Sturgis, South Dakota, March 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.
THE CLASS OF 2018
Jeff Decker: Sculptor and historian Jeff Decker is known for immortalizing motorcycling in bronze. Perhaps the most notable of his sculptures is “By The Horns” (also known as The Hill Climber) – a 16-foot-tall, 5,000-pound bronze located on the grounds of the Harley-Davidson Museum. His bronze-cast master works depict the synergy of man and machine, particularly historic motorcycles, making him equally well known in both the motorcycling community and the world of fine art. Working full-time at a bronze casting foundry, Decker’s first idea was to capture Man’s quest for speed in all vehicles. His works exemplify the spirit and passion of motorcycling and they belong in a Museum dedicated to these endeavors.
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.
About The Museum: The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame’s mission is to collect, preserve and interpret the history of motorcycling; honor those who have made a positive and significant impact on the sport and lifestyle; and pay tribute to the heritage of the Sturgis Rally. Our vision is to continue as a world-class museum offering comprehensive and educational exhibits and showcasing rare and unusual motorcycles significant to our history and our sport. The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame stands out because of the fact that we not only document the history of the machines, we document the history of the people who have shaped and changed the sport and lifestyle. This will be a resource and inspiration for future generations. Honor the Ride… Build the Legacy!
About The Law Tigers: Founded in 2001, Law Tigers is a professional association of motorcycle injury lawyers who help riders every day. Our association of motorcycle accident attorneys consists of member law firms in various states with skilled personal injury lawyers whose mission is to support and promote the well-being of motorcyclists. Dedicated to rider safety, awareness, and education, we are committed to the riding community. While our principal goal is to reduce motorcycle injuries and promote motorcycle safety through education, when accidents do occur, the Law Tigers motorcycle injury member attorneys are there for you. Association member motorcycle accident lawyers are available for a free office, hospital, or home consultation in states where we have members. Member law firms work on a contingent fee basis, which means there are no up-front charges to you. Attorneys will receive legal fees only when they obtain a favorable motorcycle accident settlement or verdict for you. The Association does not receive any portion of legal fees earned by individual member lawyers and does not receive referral fees for this group marketing website. We are committed to helping our fellow motorcycle riders; we watch over our own! With the Law Tigers motorcycle accident lawyers, you never have to ride alone™.
About Strider Sports International, Inc.: Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Rapid City, SD, Strider Sports designs efficient, no-pedal balance bikes for children as young as 18 months, as well as for older riders with special needs. Strider No-Pedal Balance Bikes are industry-leading training bikes that help children as young as 18 months learn to ride effectively on two wheels. Strider also manufactures balance bikes for individuals with special needs and for seniors wanting to stay active later in life. The patented Strider Balance Bikes focus on the fundamentals of balancing, leaning, and steering without the distractions and complications of pedals or training wheels. Strider Bikes are now distributed in more than 75 countries worldwide. In 2017, Strider formed the Strider Education Foundation. To learn more, visit www.StriderBikes.com or www.StriderEducationFoundation.org, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram.