The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is pleased to announce that National-winning dirt-track racer and successful tuner Chuck Palmgren is the next member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2009. Palmgren — who won multiple Mile events as a racer and earned a reputation as one of racing’s leading tuners later in his career — will be among the motorcycling heroes honored at the 2009 induction ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas this Dec. 5.
"Chuck Palmgren excelled in an era when success on the track meant the rider had to be both racer and tuner — not just understanding how to ride fast, but being able build a motorcycle to go fast, as well," said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. "Palmgren stood out among his peers in each area. That’s even more evident in his later career, which he spent exclusively on the tuning end of the wrench."
Added Bill Werner, member of the AMA Board of Directors and chairman of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dirt Track Nomination Committee: "Chuck was a consummate professional, not only in how he rode, but in terms of his skill in building machinery. His dirt trackers were custom bikes made to complement how he wanted to ride. They didn’t come off the assembly line. His race bikes were built to his vision. Chuck’s bikes were always gorgeous. They were pieces of machinery that were well thought-out, and worked and looked great."
Chuck Palmgren won five Nationals in the late-1960s to early 1970s: Santa Rosa Mile (’69); Sacramento Mile (’69); Nazareth, Pa., Mile (’70); Westbury, N.Y., half-mile (’72); and Indianapolis Mile (’72). He had numerous top-10 finishes on the national circuit and placed in the top 10 in points in 1968-70, 1972 and 1974. He was known as an innovator of the Yamaha 750cc motor and frame design. Traveling the circuit for many years, Palmgren was well-respected by his peers, always ready to help a fellow racer and sign an autograph for a fan.
"This is a great honor," said Palmgren, who lives in Huntington Beach, Calif. "I’m very surprised to be nominated. I’m happy to see dirt track represented along with the other great areas of motorcycling, from those who protect our rights to those who promote the sport and help open it up to others."
Palmgren said of all his racing memories, two stand out: his wins at the Sacramento Mile and the Indy Mile.
"Indy was a bit different than Sacramento," Palmgren remembered. "Indianapolis took a lot of commitment, whereas Sacramento was a slick groove, and you could race the racetrack. Indianapolis let you go other places, and that made it more wide open, speed-wise. It was a lot quicker. There were a lot of places I liked to race, but Indy was a whole lot of fun."
Palmgren is the eighth of nine new members announced for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2009. He joins off-road racer Randy Hawkins, suspension pioneer Gilles Vaillancourt, off-highway rights activist Mona Ehnes, industry entrepreneurs and technological trailblazers Geoff and Bob Fox, longtime motorcycle safety proponent David Hough, and noted race team manager Gary Mathers.
Palmgren and the other members of the class of 2009 will officially be inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame this Dec. 5 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. 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, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has been recently renovated with new rooms, a new convention space and a new concert venue. Ticket information will be announced shortly on the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum website at MotorcycleMuseum.org.