Each year the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame has the perfect excuse for hosting breakfast during the rally: the yearly Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This is when the museum adds more names to its ever-growing list of commemorated people in the industry who’ve shaped motorcycle culture and history. This year, industry legend William G. Davidson gets a Lifetime Achievement Award for the fruits of his noggin at Harley-Davidson. His creativity shaped Harley-Davidson’s identity for more than five decades, which is slightly longer than I’ve been alive. Affectionately known as “Willie G.” by millions of motorcycle enthusiasts, Harley-Davidson’s chief styling officer emeritus and brand ambassador is set to be honored with said award at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame Induction ceremony August 9, 2017.
“Willie G. is not just a brand ambassador for Harley-Davidson,” said Myrick Robbins, executive director of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame. “He is an ambassador for biker culture worldwide. The museum’s goal is to honor the rider, and Willie G. is the embodiment of motorcycle riding.” Already a pre-2001 member of the museum’s Hall of Fame, Willie G. was joined by his lovely wife Nancy in the class of 2010.
The son of former Harley-Davidson president, William H. Davidson, and the grandson of one of the original founders, William A. Davidson, Willie G. has helped shape the iconic look, sound, and feel that have defined Harley-Davidson motorcycles for more than 50 years. Starting in the 1970s, he developed iconic designs that kept Harley-Davidson motorcycles selling while the company completed technological and manufacturing improvements. Throughout his career he developed the bikes that came to define Harley-Davidson, from the XLCR Café Racer up through the V-Rod and the Street Glide.
A Wisconsin native, Willie G. went to the University of Wisconsin for three years before transferring to the ArtCenter College of Design in Los Angeles. He joined Harley-Davidson in 1963, when he was invited to set up the company’s motorcycle design department. In 1981, Willie G. was one of 13 executives who raised more than $75 million to purchase Harley-Davidson from AMF Incorporated.
In addition to Lifetime Achievement honoree Willie G., the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame’s class of 2017 features a group of overachievers and true leaders who have influenced an entire era of motorcycling:
Meet The Class Of 2017
Colleen Barnett-Taylor started her motorsports career at Barnett Clutches & Cables while still in her childhood working for her parents (and original 1948 founders), Charlie and Afton Barnett. Since the beginning Colleen has been a driving force and integral part of the company. Mike Taylor, already a longtime motorcycle rider/enthusiast, joined the firm in 1968, which cemented a great partnership after he and Colleen were married. Together they have operated Barnett since 1975 and owned the company since 1993.
Don’t think for a second that Cory Ness rode his famous father’s coattails into the Sturgis Hall of Fame. At only 10 years old, he disassembled his bicycle, painted it, chromed its parts, and entered it in the Oakland Roadster Show. The first motorcycle he turned his talents to was a wrecked CB350. After building it back up, Cory sold it before even getting a chance to ride it. He was 14! Today Cory is the chief designer behind Arlen Ness Enterprises where he runs the day-to-day business. In between designing new parts and accessories, he still finds time to wrench on custom bikes periodically.
Since the early 1970s Mark Shadley and Shadley Bros. Motorcycles have been shaping the perception of what a custom motorcycle is. The quality, detail, and innovation of his custom-built bikes have made him well recognized by both the motorcycle industry and his peers. His enthusiasm and involvement in the custom motorcycle industry has been a lifelong passion.
For 50 years, machinist and go-fast guy Jim Thiessen has generated trust with riders, record breakers, racers, and certified Harley mechanics around the world who use JIMS products on a daily basis. Today JIMS is one of the industry’s leading producers of performance parts, accessories, tools, transmissions, and high-performance engines—all aimed at enhancing the Harley rider’s experience.
#35 on the NHRA’s 50 greatest drag racers of all time, 14-time national champ Terry Vance never lets off the gas! Terry and his tuner Byron Hines shared a passion for the quarter-mile from the early days, but they also shared a vision of creating a company that would be a pillar of the motorcycle aftermarket, and they used their unrivaled achievements in racing to build a brand that would unmistakably stand for quality and performance. Terry Vance is an American former professional motorcycle drag racer, racing team owner, and manufacturer of high-performance parts for motorcycles.
Since 1981, the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Campground has treated millions of motorcyclists to rock concerts, camping, entertainment, and more. Rod Woodruff is the man who brought rock ’n’ roll to the Black Hills and now hosts a 10-day concert series each August during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The Buffalo Chip provides a music festival, various other forms of entertainment, and full-service tent, RV, and cabin camping on almost 600 acres in rural Meade County. Woodruff is the JC “Pappy” Hoel Outstanding Achievement Award winner for 2017, a special designation reserved for individuals who have played a special role in the founding, maintaining, and/or promoting of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony presented by Strider is being held August 9 at the Lodge at Deadwood in Deadwood, South Dakota. Breakfast tickets are available for a $45 donation, with tables of eight for $350. Tickets are available by calling the museum at (605) 347-2001, or they can be purchased online at the museum’s website.