Sturgis, S.D., March 28—Considered the patriarch of motorcycling by bikers around the globe, William G. Davidson’s artistic vision and passion for riding have not only shaped Harley-Davidson’s identity for more than 50 years, they have transformed the entire motorcycle world. Affectionately known as “Willie G.” by millions of motorcycle enthusiasts, Harley-Davidson’s Chief Styling Officer Emeritus and Brand Ambassador is set to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, August 9, 2017.
“Willie G. is not just a brand ambassador for Harley-Davidson, he is an ambassador for biker culture worldwide,” said Myrick Robbins, executive director of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame. “The Museum’s goal is to ‘Honor the Rider’ and Willie G. is the embodiment of motorcycle riding.” Already a pre-2001 member of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame, Willie G. was joined by his lovely wife Nancy in the Class of 2010.
“Just like Sturgis Rally founders Pearl and Pappy Hoel, Willie G. and Nancy have made a long-term, positive impact on the motorcycle community,” added Robbins. “You could say Willie G. was born with gasoline in his veins.”
The son of former Harley-Davidson president, William H. Davidson, and the grandson of one of the original founders, William A. Davidson, he has helped shape the iconic look, sound and feel that have defined Harley-Davidson motorcycles for more than 50 years. Starting in the 1970s, he developed iconic designs which kept Harley-Davidson motorcycles selling while the company completed technological and manufacturing improvements. Throughout his career he developed the bikes that came to define Harley-Davidson, from the XLCR Cafe Racer up through the V-Rod and the Street Glide.
A Wisconsin native, Willie G. went to The University of Wisconsin for three years before transferring to the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. He joined Harley-Davidson in 1963, when he was invited to set-up the company’s motorcycle design department. In 1981, Davidson was one of 13 executives who raised more than $75 million to purchase Harley-Davidson from AMF Incorporated.
In addition to Lifetime Achievement honoree Willie G., The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall Of Fame Class of 2017 features a group of over-achievers and true leaders who have influenced an entire era of motorcycling:
Class of 2017 Inductees
Colleen Barnett and Mike Taylor—Colleen Barnett-Taylor started her motorsports career at Barnett Clutches & Cables while still in her childhood working for her parents (and original 1948 founders), Charlie and Afton Barnett. Since the beginning Colleen has been a driving force and integral part of the company. Mike Taylor, already a long-time motorcycle rider/enthusiast, joined the firm in 1968 which cemented a great partnership after he and Colleen were married. Together they have operated Barnett since 1975 and owned the company since 1993.
Cory Ness—Don’t think for a second that Cory Ness rode his famous father’s coattails into the Sturgis Hall Of Fame. At only 10 years old, he disassembled his bicycle, painted it, chromed its parts and entered it in the Oakland Roadster Show. The first motorcycle he turned his talents to was a wrecked CB350. After building it back up, Cory sold it before even getting a chance to ride it. He was 14! Today Cory is the chief designer behind Arlen Ness Enterprises where he runs the day-to-day business. In between designing new parts and accessories, he still finds time to wrench on custom bikes periodically.
Mark Shadley—Since the early 1970s Mark Shadley and Shadley Bros. Motorcycles have been shaping the perception of what a custom motorcycle is. The quality, detail and innovation of his custom built bikes have made him well recognized by both the motorcycle industry and his peers. His enthusiasm and involvement in the custom motorcycle industry has been a lifelong passion.
Jim Thiessen—For 50 years, machinist and go-fast guy Jim Thiessen has generated trust with riders, record breakers, racers and certified Harley mechanics around the world who use JIMS products on a daily basis. Today JIMS is one of the industry’s leading producers of performance parts, accessories, tools, transmissions and high-performance engines – all aimed at enhancing the Harley rider’s experience.
Terry Vance—#35 on the NHRA’s 50 greatest drag racers of all-time, 14-time national champ Terry Vance never lets off the gas! Terry and his tuner Byron Hines shared a passion for the quarter mile from the early days, but they also shared a vision of creating a company that would be a pillar of the motorcycle aftermarket, and they used their unrivaled achievements in racing to build a brand that would unmistakably stand for quality and performance. Terry Vance is an American former professional motorcycle drag racer, racing team owner and manufacturer of high-performance parts for motorcycles.
Rod Woodruff—Since 1981, the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground has treated millions of motorcyclists to rock concerts, camping, entertainment and more. Rod Woodruff is the man who brought Rock & Roll to the Black Hills and now hosts a 10-day Concert Series each August during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The Buffalo Chip provides a music festival, various other forms of entertainment, and full service tent, RV and cabin camping on almost 600 acres in rural Meade County. Woodruff is the J.C. “Pappy” Hoel Outstanding Achievement Award winner for 2017, a special designation reserved for individuals who have played a special role in the founding, maintaining and/or promoting of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
“We honor our Hall of Fame members by telling the stories and history of their stories, showcasing their contributions and accomplishments,” said Robbins. “Join us to honor the rider, the class of 2017 and the ultimate rider—our Lifetime Achievement honoree, Willie G. Davidson, during the Sturgis Rally.” The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame Induction ceremony presented by Strider is being held August 9th at the Lodge at Deadwood in Deadwood, South Dakota. 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