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10 more ride into motorcycle hall of fame

Two hundred representatives of the Canadian motorcycle industry and community met last weekend in Mississauga to induct 10 new members into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Two hundred representatives of the Canadian motorcycle industry and community met last weekend in Mississauga to induct 10 new members into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Nine individuals and one organization were chosen this year, bringing total membership to 22:

Helmut Clasen, 72, came to Canada from Germany in 1968. He has been a competitor in off-road motorcycling events at the national and international level for 50 years. He won the first International Six Day Enduro gold medal ever awarded to a Canadian in 1971. In enduro, hare scrambles and motocross events he has accumulated more than 1,500 awards, the latest being the vintage class win in the 2007 Corduroy Enduro.

Yvon Duhamel, of Montreal, began motorcycle racing in 1956. Competing in ice racing, dirt track, observed trials, motocross and road racing in Canada, U.S. and internationally, he was the White Trophy winner (best Canadian motorcycle racer) five times, Canadian dirt track champion five times, road racing champion once, ice race champion once and motocross champion twice. He also won two 250 cc Daytona races. He won a snowmobile racing world championship and competed successfully in NASCAR racing. His award was presented by his son, motorcycle racing champion Miguel Duhamel.

Michelle (Mike) Duff, in a career spanning the 1950s and ’60s, became Canada’s most successful international road race competitor, as a rider on Norton, Matchless, AJS and Yamaha motorcycles in Grand Prix races in Canada, Britain and Europe. Duff was the first Canadian to win a world championship Grand Prix race and to lap the Isle of Man TT course at over 100 m.p.h. (162 km/h)

Marc St-Laurent, an idealistic and passionate motorcyclist, became president of the Quebec Motorcyclists’ Federation (FMQ) at a critical time in 1994, and through his hard work and inspiration, saved it from collapse. He took early retirement and worked virtually full-time to build the FMQ into a strong 10,000 member organization, which represents and defends the rights and freedoms of Quebec motorcyclists.

Bob Williams, a motorcycle dealer in Windsor, was active in motorcycle rider training with St. Clair College and chaired a government advisory committee on motorcycle safety inspection standards. When a 1990 motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, Bob turned to building a motorcycle to set new speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats. In 2004, his Team Arrow Honda-powered streamliner, ridden by Gary Hensley, broke the 650 cc gasoline-powered speed record by 42 m.p.h. (67.6 km/h). Bob and his team are working toward breaking the 500 cc world speed record with a smaller-engined Arrow streamliner.

Charley Mahoney (1920-2004) was the consummate Indian motorcycle enthusiast from the age of 17, when he first repaired an old Indian Four. His small shop in Campbellford, Ont. became a required service source and stopping point for Canadian riders of Indian motorcycles over many years in the 1960s and ’70s. This culminated in the start of “Indian Charlie Days” in July 1984, an annual event that is still held in the town and centred on the Mahoney motorcycle shop.

Billy Mathews (1912-1968) startled American motorcycling in 1941 by winning the Daytona Beach 200-mile national race. The first Canadian to win this event, he was also riding a British-made 500 cc Norton against American-made 750 cc Harley-Davidsons and Indians. Mathews had further success at the Daytona Beach National Championship, placing second in 1948 and 1949 and winning again in 1950. He also had a successful career in dirt track racing in Canada and the U.S. and in speedway racing in England.

J.B. (Bernie) Nicholson (1917-2001) along with his brother Lawrence started a motorcycle shop in Saskatchewan in 1933. Nicholson Brothers in Saskatoon, and later Calgary, became famous across Canada as a mail-order source for a wide variety of British- and American-made motorcycle parts. In World War II, Nicholson served in the Canadian Army in Canada and overseas as a training officer for riders and motorcycle mechanics. He quickly realized the need for a comprehensive service and training manual and in 1942 published the first edition of Modern Motorcycle Mechanics. By 1974, it reached a seventh edition and 763 pages in length. To date, more than 100,000 copies have been sold.

Jim Robinson (1933-2003) from Wheatley, Ont. took up motorcycle racing in 1955 and three years later founded the family firm of Robinson Motorcycles, selling the AJS brand at first, and later being dealers, over the years, for a variety of makes including Norton, Matchless, Triumph, BSA, BMW, Maico, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Harley-Davidson. Robinson was a founding member of the Erie Ramblers Motorcycle Club who, since 1959, have organized the Leamington half-mile dirt track race.

Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group was inducted as an organization into the Hall of Fame. Formed 40 years ago by a handful of old-bike enthusiasts in the Toronto area, the CVMG, operated entirely by volunteers, has grown into a national organization with 1,700 members and 27 local sections all across Canada.

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