Soirée: “An evening party or reception.”
Theme: Motorcycles and the really famous people that ride them.
P.S. Don’t wear leathers.
The 2007 Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame Inductee Presentations revved into full swing at the Toronto Hilton as over 200 folks took their places at a gala honouring some of Canada’s most cherished motorcyclists and motorcycle organizations.
The Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group were honoured for their time tested commitment towards keeping Canada’s motorcycling history alive and flourishing here on the cooler side of the 49th parallel.
Helmut Clasen, famous for his exceptional talents in enduro, motocross and other events involving two wheels and tons of mud, humbly took the stage and accepted his induction award. Even though Helmut is no teenager, I wouldn’t want to challenge him to a friendly race through some nasties, ‘cause I’d probably take a whuppin’.
The memory of an old friend took the stage when Charles ‘Iron Chief Charlie’ Mahoney’s name was called out. I grew up attending the Maple Leaf Rally in Grafton, Ontario where Charlie was always at the center of everything. I have fond memories of sitting in Charlie’s Campbellford shop while he held court, sharing tea and spinning more than a few great two-wheeled stories. I’m sure that if Charlie were alive today he’d duck the limelight preferring to stay in his shop on the Grand Road and quietly chat with two-wheeled folks in rumpled jeans and scuffed leathers.
Michelle Duff was presented her induction award and regaled us with some fabulous race history and a few laughs from a time when Canadian racers were a rarity, both at home and on the international scene. Afterward, Michelle posed for some pictures beside a vintage racer. I couldn’t help but notice how she approached the bike, to some people a motorcycle is an inanimate ‘thing’, but to Michelle it’s a living, breathing creature. I swear she can speak ‘Yamaha’.
Billy Mathews was a name that etched a huge Maple Leaf in the Daytona 200 record books as being the first non-American to capture the title along with many other motorcycle firsts.
When Bernie Nicholson’s name was called out, the history of how a little motorcycle repair book turned into a ‘must have’ for a shop library was unravelled to the audience. From the repair book’s humble beginnings to the ‘Modern Motorcycle Mechanics’ book. Bernie, from Calgary, Alberta, will be well remembered by just about anyone twisting wrenches on bikes.
Jim Robinson from Wheatley, Ontario was honoured and his history showed how humble beginnings and pure dedication to the sport of motorcycling could spur generations of riders into fulfilling their dreams on two wheels.
Marc St-Laurent, a fierce advocate for motorcyclists rights in Quebec was called to the Hall and rightly so. We need people that have the commitment to our way of life, who will stand up and challenge the status quo to protect us.
Bob Williams from Windsor, Ontario was on hand along with his bright red ‘Team Arrow’ streamlined world land speed record entry. The life of two-wheeled speed on the Bonneville Salt Flats is not for the faint of heart. Patience, determination, design, re-design followed by more re-design can take its toll. Bob summed it up quite aptly in his acceptance speech when referring to the costs of mounting a world land speed record attempt, the jist being: ‘after you’ve spent all your dough, you start looking at your children’s heritage funds’. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Bob and keep at it.
A very fast fellow from Montreal, Quebec, Yvon Duhamel was called to the podium to accept his induction, the award was presented to him by another very fast fellow, his son Miguel, two Canadian race icons on one stage; gotta love it. Yvon humbly thanked everyone for the award and then had some fun with the audience. I spoke with Yvon afterwards and mentioned that as I grew up, I had two sports heroes, one was Johnny Bower and he was the other, he thought that was pretty cool. I can still picture Yvon on his green machine taking corners at impossible speeds on a very wet track, and making the whole process look impossibly simple.
The entire evening brought our Canadian motorcycling heritage into perspective. Compared to our neighbour to the south, we have a small populace and our four seasons can sometimes cut into our ride time, but the people that live and breathe motorcycles in Canada are truly world class. Racers, dealers, writers, advocates, keepers of history and folks that honestly welcome riders into their hearts, offer us all a rich fabric that we can wrap our way of life in. What more appropriate place to house this fabric than in the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Bravo to all!
If you would like to know more about the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame, or can help support this worthy institution, visit: www.motorcyclehalloffame.ca