2016 Sturgis Lifetime Achievement Award – Arlen Ness
Sturgis has always been about more than just the bikes. If you ask regular attendees of the event, it’s something that they look forward to all year – reconnecting with friends, meeting new ones, and doing it all from the comfort of two wheels.
In line with that, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum will be honoring those who have contributed to the motorcycling community overall with a special “Lifetime Achievement” award that has been added to the Class of 2016 induction ceremonies.
The name won’t come as a shock to those who are fans of American V-twins; Arlen Ness, who has been a Sturgis Museum Hall of Fame member since 1992, was a bit of a shoo-in when the award came up. His contributions to motorcycling are indisputable, making him a prime candidate for the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Honors.
“Arlen truly is the ‘Godfather’ of the custom bike movement,” says Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall Of Fame Executive Director Myrick Robbins. “No one has done more to influence the look of what a custom motorcycle is.” Victory Motorcycles also recognizes Arlen’s achievements and is honored to be part of the induction ceremonies this year.”
“Victory Motorcycles has worked with Arlen Ness for many years now,” says Rod Krois, General Manager of Victory Motorcycles. “Early on the designers and he helped to create the now iconic Arlen Ness editions of several different models. Arlen has always been the head of his time, and we are proud to be the presenting sponsor at this important event.”
Conceived this year, The Lifetime Achievement award was put together by the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame Board of Directors. How does one achieve such an honor? Well, you have to be one of those special people that have contributed to the world of motorcycling while simultaneously be recognized by leading organizations, and more importantly, the community.
“There is no more recognizable and recognized figure than Arlen in the world of custom motorcycles,” adds Robbins. “Given their close working relationship, it is awesome that Victory Motorcycles has stepped up as the presenting sponsor!”
Ness will most likely be known by most people because of his brand, Arlen Ness, but what many might not be aware of is that he and his Hamsters club members have done quite a bit of charity work over the years. In the past, Ness and his Hamsters have helped the Children’s Care Hospital & School Foundation, LifeScape Children’s Care of Rapid City, just to name a few worthy causes.
“The Sturgis Museum’s charter is two-fold, in addition to honoring individuals we want to pay tribute to the heritage of the Sturgis Rally,” Robbins explains. “Arlen and the Hamsters have made a lasting mark on the Sturgis Rally and the surrounding communities.” In the past 11 years, more than $2 million has been raised by the group.
Ness has set the bar for all future Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. The board members, executive museum staff and special committees of the museum collect their nominations and present them to the powers that be: Its president and officers. All nominees are thoroughly reviewed by the board of directors. According to the board, “It is fitting that he will be the first recipient and epitomize what this honor really means.”
With some fresh winnings burning a hole in his pocket, Ness found a Knucklehead and bought it for $300. At the time, he had no clue how to ride and had a friend bring it home for him. Between learning how to even ride, he was tinkering away on it, hitting it with a fresh coat of paint that led to him getting some of his first clients.
Just a few years later, in 1970, Arlen and his wife Beverly opened up their first store. Arlen was a busy man back then, working his day job and doing custom side work on bikes in the evening. That all changed as the business grew and as we all know, it grew quite well. Ness has since then involved his son Cory and Grandson Zach, making them a three generation motorcycle family.
“Join Victory Motorcycles and the Sturgis Museum in honoring Arlen Ness and the entire Class of 2016,” says Robbins. The 2016 Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame 2016 Induction Breakfast will be held on August 10, 2016 at the Lodge at Deadwood in Deadwood, South Dakota. Breakfast tickets are available for a $35 donation and tables of eight will require a $300 donation. Tickets are available by calling the Museum at 605-347-2001 or they can be purchased online at: http://www.sturgismuseum.com/shop/hall-fame-breakfast