LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Nine motorcycling legends took their place in history Friday, Nov. 19, at the 2010 Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by JT Racing, held at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa.
Hosted by actor and motorcyclist Perry King, the event kicked off the AMA Legends & Champions Weekend. It recognized the Hall of Fame Class of 2010: legendary two-stroke engine tuner Eyvind Boyesen, dirt-track racer Don Castro, sidecar roadracing champion Larry Coleman, off-road rights activist Clark Collins, AMA 250cc Roadrace Champion David Emde, competition apparel pioneers and JT Racing founders John and Rita Gregory, desert racing champion and team manager Bruce Ogilvie, and championship team owner and Pro Circuit founder Mitch Payton.
Jeff Heininger, chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, which raises money to support the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, welcomed a sold-out crowd to the induction ceremony and voiced appreciation for their support.
"This Motorcycle Hall of Fame is your hall of fame," Heininger said. "What we've done, we couldn't have done it without you -- the new exhibits at the museum in Pickerington, Ohio, and events like AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days and of course this induction ceremony here tonight. Your support is so important, and we've got a lot more ideas and plans to keep this thing going and to spread the word of the heritage of motorcycling."
Also honored at the event was Bob "Hurricane" Hannah. Hannah, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, was recognized as a Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legend. Hannah's immense popularity helped the sport of motocross grow by leaps and bounds in the late 1970s. He has seven AMA National Championships to his credit, and was one of only two riders in the history of AMA racing to win championships in 125 and 250cc motocross and Supercross competition.
"I was having breakfast this morning, and I was just kind of reflecting back and thinking about the guys who couldn't be with us tonight," Hannah said. "David Emde, Bruce Ogilvie -- one of the greatest off-road racers of all time -- and Eyvind Boyesen. Boyesen and I had a heck of a relationship. We both loved motorcycles, and we both loved making things better."
Hannah went on to single out several others in motorcycling.
"I know a lot of people in here, and I like a lot of people in here, and I know most guys don't look at their buddies and say they love them, so I'm going to do it," Hannah said. "John Penton, I love you. Bevo Forte, I love you, too. Keith McCarty is here. I love you, McCarty."
The 2010 inductees were honored with videos chronicling their careers, Hall of Fame rings and induction speeches given by a special person from their pasts.
Boyesen, inducted for his enormous contributions to motocross engine development, tragically passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 17, just two days before the ceremony. His sudden death, the result of illness, was marked by a moment of silence and remembrance at the event.
Perry King read comments prepared by Boyesen's son, Dag Boyesen, who was going to speak in honor of his father at the event.
"Early on, I saw my father's commitment to new ideas, spending countless hours in the basement porting cylinders," Dag Boyesen wrote in his remarks. "His perseverance and belief that anything was possible guided his world.
"Beyond all the accomplishments and success, there is another Eyvind Boyesen. I know I speak for our family and friends when I say that Eyvind Boyesen was a person's person. His spiritual faith, his love for his wife and his happiness showed me how to love and dream and how to appreciate life," read King.
Boyesen founded Boyesen Engineering in 1972 in Lenhartsville, Pa., and built a worldwide reputation as a two-stroke engine expert. In addition to his reed-valve innovations, Boyesen was also known for a special porting technique that has been used in motorcycle, snowmobile and watercraft two-stroke engines. He also refined methods of water pump design and developed enhanced accelerator pump operation used in four-stroke carburetion. Boyesen held more than 40 patents for the aftermarket motorcycle industry, and his company continues to thrive today.
"I will say that my career has been balanced by my ability to do what I truly love," Eyvind Boyesen said when his 2010 induction was announced in June. "To this day, I will always remember the first time I saw a motorcycle. It was magical."
Castro joined the professional dirt-track ranks as an Expert in 1970, riding both dirt-track and roadrace motorcycles for Triumph. He finished his rookie season fifth in the standings. For 1973 he was picked up by Yamaha and accomplished what many consider to be his greatest victory: winning the San Jose, Calif., half-mile against the likes of Scott, Lawwill, Palmgren, Roberts and other extremely talented racers. Castro went on to win another National the next year: the 250cc roadrace at Daytona, defeating teammate and race favorite Roberts.
Castro retired from the sport in 1976.
In accepting his award, Castro acknowledged the help he received during his career.
"I couldn't get up here all by myself," Castro said. "I had a lot of great help. I was lucky enough to have two factory rides, one from Yamaha and one from Triumph. I'd like to thank my peers for voting for me, and I'd like to thank everybody for coming out."
Coleman's interest in fast, grand-prix-style sidecar racing came when he was a U.S. serviceman in Europe in the 1970s. Upon returning to the United States, he raced a Kawasaki 500 H1-based sidecar with Wendell Andrews, and was a success in both AFM and AMA racing. The pair won two AMA national championships in 1976-77. Then, teaming with Mark Bevans as passenger, Coleman won the 1979 AMA national championship.
For the 1980 season, Coleman built up a Yamaha TZ750-based bike that was one of the most advanced machines of its type and helped advance the cause of sidecar racing in the United States. After retiring from racing in 1981, Coleman worked in the motorcycle industry, ultimately starting his own marketing and public relations consultancy.
In his acceptance speech, Coleman cited the importance of teamwork to his success.
"I would like to thank the Hall of Fame for the honor of being a member of the class of 2010," Coleman said. "The different disciplines of the AMA are well represented by this group of inductees. From racing to product development, political action to business development. This group is a very good representation of the patchwork quilt that makes up the AMA.
"Regardless of the type of racing, it takes teamwork to become successful," Coleman continued. "Any success in racing, business, or any aspect of our sport is only as good as the team that you are able to assemble to make things happen."
Coleman continues to add to his legendary status in the sport. This summer, he set a land-speed record at the AMA Racing Land Speed Grand Championships.
In 1987, Collins created the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), which is a national non-profit organization dedicated to protecting responsible recreational access to public lands and waters. Collins and the BRC have come to be nationally recognized by public land agencies as authorities on responsible motorized recreation. He served as executive director of the organization until his retirement in 2004.
Collins thanked those who have supported the BRC when he accepted his award.
"In the words of a friend who I've gotten to know over the years, Malcolm Smith, 'This is really neat,'" Collins said. "I really want to thank you all, collectively, for helping me with the BlueRibbon Coalition. You've helped us make it mean something, and I'm proud of the relationship between the BlueRibbon Coalition and the AMA because teamwork is what makes it work."
Today, Collins continues to serve the off-road recreation community in Idaho as president of the Idaho State ATV Association.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Floyd, and brother, Don, both Daytona 200 winners and Motorcycle Hall of Famers, David's versatility became obvious when he began racing in the early 1970s. After starting in dirt-track, he switched to roadracing in 1975, competing alongside some of the fastest roadracers ever: Kenny Roberts, Steve Baker, Gary Nixon and others.
Emde's breakthrough came at the famed Laguna Seca Raceway, when he beat Roberts in a heat race, then finished second to him in the main. David's 1977 AMA 250cc Roadrace Championship was marked by nine wins in a hard-fought competition. He also raced Superbikes and proved himself adept at endurance racing, setting in 1978 what was then the fastest qualifying time for the famed Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race in Japan.
David Emde died in a street motorcycle crash in 2003.
"Several years back, David shared me with me his dream of being inducted into the Hall of Fame along with his father Floyd and brother Don," said David's sister Nancy, who along with David's son Brian accepted the award on the late Emde's behalf. "This is such a great honor. Thank you very much for making his dream come true."
John and Rita Gregory
Under the Gregorys' leadership, JT Racing sponsored just about every big-name motocrosser of the 1970s and '80s, including AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers Joel Robert, Roger DeCoster, Marty Smith, Ricky Johnson, David Bailey, Bob Hannah, Johnny O'Mara, and Jeff Ward. They brought revolutionary nylon motocross pants to the United States, created a variety of innovative products including jerseys, pants and chest protectors, and were masters of marketing in the creation of their global business.
Speaking at the event, Both John and Rita Gregory said they were honored for the induction and used the occasion to recount many great memories they have of their careers in the sport.
"I am so surprised and honored to be recognized among this group," Rita Gregory said. "I am sincere in my heartfelt thanks to all those who remembered me. I always considered myself the ghost of JT. I was usually the one who stayed home and minded the business and the kids while John went off to the races. You know, though, it takes a team, and while John and I started this, it took a team to make it successful."
