After a delay of over a year (due to a pesky virus), the 76th Trailblazers Banquet took place on Saturday August 28th under the big top tent of the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, California. The Trailblazers Motorcycle Club is 40 years old and their banquet/Trailblazers Hall of Fame induction attracts motorcycle racing legends (active and retired), motorcycle industry dignitaries (active and retired) and racing fans (always active).
The event is overwhelming for me because so many long-time friends attend, it is impossible to say hello to everyone. It would not be a crazy idea to expand the festivities to a two-day event. Maybe a meet and greet on Friday night and the Tom Cates Memorial Bike Show and banquet on Saturday? I left Saturday night wishing I had gotten there earlier.
The tentative date for the next banquet is April 6th and it will return to the Carson Center. No word on when tickets for the 2022 banquet go on sale, but I will be ready as soon as the clock strikes 12. The banquet sells out quickly and it is a celebration that should not be missed. I hope to see you there in 2022.
Table talk: Every table at the banquet is a VIP table. Shimano’s Joe Lawwill (far left) has heard the story that his dad, Mert Lawwill, is telling to Dave Aldana as Trailblazers’ Director John Seymour listens in. Amazing that for all the physical abuse Mert and Dave suffered during their professional racing careers, they both look great. Check out the prosthetics Mert makes for people with want to ride.
Desert legend: Scot Harden (center) joins the elite Trailblazers Hall of Fame. Scot announced The Handstand At 100 Celebration (if you have any off-road experience, you understand) to be held on October 16th in Temecula, California. Hit the link. The event sounds amazing. Trailblazers Don Emde (left) and Steve Storz flank Scot.
Speed Taco: The “Taco Grande” was built from scratch by Lee Fabry. Lee explains it was, “built as a replica of a Taco 22, only larger.” Claimed top speed from the 9-horse-power engine is 50 miles per hour. Lee beat out 50 beautiful motorcycles to win the People’s Choice Award for his creation.
Brad and The Greek: The most iconic photos of Brad Lackey (left) from early in his career were all shot by Jim “The Greek” Gianatsis. Former 500 World Motocross Champion, Brad was inducted into the Trailblazers Hall of Fame on this night and Jim was there to document the moment.
The Black Kawasaki: Speaking of Brad Lackey, he was not a guy you wanted to piss off. Tom White wrote a story about Brad’s Black Kawasaki for Motocross Action Magazine and in addition to being a great read, it shows how much the relationship between teams and their riders/mechanics have changed over the years (probably because of Brad!).
Fast Company: Eddie Mulder shares a moment with Preston Petty. Preston has a little trouble getting around these days, but that didn’t stop him from attending the banquet. I got to interview both of these guys during my Motocross Journal days and still remember it like yesterday. Both are amazing men.
Man For All Seasons: Eddie Mulder (holding the painting) was this year’s Dick Hammer Award Recipient. Eddie is the rare racer who was good at anything he tried. If he was a bit younger, he may have been America’s first motocross star, but he was already established as a dirt track guy when moto first took off. Photo by Jim Gianatsis.
Earned recognition: In addition to being a great off-road rider, Larry Langley (second from right) has been a tireless promoter of all things good about motorcycling. He won the well-deserved Earl & Lucile Flanders Lifetime Achievement Award. Don Emde (with the mic) is the unsung hero of the Trailblazers banquet and the last two years have not been easy. Props go out to Don for all his work in pulling off such a wildly-successful event. Photo by Jim Gianatsis.
Industry Royalty: Selvaraj Narayana is KTM North America’s Executive Director and the motorcycle industry’s most respected leader. I met Sel in the 70’s when he was a mechanic for Maico motorcycles. That’s a long time. He treats me like a close friend every time we get together (which is not often enough). A modest guy who is an industry giant and has no intention of slowing down. Damn The Virus: This was the largest event I’ve attended since lockdown last year. The Trailblazers did a great job of holding the event in a big top with massive fans blowing the evil virus out the door. I would have worn a cleanroom suit to attend.