A dominant AMA Supercross and motocross champion nicknamed “The GOAT” (The Greatest Of All Time), a pair of riders who helped raise tens of millions of dollars in search of the cause of and cure for pediatric brain tumors, and a founder of one of the aftermarket’s most recognizable brands are among the motorcyclists who are on the 2013 ballot for possible elevation to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Multi-time AMA champion Ricky Carmichael, the Ride for Kids’ Mike and Dianne Traynor, and K&N co-founder Norm McDonald are among the nominees on the 2013 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame ballot that includes racers, designers, tuners, and ambassadors for motorcycling in consideration of elevation to motorcycling’s highest honor.
Jeffrey V. Heininger (Chairman of American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation) says: “Very few people start their careers in this industry or sport expecting to end up in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, however the very best always rise to the top, as we see again this year.
“The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame truly encompasses the standout riders and racers, especially those driven to excel beyond mere greatness. What’s particularly impressive this year is the breadth of that drive across all types of motorcycling represented on the ballot, from racing, to business, to rights, to engine design and more. These 2013 nominees epitomize the essence of the American Motorcyclist Association.”
The complete list of 2013 nominees is noted (alphabetically) immediately below, with brief bios of each nominee following:
- Motorcycle rights activist Mark Buckner
- AMA Supercross and motocross racer Ricky Carmichael
- Indian tuner and flat-tracker Richard Gross
- Indian Powerplus designer and engineer Charles Gustafson Sr.
- AMA champion and Baja racer Danny Hamel
- Flat-track racer Tommy Hays
- Hillclimber Joseph Hemmis Sr.
- Desert racer Jack Johnson
- Land speed racer Bob Leppan
- K&N co-founder Norm McDonald
- AMA champion roadracer Randy Renfrow
- Champion dragracer Joe Smith
- Motor Maid Gloria Tramontin Struck
- Ride For Kids and Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation co-founders Mike and Dianne Traynor
- AMA Government Relations pioneer F. Eugene “Gene” Wirwahn
The 2013 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Nominating Ballot is the culmination of a comprehensive review of the procedures and makeup of the Hall of Fame nominating processes and committees. The revisions are designed to institutionalize the integrity of the nominating process, from application through induction into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Potential AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers are considered in eight categories, each focusing on a specific area: Ambassadors & Industry, Design & Engineering, Dirt Track, Leadership & Motorcycle Rights, Motocross & Supercross, Off-Road, Roadracing and Specialty Competition.
With the ballot now set, the official voting begins. Votes for the Hall of Fame class of 2013 will be cast by: all living Hall of Fame members; members of the AMA and AMHF Boards of Directors; and members of and advisors to the Category Committees. The current total number of eligible voters is more than 250.
Voting will open June 18 and will close on July 7. Ballots were mailed Monday to voters. The members of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be announced shortly after the conclusion of voting in early July.
The class of 2013 will be officially inducted on Friday, Oct. 18, during the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends Weekend in a star-studded gala at Las Vegas’ Green Valley Resort & Casino, with tickets available to the general public. Also featured at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are two “Hall of Fame Legends” – existing members of the Hall of Fame whose lifetime accomplishments are highlighted.
The 2013 Legends are: Mark Blackwell, a pioneering racer in American motocross, a six-time AMA championship race team manager and a well-respected executive in the motorcycle industry; and Torsten Hallman, a four-time World Motocross Champion who was instrumental in introducing the sport of motocross to America and founded the Thor brand.
Also part of the weekend’s activities is the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Legends Reception on Saturday, Oct. 19, where the class of 2013, the 2013 Legends and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers from previous years will be honored and interviewed on-stage in a relaxed setting that allows fans and friends to get up close and personal with motorcycling’s heroes.
Tickets are on sale now at motorcyclemuseum.org. Price is $140 for Friday night’s induction ceremony, and $20 for Saturday’s reception, which includes a continental breakfast. Additionally, rooms at the Green Valley Ranch can be reserved now for a special rate here, or by calling (866) 782-9487 and using the code GCIAMHF
The AMA Legends Weekend is a fundraiser for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, located on the AMA campus in Pickerington, Ohio and overseen by the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation. The mission of the AMHF is to celebrate, elucidate and preserve the rich tradition of motorcycling in America. For more information, please visit www.motorcyclemuseum.org.
