When I took the stage at the Carson Center on Saturday night (4/2/22) to emcee the 2022 Trailblazers banquet, it had been 216 days since the last one, which was held Anaheim in August of 2021. Normally we have a full year to get everything ready for our long-running event, but thanks to Covid we had moved the previous event to August and now wanted to get back to our old event date in April.
Despite the reduced schedule and many hours of work to prepare and produce all the necessary materials, I have to say personally that I have never felt as satisfied with the result of our Trailblazers banquet as I am right now. Sure, in the coming weeks, the Board of Directors will have a "shake down" meeting to discuss what is often called "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." Based on my own observations as well as the many other Facebook reports I have seen already, I don't think there was too much, if anything, that went bad, and I certainly am not aware of anything ugly.
First, a word of thanks to those Trailblazers Directors Ernie Aragon, Norm Bigelow, Joe Colombero, Kathy Cruz, Nancy Emde-Steward, Kevin Foley, Paul Flanders, Bill Getty, Tom Horton, Keith Lynas, Steve Storz, Tom Seymour, Devon Sowell and Duane Teevans. This banquet would not have happened without their time and hard work since that last banquet. Also, thanks to Lee Durlach of the Motorcycle Industry Council for his assistance with my stage and video presentations, plus sponsors including Colleen Barnett-Taylor and her husband Mike Taylor from Barnett Engineering, Chris Carter from Motion Pro and motorcycle manufacturers Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and Yamaha. There were many more who pitched in with assistance, including Rod Lake, Mark and Randy Zimmerman, Chris Steward, Gail Waller and Vickie Green, Kenny Buchanan, John Flanders, Debbie Bailey, Brian and Evan Bell, Todd Peterson, singer Sandi Johnson-Weidler, Luke Colombero, Morgan Williams, Jeff Emde, and thanks to Todd Huffman for use of a short clip from On Any Sunday.
We had a great contingent of veteran photographers in the house. Thanks to Denis Suter, Jim Gianatsis, Howie Zechner, Mitch Friedman, Richard Haight and Scott Heidbrink. And as he did last year for Eddie Mulder, artist Dave Maestrejuan again made a painting of the Dick Hammer Award recipient Mert Lawwill. I feel that this is now becoming one of our banquet traditions and we thank Dave for his generous contribution to the event.
With the last of the LA County Covid restrictions being lifted just the day before, it was nice to finally be able be close with our old friends, shake hands, even get a hug or two. I was inside the banquet hall most of the afternoon preparing my presentations, so I was not able to be out at bike show very much but did enjoy one lap around and saw a lot of you. As always, we had some unique and notable motorcycles brought for the show, which was presented this year by Tom White's Early Years of Motocross Museum. Great to have the family of our dear-departed friend Tom White involved again with the Trailblazers. Most of the other Trailblazers board members were hard at work at the many stations outside to cover the activities going on, including badge Will Call, bike show judging, the Silent Auction, T-shirt sales and more. And thanks again to all of them for their dedication to our purpose and giving up their own opportunities to go hang out with their friends.
Attendance this year was intentionally lower than our last banquet at the Carson Center in 2019 when we had a record 800 attendees. Even without factoring any "social distancing," it was felt back then that 80 tables of 10 was just too tight and over- crowded. So, this year we changed to 76 of the smaller 8-seat tables which totaled 608 seats. I think everyone would agree it was much more comfortable. There are always a few no-shows of people who had bought tickets, but I would estimate there were probably about 575 in attendance, still a nice size party.
Like it was at the first Trailblazers banquet in 1940 when motorcycle racing greats such as Ralph Hepburn and Freddie Ludlow were in the house, this year was amazing. In addition to Mert Lawwill and the other 2022 honorees, we had racers from all aspects of the sport including Roger DeCoster, Brad Lackey, Broc Glover, David Aldana, Chuck Miller, Jeff Ward, Mitch Payton, Danny LaPorte, Jim Odom, Chuck Sun, Donny Emler, Ralph White, Jim Wilson, Thad Wolff, Dave Hansen, Sonny Nutter, Keith Mashburn, Mercedes Gonzales (Natvig), Bob Bailey, Eddie Wirth, Mike Bast, Harry Klinzmann, Chuck Palmgren, Chance Darling, Scott Burnworth, Rob Morrison, Chris Carter, Rod Lake, Eddie Castro,Tom Clark, Don Dudek, Bryon Farnsworth, Walt Fulton, Bryar Holcomb, Mark Homchick, Tom Horton, Chip Howell, Mike Konle, Debbie Matthews, Shawn McConnell, Bruce McDougal, Danny Perkins, Goat Brekker, Todd Peterson, Chris Steward, Buddy Stubbs and more who I am surely forgetting (my apologies). There were of course many other friends and families, journalists, and both current and former race tuners, mechanics and managers in the house including Dennis Mahan, Ron Heben, Rob Muzzy, Ed Scheidler, Jim Perry and Jim "Bones" Bacon, to name a few.
I was very proud to make the award presentations to this year's group of honorees. The awards started with the bike show winners and a special presentation to Rod Lake of the Trailblazers President's trophy. His support of the motorcycle sport is quite unique and far-reaching, and it was presented as a thank you for all that he has done for others.
The sadness of the passing of Kenny Clark at the end of 2021 was made a little brighter for his daughter and attending family when Broc Glover, Scott Burnworth and Ed Scheidler joined us on stage and had some nice reflections of their times working with Kenny. The others were all in attendance, including Norm Bigelow who received the Earl and Lucile Flanders Award, plus Hall of Fame honorees Sue Fish, Donnie Hansen, Sel Narayana, Reg Pridmore, Tom Seymour and our final award presentation to Mert Lawwill for our highest honor, the Dick Hammer Award.
