Honoring Hometown Resident, Hamsters, Artists, Journalist, The Queen Of Speed And Freedom Fighter
Sturgis, S.D., Mar. 26, 2018—From the philanthropic efforts of the Hamsters to the journalistic coverage of the Rally and the Museum to home town resident Jack Hoel, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum’s Class of 2018 demonstrates that Sturgis really is the epicenter of the motorcycle universe. Living up to its mission to recognize individuals who have made a long-term positive impact on the entire motorcycle community, the Class of 2018 features some truly legendary talents.
“We have world renown sculptor Jeff Decker and motorcycle artisan Mondo Porras working with metal to capture the essence of motorcycling,” says Myrick Robbins, Executive Director for the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall Of Fame. “Where Jeff and Mondo bend metal, Jack Hoel shaped motorcycling indelibly by bringing the DT-1 and the XS 650 to market for Yamaha. We also have Land Speed Record setter Valerie Thompson and the woman who has chronicled the motorcycle world since 1989, Marilyn Stemp.”
In addition to the individual achievements of the class of 2018, The Hamsters USA is being collectively recognized this year. “Given the tremendous philanthropic efforts the Hamsters have made on behalf of the entire Black Hills region, we have global achievements on a local scale for an outstanding group of inductees,” adds Robbins.
Jack Hoel: Hometown resident Jack Hoel has been a major influence in the development of the Rally, while also having a distinguished career in the world of motorcycling. From his racing days – including a series of state titles starting in the 1950s and running up to a 250cc class win at the legendary Daytona 200 in 1964 – Hoel parlayed his hot hand on the track to a gig as manager of the Yamaha Race Team in the 1970s. While working as Yamaha’s Head of New Product Development, Hoel and his team later created the iconic DT-1 – arguably the most important dual-purpose bike in history – and he was also instrumental in the development of Yamaha’s XS 650. The XS 650 was the first big bore, four-stroke powerplant produced by Yamaha and it continued to shake up the motorcycle racing world for decades. Today, Jack Hoel is passionate about the Rally, its roots in racing and remains a prominent member of the Sturgis community.
Armondo “Mondo” Porras: Mondo Porras has been defining the “look” of motorcycles since 1967. Together with custom builder and founder of Denver’s Choppers Denver Mullins, Mondo created some of the first aftermarket parts for the burgeoning chopper industry. Denver’s Choppers globally influential extended springer front ends and custom frames were instrumental in establishing the “long-bike” phenomenon that is synonymous with “choppers” and still popular around the world. This distinctive look has earned Mondo many awards in the custom bike world. For more than 50 years, Mondo Porras has been building custom motorcycles and promoting the sport. Through television, books, magazines and producing vintage chopper shows, his influence continues to this day and his peers have even deemed him the “Godfather of Choppers.”
Marilyn Stemp: Together with late husband Dennis, Marilyn Stemp started IronWorks Magazine in 1989. The publication combined his artistic creativity and passion for motorcycles with her experience as a journalist, organizational skills and attraction to mechanical pursuits. Utilizing their experience in the printing industry and graphic arts they wanted to ensure IronWorks would not only read well, but present motorcycling in a positive manner. Following the last issue of IronWorks in March of 2014, Marilyn launched a new title, Iron Trader News. In the past four years, Iron Trader News‘ collaborative and inclusive presentation has become a trusted source that entertains and informs on a framework of fairness and integrity. Marilyn continues the work that she and Dennis began, striving “to elevate and expand well beyond the magazine’s pages and digital reach, bringing partners and readers along for the ride.” She also works for other notable motorcycle related businesses, events and charitable organizations, including the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame, Bikernet and The Buffalo Chip.
Valerie Thompson: “America’s Queen of Speed,” Valerie Thompson has set 7 land speed records and has exceeded speeds in excess 200 mph on two wheels at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Her drag racing career spans a decade driven by a desire to go faster and break even more records. Off the racetrack, Valerie works as a vehicle presenter at Barrett-Jackson Auction Company and Metro Auto Auctions in Arizona. Between her work, racing commitments and many special appearances each year, Valerie donates time supporting charitable organizations and inspiring children overcoming personal challenges. Because of this work and her racing accomplishments, she was awarded the “American Women Riders Community Hero Award” in 2011.
Hamsters USA: The Hamsters is a worldwide organization of custom motorcycle enthusiasts, founded in Daytona Beach in 1978. Founding members are Steve Allington, Barry Cooney, Ed Kerr, Jimmy Leahy, Arlen Ness, Dave Perewitz, Susie Perewitz and Donnie Smith. Members make the annual trek each year to the Sturgis Rally for their annual gathering for custom bikes, fun and to give generously to local Black Hills charitable organizations. Although many individual members have been inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame, the entire group is being inducted into Sturgis Hall of Fame this year for the philanthropic deeds that the Hamsters USA have collectively donated to the Black Hills and South Dakota community over the years.
2018 FREEDOM FIGHTER AWARD
Kirk “Hardtail” Willard: Kirk “Hardtail” Willard has ridden thousands of miles to support ABATE of Wisconsin and Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) events. He annually attends countless meetings to plan and promote the preservation of motorcycle riders’ freedom and lifestyle. As an active member of ABATE of Wisconsin, he has been instrumental in securing ABATE Acres, a property for the group to have events, conferences and meetings. During the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Hardtail organizes the Whitewood Picnic, a get together for all motorcycle rights activists and ABATE members. Kirk Willard has served on the Board of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation for more than a decade and is currently serving as a multi-term president of the MRF. He works tirelessly to promote and protect the sport of motorcycling, but more importantly, he continuously promotes the lifestyle of motorcyclists.
The 78th Sturgis Rally is set for August 3-12, 2018 and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by Strider will be held August 8th at the Lodge at Deadwood in Deadwood, South Dakota. Breakfast tickets are available for a $40 donation, tables of eight for $400. Tickets are available online at https://www.sturgismuseum.com/Hall-of-Fame-Banquet-Tickets or by calling the Museum at 605.347.2001.