks for dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles, street bikes and cruisers. The company also has expanded into other areas and builds suspension for airplane, photographic and military applications, among others.
Vaillancourt started in motorcycling at a young age, working at a local motorcycle shop in Quebec after school.
"In the winter, the shop effectively was shut down, so we spent a lot of time rebuilding the trade-ins, and that’s how I got involved in working on motorcycles," Vaillancourt said. "After immigrating to the U.S. in 1960, I worked as a motorcycle mechanic and as a foreman on a printing press. Then, in the early 1970s, I got involved in modifying existing shock absorbers. That’s how it all started… It’s been a long ride. I’ve been very fortunate to have some good experiences in the sport and meet some very terrific guys who I count as friends these days. I’m really honored that somebody would recognize what I’ve done in this industry."
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame 2009 Induction Ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will take the festive occasion to a new level. Impressive even by Las Vegas standards, with an 84-foot guitar marking the entrance and all the glitz and memorabilia that fans have come to expect at Hard Rock Café locations around the world, it has been recently renovated with new rooms, a new convention space and a new concert venue. Information about buying tickets will be announced shortly on the Museum website at www.MotorcycleMuseum.org.
Located on the park-like campus of the AMA in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum honors individuals who have made lasting contributions to protecting and promoting the motorcycle lifestyle. Its members include those who have excelled in racing, road- and off-road riding, pushed the envelope in motorcycle design, engineering and safety, and championed the rights of riders in both the halls of government and the court of public opinion.
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Committee includes 11 members in addition to the chairman. There are 10 committees, each representing a different aspect of motorcycling. Five represent various racing disciplines, and five represent non-racing interests.