The Trailblazers are a social organization of pioneer motorcycling enthusiasts who have met annually since 1940. They preserve the memory of those who came before us and have contributed to the sport that we all enjoy.
This 2013 banquet, held April 6 in Carson, California, was the 69th annual affair, the event having missed a few years. It’s an opportunity for regular folks to rub elbows with many innovators, builders, designers, manufacturers and racers who have traded paint on race venues across the globe.
Don Emde is again serving as president, taking over from Keith Mashburn. The jocular duo emceed the indoctrination of eight members into the Hall of Fame, with some clever banter that entertained the sell-out crowd of 650 attendees.
Ed Kretz, Jr. received the prestigious Dick Hammer Award, an award first given at the Del Mar show in 2000. Kretz was born in Pomona, California, in 1932, son of Ed “Iron Man” Kretz, Sr., and followed the hard-charging race lines of his famous dad. Kretz, Jr., according to the Trailblazers, exemplified the “Drive, Desire, and Determination” that defines the Dick Hammer Award.
The 2013 inductees to the Hall of Fame were Larry “The Desert Fox” Berquist, Walt Mahony, Jim Connolly, Buddy Stubbs, Tom White, Larry “Supermouth” Hoffman, Lori Conway and Stu Morley. The crowd chuckled as the memories of these characters were repeated by the two emcees while video was projected onto two big screens.
Walt Mahony’s exploits brought the most laughter. They included memories of him “borrowing” the rich clay base dirt, the guard rail poles and assorted building materials from various local building sites for his swampy strawberry field site that later became the “Fastest Half-Mile in the West,” the late great Ascot Park.
Larry Hoffman regaled the crowd with stories of his early days as an announcer and driving force that promoted motorcycle racing to the mass television public, all while wearing a tuxedo at dirt track events.
The Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show is open to any attendee with a ticket. No registration, just bring ’em and show ’em. Trophies are awarded by People’s Choice. New high-tech machines sit among the scarred and battle-worn racers—it’s a fitting tribute to a Trailblazers outing.
Trailblazers M.C. (trailblazersmc.com) is a sub-committee of the Motorcycle Industry Council and it’s a great place to see old friends and meet new ones. All my heroes were in attendance.