2013 AMA MOTORCYCLE HALL OF FAME NOMINEES
Motorcycle rights activist Mark Buckner
Over the past 25 years, Mark Buckner profoundly influenced the world of motorcyclists’ rights, safety and education through his presentations nationwide on strategic planning, organizational design and member effectiveness. He has spoken in most states and delivered more than 100 presentations at state, regional and national motorcyclists’ rights conferences. When he was president of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, the MRF worked well with the AMA on government relations-related issues.
AMA Supercross and motocross champion Ricky Carmichael
When AMA Supercross and motocross racer Ricky Carmichael retired in 2007, he held the AMA Supercross/motocross all-time National win record with 150, a record that still stands. From 1997 to 2006, Carmichael won a championship series title each year (16 total). In 2002, he recorded the first-ever perfect season in AMA Motocross history by earning 24 straight moto victories for 12 overall wins in the premier class — a feat he repeated in 2004.
Indian tuner and flat-tracker Richard Gross
Richard Gross raced professionally from the 1930s until 1950. But his greatest contributions to the sport came after his retirement from competition, when he developed a “four-cam” version of the 1948 Indian Big Base Scout engine that claimed the AMA National Championship in Springfield, Ill., for three consecutive years: 1951, 1952 and 1953. That is significant because only twice in the 66 years since the end of World War II has a manufacturer other than Harley-Davidson won three consecutive national championships.
Indian Powerplus designer and engineer Charles Gustafson Sr.
Born in 1863, Charles Gustafson Sr. began working in 1895 at the Hendee Manufacturing Company, which would become the Indian Motocycle Company. A self-taught engineer, Gustafson went to work for the Reading Standard Company in Reading, Pa., in 1906, where he developed the side-valve engine that became the basis for all future Reading Standard motorcycles. He returned to Hendee Manufacturing in 1907, eventually becoming Indian’s chief engineer. He developed the first side-valve Indian engine that debuted as the Powerplus in 1916, and is credited with developing the kickstarter that changed how motorcycles were started.
AMA off-road and Baja champion Danny Hamel
Danny Hamel accomplished much as an off-road racer: five-time AMA Hare and Hound National Champion, Baja 1000 and 500 overall winner and more. Since the AMA began the practice of recognizing an AMA Amateur Athlete of the Year and Amateur Sportsman of the Year in 1977, many of the sport’s greats have been singled out for their contributions to the sport. But up until 1995, Hamel was the only rider ever named both as the Amateur Athlete of the Year and Amateur Sportsman of the Year in the same year. He died in June 1995 while racing the Baja 500 when a car strayed onto the road that was part of the course and Hamel hit the car broadside.
Flat-track racer Tommy Hays
At the time of his death in 1941, Tommy Hays held several Class C (production) racing records, including most career National wins (8) and most career National TT wins (7). He was the only rider in 1941 to claim more than one AMA National win, and had won three of the four AMA Nationals leading up to the season-ending Oakland 200 race in California in which he was killed in a crash. He earned AMA Most Popular Rider of the Year honors for 1941. That honor is now called AMA Pro Athlete of the Year.
Hillclimber Joseph Hemmis Sr.
Joseph Hemmis was the winningest hillclimber from the post-World War II era through the 1970s, taking home five national championships. Up to and including the 1977 AMA Pro Hillclimb season, Grand National Hillclimb Champions were determined by the results of a single event, normally held in Muskegon, Mich., or Jefferson, Pa.