What a night. Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 1st, 2023 and we'll back at the Carson Center for the 78th annual Trailblazers banquet and bike show. We'll have reports throughout the year on my Facebook page and also the Trailblazers page, plus the website at: www.trailblazersmc.org.
On Saturday, April 2nd, the Trailblazers’ tradition of holding our annual banquets will continue for the 77th time. For those attending this year, you have likely been following the news and updates in the member newsletter and/or on the website or Facebook page. Keep doing that. Here are a few final details and news items:
1. One of the biggest reminders is that we are back at the Carson Center again where we used to have it. Last year’s location in Anaheim was a one-time change due to Covid.
2. Our change from 10-seat to 8-seat tables is going to provide a little more room in the banquet hall this year. Every one of the 608 seats we had available has been sold.
3. Your name badge will have your table number printed on it, but seating at your table is first come, first served.
4. If you ordered tickets that we did not receive names for, they were printed as Guest badges and will be included in your ticket package. It’s too late to change it now, everything is already being printed.
5. Unless you are bringing a motorcycle for the Bike Show, the gates open at 1:00 p.m. At 5:00, the doors to the banquet room will open and the program begins at 6:00. Bike show people can contact Norm Bigelow for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Dinner will be served this year instead of buffet. Anyone with any special diet dinner requests, please email Nancy Emde-Steward at: email@example.com or call her ASAP at 760-277-1378.
7. Los Angeles County did relax its Covid restrictions recently. Although the Carson Center no longer requires proof of vaccinations, they reserve the option to take temperatures and ask for mask use as people enter our event area. It is then up to everyone to decide for themselves about masks. The Trailblazers asks everyone to respect what each attendee decides is best for their personal situation.
8. We have worked a lot on trying to make the badge pick up run smoother this year. Devon Sowell, one of the Trailblazers Directors will be in charge of the Will Call area. He will have five check-in stations for you this year instead of four, and other improvements designed to get you checked in quicker.
9. We will again have some pretty cool motorcycle memorabilia in the Silent Auction. We will have a remote credit card processor for easy payment of your auction purchases. Contact Norm Bigelow if you have a collectible motorcycling item you’d like to donate. The Trailblazers are a 501(c)(3) non-profit and donors will be given a letter of confirmation for tax reporting. Norm’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Between now and the banquet, the best place to check for any news updates will be the website at: www.trailblazersmc.org
See you there!
Trailblazers Motorcycle Club, Inc
Trailblazers Bike Show Presented by “Tom White’s Early Years of Motocross Museum” and the Trailblazer Silent Auction
SIGNUP PROCEDURE: Signups for the Bike Show starts at 11:00 am. You will need to get your official banquet badge at will-call before entering. Bikes should be unloaded after receiving your credentials. If you need help unloading see the Bike Show staff at the tent for help. The 8.5” x 11” form will fit into the supplied plastic sign holder which goes alongside the front tire of the bike being displayed. There will be forms available at the signup tent. Two other forms will need to be filled out the day of the event. Because space is limited, no other signs or displays will be admitted. If your bike is an oil leaker, bring a drip pan or one will be provided. The entrant is responsible for cleaning any oil stains.
Judging will be in four categories: 1. The Best of Show 2. Trailblazers Spirit Award 3. The Tom White Competition Award 4. Peoples’ Choice Award Entering the Bike Show makes you eligible for all classes. If your bike wins an award you will be honored on stage and may be asked to move your bike into another area for photos or display until banquet is over. The Trailblazer Bike Show always brings some unique and very special pieces of motorcycling history and is a very special event. Thanks to all who helped to put on this special event. Please refer any questions regarding the Bike Show to: Norm Bigelow, Bike Show Director @ email@example.com or 949-433-1218
SILENT AUCTION: There will be a silent auction with some very collectable donated items. The funds generated will be considered donations and all money will go into the Trailblazer general fund to help with banquet costs. Raffle tickets will be available for cash purchase only — 10 tickets for $10 or 20 for $20. Raffle tickets can be used to bid on smaller items. Winning ticket numbers will be displayed on the items between 3:45 pm and 4:00 pm. If you have a winning ticket, present it to the staff to collect your item. Larger items will be listed on a bid sheet attached to a clipboard. The name with the highest bid will be the winner at the time of deadline.
Payments can be made in cash, check or credit card. Items will need to be picked up and removed before the banquet starts in the main hall. Things will happen quickly so be prepared at 4:00 pm. Donators and winners will qualify for a 501(c)(3) letter for tax deductions which will be sent out at a later date after the banquet. A limited amount of event T-shirts will be available on-site for a donation of $20. This will also be a cash only donation.
Some of the auction items include: • Signed and framed artwork of Eddie Lawson’s #21 Kawasaki with original number plate used by the Superbike team • Signed and framed Mert Lawwill photo taken by Walt Mahony at the 1968 Sacramento Mile • Jo Shimoda signed race helmet from 2022 Supercross events • Bruce Brown’s On Any Sunday framed photos with Bruce’s autograph • Signed first turn action photo of Scott Parker, Jay Springsteen, and Chris Carr • Yvon Duhamel’s crashed Kawasaki fairing from 1972 — will be nice, rare wall art! The Silent Auction will be a fun experience with some rare items being sold, all benefiting the Trailblazers Motorcycle Club.
The Trailblazers are proud to announce our Hall of Fame Class of 2022. In a meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 19th), the Trailblazers Board of Directors met to consider all of the nominees to be honored at the 77th annual Trailblazers banquet to be held on April 2, 2022.
The honorees are:
Hall of Fame Inductees:
Tickets for the 2022 banquet will go on sale in January. More info at: www.Trailblazersmc.org