Added John Gregory: "Most of the people we worked with over the years, there's just no way -- there's just no way -- to express our appreciation for everything they did. The bottom line here, is people make the world go 'round."
Ogilvie, who grew up attending TT scrambles with his father, Donald, began racing in his teens. He soon became one of AMA District 37's most accomplished desert racers, and set out to tackle one of motorcycle competition's most challenging events: Baja. Ogilvie developed into a master Baja racer, collecting victories in the San Felipe 250, the Baja 500 and the Baja 1000 over four decades. Ogilvie was the only racer in history to win the Baja 1000 overall in four different decades, getting his last win in 2003 at the age of 51.
While still competing, Ogilvie branched into management. In 1984 he was hired by American Honda, where he coordinated the company's off-road racing efforts, served as senior test evaluator for American Honda's Product Evaluation Department, and developed some of the most impressive racing talent of the next generation.
Ogilvie passed away on April 13, 2009, following an extended illness.
Bruce Ogilvie's son, Nick Ogilvie, accepted the award along with Bruce's wife, Marcia Ogilvie, and his daughter Isabella.
"For me, he was the ultimate dad," Nick Ogilvie said. "He taught me how to ride and live. I only had 14 years with him, but my memories will last a lifetime."
Payton is arguably the most successful motocross and Supercross team owner of all time. His privateer teams have won more championships than any other -- 26 since 1991.
Payton's parents, James and Norma Payton, introduced him and his brother, James Jr., to motorcycling at a young age. By the time he was 10, Payton was competing in family enduros and a few years later was racing competitively in AMA District 37. In 1977, at the age of 17, Payton was one of the district's top desert racers and won the 125 class in that discipline. Unfortunately, the next year Payton's racing career was cut short by injury.
Instead of allowing discouragement to turn him away from motorcycling, Payton refocused his efforts on the business side of the sport. At 18, he bought and ran a local Husqvarna shop. His skill and reputation as a tuner grew, and his parts were being used by some of the biggest motocross teams of the mid-1980s. Then, in 1991, Honda asked Payton to run its 125 team. Payton accepted, and over the next 19 years, racing other brands as well, his teams won more championships than any other.
In his acceptance speech, Payton recognized all the employees, mentors, racers and friends who helped him throughout his career.
"We're all here because we all love motorcycles," Payton said. "I started riding with my mom, dad and brother. It was something I was really passionate about and wanted to do every day. Then, when I got hurt at 17 and couldn't ride anymore, I had some really good friends in my life at that time. When I was 18 years old, we bought a Husky shop that was losing money. Now, 32 years later, here we are as Pro Circuit, and we have a very successful race team.
"I feel real fortunate and really lucky to have achieved more in my life than I thought was possible," Payton continued. "I couldn't have done it without all my friends. Friends are the most important thing."
AMA Legends & Champions Weekend
The AMA Legends & Champions Weekend is a two-day celebration of motorcycling's greats held at Las Vegas' Red Rock. In addition to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by JT Racing, the celebration includes the 2010 AMA Racing Championship Banquet, presented by World of Powersports, and the annual Motorcycle Hall of Fame Concours d'Elegance bike show, which features some of the country's most-stunning original and immaculately restored classic motorcycles. Both the racing banquet and the Concours d'Elegance are Saturday, Nov. 20, also at the Red Rock.
In addition, the weekend features the final round of the AMA Racing GEICO Powersports EnduroCross Championship Series on Saturday evening as well as the Las Vegas debut of the movie "Carlsbad USGP: 1980," a look at an iconic motocross race that has been dubbed "the Woodstock of motorcycling."
About the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation
Founded in 1990 by the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, the goal of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum is to tell the stories and preserve the history of motorcycling. Located on the campus of the American Motorcyclist Association in Pickerington, Ohio, the Museum's three major exhibition halls feature the machines and memorabilia of those who have contributed notably to the sport. The Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to motorcycling, including those known for their contributions to road riding, off-road riding and all categories of racing, as well as those who have excelled in business, history, design and engineering. More information can be found at MotorcycleMuseum.org