Desert racer Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson won major desert races in four consecutive decades, starting with first overall in the Mint 400 race in Nevada in 1975 to first motorcycle overall with teammates in the Baja 1000 in 2007. In 1975, he earned the Mint 400 overall win with teammate Mark Mason on a Yamaha. He then rode briefly for KTM, and then joined Team Husqvarna. He won the Mint 400 in 1976 for Team Husqvarna with teammate Rolf Tibblin. In 1979 he won the Baja 500 as well as finishing first overall riding alone. He continued winning Baja competitions in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
Land speed racer Bob Leppan
Bob Leppan was the world’s fastest motorcyclist from 1966-70. His two-way average of 245.667 mph set in August 1966 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah was 15 mph faster than the previous ultimate motorcycle world record set in 1962. His record machine was the Gyronaut X-1, an innovative streamliner powered by two alcohol-burning Triumph twins fitted to a special Logghe Brothers chassis and wrapped in an aerodynamic shell designed by famed automotive stylist Alex Tremulis. Leppan also set records in the 1970s as a motorcycle dealer with Triumph sales.
K&N co-founder Norm McDonald
Norm McDonald has been an ambassador for motorcycling his entire life as a racer, promoter, teacher, sponsor and advocate for motorcyclists’ rights and safety. He began his racing career in 1956 in California. In 1957 he opened K&N Motorcycles-a motorcycle shop-with Ken Johnson. By 1965 they created K&N Engineering and in 1966 the K&N Air Filter was introduced. Over the years McDonald sponsored hundreds of racers, with more than 30 of them going on to the national level. In 1971, McDonald ran a dealership in Tulsa, Oka., and was very influential in creating events to get people involved in riding, including coordinating poker runs, secret destination rides, scavenger hunts and more. In the 1980s and 1990s he was active in various roadracing organizations.
AMA champion roadracer Randy Renfrow
Randy Renfrow began his pro roadracing career in 1981. He won the AMA 250 Grand Prix championship in 1983, the Formula One title in 1986 and the Pro Twins Series championship in 1989. He was known for his ability to be competitive on any type of machinery, from diminutive 250 Grand Prix bikes all the way up to AMA Superbikes, and he excelled in nearly every class of professional motorcycle roadracing. In all, he won 17 AMA Nationals in four different classes, including a victory in an AMA Superbike race at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, Calif., in 1990 as a member of the factory Honda team. He died in 2002.
Champion dragracer Joe Smith
Dragracer Joe Smith earned the U.S. national champion title in 1971, 1974 and 1975 in National Hot Rod Association-sanctioned events. His was the first drag bike to break the 9-second barrier: posting an 8.97-second time with a top speed of 167.28 mph at the Bakersfield Fuel and Gas Championships at Bakersfield Raceway in California March 1971. He also rode the first drag bike to under 8 seconds. In 1971 he held the strip record at three Southern California tracks: 9.07 seconds and 166 mph at Irwindale, 9.08 and 164 mph at Lion’s, and 9.09 and 167 mph at Fontana.
Motor Maid Gloria Tramontin Struck
Gloria Tramontin Struck was born in 1925 in an apartment attached to her family’s motorcycle shop in Clifton, N.J. That shop eventually evolved into Tramontin Harley-Davidson. When her father died in 1928, Gloria’s mom continued to run the shop. Gloria learned to ride when she was 16. She joined the Motor Maids in 1946 and is still an active member. She has ridden her bike to every state on the continent and some states many times over. She was still riding long distances in 2008 at the age of 84.
Ride For Kids founders Mike and Dianne Traynor
Mike and Dianne Traynor were the co-founders of the Pediatric Brain Tumor foundation and the Ride for Kids motorcycle charity program. They began the Ride for Kids in 1984 to raise funds for childhood brain tumor research. Its success led them to start in 1991 the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for childhood brain tumors. In 1992, the PBTF helped create the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States, which has accrued the nation’s largest epidemiological database on brain tumors. With millions raised since 1984, motorcyclists have helped the PBTF become the world’s largest non-governmental source of funding for childhood brain tumor research. Programs also include free educational information about brain tumors, Internet conferences and college scholarships. Mike Traynor died in 2009 and Dianne Traynor died in 2012.
AMA Government Relations pioneer F. Eugene “Gene” Wirwahn
F. Eugene (Gene) Wirwahn laid the groundwork for this two-advocate department in 1972 to become the powerful force in the world of motorcyclists’ rights that it is today. He not only became AMA legislative director at a time when both street and dirt riders were under attack from the federal administration and Congress, but this Alabama lawyer proved to be tenacious and successful in fighting bad laws, and creating good ones.